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Member since Dec-31-08 · Last seen Sep-30-14
About Me (in case you care):

Old timer from Fischer, Reshevky, Spassky, Petrosian, etc. era. Active while in high school and early college, but not much since. Never rated above low 1800s and highly erratic; I would occasionally beat much higher rated players and equally often lose to much lower rated players. Highly entertaining combinatorial style, everybody liked to play me since they were never sure what I was going to do (neither did I!). When facing a stronger player many try to even their chances by steering towards simple positions to be able to see what was going on. My philosophy in those situations was to try to even the chances by complicating the game to the extent that neither I nor the stronger player would be able to see what was going on! Alas, this approach no longer works in the computer age. And, needless to say, my favorite all-time player is Tal.

I also have a computer background and have been following with interest the development in computer chess since the days when computers couldn't always recognize illegal moves and a patzer like me could beat them with ease. Now it’s me that can’t always recognize illegal moves and any chess program can beat me with ease.

But after about 4 years (a lifetime in computer-related activities) of playing computer-assisted chess, I think I have learned a thing or two about the subject. I have conceitedly defined "AylerKupp's corollary to Murphy's Law" (AKC2ML) as follows:

"If you use your engine to analyze a position to a search depth=N, your opponent's killer move (the move that will refute your entire analysis) will be found at search depth=N+1, regardless of the value you choose for N."

I’m also a food and wine enthusiast. Some of my favorites are German wines (along with French, Italian, US, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, Spain, ... well, you probably get the idea). One of my early favorites were wines from the Ayler Kupp vineyard in the Saar region, hence my user name. Here is a link to a picture of the village of Ayl with a portion of the Kupp vineyard on the left:

You can send me an e-mail whenever you'd like to aylerkupp(at)

And check out a picture of me with my "partner", Rybka (Aylerkupp / Rybka) from the Masters - Machines Invitational (2011). No, I won't tell you which one is me.


Analysis Tree Spreadsheet (ATSS).

The ATSS is a spreadsheet developed to track the analyses posted by team members in various on-line games (XXXX vs. The World, Team White vs. Team Black, etc.). It is a poor man's database which provides some tools to help organize and find analyses.

I'm in the process of developing a series of tutorials on how to use it and related information. The tutorials are spread all over this forum, so here's a list of the tutorials developed to date and links to them:

Overview: AylerKupp chessforum

Minimax algorithm: AylerKupp chessforum

Principal Variation: AylerKupp chessforum

Finding desired moves: AylerKupp chessforum

Average Move Evaluation Calculator (AMEC): AylerKupp chessforum


ATSS Analysis Viewer

I added a capability to the Analysis Tree Spreadsheet (ATSS) to display each analysis in PGN-viewer style. You can read a brief summary of its capabilities here AylerKupp chessforum and download a beta version for evaluation.


Chess Engine Evaluation Project

Some time ago I started but then dropped a project whose goal was to evaluate different engines' performance in solving the "insane" Sunday puzzles. I'm planning to restart the project with the following goals:

(1) Determine whether various engines were capable of solving the Sunday puzzles within a reasonable amount of time, how long it took them to do so, and what search depth they required.

(2) Classify the puzzles as Easy, Medium, or Hard from the perspective of how many engines successfully solved the puzzle, and to determine whether any one engine(s) excelled at the Hard problems.

(3) Classify the puzzle positions as Open, Semi-Open, or Closed and determine whether any engine excelled at one type of positions that other engines did not.

(4) Classify the puzzle position as characteristic of the opening, middle game, or end game and determine which engines excelled at one phase of the game vs. another.

(5) Compare the evals of the various engines to see whether one engine tends to generate higher or lower evals than other engines for the same position.

If anybody is interested in participating in the restarted project, either post a response in this forum or send me an email. Any comments, suggestions, etc. very welcome.


Ratings Inflation

I have recently become interested in the increase in top player ratings since the mid-1980s and whether this represents a true increase in player strength (and if so, why) or if it is simply a consequence of a larger chess population from which ratings are derived. So I've opened up my forum for discussions on this subject.

