Fritz Powerbook has a number of different uses: it can be an expanded opening book for the Fritz family of playing programs, it can be a statistical tool for researching openings, it can be used for finding opening transpositions. Yet another interesting use for Powerbook is to find the spots in your own games where you or your opponent departed from “known” opening practice.
I’ll be using ChessBase 11 for this example, but you can easily do this with Fritz as well. The first step, of course, is to make sure Powerbook is loaded as your default opening book (by going to the “round button” Application menu, selecting “Open”, then “Opening book” from the submenu, and selecting Powerbook). Then load the game you want to check:
I dug way back in ye old archives to select a game from about a dozen years ago. After looking at this game, I remembered my thoughts as I was playing it. We’d both started with our kingside Knights and sort of “backed into” a King’s Indian Defense. I wondered then, and still wonder now, how far along the game progressed according to “book” lines.
(For those readers unfamiliar with the technology, “book” is chess slang for recognized opening theory, that is, known variations from books like Modern Chess Openings and the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings. “Book” can also refer to theory which is personally known to a player, e.g. “When he brought out the Bishop at move 8, I didn’t recognize the move – he took me out of ‘book’.”)
It’s pretty easy to use Powerbook to find the place where you “left book”. First click on the “Openings book” tab at the top of the Notation pane to display the move list from Powerbook:
You’ll see the first move of your game highlighted. Now just hit the right cursor (right arrow) key on your keyboard (or use the right arrow VCR button under the chessboard):
to advance the game one move. You’ll now see the next move of the game highlighted in the Powerbook list:
Just keep advancing through the game one move at a time until you come to a move which appears at the end of the game list and for which no statistics are displayed:
This is the point at which either you or your opponent played a “non-book” move, generally the point at which your game has departed from known opening theory. In the illustration above, we see that my opponent was the first to leave “book” when she played 8.Bd2.
However, it’s often worthwhile to play a few more moves ahead; sometimes your game transposes back into known territory. You’ll know this has happened if you suddenly see a highlighted move with statistical information to the right of its listing in Powerbook. But if your game doesn’t transpose back into known lines, move backward through the game (using the left cursor key or the “left arrow” VCR button) to return to the move at which one player departed from book.
There’s a reason why we’re doing this. We can actually annotate our own games “on the fly” by using our Fritz Powerbook.
First, click on the first listed move in the Powerbook display (which would be 8.O-O in the illustration), or use the “up arrow” cursor key on your keyboard to move up the list until that first move is highlighted, then hit the “Enter” key. The move will be made on the chessboard and you’ll see the following popup:
Click the “New variation” button. You’ll then see the list of replies to the move you just clicked (or “Entered”) on:
Keep advancing through the game until Powerbook comes to the end of the variation and runs out of moves:
Now click on the Notation tab:
…and you’ll see that the moves have been added to your game as a replayable variation. If you want to save this variation into the game, go to the Application menu (the round button in the screen’s upper left hand corner), and select “Save”, then “Replace” from the submenu.
Note that you can also display the opening book’s contents and your game’s notation simultaneously in separate panes. Just go to the “View” menu and select “Extra book pane” from the “Panes” portion of the ribbon:
You’ll see an additional Book pane appear on the screen beside the Notation pane; now you can view both the game notation and the Powerbook contents at the same time:
I’m a big fan of manually stepping through Fritz Powerbook to see where opening deviations appear in games. You can learn a lot about the openings in this manner; for example, you’ll also be able to see which of your “book” moves weren’t necessarily the most popular or most effective choice.
Have fun! – Steve Lopez
Copyright 2011, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.