by Steve Lopez

Thanks for the piles of mail lately! Even since Fritz5's release, I've had a barrage of e-mail with comments and questions.

For future reference, specific tech support questions should be sent right to ChessBase USA. You can e-mail them to Don Maddox , phone the office directly (the number is elsewhere on the ChessBase USA web page), or else post it to the ChessBase/APCT Users Group. While I'd love to personally answer specific tech questions, it's not part of my responsibility at ChessBase USA, and there are people in the office who can answer your questions better and more quickly/efficiently than I can. I'm a part-time employee who works a couple of hours away from the main office, writing a couple of web pages (plus working a full-time job away from chess, as well as holding down a couple of other writing jobs). I'm really not able to write a lengthy discourse to someone who wants step-by-step instructions, much as I'd like to be able to do so.

However, I *am* interested in questions of a more general nature, such as "What are some ways I can use the Fritz5 Power Books to help my opening play?" or "Can you tell me more about the middlegame search features in ChessBase 6?" Those kinds of questions let me know what your concerns are and lead directly to coverage of these concerns here in Electronic T-Notes.

Also, please don't write to me and ask about product pricing, upgrades, disk replacements, etc., as I really can't help you with these questions. Please contact the ChessBase USA office at the e-mail address link I provided above.


by Steve Lopez

An interesting undocumented feature of Fritz5 is the inclusion of evaluation information in the gamescore during a game you play against the program. Many people have noticed (and been baffled by) these "phantom" numbers that pop up in the gamescore window as a game is in progress. Here's a brief explanation of what's going on.

You'll notice some information in grey right under the game header before the first move of the game. The first of these tells you how large Fritz5's hash tables were for the game (i.e. 2048kB means that Fritz used 2048 kilobytes, or 2 megabytes, of RAM for its hash tables). Immediately after that is the name of the opening book that Fritz used (i.e. f5book.ctg).

As soon as Fritz leaves book and starts thinking on its own, it will insert some numbers in blue into the game score after each of its moves. A typical entry looks like this:

6.Ne5 0.53/5

The move 6.Ne5 appears in black, of course. The entry after it is interpreted this way: the 0.53 gives Fritz's evaluation of its own position (i.e. here it thinks it's 53/100ths of a pawn ahead), while the 5 gives Fritz's search depth (it looked 5 ply deep in this position before it moved).

You'll also see brown numbers after each move. These numbers are the thinking times for both you and Fritz, given in seconds. For example, one of my game scores reads 40...b6 93, meaning that I thought for 93 seconds before I moved. These numbers are useful as indicators of how you budget your time during a game. Maybe you didn't think long enough before blundering away a pawn. Perhaps you find yourself in frequent time trouble; these numbers might show you the parts of the game in which you need to play faster.

Fritz5 will also save the evaluation profile (the colored bar graph) after a game. Once you've saved the game to disk and then open it later you'll see the evaluation profile, as well as Fritz's numerical input after each move.

However, there is a caveat here. If you have Fritz analyze the game later and then use "replace game" to store the analysis, the evaluation profile, thinking times, and "on-the-fly" analysis are wiped out. Many users have been asking about this on Usenet and on our bulletin board, wondering "Hey!!??!! Where'd the numbers go??" Well, now you know.

Is there a workaround, for those who'd like both types of Fritz input? Yes, and it's quite simple. Save two copies of your game immediately upon completing it (perhaps in two separate databases). Have Fritz do overnight analysis on one game, while leaving the other game untouched. Then you'll be able to utilize both types of information: Fritz's overnight commentary and the evaluation profile, etc.

Questions? Comments? Rants? Raves? Limericks about famous chessplayers? Please post comments to our ChessBase Users Group or e-mail me directly.