I have updated the list that I initially completed in Mar-2013 with the FIDE rating list through 2013, and you can download the complete data from It is quite large (101 MB) and to open it you will need Excel 2007 or later version or a compatible spreadsheet since several of the later tabs contain more than 65,536 rows.

The spreadsheet also contains several charts and summary information. If you are only interested in that and not the actual rating lists, you can download a much smaller (594 KB) spreadsheet containing the charts and summary information from here: You can open this file with a pre-Excel 2007 version or a compatible spreadsheet.

FWIW, after looking at the data I think that ratings inflation, which I define to be the unwarranted increase in ratings not necessarily accompanied by a corresponding increase in playing strength, is real, but it is a slow process. I refer to this as my "Bottom Feeder" hypothesis and it goes something like this:

1. Initially (late 1960s and 1970s) the ratings for the strongest players were fairly constant.

2. In the 1980s the number of rated players began to increase exponentially, and they entered the FIDE-rated chess playing population mostly at the lower rating levels. The ratings of the stronger of these players increased as a result of playing weaker players, but their ratings were not sufficiently high to play in tournaments, other than open tournaments, where they would meet middle and high rated players.

3. Eventually they did. The ratings of the middle rated players then increased as a result of beating the lower rated players, and the ratings of the lower rated players then leveled out and even started to decline. You can see this effect in the 'Inflation Charts' tab, "Rating Inflation: Nth Player" chart, for the 1500th to 5000th rated player.

4. Once the middle rated players increased their ratings sufficiently, they began to meet the strongest players. And the cycle repeated itself. The ratings of the middle players began to level out and might now be ready to start a decrease. You can see this effect in the same chart for the 100th to 1000th rated player.

5. The ratings of the strongest players, long stable, began to increase as a result of beating the middle rated players. And, because they are at the top of the food chain, their ratings, at least so far, continue to climb. I think that they will eventually level out but if this hypothesis is true there is no force to drive them down so they will stay relatively constant like the pre-1986 10th rated player and the pre-1981 50th rated player. When this leveling out will take place, if it does, and at what level, I have no idea. But a look at the 2013 ratings data indicates that, indeed, it may have already started.

You can see in the chart that the rating increase, leveling off, and decline first starts with the lowest ranking players, then through the middle ranking players, and finally affects the top ranked players. It's not precise, it's not 100% consistent, but it certainly seems evident. And the process takes decades so it's not easy to see unless you look at all the years and many ranked levels.

Of course, this is just a hypothesis and the chart may look very different 20 years from now. But, at least on the surface, it doesn't sound unreasonable to me.

Any comments, suggestions, criticisms, etc. are both welcomed and encouraged.

------------------- Full Member

   AylerKupp has kibitzed 6926 times to chessgames   [more...]
   Sep-30-14 The World vs Naiditsch, 2014 (replies)
   Sep-28-14 Robert James Fischer (replies)
AylerKupp: <Joshka> The reason that we have not seen video tapes of any but a few of the games is simple – they don't exist. This is due to Fischer's temper tantrums about the noise of the cameras distracting him, even though the noise generated by the cameras was measured and found to
   Sep-27-14 Analysis Forum chessforum
   Sep-16-14 AylerKupp chessforum
AylerKupp: <alan517> I am glad that you are planning on playing in an USCF tournament in October. I have also thought about entering a tournament but I haven't played in so many years that I am afraid that I would make too many silly mistakes. I enjoy the analyzing I do at home with a ...
   Sep-03-14 M Vachier-Lagrave vs Caruana, 2014 (replies)
AylerKupp: <AdolfoAugusto> I feel MVL is walking into a home preparation... undoubtly Caruana knows the game...> Well, in that case Caruana missed 8...Nc3 in his home preparation. The commentators pointed this move out and Stockfish in the official site evaluated the position at ...
   Sep-02-14 Topalov vs Shirov, 1998 (replies)
AylerKupp: <plang>, <Jim Bartle>, <Wyatt Gwyon>, <perfidious> Don’t you all know by now that <Conrad93> is a classic troll and is only saying things this to get a rise out of you? And this time he apparently succeeded. Remember: Don't feed the trolls.
   Sep-01-14 Nakamura vs Caruana, 2014 (replies)
AylerKupp: <zanzibar> Black could end the game here with 44...Bh4!> Yes, the commentators pointed that out. And 44...R8c3 works just as well. After 45.Qe2 or 45.Qd2 (the only moves that do not lose the queen) 45...R3c2 46.Qd3 (or any other queen move) 46...Bh4 and once again Black ...
   Aug-29-14 jepflast chessforum (replies)
AylerKupp: <MuzioFan> I think that you are being a little harsh on single moves.> That's possible. And, as you see above, <jepflast> educated me. And he clearly indicates the intent of having a single move in the AT Instruction page. But, supposedly being knowledgeable about ...
(replies) indicates a reply to the comment.

