Scid vs. PC - Search Masterfully

Updated: May 23

What can help a chess player more than quick access to key information that will help in every area of the chess art ?

In short, an up-to-date database with chess games and software for its effective use.

You will discover how to find exactly the chess games you want.

This part of the course is prepared in Scid vs. PC version 4.22 in such a way that the vast majority of this program's capabilities can be used in previous versions 4.x.
(Scid vs PC 4.0 was released in 2010).

Thanks to the possibilities offered by Scid vs. PC you can find chess games with three duplicated pawns, four Queens, a pawn attack on h4 field in the dragon variant of Sicilian defense, and hundreds of positions with unusual endings - so called chess fortresses - from the last 5 years for chess players with rating over 2300 Elo.

Is anything... limiting us in this search? Only our imagination.

So let's get started!

To begin with, I suggest opening a large database with at least several hundred thousand games.

In this part of the course, I will be using Caissabase.

From Caissabase website you can legally and for free download a database containing over 4 million chess games! (December 2021).

In the tolbar click Search - General.

In the newly opened window General Search, each field represents a different thematic set of criteria that can be used to search for chess games.

Only those games that meet the criteria you specified will remain in the list of searched games.

The remaining games will not be visible until you complete your search.

Big Tips...

You can download chess games from the Internet by adding them to an existing database; with careful and systematic maintenance, the search will be successful. The downside of this solution is the time-consuming nature of the process.

You can also download ready packets of chess games from various websites and similarly to the above described method - add them to the existing database. The downside of this solution is the necessity to verify many (hundreds, thousands of) chess games for correctly entered data and correct them if necessary. This also makes this process very time consuming.

From his own experience the author of this course once a year buys the chess games database he is interested in or updates it from a reliable source ( eg. ChessBase, ChessOk, Caissabase website, etc.)

One of the key reasons for having access to a large, highly maintained chess database is the ability to effectively use all of the search criteria in Scid vs. PC.

If the database is properly maintained and updated, you will be able to get reasonable results.

Back to window with General Search. Here's what you'll find:

The General Search looks for information stored in the chess game header (e.g., date, name) or in the game text.

The name fields (White, Black, Event, Site, and Round) match any text. They are not case sensitive, and spaces are ignored. More precise matches can be obtained by using wildcards (? for 1 character, * for zero or more characters) - and enclosing the search in quotation marks.

If you are looking for a specific chess player (or pair of opponents) as White or Black and it doesn't matter what color they played, select Ignore Colors.

Searching for additional tags matches typical tags such as Annotator and PlyCount found in the game header, and is faster than searching for full text (see below). The Value field is optional. If the value starts with a digit, only exact matches are made, but otherwise the match looks for prefixes.

A header search can be used to find any text in a game's PGN. You can enter up to three phrases that must appear in order to be matched. This search is very useful for finding game comments (such as losing on time or novelty), or sequences of moves (such as Bxh7+ and Kxh7). However, this is very slow because all games (that meet other criteria) must be decoded and scanned - so it's a good idea to limit these searches to speed things up.

If an ECO code search is performed, games that do not have an ECO code assigned are ignored.

Ok, so let's go ahead and search by setting many different criteria.

Search Masterfully, example 1.

We are interested in chess games that meet the following conditions:

  1. The rating is between 2400 and 2900 Elo.

  2. No ignore colors

  3. Date between 2015.01.01 to 2021.11.30

  4. White wins or Draw.

  5. The chess game is at least 40 moves or a maximum of 99 moves.

  6. Game with ECO code

  7. Grunfeld Exchange -> ECO code D85 - D89

For your convenience, I have marked the criteria of interest to us in the appropriate fields.

On my computer, a database consisting of 4,569,084 chess games was searched in 30 seconds.

Scid vs. PC found 1110 chess games that met the above criteria.

Let's copy the 1100 found chess games to clipbase to continue further search on the collection of already selected games. And let's change the base by clicking on clipbase.

Now, on the toolbar, let's go to Search - Material/Pattern.

A new window called Material Search will open.

You can use the functions available here to find schemes / themes of the middle or endgame. You can specify minimum and maximum amounts of each type of material and patterns, such as black Rook on c3 or white pawn on c7.

Many common and popular material and pattern settings are available by clicking on the Common Patterns button.


The speed of searching by set or one of the default patterns can vary greatly and can be reduced by setting the constraints accordingly, for example, if you set the minimum number of moves to 15 for an ending, all games that end below 15 moves can be skipped.

Search Masterfully, example 2.

Let's continue our search from example 1 based on the 1110 chess games posted in clipbase.

We are interested in chess games that contain a motif of white attacking the black King's position with the help of the white pawns g4 and h4, the white rook on h1.

On the black side with the King defended by Bishop on g7 and supported by Rook on f8 and pawn on h5...

...and meet the following conditions:

  1. Structure showing white's attack on the king's wing. See picture above with the chessboard setup.

  2. Same colors Bishop.

For your convenience, I have marked the criteria of interest to us in the appropriate tabs.

After clicking Search, the search result gave 4 chess games.