Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wishlist for a Chessbase endgame challenge database

The people over at Chessbase have a quite nice selection of training software. These, along with the ones from other providers, such as Chess Assistant, oftentimes prove superior to printed materials because of chess engine and database support, digital organization and the occasional multimedia features such as highlights and video commentary (tiring your eyes by looking at a screen is the biggest downside, but that's off-topic).

From Dvoretsky's manual
Taking a look at their endgame software selection I cannot help but feel there is  gap in there: the lack of a proper endgame challenge database. Let's examine what they do have: there are the Karsten Müller series, now past a dozen; a couple of DVDs by Danny King; Dvoretsky's manual, which in Chessbase media might be its best embodiment; and Kasimdzhanov's Endgames for Experts; all of these, instructional. In light of this, I believe it is high time for them to prepare a database program that tests or challenges the player on the wide-ranging fields of the endgame. Here's my wishlist:

  • Be at least a couple thousands big. Up to a point, the bigger the better. Would-be solvers need a room to exercise
  • Be categorized, probably supported by the endgame key features
  • Include all areas, not just, say, rook or pawn endings
  • Resist the temptation to include studies for difficulty's or beauty's sake. Include them, by all means, only when illustrative of the theme at hand.
  • Allow solving, but of course

  • Be in standard *.cbh format
  • Include exercises all the way to master strength and, perhaps, just a bit beyond
  • Offer some sort of solving ladder such as by difficulty (good) or rating bracket (best perhaps). All the material lumped together wouldn't do
  • Offer commentary and/or variations on key positions in a way that clarifies the theme, and on possible, relevant alternatives
  • Allow the solver to test herself on a theme or, if possible, on a random mix of several
  • Be affordable
  • Not be spread over several volumes. Everything fits on a single DVD

Many of these features already exist in the competing Convekta product Chess Endgame Training by IM Alpert, which has an over a decade head start over Chessbase. What brings this one down are the clunky Convekta conventions that can be painful to use.

Go on Chessbase! Show us!

Side note: if studies are your thing, check out Harold van der Heijden's superb database at


Post a Comment