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The ChessBase logo

ChessBase is a company based in Hamburg that develops and sells chess software as well as operates a chess database and a chess news site.

ChessBase was founded in 1987 by the physicist Matthias Wüllenweber and the science journalist Frederic Friedel as a civil society and later converted into a GmbH . The third partner alongside Wüllenweber and Friedel was the Hamburg base trainer Gisbert Jacoby .

The company is derived from the chess database program ChessBase of the same name, developed by Matthias Wüllenweber, based on the database program dBASE, which was popular at the time .

Company history and program development

The company's starting point was the distribution of the ChessBase chess database program , which Wüllenweber developed in version 1.0 for the Atari ST . From version 2.3 the ChessBase program was also available in a version developed by Mathias Feist for the PC operating system MS-DOS . In 1989 the version ChessBase 3.0 appeared for the Atari and for PCs . Version 4.0, in which the DOS version of the chess program Fritz was able to calculate the analysis under the same interface, was the last version that also appeared for the Atari .

The database program was designed to record the moves of chess games on computers, to comment on them with variants and to save them if necessary. For this purpose, Wüllenweber had developed a special storage format that stores all the data of a game (player, tournament, tournament location, date, notation, variant, evaluation mark, etc.) in a file ("CBF" format). For research purposes, the ChessBase program allows access to the games in the database according to various criteria such as player name, tournament, variant or an opening index .

The development of the ChessBase database program was initially influenced by Garri Kasparow , who visited ChessBase for the first time in 1985 when he was in Hamburg and made suggestions for further development.

With the development of the first Windows version from 1994, the text format "PGN" was also supported. The version Chessbase 6.0 introduced in 1996 an extended program-specific database format ("CBH" format). In addition to the actual database, the program interface has also been expanded and allows numerous parallel applications. In addition to database access for analysis and move determination, a wide variety of chess engines can be integrated that do not necessarily come from your own company.

In 2007 a limited version was available free of charge under the name ChessBase Light 2007 . It could be activated by purchasing an activation key for the full version of ChessBase 9 .

The database software was continuously developed and adapted to new Windows operating systems; For example, the version ChessBase 12 published in December 2012 supported the then current Microsoft Windows 8 .

Publishing activity

Matthias Wüllenweber with the chess program Junior 6, the opponent of Robert Hübner , at the Dortmund Chess
Days 2000

In addition to selling the chess database program, ChessBase was also involved in the collection and sale of chess games. These were initially sold on floppy disks in the “ChessBase Magazin” , followed by the “Tournament Diskette series . In 1990, ChessBase began to market training disks in the “Opening Diskette” series together with authors .

In 1991 Mathias Feist developed a user interface for chess engines , which was sold together with the chess engine Quest programmed by the Dutchman Frans Morsch under the name Fritz .

In addition to the Fritz chess program , other chess programs, including u. a. Houdini , HIARCS , Junior , Shredder , Chess Tiger , ZapChess and Rybka in different versions.

Fritz chess server

In September 2001 our own chess server went online. Soon after its introduction, this replaced the market leader Internet Chess Club in terms of visitor numbers as the largest commercial chess server. In 2006 over 200,000 members were registered with ChessBase. On the Fritz chess server , people can play chess against other chess players over the Internet. But it is also possible to let computers play against each other. The Fritz chess server also allows interactive lessons and numerous special chess variants . Almost every day, the games from current grandmaster tournaments, world championships or competitions are shown live and discussed by visitors in the chat .


ChessBase developed the Chess Media System for the Fritz chess server and the “Fritztrainer” training series . With this, audio or video recordings can be played synchronously with the course of the game. Numerous instructional videos were produced with it, including by Garri Kasparow , Wladimir Kramnik , Viswanathan Anand , Viktor Kortschnoi , Rustam Kasimjanov , Alexei Schirow , Adrian Mihalčišin , Daniel King , Andrew David Martin , Jacob Aagaard , Helmut Pfleger , Thomas Luther and Eva Moser .

TV ChessBase

TV ChessBase presenter André Schulz with national coach Uwe Bönsch during a TV ChessBase transmission at the 38th Chess Olympiad (Dresden, 2008)

Since 2003, a live broadcast has been broadcast every Friday at 5 p.m. on the Fritz chess server , in the early days still called Radio ChessBase , in which news, people and games from the international chess scene are presented. Many of the programs can also be called up afterwards free of charge via the ChessBase video archive (see also the video archive under web links ).

Learning program for children and teenagers

The chess learning program "Fritz & Ready" has been published since 2003 - until the beginning of 2009 in four consecutive episodes. This introduces children to the game of chess in a playful way.

Further publishing programs

In 1994 Matthias Wüllenweber developed a physics simulation program that is distributed by Springer-Verlag under the name "Albert Physik interactive" .

In October 2007, Ludwig was also released, a music software that claims to be able to independently compose and arrange complex music titles in various styles. Ludwig should also be able to serve as a virtual music teacher for various instruments and choral singing as well as an accompanying band. To compose it uses a tree search method, as it is also used in the Fritz chess software. The arrangements for the melodies composed by the software are generated using a script language. Georg Mondwurf, lecturer in music didactics at the University of Oldenburg, remarked: “It has already been mentioned that“ Ludwig ”offers good opportunities to practice singing and playing instruments - even improvisation. Nevertheless: While "Ludwig" is already completely convincing as a composer, his abilities as an instrument teacher in this version remain an interesting bonus that can hardly replace serious instrumental lessons. "

Chess news

The site of ChessBase is updated daily and offers in four languages (German, English, French, Spanish) current chess news. The editor-in-chief is André Schulz .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. 25 years of ChessBase. Accessed : June 30, 2016.
  2. Dortmunder Chess Meeting 2000 ( Memento of the original from March 6, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. on TeleSchach @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. 10 years of TV ChessBase! Article dated October 24, 2013, accessed October 19, 2017.
  4. ^ Fritz versus Bach . In: Der Spiegel . No. 29 , 2007 ( online ).
  5. Stefan Michaelis: After three clicks the door to the music opens . ( Memento from September 2, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Central Office for Teaching Media on the Internet e. V.