by Steve Lopez

Just a quick note to let you know the e-mail box has been a bit empty lately (except for cheesy jokes from my pals and the usual "get rich quick" spam). Send me some ideas of what you'd like to see covered in Electronic T-Notes.

I'm also interested in games for "Chess Embitterment". On the other side of that coin, if you have some really dazzling victories you'd like to send along, please do so and I'll find a home for them on this Web page as well.

My e-mail address is at the bottom of the page (because I'm too lazy to add a link here).


by Steve Lopez

The user interface for the Windows versions of ChessBase has become pretty popular. It was designed to give the user the feel of having a chess book open next to his chessboard, but with the added bonus of having the current move highlighted so it's easy to find one's place in the text. Every so often, though, I'll hear from someone who wishes that the plain old text was just a bit easier to read.

There are several tweaks you can make to the program to make elements of the text window a bit more user-friendly. You can color parts of the text and click a couple of switches to make the text look a bit more like what you'd see in an actual book.

Got to the "Status" menu and click "Options". In the window that appears, you notice a couple of entries on the left-hand side: "Paragraphs" and "Justify". If you click the box next to "Paragraphs", it alters the text format so that variations appear on a new line (instead of imbedded in parentheses on the same line of text as the main moves). The new variation will also be indented a few spaces. Deeper subvariations may be even more indented (depending on the variation structure). This makes it easier to locate variations, as well as to find your place in the game tree.

The "Justify" box may be a bit more obscure if you haven't studied journalism. A paragraph that is "justified" is one that has even margins on both the left-hand and right-hand sides. So if you click the "Justify" box, it will give you a swell, even right-hand margin (as opposed to a staggered raggedy-looking one).

Once you have the text laid out in a more readable manner, you can use color to highlight a couple of the elements of the text. Click the box labeled "Colour 1" to get a new window:

This window lets you choose a color for the text annotations. You can see that I've chosen a sexy cool blue for the notes in my program. Likewise the "Colour 2" button lets you choose a color for subvariations that appear in parentheses in the gamescore. I chose a hot red for those.

The final result looks like this:

Ain't it sweet? It appears very much like a page from a chess book, but with the bonus of added color. The main line moves are in bold black, the first level of variations are in normal black, the nested subvariations are in red, and the text commentary is in blue.

ChessBase gives you a heap of colors to choose from, but if none of them suit you, you can create your own colors. Click on one of the boxes under "Custom colors". Next click on the "crosshairs" on the color palette, hold down the mouse button, and drag the crosshairs around the screen. The box below the palette shows you what your selection looks like. If you find one you like, click the "Add to custom colors" button and the box you selected will turn that color. You can then click "OK" and that color becomes a permanent part of your color choices.

You can also alter the colors by typing different values in the boxes under the palette (but you have to be dang near a Rembrandt to do it well; it's easier to just use the "drag" method). If you're a budding artist you might find it fun to play around with this feature.

You don't need to use all of these features in your program's configuration. Play around with them a bit and find the ones that make the text box more appealing for you. And, above all, have fun!

Your questions, comments, and submissions are loved, cared for, and appreciated.

You can reach me by e-mail.