De Gustibus Non Disputandum Est

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <cro777> Who's stupid idea was to run these multi-engine analyses? OK; Stockfish, Komodo, and Critter running, with Houdini and hopefully Bouquet to follow. Summary tomorrow in the AM, and details a little bit later.
Premium Chessgames Member
  cro777: <AylerKupp> As Ostap Bender said:

"Your gasoline, our ideas!"

As you know, in his book "The Life And Games of Mikhail Tal", regarding the move 1.e4, Tal made a reference to Ostap Bender. It seems that in this game we are following Bender.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <cro777> Ah, yes Ostap Bender. Did you ever see the 1970 film "The Twelve Chairs" by Mel Brooks? Frank Langella played the part of Ostap Bender. I haven't seen it in a while and I hope that they show it on TV soon.

Then there's also a similar character in the movie "The Flim-Flam Man" who we might also be trying to follow. His best line: "Son, you'd be amazed at the hundreds of satisfied students I've matriculated over the last 50 years!" I'm sure we can come up with something relevant by substituting "games" for "years" and (I’ll leave it to your imagination) for "matriculated".

Premium Chessgames Member
  cro777: <AylerKupp> Haven't seen the film, but I've read the book. Maybe we are following flimflammer's ideas trying to find a win in an equal position.

As Kong Qiu said: "The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat."

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <cro777> I think it's too early to tell. I think that the engines are currently giving near [0.00] evaluations because they simply have too many possibilities to evaluate and cannot search deep enough in the time we're allowing them in order to reach positions where one side is noticeably better than the other, so their evaluations are not indicative of the true potential of our position. Or our opponent's!

So maybe subconsciously we're trying the Carlsen approach; get out of the opening with objectively no more than an equal game and then outplay the opponent in the middle game or the endgame. In OTB games this is probably a sound, though exhausting approach; Carlsen's opponents seem more likely to crack under his relentless pressure, particularly in the latter part of the game when they are tired after many hours of play. But I'm not sure if that approach would work against a determined and focused opponent, particularly a grandmaster, when he has 3 days to decide on his move. At any rate, we must be patient; the engine evaluations are not likely to go much beyond [+0.2] or [+0.3] anytime soon, unless one of us blunders. And I think that's unlikely.

So, possibly pessimistically but I think realistically, we need a mistake or two from him in order to gain an advantage that we might convert to a win, and I think that he is more likely to stumble because of distractions and other demands on his time than because of any brilliance on our part. I think that's what happened in our second game against GM Akobian and our game against GM Williams; Akobian played somewhat lackadaisically and Williams just didn't fully consider the implications of all his moves (5.g4?!, 22.Bc3?!, and definitely 33.Rxf4? although the "?" might be more appropriately attached to 32.f4 since that pretty much committed him to 33.Rxf4).

Jul-01-14  avidfan: Hey <Ayler> I am very impressed by your SGSS since I like EXCEL and its powerful features, not to mention its macros.

I like the colors of the Viewer but I miss the auto-play feature of .

