Chess Tactics with Fritz 12 (and probably 13 as well)

I’m a big fan of chess tactics puzzles of the kind found in the Chess Tactics Server, but what I didn’t know, after having Fritz installed on my PC for over two years, was that I could use Fritz to trawl through a database of games, spot blunders and turn them into Tactics problems.

Fritz is one of those bits of software that has so many weird little settings and buttons buried inside it, that it’s easy to miss certain functionality. I found out how to do this on the Chessbase website, where Albert Silver takes you through the process. For me this is a bit like being a chocolate addict who’s been shown how to grow cacao and turn it into Bournville by pressing a few buttons.

In a nutshell, the process goes something like this:

First, collect a suitable collection of games into a ‘source’ database. Approx 100 games works well. A collection of classic games perhaps.

  • Start Fritz
  • Open the database manager window (F12)
  • Application Menu Button (big round one, top left of window) → Open your ‘source’ Database
  • Database tab → Blunder Check
  • Select the following options in the pop up window:
    • Depth = 12
    • Threshold = 80
    • Tick ‘Training’ box (IMPORTANT!)
    • Click ‘OK’

Wait for an interminable length of time for Fritz to analyse those games. The time taken will depend on the specs of your machine. I left it to get on with the job whilst having dinner, and it took about an hour and a half to analyse the games in the Capelle-La-Grande database suggested by the Chessbase website.

When it’s done, you’ll still have all the games in the database, but not all of them will have had identifiable ‘Blunders’ to use for tactics training. We can fish the ‘Tactics’ games out using the filter, and put them in a separate database, like so:

  • Home tab → Filter games
    • Annotations tab → Training
    • Click ‘OK’

The resulting collection of games are ones that Fritz found Blunders in. They are now Tactics training games, and you can copy these into a new ‘Tactics’ database.

  • Ctrl-A to select all games (in other words, all the games that were in the ‘filter’ result)
  • Button → New → New Database
  • Give it a name e.g. Capelle-La-Grande-Tactics.cbh
  • Ctrl-V to paste your Tactics games into the new database
  • Click OK

Now you can load in the database whenever you feel like it, select a game on there and spend a panicky five seconds trying to find the best move that some IM missed in the heat of an international tournament. You’ll find the ‘Load Next Game’ button comes in handy if you want to spend a whole evening solving these positions.

In closing I would very much like to thank Albert Silver for putting this on the Chessbase website. I don’t think I’m ever going to get bored with this.

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