Originally posted by myteamtrulystinks
My buddy and I (we are both 1500 players) were always resistant to the concept of using a data base. We felt it was cheating, but a player convinced my friend that his play would be boosted by it. So slowly he started using it and it he said it helped him. However, he just played a game and showed me how the data based helped him. But it sort o ...[text shortened]... this sort of happen from time to time when you use a data bases or is this some sort of overuse?
Databases can help you get to know openings if you don't own opening monographs (detailed books specializing in a particular opening). I (normally) use them quite a bit here.
It's very easy to go wrong using databases. First, you can't just go move by move and pick moves that have good numbers -- you may find that further down the line there is a move or series of moves which, if picked by your opponent, give you a bad position. In some instances, you really have to do a lot of work looking a significant number of moves ahead.
That isn't always enough either, since different databases have different game collections and may give different statistics. This is especially true for relatively unpopular lines. Sometimes a particular database will not even include moves in a given position that other databases do. You have to compare several databases (several good ones) and see what kind of agreement there is.
Also, different databases have quirks and inconsistencies that aren't always apparent.
Furthermore, you have to consider the level of the players in the database. Lots of games by amateurs may throw stats off.
Occasionally, database use can extend quite deep into the game. I really hate this and try to avoid it, especially when I make the mistake of getting sucked into opening lines I don't really understand because the numbers look good, because then it doesn't feel like playing chess but rather paint-by-numbers or chess-by-proxy. I therefore try to limit my database use to giving me ideas about where particular lines are going, and using these (guided by my own preferences) to augment my own ideas.
At the moment I am playing a game (no discussion please! -- I am making a point about database use) which started out very nicely for me as White: 1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.e4 d6 4.d4 Bg7. I really like getting an aggressive presence in the center this way, so using the databases up through this point was a matter of previous experience (up through 2.Nc3) and ideas about consolidating control of the d5 square (3.e4) as well as taking a central space advantage (4.d4). But my options for the fifth move were enormous -- jillions of lines and sub-lines. I spent an enormous time in the databases only to discover that I didn't seem to like most of my options. There was almost always some Black line that took the game into directions I didn't want to go. You would think that with a position like this after four moves, it would all be gravy for White, but I'm just not familiar with this opening line and frankly, I had a hard time finding anything that didn't soon result in White playing a reactionary game to Black's initiatives. Was I confused by the databases? Maybe. The point being, even if you manage a good position and work hard with database research, you aren't by any means guaranteed a win or even an enduring advantage. Databases are a tool which won't turn an average player into a chess genius but which can help an average player become more familiar with opening ideas.