I do like the use of the tabs as a help-guide, changes,, summary and use of ``other-games" to declutter the irrelevant games to update.

What feature or function was used to reserve columns C to N with the switch at the top right to hide/unhide this area? How were the moves entered into the cells? Was it done with the aid of a macro to sift out the moves and remove the move numbers? A masterpiece anyhow!!

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <avidfan> Thanks for the feedback. As far as hiding columns C to N that's done as part of Excel Outlining feature under Data > Group and Outline > Group to group the columns together, and then you can hide them using Data > Group and Outline > Hide Detail, or you can just click on the square with the "-" at the end of the line. As you probably noticed after you click on the square with the "=", the "-" turns into a "+" and when you click on the square it then unhides the columns. I do the same with the moves, I hide all the columns containing the older moves so that all you see is the first move of the game, the last move of the game, and any subsequent moves. That way the number of future moves displayed can be maximized without having to pan to the right.

This Group/Ungroup and Hide/Unhide also works with rows, and it's probably even more useful there. The grouped columns and rows can be nested so if you have a spreadsheet with increasing levels of detail like totals, subtotals, and sub-subtotals, you can group each level of detail so that you can hide all the levels of detail that you are not interested in.

As far as the autoplay feature I know that many viewers have it but I never use myself so I didn't think to include it. It wouldn't be hard to implement so I'll add it to my "list of enhancements" and I will get to it someday.

What I have in mind for the next major enhancement is to add the ability to clone a position being displayed in the viewer. How it would work is that you first get to a position using the viewer that you are interested in analyzing , press a key (well, probably 3; Ctrl+Shift+B for Board) and a new display with a copy of the position you have on the viewer would pop up. You would then be able to move the pieces on the cloned board either by dragging them or by clicking twice, once to select the piece to be moved and once to select its destination square. That way you could analyze a position without needing to use a board. And it would save all your moves so, once you figure out a promising line, a click would save all the moves needed to reach that position into a new row in the spreadsheet.

And I envision the capability to do multiple analyses. You could clone the cloned board and make some different moves to do an analysis of a new position, save that, close the new cloned board to get back to the original cloned board, clone another board, make some more moves, etc. Kind of like a nested tree of analyses that can get recorded if you want to save them. I started to work on that feature but it's a long way away. But maybe in time for the next game.

Jul-02-14  avidfan: Thanks <AK> for the quick and insightful reply. I do appreciate your precious time. You forgot to indicate how the game moves were entered in the cells. I suspect that it was done with the help of left string functions.
Premium Chessgames Member
  bigpeta66: Leaping forward
The reason i sad using multi engines didnt work is because what i was looking for was for the engines to agree on say the next 3 or 4 moves and leap forward to that point. However as i said the engines could not even agree on the 1st move let alone 3 or 4. So this multi engine method gave no usable continuations and that left us with your trial and error binary search method.

Hope that clears up what i was trying to say. If not let me know and i will try further.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <bigpeta66> I think I understood what you were trying to say but I think that it is unrealistic to expect that the engines would agree on what is the best move at any one time, much less agree on its evaluation. After all, human grandmasters don’t always agree on what the best move is in a given position, so why should chess engines be any different?

All chess engines have different evaluation functions. Not only are the factors in each of their evaluation functions different, but the importance (weights) attached to each evaluation factor are different. Compounded by the fact that different engines use different heuristics to prune their search trees and so are often looking at different move sequences, plus the inherent non-determinism of multi-core chess engines (an analysis of the same position to the same depth by the same engine on the same position will be different each time it is run) and I think that it would be a miracle if multiple chess engines agreed on what is the best move in a given position and have the same evaluation of that move.

