MAKING FRITZ4 AND CHESSBASE WORK TOGETHER

by Steve Lopez

I've noticed a certain amount of Internet traffic over the question of how to make the Fritz4 engines work inside of the Windows versions of ChessBase. It seems that a lot of folks are having an inordinate amount of difficulty achieving this, so in this week's Electronic T-Notes we'll discuss how to make it happen.

The first bone of contention seems to be a certain amount of confusion over the Fritz engine files (used by Fritz to play chess against you while you are in the actual Fritz4 program) and the module files that are used to provide analysis within ChessBase. The module files for ChessBase are located on the Fritz4 CD and are not transferred to your hard drive when you install Fritz4. Therefore, the files that end in .eng that are found in the ENGINES folder within your FRITZ4 folder have NOTHING to do with running Fritz analysis within ChessBase.

The files you need for Fritz to analyze within ChessBase are located on the CD in a folder called CBWIN. These files are named Fritz311.dll and Fritz401.dll. Briefly, all you need to do is copy these two files to your ChessBase folder (either CBWIN or CB60, depending on which version you have) and then click on "Select analysis module" in the "Status" menu to link the two engines to two [ALT-Fx] key combinations as described in your ChessBase manual.

Let's get down to some specifics. The first job is to copy the files. The procedure is slightly different for Windows 95 users than for Windows 3.1 users, so we'll treat the two cases separately.

WINDOWS 3.1

First off, open the Program Group called "Main". Here you will see an icon for the program "File Manager"; double-click on this to start it.

Once File Manager starts, you'll see icons for each of your disk drives near the top of the window. Put your Fritz4 CD into the CD drive and then click once on the icon for that drive.

You will see several "file folders" appear in the left-hand box. Each of these folders corresponds to a directory on the CD. Double-click on the one marked CBWIN to open it. You should see a list of files appear in the right-hand box. Single-click on the first file, called Fritz311.dll. You will see it become highlighted in blue.

While holding down the [SHIFT] key on your keyboard, hit the cursor down key (the key with an arrow pointing downward) ONCE. Now you will still see Fritz311.dll highlighted, but you will also see Fritz401.dll highlighted.

Next, click once on the word "File" near the top of the File Manager window. In the drop-down menu that appears, click on the word "Copy". A dialog box will appear in the middle of your screen. Make sure the circle next to the word "To:" has a black dot in the middle of it. Then, in the empty box right next to it, type the path to the directory containing your ChessBase files. If you installed the ChessBase program to the default directory, your path would be typed like this if you're running a version of CBWin:

c:\cbwin

If you're running the new ChessBase 6.0, your path would look like this:

c:\cb60

Then click the button marked "OK" and the two files will be copied to your ChessBase directory. Next, click once on the "File" menu near the top of the window and then click on "Exit". This will close File Manager and return you to your main Windows (Program Manager) screen.

Next you'll follow the instructions in the section "Configuring ChessBase to Run Fritz" below.

WINDOWS 95

I'm going to write a letter to Bill Gates, congratulating him on Windows 95: "Dear Bill, Congratulations! You've finally achieved Mac-dom!" We don't have "directories" anymore in Windows 95; instead, we have "folders". We don't "start" programs, we "launch" them.

Personally, I'd like to "launch" my copy of Windows 95 into the nearest trash can on the end of my foot.

Now that I've vented, we'll look at how we copy files in Windows 95.

First, double-click on the "My Computer" icon (personally, I'd like an icon called "Somebody Else's Computer" so that I can mess around with somebody's system). Put your Fritz4 CD into your CD drive, and then double-click on the icon for that drive in the window that appears.

Next, double-click on the folder marked CBWIN. In the new window that opens up, click once on the file named Fritz311.dll. You'll see the file name become highlighted in blue. While holding down the [SHIFT] key on your keyboard, hit the cursor down key (the one that looks like an arrow pointing down) once. You'll see that Fritz311.dll is still highlighted in blue and that Fritz401.dll is now highlighted too.

Click once on the "Edit" menu at the top of the window, and in the drop-down menu that appears, click once on the word "Copy". Next, start closing windows one by one until you get back to the "My Computer" window.

Double-click on the icon for your hard drive. In the list of folders that appears, double-click on the one for your ChessBase program (either CBWIN or CB60, depending on which version of the program you're running). In the new window that opens, click once on the "Edit" menu. In the menu list that appears, click once on the word "Paste". You'll see a new box open displaying a nifty little cartoon showing a piece of paper floating from one folder over to another folder. But before you have time for your intelligence to be insulted, the box will vanish as the second file finishes copying.

You may now start closing windows until you have returned to your Windows 95 desktop. The files have been copied! Proceed with the next section of this article; do not pass "GO", do not collect 18 billion dollars.

CONFIGURING CHESSBASE TO RUN FRITZ

This is the point where all our paths converge. It doesn't matter whether you're running Windows 3.1 or Windows 95, or CBWin or ChessBase 6.0 -- the procedures here are exactly the same.

The first step is to either "start" or "launch" ChessBase (depending on which terminology Chairman Bill wants us to use this week). Click on the "Status" menu at the top of the screen. In the list that drops down, click on "Select Analysis Module".

A swell little window opens up, containing 5 boxes that correspond to five different [ALT-Fx] key combinations. You can configure ChessBase to allow you to select from any of five different modules for analysis within the program.

