02 October 2012

Another Fictitious Match

In The Match That Never Was (TMTNW) My Version, a personal look at a fictitious 1975 Fischer - Karpov match, I wrote,

I had both 'Bobby Fischer's Chess Games' by Robert Wade and Kevin O'Connell (Doubleday, 1972) and 'Karpov’s Collected Games' by David Levy (RHM Press, 1975), so it was easy to compare the repertoires of the two players. The job might be tougher today with the same collections available in electronic format.

Later I started to wonder, 'Would it really be tougher with the same collections available in electronic format?' I decided to do an exercise, using a fictitious 1946 Alekhine - Botvinnik match as an example.

I already had databases for both players, downloaded some years ago from GM Khalifman's GMchess.com. I saved the historical player databases from that site because at the time they seemed cleaner than similar databases from other sites. I don't believe that the files are still available on the site.

The Alekhine database had 950 games, with the last game from 1946, the year the fourth World Champion died. The Botvinnik database had 918 games, of which 371 were played before 1947, the year I used as a cutoff for examples from Botvinnik's repertoire.

I loaded the two databases into SCID, a good tool for this sort of analysis, and separated them into games with White and games with Black for each player. SCID also gave me quick overviews of the first moves for both player, as shown in the following table. Alekhine's games are on top.

Assuming a 24-game match, I can use the numbers in the table to determine frequencies of first moves for both players, then iterate the process to derive the opening for each game. If I find the time to do this, I'll report on the results in a subsequent post.

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