And remember that all engine analyses, particularly long lines, should be reviewed before they are accepted, primarily because of the horizon effect. The last few moves of a long line do not had the benefit of sufficient search depth to be considered reliable. The most extreme example I remember was a position where an engine thought that following the last move of the line White had an advantage, yet Black had a mate in one on its next move! The engine had simply reached the end of its search depth (its horizon) and so could not evaluate the consequences of any additional moves. That’s why I think that my suggested “leaping forward” approach has some merit in validating the accuracy of a line and its evaluation, as long as you consider it as just a way to verify that the evaluation of the suggested engine line is correct, and not treat it as an attempt to find a better line.

So I, and I suggest that other do, treat engine lines as <suggestions>. Most of the time they are good suggestions, but often they trigger ideas that, upon exploration, turn out to be more promising. But, even if the suggested engine moves are not the best, I think that the ideas that they come up with are worthwhile.

As far as whether my binary search approach is worthwhile, I don’t really know. It sounds good on the surface but I haven’t had the time to truly test it under game-like conditions. It <may> be a good approach, but it may not be when compared to the standard sliding forward a few moves approach. I sure wish someone other than myself would try it and see what results they get!

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <avidfan> The way that the game moves are entered into the cells is anything but straightforward. Here are the basic steps in case you are interested:

1. I copy either the posted game moves or the moves listed in the PGN version of the game that was referenced in a link into a Word document.

2. I clean up the moves eliminating, for example, extra blanks, extra paragraph marks, and convert O-Os and O-O-Os into 0-0s and 0-0-0s for consistency, among many other things.

3. I convert the list of moves from a Word paragraph into a Word table, and copy this Word table into a worksheet tab in the Excel spreadsheet. I delete the worksheet tab from the Excel spreadsheet before I upload it to MediaFire, since it doesn’t serve any purpose in the final SGSS and just makes the file larger.

4. The Excel worksheet strips the move numbers from the moves that were copied from the Word table and verifies that there are no missing or extra moves (this is important if the game moves were posted; you’d be surprised how many errors people introduce into their posts). The Excel spreadsheet also assigns a unique game ID to the game, and calculates the game’s rating level (Master vs. Master, Master vs. Expert, Expert vs. Expert, etc.)

5. I then copy the moves from the worksheet to the Applicable Games tab and sort them according to the moves, starting from the end of the game. The Applicable Games tab (as well as the Other Games tab) then checks to see if a game’s move is the same as the corresponding move from the game just above it and, if it is and the “Tree” display option is selected, hides the move from being displayed so that you can see when each game deviates from each similar game.

6. I then check each game with the Game Viewer. The Game Viewer is very unforgiving of errors (i.e. illegal moves) so it provides a good verification that the game’s moves are correct as specified.

Phew! And that's just the summary. This process has evolved over several years and I have developed macros in both Word and Excel to automate many of the steps. Plus, of course, the Game Viewer. Still, it is a mostly manual effort that is susceptible to human errors, although there is a lot of additional error checking done to maximize the chances that I did it correctly.

I have a similar spreadsheet that is analogous to the Analysis Tree when we have a Team vs. Team game and <jepflast> is on the opposing team so I don’t think it’s fair to ask him to help his opponent Team.

Premium Chessgames Member
  bigpeta66: <As far as whether my binary search approach is worthwhile, I don’t really know. It sounds good on the surface but I haven’t had the time to truly test it under game-like conditions. It <may> be a good approach, but it may not be when compared to the standard sliding forward a few moves approach. I sure wish someone other than myself would try it and see what results they get!>

I can do that for you. just so i got it right

i leap to the end of the engine line and check the eval. if its the same then ok carry on. if not then half the line and try again. if necessary keep repeating the binary split until the eval is satisfactory.

Jul-03-14  avidfan: A million thanks again for taking time out to explain some of the inner workings of your SGSS. I am intrigued and still baffled - head spinning over the intricate programming concepts involved, O;) . I did not expect that WORD was involved.

Judging from <jepflast>'s amazing analysis tree, he must have quite highly developed programming skills. Has he ever used your SGSS and did he comment on its usability?