Shameless pitch: as of this writing, ChessBase has a wide variety of modules to choose from. You get two analysis modules with the Fritz program: Fritz311.dll, the "brain" of the Fritz3 program and Fritz401.dll, the newer version designed for Fritz4. ChessBase also has two versions of the "Doctor?" module available, a version of the Hiarcs playing program, and a module that lets you link ChessBase to the Ken Thompson 5-piece endgame CDs. You can run a pile of these bad boys within ChessBase: all you need to do is tell the program where to "find" the modules in question, and assign a keystroke combination to each of the modules you own (up to a maximum of five).

Let's take a look at how this is done. The first step is to decide which module you're going to use most often. Why is this important? You'll remember the "computer chip" icon that lets you start analysis while you're replaying a game in ChessBase. Clicking on this icon is the same as hitting [ALT-F2] to start an analysis engine. So, naturally, you'll want the module that you use most frequently to be the one that corresponds to [ALT-F2].

For the sake of our example, we'll say that you've decided to use Fritz401.dll as your main analysis tool. In the "Select Analysis Module" window, click on the button marked "Select" to the right of the box next to "Alt-F2 =". In the window that appears, you'll see a list of the .dll files that are located in your ChessBase directory. If you properly followed the instructions for copying the analysis modules from your CD you should see the file Fritz401.dll in the list. Click once on it in the list to highlight it in blue. You'll see it appear in the "File name:" box immediately above the list. Next click once on the "OK" button. The window will vanish and you'll see Fritz401.dll in the box next to "Alt-F2 =". ChessBase is now configured to run Fritz4's analysis anytime you click on the "computer chip" icon or hit [ALT-F2] while you are in a game window.

You can repeat this procedure for any additional modules you own, linking them to the other [ALT=Fx] combinations allowed by ChessBase.

That's all there is to it! It's actually simpler than it looks and shouldn't take you more than a couple of minutes to set up.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q: Why does ChessBase skip over the [ALT-F4] key sequence?

A: Because [ALT-F4] is the standard Windows shortcut command for exiting a program. If you hit [ALT-F4], you'll close ChessBase and go back to Program Manager (in Windows 3.1) or the desktop (in Windows 95).

In fact, this is a running gag in chat rooms on Internet Relay Chat (IRC). You can always tell a young teen on IRC, because the first thing he/she says upon entering a chat room is "Give me ops!" ("Operator" status allows one to kick people out of a room or ban them completely, among other things). The typical response is "Hit [ALT-F4] for ops", followed by general mirth and hilarity as the unsuspecting victim vanishes from the room as his IRC client program suddenly shuts down.

Q: Do my modules have to be in the same directory/folder as my other ChessBase files?

A: Contrary to popular belief, they do not. Using the "Select" button in the "Select analysis module" window allows you to click on an analysis engine, no matter where it is on your hard drive. This is especially handy for people, like myself, who are using both CBWin and CB6.0. You don't need to have your modules duplicated in two separate directories/folders. I kept mine in the CBWIN directory and used the "Select" buttons in CB6.0 to "point out" their location to the new program. The window that opens upon hitting "Select" works exactly like "File Manager" did in Windows 3.1 or the "Open" command does in countless Windows word processors.

Q: Is there an optimum setting for linking engines to [ALT-Fx] combinations?

A: Not really, other than that your main engine (that you use the most) should be set to run when you hit [ALT-F2]. This will allow you to fire it up by clicking the "computer chip" icon in the game window.

Q: How do you have your modules set?

A: The reason that I included this question is that I was asked it a lot when I handled tech support for ChessBase USA. A lot of users reasoned that since I used ChessBase typically six to eight hours a day I must have the program configured for optimum settings.

As I said before, there really is no "optimum setting". But for what it's worth, here's how I have mine configured:

  1. ALT-F2 = Fritz311.dll
  2. ALT-F3 = Fritz401.dll
  3. ALT-F5 = Hiarcs.dll
  4. ALT-F7 = Am100.dll
  5. ALT-F8 = CDROM100.dll

Why this particular configuration? The first 3 modules are in chronological order of release, as a mnemonic device for me to remember what module goes with what key. I rarely use Am100.dll (the original Doctor? module) as it tends to run a bit slow. And I almost never use the Thompson CDs, as few games that I study wind up in a 5-piece endgame. So these last two modules are placed in the last two slots, since I rarely use them.

Q: Can I run more than one module at the same time?

A: Nope. And for a good reason. Each module is a drain on your system's resources. Next time you fire up a module, watch what happens to your available RAM (in the small window at the bottom center of your ChessBase screen). It would be a terrible strain on your system to run more than one module at a time.

The workaround is to drag-and-drop each set of analysis into the game score and then use the annotation function to attribute the analysis to the proper module (i.e. Fritz4, Hiarcs, etc.).

Q: My Fritz modules have different names than the ones you mentioned. Mine are Fritz300.dll and Fritz400.dll. What do I do with these?

A: You have the original release of Fritz4. Just substitute your file names for the file names I gave in this article. Alternatively, you could download the updated version of Fritz4 from ChessBase International's web site . The update contains both of the new engines and fixes some bugs in the original Fritz release.

Q: My Fritz4 contains an engine for Fritz1.2 (aka Knightstalker) but no corresponding module for ChessBase. What gives?
A: I know. I have a soft spot in my heart for old 'Stalker and I hope that the programmers develop an analysis engine for it soon (but I'm not holding my breath).

Q: If starting a program in Windows 95 is called "launching" it, is exiting a program in Windows 95 called "crashing" it?

A: That's been my experience so far.

Next week -- a look at the ULTIMATE openings disk! Till then, have fun!