ChessBase - Using chess engines

Updated: May 23

ChessBase allows you to use chess engine / engines when working with chess games - ChessBase calls them Kibitzer. For any move or position you can call the Kibitzer, which will evaluate the position, suggest a good or interesting continuation, or analyze the chess game noting the good and weak moves, suggesting what to play.

The longer the chess engine works, the more confident we can be in its evaluation. ChessBase allows you to install multiple chess engines and use one or more of them simultaneously.


ChessBase allow access to millions of already proven positions by other chess players using the Kibitzer.

If you find yourself in an interesting position and turn on the Kibitzer, you can immediately see the results that other chess players have obtained in the same position using different chess engines, The result is astounding. You can now quickly go through the key lines, observing not only what moves made, but also what the different Kibitzer - chess engines - calculated.

ChessBase has compiled all these Kibitzer evaluations into a separate book of openings called the Live Book. The result is a lively, fast-moving environment that helps chess players in their analysis, position evaluations which enables faster and more effective preparation for opponents and promotes learning and rapid progress in the art of chess.


This part of the course is prepared in Chessbase version 16 in such a way that the vast majority of this program's capabilities can be used in previous versions from 12 to 15.
(ChessBase 12 was released in 2012).

Depending on the version of ChessBase you are using dear reader, your program includes one to several Kibitzers that are integrated into ChessBase.

The very good news is that...


Each of the pre-built Kibitzers plays with a strength that surpasses even the playing strength of a World Chess Champion!

This means, that the results of position analysis and evaluation using any of the Kibitzers will be objective and at a very, very high level.

You can install additional engines, you can set the default engine as any of the installed ones, you can even rent some really powerful Kibitzers in the cloud.



How to use chess engines with ChessBase - that's what this part of the course is about.



Kibitzer


In the rest of this course, I will use the name: Kibitzer instead of chess engine.


To see a list of installed Kibitzers: - Open a any game and go to Home - Add Kibitzer


As you can see, I have added several additional Kibitzers to my list of chess engines.



Install Kibitzer


You can install any chess engine in ChessBase that uses the UCI (Universal Chess Interface) protocol.


Almost all modern, free and commercial chess engines support the UCI protocol.

To install new Kibitzers, download them, open any game or empty chessboard and click Home - Create UCI Engine.


A new window will open: Set up UCI Engine.

Click "..." button.


And in the next window indicate the chess engine to install. In this case it will be Colossus v2008b.exe.

Click on the Open button.


Note that ChessBase recognized the engine name: Colossus 2008b and its author: Martin Bryant.

To install the selected chess engine, click on the OK button.


UCI engines can be used wherever they are, in any folder or any disk on the computer. The configuration files with the extension *.uci are always saved in the folder / Documents and Settings/Username/Application Data/ChessBase/Engines.UCI.


When you install new ChessBase programs (such as Fritz), the built-in chess engines are automatically placed in the Engines directory.

Once the chess engine has been installed correctly, it will be visible in the list of available Kibitzers.



Kibitzers (engines) management


If you have installed a lot of Kibitzers and would like only selected Kibitzers to be listed, go to Home - Engine Management.


After moving the selected Kibitzers from the left side ( Active engines ) to the right side ( Inactive engines ), confirm your choice by clicking on OK button.


Again by clicking on Home - Add Kibitzer, my list contains only selected Kibitzers ( Active engines ).


Of course, inactive Kibitzers (they are installed) can be activated in the same way as described above by clicking on Home - Engine Management.


After activating two Kibitzers named:

  • Colossus 2008b

  • Fritz 15

My Kibitzers list looks exactly like this:



Default Kibitzer


Let's open any chess game.

There is always one selected default Kibitzer in ChessBase, which can be started by clicking on the Home - Default Kibitzer ribbon.


The default Kibitzer can be set by entering the main options - Click on the key icon.


The Options window will open.

After click on Engines, you will see options on the right side of the window for setting the default chess engine.

To make a change to the default Kibitzer, click Browse...


A familiar window with a list of chess engines will open.


After selecting another default Kibitzer from the available chess engines, confirm with OK button.


As we can see, the default Kibitzer ( Default Engine ) has been changed to Fritz 17, which we selected in the previous window.


