Chess Assistant - Preparing for an opponent

Updated: May 23

It is 1980. You have just found out that in the next game of a chess tournament your opponent will be a strong player who occupies the first place in the table. The stakes of this game are very high for you. If you win, you'll gain a higher chess category and a lot of ELO rating points. If you lose... you'd rather not think about it further. You only have one day, and the game is tomorrow. In that one day you want to get the records of all the games played by your tomorrow's opponent in the last 2 years. You don't know if you will have enough time to analyze the debuts and continuations and the plans your opponent uses in the middle game. Ufff. Big of it and only one day... Maybe your colleagues can help you? .... And if not ? ;-)

In the days when no one believed that a computer could win against a human in a game of chess, preparation for a game of chess with a future opponent was... "analog" and took a lot of time and often involved many chess players to work together. Unfortunately, not everyone had a friend who played and understood chess at the level of a master or grandmaster.

Today, when chess players have access to databases of chess games and specialized software to work with such databases, preparation for a game against another chess player takes a maximum of a few tens of minutes instead of one or up to several days as it did in the past.

This part of the course is prepared in Chess Assistant version 20 in such a way that the vast majority of this program's capabilities can be used in previous versions.

In this part of the course I will show you how to use the Chess Assistant program to effectively prepare for a game against another chess player.

Prepare Against...

Select the function Prepare for your opponent... in the toolbar.

A new window appears that lists the players whose games appear in your database, in that case -> Hugebase.

You can scroll through the list of players until you reach the name of your opponent or, better yet, use the search function. In field named Find: type in the name of your opponent, in this case: Gazis Efstathios.

In this example, we assume that we are interested in preparing to play white against Gazis Efstathios.

So, in the Your side: select White and check the Build classifier with ECO statistic box. If we are interested in a report with data from selected years, we select the Dates square and set the specific years from - to.

Mark the row with the name Gazie Efstathios (in my database with the number 121117).

Okay. Let's click on the Run button.

After a short wait (about 3 seconds on my computer), Chess Assistant will show a branch named Gazis Efstathios (GRE)_1 (196) in the left-hand panel.

The List branch (196) contains 196 chess games that our opponent played with black.

If you wish, you can open any of that game.

I chose the chess game (nb.196) Barchuk I. vs Gazis E. Double-click on this game to open it.

Let's return to the window with game List (196); close this window.

At this stage of preparation, it is useful to create an opening tree for all (196) of our opponent's games.

To do this, click on the icon representing the Tree and select Current base.

A new branch will be created in the left-hand panel named Tree (196/196).

Easily and quickly - given the information in the column called % Year ELO - we can gain knowledge of which of white's first moves gave them the best results. In our example we can see that 1. Nf3 (47% wins) and 1. e4 and 1. d4 (45% wins each) are the openings giving the best results for white against our opponent.

It's worth noting that 1. Nf3 was played by white only 16 times against Gazis E., while the openings 1. e4 and 1. d4 are much more often chosen - 91 and 69 times respectively -> and these lines are worth paying attention to, as they will give us much more useful information.

This tree can be viewed by moving the pieces on the chessboard or by clicking on the move table.

In the Gazis Efstathios (GRE)_Black branch there are lines of play in black of our opponent.

There are lines of play with black that our opponent "dislikes" because he has achieved poor results in them...

How to interpret this data ?

Let's take the first line as an example:

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4. Ngf3 cd +1=1-3 (30%)

Our future opponent scored 1 win, 1 draw and 3 losses here. Which gave a poor result of 30%.

We can check out the games in this line.

First click on this line to select it, and then double-click on 4.Ngf3 (dislikes).

In the newly opened window we can check the scores and opponents of Gazis E.

...and lines of play with black that our opponent "likes" because he has achieved good results in them.

We interpret the results in the same way as above.

Of course, when preparing an opponent I do not recommend choosing lines in which he has had convincing victories and good results.

Such a line is e.g. 1.c4 g6, where Gazis E. won 3 times, tied once, and didn't lose a single chess game, achieving a result of 87%.

The exception is when we have a very strong continuation prepared, which we are confident enough to play successfully.

And in the branch named ECO_Gazis Efstathios (GRE)_Black similarly as in the previous branch - there are TOP lines with distribution by ECO codes of the openings.

Again, similar to the above - by clicking on an opening such as E39, Chess Assistant shows in the right window more detailed data with the number of games played and the results included.

Let's prepare a surprise for our future opponent in a line he has chosen in recent years and in which he may want to improve his results.

We will focus on the Nimzo-Indian. In this opening, Gazis E. was moderately successful: +2=1-3 (41%).

Let's double-click on E39 in the window on the right.

Chess Assistant showed only 2 games, but it is noteworthy that until white's sixth move the chess game was played with the same moves.

In the game in which our future opponent achieved the only positive result - a draw - after white's sixth move he played a black castling (0-0).

In high probability, Gazis E. will play castling again in this opening.

So let's prepare a surprise for our future opponent in white's seventh move.

Let's open the first game by double clicking on it.

On the additional toolbar, let's select Position and click on the icon: Report for current position (chessboard icon with question mark in red color).

The first report shows that the move 7.a3 is interesting and can lead to a good game for white.

Now on the additional toolbar, select Games and click on the icon: Find novelty.

In the newly opened small window confirm by clicking OK.

Select the row with the openings: Openings (on my computer: C:\Chess Assistant 20\Bases\Openings) and click OK.

Chess Assistant will show the notation with novelty found move 7.a3N, chess games lines and additional annotations.

At this point in our deliberations, after white's move 7. a3 - you can start a strong chess engine to see what it has to offer.

How to effectively use chess engines in Chess Assistant will be described in the next part of this course "Chess Assistant - Using chess engines"

Returning to the tree created earlier (Tree branch in the panel on the left of the window), we see that such a position was created only once in Gazis E.'s career, and 7.Bf4 was played; the game ended in a draw.

By clicking on the Create Opening Table icon (icon marked with a red line)

Chess Assistant will build an opening table starting with move number seven.

In Opening table mode you will find the ability to play variants from the table, analyze them, mark interesting items that you can find in the variants and annotate them.

In this mode you can navigate between several items while continuing your work.

Concluding this part, here is the position after making the last move with white from the line suggested by Chess Assistant. Certainly an interesting picture on the chessboard, a sharpened game with a slight white advantage.

In Chess Assistant after just a few clicks - we can get a lot of information that will serve us to prepare for the opponent.


This is the end of the course:

Chess Assistant - Preparing for an opponent

I invite you to choose the next course :-))

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