by Steve Lopez

"Edit the player list? Why would I do that?"

(Scene: writer laughs as he dabs at the blood dribbling from his ears caused by the high volume of the Robben Ford CD he's listening to).

As we saw in the last two issues of ETN, games can come from a wide variety of sources. These sources frequently don't agree as to how a particular player's name should be spelled. Heck, sometimes a player's name is spelled multiple ways within the same database!

Much of the confusion is caused by the differences in alphabets and pronunciations between languages. Take, for example, the variances caused by the Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet being translated into English . If you wrote the name "Nimzovich" in Cyrillic characters, it would look to us English-babblers like a cross between very artistic graffiti and the UPC bar code on a cereal box. You see, many of the letters in said alphabet have no direct correspondence to English letters.

So what you get is a name translated variously as "Nimzowitsch", "Nimzowitch", and "Nimzowich", even though they're all spoken basically the same. Now let's throw into the mix the fact that what we Westerners read as w's are pronounced as v's in Eastern Europe. So now we wind up with the additional variations of "Nimzovitsch", "Nimzovitch", and "Nimzovich". Confusing, eh?

Geeze, don't even get me started on "Korchnoi"!

What does this mean to a database user? The biggest thing is that one could easily miss games played by a particular player due to these spelling variances. If I type "Nimzovich" into a header search, I'll miss any games with the remaining five spellings we've considered.

Consequently, the addition of an editing tool to ChessBase 6 was a welcome one. Now we can take care of these problems ourselves without the use of any outside utilities.

Here's how to do it:

In the "Databases" window, highlight the database you'd like to edit. For the sake of this example, I'll choose a small database on a particular opening. See the icons/buttons across the bottom of the screen? Click on the 5th one from the left; it's the one with a picture of either Garry Kasparov or Muhammed Ali (I can't tell with my screen resolution). This will call up the player list.

Clicking on "K" and scrolling down, I see entries for both "Kortchnoi" and "Kortschnoj". Oy vey! One of these has to be changed. There are six occurances of each version in the database. Rather than flip a coin, I decide to make them all "Kortchnoi".

Highlight the name you want to change so that the grey bar appears on it. Click on the third icon from the left at the bottom of the window, the one that looks like a blue editing pencil. (And while we're here, whodaheck is that in the last icon on the right? It's either Cindy Crawford or Kim Delaney from NYPD Blue -- the screen resolution thing again).

A new window opens, titled "Edit Player". We're provided with two boxes separated by a comma, obviously for the last and first names. Clicking on the "Help" button, we see some text advising us to use a player's complete first name. Don't believe everything you read. It's not a big deal. The only time it really comes into play is when you're dealing with several people with the same last name and first initial. The only examples I can site off the top of my cranium are Anatoly Karpov and Al Karpov, and the Polgar sisters (Sofia and Susan, or Zofia and Zsuzsa, depending on your druthers).

In my case I click on the left-hand box to get a flashing editing cursor. I use [backspace] to delete most of the name and retype it as "Kortchnoi". I leave the right-hand box alone (it just has a "V" in it). After I finish editing the name the way I want it, I click the "OK" button. I get a warning saying "Korchnoi,V exists already". I surpress the desire to scream at the monitor "Well, duh!!! That's the point!!" and simply click the "OK" button. (There is, however, an important caveat here, which we'll get to in a moment).

In my player list, the "Kortschnoj" entry has disappeared. The total number of games next to "Kortchnoi" has jumped to 12. Keep in mind, too, that this change has been made not only in the players list but in the actual game headers as well.

Keep a caution in mind, though, as you edit your player names. There is no "undo" function. These changes are permanent. So if you accidently change the games of "Kos,S" to "Kortchnoi,V" it's going to be almost impossible to find them and change them back. Use caution when editing player names!

Which brings us to the caveat mentioned above. If you are going to edit player names and use only first initials, be aware that doing something like changing "Polgar,Z" to "Polgar,S" will make Susan and Sofia's games indistinguishable from each other (except, possibly, by rating). The reason this comes into play is because the standard convention in recent years has become to refer to Susan by her actual first name, Zsuzsa, while in Sofia's case the "z" is dropped.

And if you see any games played by Al Karpov in your database, don't shorten the first name to "A"; just leave it "Al". Anatoly will thank you for it.

I'm very interested in reading your opinion of this (or any other) issue of ElectronicT-Notes, as well as my book Battle Royale. I invite you to post comments to our ChessBase Users Group or else you can e-mail me directly.