The default Kibitzer should be the chess engine that is best / most used for you.

After clicking the OK button, we will return to the window with the chess game opened earlier.


So let's check if our new default Kibitzer will work after launch.


Oh yes, it works !


A chess engine called Fritz, which comes with ChessBase, provides perfect integration with all ChessBase options and capabilities.

There are different versions of the Fritz chess engine.
One of the most powerful is Fritz 17 released by ChessBase in 2019 (author Frank Schneider) , whose chess playing power has been measured at the sky-high level of 3190 Elo points ( rapid time control ).

By comparison, the playing strength of World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in December 2021 was 2842 Elo points ( rapid time control ), which is 348 Elo points less than the Fritz 17 Kibitzer!


Click on this link - if you want to learn more about the Elo ranking system.


Working with Kibitzer / Kibitzers


As you may have guessed, working with Kibitzer-who can play chess with a strength far superior to that of any human player - produces very good results. And this is indeed the case.


With a game board, open the default Kibitzer or select another Kibitzer: Home - Add Kibitzer and double-click on your engine choice.


You can add several different Kibitzers if you wish.

For example, let's add a second Kibitzer.

As we can see, two chess engines ( Fritz 17 and Stockfish 14 ) simultaneously analyze the initial position of a chess game.


If you have more than one Kibitzer running, you can remove the last one loaded with Home - Remove kibitzer.


The more Kibitzers you add, the more impact it will have on your computer's resources.

In 1994 a set of chessboard positions was created to test the chess engines of the time.

One of the positions was then briefly summarized by Mr. Bruce Moreland, who stated: "I don't think that anyone ( chess engine) has ever solved this one."

Here's that position:

Fen notation:
r2qk2r/ppp1b1pp/2n1p3/3pP1n1/3P2b1/2PB1NN1/PP4PP/R1BQK2R w - - 0 1

I will show you how powerful is modern chess engine.... Let's start Fritz 17 Kibitzer :-)


After... 6 seconds I get result:

Just 6 seconds after running Fritz 17 Kibitzer, we got the result of the analysis - the strongest move Nxg5 in that position was found.


After adding the next two top lines of analysis, we see that the Nxg5 move is by far the strongest continuation.

To increase or decrease the number of lines to be examined by Kibitzer, click on the magnifying glass with + or -.




Twenty-five years after this position was published, the unsolvable task was solved in... 6 seconds !


I would like to emphasize that the quality of position and game analysis by chess engines has increased incredibly over the last quarter of a century.


It is worth using the suggestions of modern chess Kibitzers like Fritz 17, as they are able to quickly, efficiently and accurately offer any chess player objective and accurate suggestions, continuation plans, finding errors and inaccuracies or analysis of chess games.

Important Notes...


  • When you open a Kibitzer, it will not be available for use in a position in another game until you close it in the game where it is used.


  • If you don't see Kibitzer in the list of available engines, it means you left it active in another window.


  • If you cannot open Kibitzer, you probably have so many ChessBase windows open that the program no longer has enough resources (e.g. ram memory) to load the chess engine. You should close some windows or other programs.


  • You can block Kibitzer to explore other parts of the game or a completely different game: right-click on the engine panel - Block Engine. If you do not lock the engine, its results will be lost when you click elsewhere in the game, because Kibitzer will otherwise assume that you are interested in evaluating movement in a new game location.


Understanding the result of Kibitzer's work


As you may remember, in the content of this course above - I opened Fritz 17 to analyze a position that 25 years had been considered unsolvable for chess engines.


Let's recall what was shown.


The result of Fritz 17's work was revealed in a window called Kibitzer: Fritz 17 Popcnt and included:

  • Position evaluation: 1.35

  • Search depth: 24

  • Best move analyzed: Nxg5

  • The number of positions checked per second: 374 kN/s

  • Continuation of moves after the best found move: 1.Nxg5 Bxd1 2.Nxe6 Qc8 3.Nxg7+ etc.


Detailed description: this is what the engine window displays:

Top line from left to right:

Engine name; the move currently under investigation (number x of y legal move); stop engine; increase (+) or decrease (–) the number of variations calculated simultaneously.

