You’ll recall that in the last blog post I showed you two ChessBase 11 shortcuts: how to quickly set up a position search, and how to search multiple databases in one pass. A multi-database search can yield an awful lot of “hits”, so how do you start sifting through all that material?
Last time around we were searching for the basic position from the Caro-Kann Advance Variation after the moves 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5. After completing the search, ChessBase 11 presented us with a list of games containing the position after those three moves for each side:
Scrolling to the end of this game list, we discover that ChessBase 11 has unearthed over 55,000 games, making it difficult for us to decide how to even begin to peruse this material.
I have a tip for you: begin with any annotated games you find in the game list. These games are tremendously useful because of the commentary they contain. You’re not just stumbling around in the dark trying to figure out what’s important; the commentary and variations give you that information.
But how do you determine which are the annotated games?
ChessBase 11 indicates which games are annotated, but your search results window might not be displaying the proper column (mine isn’t in the illustration above). Right-click on any of the column headers in the game list to display a pop-up menu. Select “Show VCS” from this menu, as illustrated here:
This will display a new column (with the header “VCS”) which contains various single-letter abbreviations:
“VCS” stands for “Variations, Commentary, and Symbols”. The appearance of letters in the “VCS” column means that the game contains annotations provided in one of these forms, denoted by the appropriate letter. A capital letter indicates that the game contains a lot of this annotation form, a lower case letter means not quite so much. (There are also other abbreviations, such as “M” for “Multimedia” annotations, but the abbreviations V, C, and S are the ones you’ll encounter most often.)
Even with this handy flag, it can still be a chore to scroll up and down the game list to find annotated games. There is, however, a handy “one-click” solution here as well (which you might remember from a previous post to this blog): the column headers in the search result window double as buttons. Clicking a column header will re-sort the game list according to that column’s information.
So we find that clicking on the “VCS” button will re-sort the game list and make it easy for us to find annotated games:
Note that this re-sorting process does require a couple of minutes, but you can always see the progress by looking at the status bar in the screen’s lower right-hand corner.
As we’ve seen before, you can play through a game right in the search results window by single-clicking on it in the list; you can replay it in the game board to the left, and see the game notation in the Notation pane on the lower left:
…or you can double-click on a game to open and replay it in its own game window:
It’s that simple – after conducting a search which turns up hundreds or thousands of games, sort the search results to find the annotated games, which are in turn much more informative than unannotated material.
Have fun! – Steve Lopez
Chessplayers who have purchased their ChessBase brand software from USCFSales can receive free technical support and advice on their purchases straight from me; just shoot me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), but please remember to include the USCF Sales order number from your ChessBase software purchase. – Steve
Copyright 2011, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.