Like most people I like free stuff, but only if it’s of good quality. I have only purchased a chess engine or database program twice. After returning to chess in 2004 after a long absence, I bought Chessmaster but found it unsatisfactory for my purposes of serious correspondence record keeping and opening research and its database function was cumbersome at best. Eventually I found free programs that did the job better. The only other time I parted with any money was for Fritz 12 which I accidently discovered at Office Max for $20.00. Apparently Office Max no longer carries it, but it may still be available at Best Buy for the same $20.00 price.But $20 still is not free. Chessbase sells Fritz 12 for around $56 and Chessbase starts at $135 and up. Don’t get me wrong, Chessbase sounds like a great program but SCID does just about anything Chessbase does and unless you are a professional player, it will work just fine.
SCID stands for Shane's Chess Information Database and runs under a variety of formats besides Windows and uses PGN and its own SCID format. It can use up to five piece endgame tablebases. WIth SCID you can maintain a database of games, conduct searches based on several different criteria, view graphical trends and produce printable reports on players and openigns. Most menus and messages are available in 14 languages.
Unfortunately some of the features are not intuitive, but once you learn how to use them you will be pretty much able to do anything Chessbase can do. It comes with a few engines, but I recommend downloading some of the stronger ones you can find on Jim Abblett's excellent site (see the link on this Blog). If you want, you can also use SCID as a GUI to play against the engines or you can connect to some of the Internet sites and play on line.
Photographs and other information on players can be stored in the database, but I think most of this information is outdated and is of little use. SCID also offers training with its ‘Find the Best Move’ feature. The site also has all the help and tutorial files you’ll need.