Second line from left to right

Fail high/fail low display; position evaluation in pawns (+ is good for White, – good for Black); search depth (full width/selective); time used on current search; number of positions per second (in thousands).

Functions in the engine window

Right-clicking the variation window produces a function menu for the analysis engine.



Engine: Selects an analysis engine.


Lock: Normally the engine follows the board notation. But you can lock it to a specific position, after which it will ignore what happens on the board.


Increase/Decrease number of lines: You can instruct the engine to calculate the n best lines in the position.

Next best: This is only supported by some engines (e.g. Fritz). The engine ignores the best move found so far and uses its full power to search for an alternative (the next best move).

Threat: Calculates the "threat" in the current position.

Clip analysis: Copies the entire analysis history into the Windows clipboard. It can be pasted into any text editor.

Copy to notation: Copies the best line found so far into the game notation (Ctrl-Space).

Scroll main line: New lines are added to the end of the list. If this is switched off, new lines overwrite the previous ones.

Extra search information: Records evaluation, search depth and number of positions after each main line.

Scroll new moves only: New lines are recorded only if the first move changes.

Variation board: Produces on a small board on which you can replay the main line.

Choose font: Select font and size for the the analysis display.

Properties: Allows you to set the engine parameters.


The engine parameters influence the analysis style of the engines.

For example, hash tables are memory areas in which the program can store positions and evaluations while it is calculating the moves of a game. If the program encounters the same position again, it can simply take the evaluation from the hash tables, rather than analyzing the position all over again. Hash tables increase the playing strength of the program considerably.

For slower time controls and deep analysis the engines need large hash tables, eg. 512MB and more.

Close: Closes the window and shuts down the engine.


Chess engines evaluate positions with the help of a numeric value.

The evaluation is expressed in pawn units, always from the point of view of White.


Piece Value in pawn units

Pawn 1.0

Knight 3.0

Bishop 3.0

Rook 5.0

Queen 9.0


If the program is displaying a value of +1.30, this means that it considers the white position to be better by the equivalent of 1.3 pawns.


If White is actually a pawn up, then the additional 0.3 is the result of positional considerations (mobility, deployment of pieces, king safety, pawn structure, etc.).


A display of –3.00 means that White is a piece down – either a bishop or a knight, which are both equivalent to about three pawns. Rooks are worth five and the queen about nine pawns. Of course the king's value is unlimited – lose it and you've lost the game.


Always it is the case: positive values favour White, negative values favour Black.

In addition to the precise pawn values, the evaluation is also given in standard chess symbols:


To show how Kibitzer "thinks" when it analyzes a position, let's use the setting on the board according to the image below.

Fen notation:
r2qk2r/ppp1b1pp/2n1p3/3pP1N1/3P4/2PB2N1/PP4PP/R1BbK2R w KQkq - 0 2


2.Nxe6 Qb8 3.Nxg7+ Kf8 4.Ne6+ Kf7 5.Nf4 Bg4 6.Nxd5 Ke8 7.0-0 Rf8 8.Rxf8+ Kxf8 9.Bxh7 Be6 10.Nf4
Black is better: -/+ (-0.99) Depth: 10 00:00:00
2.Nxe6 Qb8 3.Nxg7+ Kf8 4.Ne6+ Kf7 5.Nf4 Bg4 6.0-0 Kg7 7.Nf5+ Bxf5 8.Nh5+ Kf7 9.Bxf5 Ke8 10.Ng7+ Kf8 11.Ne6+ Kg8 12.Nf4
Black is slightly better: =/+ (-0.69 ++) Depth: 14 00:00:00 531kN
2.Nxe6 Qc8 3.Nxg7+
The position is equal: = (0.05 ++) Depth: 17 00:00:01 1942kN
2.Nxe6 Qc8 3.Nxg7+ Kf7 4.Bh6 Bg4 5.0-0+ Kg8 6.Rf4 Nxe5 7.N3f5 Bc5 8.dxc5 Qf8 9.Ne6 Qf6 10.Re1 Bxf5 11.Bxf5 Qxh6 12.Rxe5 c6 13.Re2
White is slightly better: +/= (0.60) Depth: 17 00:00:01 3477kN