by Steve Lopez

Thanks to everyone who wrote to me over this past week to offer suggestions for Electronic T-Notes! The e-mail box is bursting at its virtual seams!

Carl Fossa wrote some interesting questions regarding middlegame keys in ChessBase. Basically, Carl wants to know how to copy and combine various middlegame keys.

Recently, I've been doing some work on the Cordel Variation in the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bc5).I have an unkeyed database of Cordel games hanging around on my hard drive and I want to create a middlegame key for it. How is this done?

The first step is to find a middlegame key. I checked through some of my CBM disks for a pretty good-sized key. I looked at CBM 61 and found a somewhat small "Strategy" key attached to the "61 Middlegame" database. Clicking once on my Cordel database to highlight it, I went to the "Technical" menu at the top of the screen. I selected "Theme classification" and then "Install Strategy" from the submenu that opened up out to the side. A dialog box opened which allowed me to select a strategy key from any drive or directory. I went to my CD drive ("D") and found the strategy key file for the "61 Middlegame" database. I selected it, clicked "OK" and the key was automatically copied to my Cordel database.

Note that you can only perform "Install key" once. If you try to do it again, a warning box appears to tell you that the old key will be overwritten. So if you can't append a key to an existing key, how are new keys added?

The process is actually pretty simple. I looked at the main CBM 61 database's strategy key and saw an entry called "Outpost". I wanted to add it to my new key. I resized the CBM key so that it only took up the upper half of my screen. Then, in the "Database" window, I opened the "Strategy" key for my Cordel database. I resized that key window so that it only took up the lower half of my screen:

All I had to do was click on the "Outpost" key, hold down the left mouse button, and drag it into the window for the Cordel strategy key. When I did so, I received a message asking me to confirm that choice:

I clicked "OK", and the "Outpost" key entry was added to my Cordel database's strategy key:

Had I wanted to add "Outpost" as a subkey of an existing key (such as "f7 weakness"), I would have just double-clicked on the "f7 weakness" key and dragged "Outpost" into that key window instead.

After you've dragged and dropped the new keys into your middlegame key, remember to highlight the correct database, click on the "Technical" menu, go to "Theme classification", and select "Strategy" (or whatever key you were working on). This will sort your games into the new categories.

As a timesaver, it might be a good idea to create a dummy database (with no games in it) and build your middlegame keys there. Then, when you create a new database (for the games of a particular player or opening, for example), you can just use the "Install key" command described above to copy the "master" key from your dummy database to your new one. Then use "Theme classification" to sort the games into the new key.

(By the way, the examples I gave above are just examples for the sake of this article. Most of the keys I transferred to the Cordel database have nothing to do with the Cordel variation. Out of over a thousand games, only eleven wound up classified into the strategy keys I selected.)

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

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