ChessBase 11 – finding an opening’s ECO code

One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve encountered over my years in the chess software business is “How do I find the ECO [Encyclopedia of Chess Openings] code for a particular opening?” There are a couple of different ways to do this using ChessBase 11, both by itself and in concert with the Mega Database’s opening key.

In today’s blog post, we’re going to look at the technique for doing this in ChessBase 11 alone. It’s extremely easy to do once you know how.

After launching ChessBase 11, first click on the “Board” button (found in the ribbon under the Home menu) to open a new board window. Next click on the “View” menu:

ChessBase 11 chess database software from

Click on the picture for a larger view

The left-hand box of this ribbon is marked “Panes”. You can pick and choose from a variety of informational displays which will appear in a Board window. Make sure that the “Status Bar” box is checked (as shown in the above illustration) so that the status bar will appear at the bottom of the screen:

ChessBase 11 chess database software from

Click on the picture for a larger view

The status bar is just a blue bar which runs along the bottom of the Board window. This bar will show relevant information at various times when the Board window is in use. “What kind of information?” you might well be asking. For one thing, it will display the name of the opening as you make moves on the chessboard.

As usual, we’ll look at an example of this feature in action. After making sure “Status Bar” has a check in the box beside it, make the following moves on the chessboard:

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6

Up to this point, the text displayed in the status bar hasn’t changed. But after we make one more move…


…we see some new text appear in the status bar:

ChessBase 11 chess database software from

As you make moves on the chessboard, ChessBase 11 will attempt to identify the opening in question; as soon as enough moves are made to reach a position the software “recognizes”, it will display the name of the opening in the status bar.

However, there is a caveat with this feature: short variations produce less exact result than slightly longer variations. Basically, what this means is that the more moves you make on the chessboard, the more specific and accurate the opening identification will be.

In our example so far, we’ve made just enough moves to allow ChessBase to identify the opening as a Ruy Lopez. Because there aren’t yet enough moves to identify a specific variation or ECO code, the software uses a general heading of C70 (ECO codes which end in zero often tend to be general “catch-all” classifications for side lines within a particular system).

We can demonstrate this by taking back White’s fourth move in ChessBase and making the following move instead:


…after which we’ll see this in the status bar:

ChessBase 11 chess database software from

Since 4.Bxc6 goes into a specific variation, ChessBase identifies the opening as such: the Ruy Lopez Exchange, which we can see is ECO code C68. If we input some more moves, we may also learn that ECO code C69 is also a Ruy Exchange classification; the specific code (C68 or C69) depends on which moves are made after 4.Bxc6.

Let’s take back the move 4.Bxc6, and again play the move 4.Ba4. Let’s make some more moves and see how the status bar’s text changes:

4…b5 5.Bb3 Nf6

So far there’s been no change. But after:


…we see the following:

ChessBase 11 chess database software from

The opening is called the Worrall Attack (technically, it’s the Wormold, but it usually transposes into a Worrall), and we see from ChessBase’s status bar that the exact ECO classification for it is C77.

Note that if we take back the move 6.Qe2 and instead play:

6.0-0 Be7 7.Qe2

…we see this:

ChessBase 11 chess database software from

This confirms my earlier comment about the “Wormold into Worrall” transposition.

As long as the status bar is displayed in your ChessBase 11 board window, you can do this with any sequence of moves you make on the chessboard. Just remember that the longer the move sequence, the more precise the ECO code identification will be.

Note, too, that the status bar will also display the opening name and ECO code whenever you’re replaying a game from a database. After double-clicking on a game from a game list, start replaying the moves from the start of the game and you’ll see the opening identification appear in the status bar (as this composite picture illustrates):

ChessBase 11 chess database software from

Click on the picture for a larger view

Although the opening’s ECO code will generally be displayed in the game’s header information (players, tournament, year, etc.) anyway, the status bar will show the verbal name of the opening, which will help you learn to “match” the ECO codes of the openings with their common names.

If you own Mega Database 2011, there’s an even more accurate way to search for and identify openings by both ECO code and name in ChessBase 11; we’ll look at that on Friday in this blog. Until then…

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 (, but please remember to include the USCFSales order number from your ChessBase software purchase. – Steve

Copyright 2011, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.


Leave a comment

Filed under chess, Chess software, ChessBase, ChessBase 11, Database software, Mega Database

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s