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a chess database front and back end developed by Matthias Wüllenweber for the Atari ST which led to the foundation of the ChessBase company in 1986 [1] along with Frederic Friedel - the product name eponym of the company. ChessBase 1.0 was first released in January 1987 for the Atari ST running under GEM. Mathias Feist joined ChessBase in the late 80s, and was responsible to port the database and interface from Atari ST into the x86 DOS/Windows world, and further integrated first chess engines into the ChessBase interface, turning this into Fritz in 1991. Subsequent ChessBase versions evolved to a sophisticated multiple purpose GUI for database management, database queries and mining, interactive multimedia and video tutorials, analyzing or playing games and automatic engine tournaments with various native, UCI or WinBoard compliant engines on a single computer, inside a network or cloud, online play via the Playchess chess server, and Web- and desktop publishing of chess related documents.
ChessBase 1.0 on Atari ST in 1987 [2]


The ChessBase 12 GUI is based on the fluent design as introduced by Microsoft Office 2007, featuring a ribbon [3], which is a set of toolbars placed on tabs. Beside the ribbon, the main window features various workspace layouts, either tiled by a navigation folder window, a database list view and database game-list and preview window, or game-lists for query results and game windows with board- and tabbed windows for game notation, annotations, references, score sheet, opening book tree, etc., to play, replay or analyze a game.


A chess database is an organized collection of hundreds, thousands, or nowadays even millions of chess games. The proprietary ChessBase format manages those games with indices and classifiers for data mining and fast access. Queries for games can consider a variety of items, such as player names, date of games, ECO code, thematic keys and fragments of positions. PGN is supported as interchange format.


The ChessBase 3 database format (CBF) used two kind of files, data (*.cbf) and indices (*.cbi). The move encoding was based on a deterministic move generator, storing the generation number of a move. Along with ChessBase 6 in 1996, a new format was established, dubbed CBH, which was able to handle nested variations with annotations, multimedia files, and more sophisticated indices. One CBH database consists of more than ten files with various extensions [4], which can be archived inside a single file (*.cbv) format [5]. Apparently, the CBH file format was reverse engineered for interoperability purposes like import into other databases [6].

File Extensions

  • cbh - Game Data (Header)
  • cbg - Game Moves and Variations (Game)
  • cba - Annotations
  • cbp - Player Index
  • cbt - Tournament Index
  • cbc - Commentators Index
  • cbs - Source Index
  • cko - Opening Key (Names)
  • cpo - Positions, Openings
  • ckn - General Theme Key (Names)
  • cpn - Positions General Key
  • ck1 ck2 ck3 - Tactical, Strategical and Endgame key (Names)
  • cp1 cp2 cp3 - Positions Key
  • cbv - Compressed and Archived Database
  • cbz - Encrypted Archive
  • cbb - Search Booster
  • cbo - Extra Search Booster for Opening Positions
  • cbd - Double hash tables, hashed info on the games, speeding up search
  • cbi - Old Index File
  • cbf - Old CB-Database
  • ctg - Opening Tree of Games (Opening Book)

Version History

Chess Engines

ChessBase and Fritz compatible native chess engines. To expand this list, create a new engine page with the tag "cbengines".

See also


Forum Posts

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1995 ...

2000 ...

2005 ...

2010 ...

External Links



ChessBase 8

ChessBase 9

ChessBase 10

ChessBase 11

ChessBase 12

ChessBase 13

ChessBase 14






  1. ^ Christmas dinner on a train – meet the ChessBase team from ChessBase News, December 23, 2003
  2. ^ ChessBase is 25 – everything 25% off in our shop, ChessBase News, May 19, 2011
  3. ^ MSDN - Ribbon Designer (MFC)
  4. ^ Schachclub Leinzell - ChessBase 8.0 + Fritz 6 - Das CBH-Format by Peter Schreiner, Schachclub Leinzell, March 2001 (German)
  5. ^ Re: Need help with little .cbh database - Fritz experts? by Ulrich Türke, CCC, June 20, 2003
  6. ^ CBH file format by Yarin, CCC, August 19, 2009
  7. ^ Re: Chessbase File Extensions by Jeroen van Dorp, CCC, February 05, 2004
  8. ^ "Kasparov proudly presents the latest ChessBase running on a PC – in 1988", ChessBase is 25 – everything 25% off in our shop, ChessBase News, May 19, 2011
  9. ^ Gambitchess - Museum of Chess Software
  10. ^ ChessBase 7.0
  11. ^ ChessBase 8.0 experiences by Jürgen Hartmann, CCC, September 28, 2000

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