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Comprehensive Chess Openings 2005 Review
keywords: openings, reference, MCO, ECO, encyclopedia
Robert Pawlak
Sunday, July 17, 2005

Introduction

Comprehensive Chess Openings 2005 is a wide-ranging opening reference that has theoretical recommendations for just about every opening. The key difference in this latest release is that there is no longer a reliance solely on Informant-type symbology to convey important ideas and concepts. Indeed, this version contains quite a bit of text commentary sprinkled throughout the opening material.

Another important difference is that Convekta has drastically changed the way material is accessed and viewed. While the same classifier view is still used, Chess Openings 2005 employs the new "opening tables mode" that was introduced in Chess Assistant 8. This new mode conveys a great deal of power, and makes the new material on this CD easy to use and modify (if you so desire). For more information on the new opening tables mode, see appropriate section in this article and this one.

Those that are engaged in serious chess study know that there are several aspects to learning an opening. One is the consultation of existing theory on the best variation to play from a particular position. Convekta addresses this by providing a reference that encompasses over 500,000 opening moves with over 8000 key positions containing text annotations. Another aspect of opening study is of course the examination of master games. For this, Convekta provides a reference database, which contains 1,000,000 games. And while opening variations and model games are good, the addition of text explanation to key positions is what sets this product apart from many others.

And like Chess Assistant 8, Openings 2005 offers a whole host of other database features, like chess trees, searches, printing, engine analysis, and the like. The only thing you can't do is open and create other databases (you can annotate any of the games in the guru database that you want though). If you want more information on what Chess Assistant 8 can do, I would urge you to read my review

How Does it Work?

While there are many other functions that Comprehensive Chess Openings 2005 supports, this short walk-through should give you an idea of some of the more important features of the program. First, let's assume we are studying a variation of the Sicilian opening. In fact, let's take a look at the Sicilian dragon to see what the program says:

[dragon]

Note how the tree display below the board shows current statistics, in addition to the date and highest ELO of the most recent game in the reference database. The move window (upper right) shows you where you are in this particular variation of the Sicilian. Just below that, you can see the ECO-like table giving suggested/possible variations from that point forward. The commentary window in the lower right gives you some plain English explanation of what you can expect from the Dragon. Let's move along a little farther in the dragon now, and take a look at what happens after 6.Be2 Bg7 7.O-O O-O 8.Nb3.

[Nb3]

[tooltip]As you can see, there is a small text passage that gives some of the broader ideas associated with this variation. And you should also note the ECO code for this variation is shown in the title of the window. Note that some of the moves in the table are colored a light brown. This means that there is text commentary available for these positions. Moves in bold font also have variations visible in the "more lines" window.

And speaking of "more lines", clicking on this tab shows you some alternate variations that Convekta considers to be slightly inferior to the suggested main line (in this case, the suggested line is  8... Nc6 9. Bg5 Be6). You can click anywhere in the inferior variation, and the pieces will move automatically on the board.

[more_lines]

If you want to change any information in the opening table, it's simply a matter of entering the moves on the chessboard. If it is a variation that is not already examined by Convekta's team, then you'll see it appear in the variation window. You can then (by right clicking) give it an evaluation, or make it a suggested line in the table.

There are a whole host of navigation tools for moving around the table as well. In fact, a history that is similar in functionality to your web browser history is maintained as you move through the various tables. You can go back at any time to access material that you looked at previously. In the screenshot below, you can see how the material is accessed (for instance, you can select a specific day to examine, only tables resulting from a certain position, etc).

[history]

There is really quite a bit more to the software. It pretty much has many of the capabilities of Chess Assistant 8, but with some limitations on database handling and the like.

Who is it for?

This particular software is best for those that don't already own Chess Assistant (CA), since CA 8 includes all the Openings 2005 data. And while it does provide some fairly detailed coverage of some openings, there is less detail for others. So I don't think this program is a substitute for a CD geared toward a particular opening. It is probably most useful for filling in holes, and providing very broad coverage of all the openings.

Availability and Other Information
 
The software comes on a single CD with a manual, in a small DVD box. Once installed there is no refueling  necessary; i.e. you will not be prompted to reinsert the CD as a copy protection check. Approximately 660 M of hard drive space is required for a full install. English, German, French, Spanish and Italian languages are all supported. You can get more information on this product at the ChessOK website.






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