Someone asked me if his tree is open to our opponent in the present chess challenge.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <avidan> yes, <jepflast> is quite an accomplished software developer. He couldn’t spend too much time with the Analysis Tree for quite a while because he was involved in developing a chess-like game of his own. And his game is quite involved; it has pieces but you can customize their behavior and capabilities and so change the game substantially.

I don’t know if he has ever used the SGSS and he has not commented on its usability. I hope that some day he does.

There are two ways to access his Analysis Tree, either through the Sticky or through normal web access if you know the URL. If you know the URL and attempt to access it through the web, it is password-protected and you must know the password to access it. If you access it through the Sticky you don’t need to enter a password as it supplied by the Sticky link. But in order to access it through the Sticky you need to be a member of the World Team and so it’s protected that way.

Oh, I suppose that our opponent could create an account on the site and become a member of the World Team which would give him access to not only the Sticky and the Analysis Tree but to all our posts, analyses, and plans. But this is counter to the honor system inherent in these games and our opponent is not likely to do so.

I don’t know if you were a member of the World Team who played GM Natalia Pogonina. In that game her husband, Peter Zhdanov, wanted to join the World Team with the objective of writing an article about the game after observing the process first hand. A lot of team members were very upset at this and it got ugly for a while, with the World Team threatening to resign in protest. Eventually things calmed down and Mr. Zhdanov resigned from the World Team and the game continued. Mr. Zhdanov claimed that he would not disclose any of the team’s analyses or plans to his wife but did not understand that even if he did not do so (and I believe that he wouldn’t have), the arrangement would have the appearance of impropriety and so would have been damaging to the game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <bigpeta66> Yes, you got the concept right except that it wouldn’t be necessary that after restarting the analysis at the midpoint that the eval be the same as when you started the analysis at the beginning (it probably wouldn’t be), just that it be “close”. If it wasn’t “close”, then you would cut the interval in half again for the first half of the line. If it was “close”, then you would cut the interval in half again but for the second part of the line. The objective would be to find the move in the original analysis where the engine went wrong.
Jul-04-14  avidfan: Happy JULY4 from up north! The USA soccer team was marvellous against the youthful Belgian team especially the agile goalkeeper Tim Howard, saving 16 goals - most since 1966.

I joined that Pogonina game midway and was surprised she was able to get a perpetual. The World Team just did not do enough to secure the safety of the king. I enjoyed the way her king was smoked out of her castle. I prefer to avoid the clashes of egos in every chess challenge.

I wish to inform you of typos in the Notes tab of your SGSS:

row 98- missing "e" in "S_lected columns"

row 155- "previously" should be the adjective <previous>. Delete it from the start of next line as it occurs again.

row 272- insert missing space between "by_selecting" the cell

row 284- While not a typo, I prefer yellow "diamond" than triangle as I was searching in vain for it, ;-)

In the Changes tab

row 19- missing "a" in "G_me tab"

I hope there are no more typos. Cheerio. How do I know when there is an updated SGSS?

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <avidfan> I also joined he Pogonina game midway and that was my first team game. I was not entirely surprised that she was able to get a perpetual but I was perversely glad that she had to be the one to seek it even though at the time she had a small material advantage. But a draw is a draw.

Thanks for pointing out the typos in the ‘Notes’ and ‘Changes’ tab (although the latter are not as important, they are just a record for myself) as well as the suggestions. Unfortunately I suspect that you didn’t find all the typos in the ‘Notes’ tab. :-(

I have been making many changes recently and unfortunately I have not had the time to go back and list all the new features and make sure that the ‘Notes’ tab truly represents the status of the SGSS. When things quiet down I will first make sure that the ‘Notes’ tab matches the way the SGSS really works, and then fix all the typos.

As far as knowing when there is an updated SGSS I typically announce it on the main page after I have uploaded it to MediaFire so that I can give the link for the download. But I haven’t been able to work on it since I’m out of town and so I don’t have the time to devote to it. I am returning home on Tuesday but on Thursday we have company arriving so I still won’t have a lot of time to work on it. I don’t know if I will ever catch up!!

And thanks for your interest and your feedback.

