Friday, August 5, 2011

Play through 200 GM games a week?

Last Friday (July 29, 2011), the Rochester Chess Club presented a lecture by GM Larry Christiansen over the internet (ICC and Skype). It was a very interesting talk with Larry leading us through some very interesting games.

In answer to a question about chess study,  he said something challenging, "You should go through 200 GM games a week on the openings you play". Being a GM, I suspect that he can get value from a game much faster than I can, but also how is one to find that many games? This post will cover how extract games with your openings.

How to find lots of new games is easy. The Week In Chess has a download each week with lots of games, both in PGN and CBV(chessbase) format.

You could load this up into Chessbase or the small version they include with Fritz, and look for your tabiya with the position search function. The problem is that you have to do repeat the search with each tabiya you have. The full version of Chessbase may have a way to batch this up, but I don't know how. (You can narrow it down to GM games for one step per tabiya)

I like to use the free chess database ChessDB, which is available for download here. ChessDB loads in PGN files, or can automatically download TWIC. The date on the TWIC site is in European format, so number 873, which I will be using is dated Monday Aug 1, 2011. When you install ChessDB it may associate PGN files, so you can just unzip and open the TWIC file, or you can open in ChessDB with the Tools->Import File of PGN games. The initial database when ChessDB comes up is the clipbase, so nothing you do here will affect any other database you may have.

There are 4,537 games in the TWIC 873 pgn file. The first game from is a nice Ruy Lopez Berlin between, Shirov and Carlsen, but we are looking for our openings, which for this exercise will be the Kings Indian Defense. But first we are going to filter to get only Grandmaster games, by selecting Search->Header and changing the ratings for games with only above 2500 ratings playing. I have circled in magenta where I specified the rating range.

The next window is the interesting one. We are going to open the Repertoire editor, which will allow us to specify many positions that we want to filter games. We can save the Repertoire editor values to use in the future.

Move the pieces in the main window to set up the tabiya you want, or use the Edit->Set Up Start Board window. When you move pieces in an existing game, it will ask what you are doing, and you should select the "Try Variation" button. I first enter 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 which starts many of the lines of the King's Indian Defense. Then in the Repertoire Editor, I select Edit->Add Group. I then add the moves 4.e4 d6 in the main window, and Edit->Add Line in the Repertoire Editor, which now looks like this:

In this group we can add more lines both include for more specific positions and exclude for lines we are not interested in, but I will add another group for the Fianchetto variation. I could have had one group after the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 and a longer line 3.Nc3 Bg7  4.e4 d6 but I chose two groups with one line each for this exercise. After changing the main window to show 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3. I add a group and a line for this position. After adding all of your groups and lines, you should save the repertoire with File->Save As, so you can use it again next week, when you will load it with File->Open.

I now search on these two lines by seletion Search in the Repertoire Editor and the "And" selection in the search popup window. I get 5 games, but Shirov-Carlsen still shows up, too. I get to my first King's Indian Defense game by selecting Game->Load First Game, which is Shankland-Nyzhnyk. You can get more games by adding more lines, or relaxing the rating requirements.

You can step through the games, or you can export it/them to PGN via Tools-Export Game and load it up into your favorite chess program for replay and analysis. You can also use the Header and Repertoire searches on ChessDB's huge database to pick through your openings games by date range. You can have many repertoire files, but it is likely that two (one for white, one for black) will do. You might want to set the rating on only the color of the openings.

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