by Steve Lopez

An interesting question from the chess newsgroups:

Q: When I access Fritz5's database from the CD and look at the opening key, I get the ECO code-style key. How can I use the other key with the names of the openings?

A: Fritz and ChessBase allow only one opening key to be associated with a database, so you have to use either the ECO-style key or the key with the opening names; you can't use both.

In answer to this specific question, copy the database from your CD to the hard drive. Then open the database, click "Do index", and select "Coarse". Fritz5 will then wipe out the ECO key and generate an opening key containing the names of the openings.

The key that gives opening names is great for small databases but not too swift for large ones. Why? Here's an example:

Let's assume you have a 500 game database. If you use the ECO key, you'll have a whole lot of empty classifications. If you use the name key, you'll have fewer empty keys, as the individual keys are of a more general character. For example, you might click on "King's Indian Defense" and find 35 or 40 games there.

Now we'll apply the name key to a 500,000 game database. Clicking on "King's Indian Defense" might show you a list of 35,000 or 40,000 games. That's way too many games to effectively sort through. But if you use the ECO key instead, you'll have a more orderly key, with games sorted by specific opening variations. Most of the key classifications will contain games, with fewer games per grouping. This allows you to find the specific material you want.

Keep in mind that the larger opening complexes (such as the King's Indian Defense, the Sicilian Defense, the Ruy Lopez, etc.) can cover a wide span of ECO codes. For example, the King's Indian Defense spans all codes from E60 to E99. It's easier to find a needle in a haystack if the haystack is broken down into smaller sections. So the ECO key is better for larger databases, while the name key is best for smaller ones.

Please excuse the absence of "Chess Embitterment" this week; no one sent me games. I'd like to think it's because ChessBase's software is so great that our users aren't making any mistakes. However, I know better -- the software is great, but I still manage to screw up with alarming frequency and I know that our other customers are doing likewise (I've been playing this game for 33 years -- I know the drill!).

Come on! Confession is good for the soul!

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