Jul-12-14  isemeria: Hi <AK>!

Thank you for your work on <7.Bg5> in the Naiditsch game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <isemeria> Glad that I was able to help. I thought that it was important given the position and the relatively short amount of time that we had to make a decision. Besides, I couldn't think of anything better to do. :-)

As you know, I believe that since each has a different evaluation function and, in general, a different way of working, that it's very useful to run multi-engine analysis. You never know what one engine might come up with that others miss.

Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: You may have overlooked my post on the world page, so I'll post it here. Just because I'm curious and could find the games myself:

<< AylerKupp: ...

I was under the impression that this is exactly what we did; we played according to opening theory by looking at OTB and correspondence games played by strong players. Many of us warned against following the engines' advice in the opening simply because they cannot analyze such complex positions at adequate search depths in a reasonable amount of time....>

Ah, that is what happened? Must have missed it. Which OTB and/or correspondence games have us inspired to play 12.a3?>

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <john barleycorn> Hopefully you saw my response on the Main Page. If you missed it and happen to look here first, here it is: The World vs Naiditsch, 2014.
Premium Chessgames Member
  alan517: Hello Sir, I would like your opinion about games databases. What is the best DB for a 1500 rated player. I have Arena 3.5 and Stockfish 5. I also have Fritz 10 but I just got a new Windows 8 PC and I haven't tried to install it. I know that Fritz uses the Chessbase format and PGN. Also, I loaded a PGN file into Arena but I don't know how to combine files. Chessbase appears to be the standard for the masters. I thank you for your advice.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <alan517> Sorry for the delay in responding. I don't check my Profile Page often enough and I have been tied up in the Chessgames Challenge: The World vs Naiditsch, 2014 game as well as other "real life" things.

I don't have much experience with game databases. I know that the Chessbase database is supposed to be the standard and the largest (about 6 M games), but I don't like the fact that they give the statistics in terms of White's winning percentage and not the number of White wins, draws, and losses. For a particular move a White winning percentage of 55% could be based on 20% wins, 70% draws, and 10% losses; or it could be based on 50% wins, 10% draws, and 40% losses. The first one indicates that the move likely leads to a draw while the second one indicates that it will likely lead to a decision. Very different results from the same winning percentage!

I use 365Chess ( and ChessTempo ( 365Chess has about 3.3 M games in 2 databases, the "big database" and the masters database where both players are rated 2200+. ChessTempo is slightly smaller, about 2.9M games, but you can specify that they be filtered in increments of 100 Elo points; 2200+, 2300+, 2400+, etc. The 365Chess user interface is easier to use but doesn't have as many features, while the ChessTempo database has more filtering capabilities but is somewhat harder to use.

Both charge a nominal yearly amount for access to their full capabilities, $ 10.00/year for 365Chess and $ 20.00/year for ChessTempo. But you can try them both for free at the links I listed above, you just won't be able to go too many moves into an opening and (I suspect) that the filtering capabilities that they let you use are restricted.

For correspondence games I go directly to the ICCF game archives ( containing all correspondence games played since 2002 or so in *.pgn format. I wrote a parser that would convert the games from *.pgn format to *.csv format so that I can import them into Excel. I don't know if you are familiar with my Analysis Tree Spreadsheet (ATSS) which I describe in this Forum's header, but I have a similar version for games I call the Supplementary Games Spreadsheet (SGSS). It is my plan to create one of these spreadsheets for correspondence games for each year since 2002 and, once we are a few moves into a Team game, extract the relevant games from each of the years and combine them into an SGSS for the newly started Team game.

Alas, my parser currently has a bug that I have not had time to fix. It also doesn't handle comments embedded in the moves and that feature is necessary to be able to process all the correspondence games. I'll post a notice on this forum when the year-by-year SGSSs are available.

I am not sure what you mean about combining *.pgn files so that you can use them with Arena. The only time that I use *.pgn files with Arena is when I am running engine-vs.-engine tournaments when I specify the initial moves of the game in *.pgn format and tell Arena to start the tournament from that position. But maybe there are other ways to use *.pgn files in Arena that I don't know about. Arena has many capability that I am not familiar with!

