The search mask in ChessBase 16

The search mask is the key to “understanding chess”

1. The search mask

The search mask only works for databases stored on the hard drive. Open the database and start the search mask with the shortcut Ctrl+F or via the menu with “Home-Filter List”.

Filter list

The search mask start window appears on the screen, where the search can be defined.

Filter activated

The search mask start window

As we want to look for positions with an isolated queen pawn, we are particularly interested in “Location”, “Equipment”and “Manoeuvres”:

2.Search for models

First we work with the search array. Here, the position of the individual parts is defined positively. The search function therefore only takes into account games in which the given specifications (exact position of the pieces, moves, etc.) are fulfilled. Whether, where and which other pieces are still on the board is irrelevant for the search function. We are looking for positions with a white pawn on d4 and black pawns on f7, g7 and h7.

Search table

The program saves the default values ​​for the search table and offers the possibility to refine the search with the “Or” table. In the example, only games in which the white king is on g1 or h1 and the black king on g8 or h8 are considered.

“or” sign

The next step leads to the “Exclude” table. Here the program will only consider games if the given pieces are not on the given squares. In the example, no white pawn can be on file c or e. As with the “Or” board, it is possible to assign several pieces or even a white or black point to a space. A dot means that no white piece or no black piece can be placed on this space.

Table “exclude”

We also specify that only games in which the structure we are looking for are on the board for at least four moves between move 10 and move 20 are taken into account.

In this example, the search result led to the following list of games (only ELO 2650+ and year 2021 -> game data):


game data

If I click on a game, the game opens to show the position that meets the search specification. So I can quickly and easily check whether I really have games with the isolated queenside pawn.


Adjust your expectations! The search mask will rarely return only interesting matches. But the number of games to browse is reduced to such an extent that it is possible to browse the hit list to find interesting and suitable games.

Once you have obtained a satisfactory search result, it is advisable to save the parameters as “search” in order to carry out the same search at a later date, possibly for another database, or to use research as a basis for further investigations by adding further search criteria. For this purpose there is the “Save” command at the bottom right of the search mask and the “Load” command to later call up these saved search parameters.

3. Search for material constellations

The search created and saved in this way can then be supplemented with other searches, for example by defining constellations of materials. These searches can also be done independently.

In the example, we extend the search for positions with an isolated queen pawn by the criterion that only heavy pieces should be on the board with equal material. To initiate a matching search, first initiate the search mask, then click “reset” (to reset the search mask to zero) then load the search for the isolated queen pawn. Since the material constellation usually appears in a later game phase, the white and black h-pawns must each be removed from the “search board”.

Then call the “Hardware” function. For required search parameters (heavy parts, material equality), the parameter might look like this:

Since the two sides must be materially equal, one can ignore the colors and choose the difference. Then the material constellation is not set for white or black (which is also possible) but one side has a queen, the other side is neither an up queen nor a down queen. The same goes for towers. In our example, there are no clear pieces on the board, expressed by zero. The king and the three heavy pieces together give a maximum of four pieces.

4. Search maneuvers

It is also possible to search for specific maneuvers, or several maneuvers in a specific order. To do this, open the Maneuver function and define your maneuver in the search mask.

For the definition of the search for a specific maneuver, it should be noted that the designation of the figures is always done by English abbreviations.

It is first decided whether the maneuver should be executed by White or Black or whether it does not matter. Then the execution piece is determined (Rook = R), then the starting square, using a question mark if it is not a specific line or line.

The target square is defined in the same way, then it is defined whether an opponent’s piece is captured or not.

To refine the search, the opponent’s response movement is defined. If several movements are defined, make sure that the program takes into account the order of the maneuvers if necessary.

Defining maneuver search

The explanations above give only a small insight into the possibilities of the search mask to describe what ChessBase can do. If you want to use the search mask more intensively, use the detailed help function and just try it out. It will be useful and fun!

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Martin Fischer: [email protected]


Brandon D. James