Premium Chessgames Member
  alan517: Hi Ayler, Thank you for your advice and comments. I am using the Big Database from Chessbase with the Fritz GUI and Stockfish 5. I like it because the search has many options. I am also an old-timer, I learned the game in the 60s & 70s with Al Horowitz's books and a game collecton. I was an active USCF player until 1987 when my wife asked that I give up my chess books which included the ECOs and Informants. Now I am playing on I am preparing to play in an USCF tournament in October, it should be exciting! Also, I have a question about chess engines. What makes engine A better that Engine B. I know each engine has different programs. Just wondering what makes the engines different. Thanks again for your help!
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <alan517> I am glad that you are planning on playing in an USCF tournament in October. I have also thought about entering a tournament but I haven't played in so many years that I am afraid that I would make too many silly mistakes. I enjoy the analyzing I do at home with a much more relaxed "time control" so I have also thought about entering a correspondence chess tournament but I somehow find myself too busy to do either.

As far as why one chess engine is stronger than another I think that it has mainly to do with two things, it's evaluation function and its search function. Its evaluation function must be accurate, giving a correct evaluation of all different types of positions but it must also be fast. If it takes too much time to calculate an evaluation, no matter how accurate it is, then the engine will not be able to search as deep as its competition in the same amount of time and therefore be at a disadvantage in competitive games. So, like so many other things in life (like a wife and chess books, :-) ), it is important to have a good balance between accuracy and speed.

An engine's search function must also be efficient and "intelligent". It must know which branches of a search tree are not likely to contain good moves and throw them away (prune them) so that the positions that these branches have will not need to be calculated. The more branches of a search tree that are <properly> thrown away the deeper the engine can search in the same amount of time. But it is also important to have a good balance between aggressive pruning of its search tree (if too aggressive then good moves might be missed) and too conservative (if too conservative then the engine will not be able to search as deeply in a reasonable amount of time). I have read that most of the recent progress in chess engines in recent years has come from improvements in their search functions since computer hardware advances, although many, will not by themselves allow much increase in an engine's search depth in a given amount of time because the number of calculations needed increases too fast the deeper you search.

There are also many other reasons why one engine might be better than another, for example, the overall quality of the programming, but I think that those are the main two.

But we need to be careful when we decide that engine A is better than engine B. We get that impression when engines compete in engine vs. engine tournaments; if engine A beats engine B most of the time then we consider engine A to be the stronger. But these tournaments are usually played at fast time controls, 40 moves in 4 minutes and 40 moves in 40 minutes. Very rarely are tournaments played at classical time controls like 40 moves in 120 minutes because they simply take too long. And just because engine A is better than engine B at fast time controls does not necessarily mean that it will be better than engine B as slower time controls like the type we use in this game, although we assume that it will be. But we could be wrong.

Another thing that makes a difference between playing games and analyzing positions is that we rely on the engine's <absolute> evaluation (the actual number that it calculates about a position) in order to make our decisions as to which move is better than another. But for an engine to play well it is only necessary that its <relative> evaluation of two moves is correct so that it can pick which is the better move. So for an engine to select move X over move Y it is only necessary that move X's evaluation be better than move Y's, and their evaluations could be 10.1 vs. 10.0, 1.1 vs. 1.0, or 0.11 vs. 0.10 and the result will be the same; the engine will pick move X. But if we are making decisions about a particular move, it makes a big difference to us whether the engine's evaluation is 10.1, 1.1, or 0.1! But in practice I don't think that this is too big of a problem, but sometimes you will see one engine's evaluations being higher than another engine's. That is why I do multi-engine analysis and average the engine's evaluations, to try to remove any biases in one engine's evaluations.

Well, enough about engines. Good luck in your USCF tournament in October. And, when your wife asked that you give up your chess books, I hope that you "negotiated" some good things in return. :-)

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