ELECTRONIC T-NOTES


CHESSBASE USA'S WEEKLY ON-LINE NEWSLETTER


FOR THE WEEK OF DECEMBER 12, 1999


GETTING STARTED WITH FRITZ6

by Steve Lopez

Let's pop those CDs into those drives and get crackin'! As always, no Windows lessons here; if you don't know how to copy files, don't understand what's meant by "files", "folders", "menus", "double-click", etc., or don't know how to use a standard Windows dialogue box, I strongly encourage you to check your Windows help files or obtain (and read) a beginner's book on whichever flavor of Windows you're running.

INSTALLING FRITZ6

Put the CD into the drive and a window should appear showing the swell new Fritz logo, as well as two buttons marked "Install" and "Cancel". Obviously, if you want to install the program, click "Install". If you want to go back to playing "Deer Hunter 4.0", click "Cancel". If the logo and buttons fail to appear, launch the program autorun.exe on the Fritz6 CD (Start/Run or use My Computer or Windows Explorer.

You'll have a choice of installation options, each of which requires a different amount of hard drive space:

If you bought the upgrade version, you do not install it into your Fritz5.32 folder. If you want it to use the same engines that you've been using in Fritz5.32, Fritz6 needs to go into a folder parallel to (in other words, on the same folder level as) Fritz5.32. Let's consider an example. On my own computer, I installed Fritz5.32 to the following path:

So I'll want to install Fritz6 to this path:

If you just used the default path provided when you installed Fritz5.32, then simply use the default path provided with Fritz6, which is:

For owners of Fritz5.32 who purchased the full version of Fritz6, do the same thing. If you're a first-time owner of Fritz you can install Fritz6 wherever you want if you don't want to use the default path provided. If you're a ChessBase 7 owner and you want Fritz6's engines to be accessible in ChessBase 7 (without having to mess around with copying files), install it as a subfolder within your /cb70 folder. For example, if you used the default path when you installed ChessBase 7, you'd install Fritz6 to the following path:

The programmers threw you a little curve, though, in the next window in the Setup Wizard. It asks where you want the extra Fritz files (such as databases and layout schemes) to be stored on your computer. You can use the default folder or set up a new one of your own; it's not a big deal either way. I used the (somewhat less than imaginative) path:

After this is finished, the Wizard will install the program on your computer. However, there are a couple of extra installation steps to know about.

Fritz6 also requires that some Internet Explorer 4.0 files be added to your computer and you are notified of this in the installation process. Here are some important points:

The Setup Wizard will ask if you'd like to update the HTML capabilities of your computer. This is especially significant if you're using Windows 95. Go ahead and update them. This will allow Fritz6 to provide you its help files in the new HTML-style layout used by Windows98. We'll come back to this later.

Once the installation is complete, the Wizard will require that your computer be restarted. Go ahead and reboot the sucker (the Setup Wizard will give you a button for this). Once the computer is rebooted and the Windows Desktop appears, you'll see an icon for Fritz6. Double-click on it and away we go!

THE FIRST TIME YOU RUN FRITZ6

If you installed the full version (not the upgrade from Fritz5.32), you'll be asked to insert the "Chatter CD". Pop the Fritz6 CD back in the drive. Make sure the correct letter designation for your CD drive is typed in the "CD" box and click "Check". In a couple of moments the program will show the word "Thanks!" on the screen. After you see that happen, click "OK".

Next you'll see the User Info dialog. Enter your first and last names and the name of the town in which you reside. ("Why?" you ask. Fritz6 will show chatty little comments on the screen and will use your name and town in these comments: "Good morning, Mr. Lopez! How are things in Hagerstown today?", etc.) For "Computer", you can type in any old thing you want -- the info will appear in the headers for engine vs. engine matches. If you're the serious type, you can enter something like "Pentium II/266". If you're anything like me, you'll type something like "Wally" (named after the character from Dilbert, since my computer doesn't like to work).

Check "Mr." or "Ms." in the area provided (if you're androgynous, flip a coin). There's also an area for "Hobby Player" or "Club Player". Choose the former if you're fairly new to chess. If you've been playing seriously for a while, pick the latter.

You'll notice a box near the top of the window that says "Skip on program start". Unless you want to see this dialogue box every dang time you start the program, put a check in the space provided.

Now comes the fun part. There are two types of help files in the world: old-style Windows help and new-style HTML help. If you have the English version of Fritz6 and you try to access the help files at this point, you'll get a box that says that there is "no English documentation". DO NOT FREAK OUT (save it for the first time Fritz6 beats you in ten moves). To access the help files, go to the Tools menu, select "Options", then select the "Design" tab. In the "Help" section of this dialogue box, click the space next to "HTML" to put a mark there. Then click "OK". Try accessing the help files now (from the Help menu, of course). You'll get the Windows 98 style help windows with full English language help.

If you'd rather have the old-style Windows help files, you can download them from the ChessBase GmbH site. The file's not zipped, so just download it straight into your \Fritz6 folder.

VARIOUS TIPS

It's impossible for me to cover every feature of the program's new interface in one article. I'll just touch on a few points that are sure to arise.

SOUND ISSUES

If you're like me, you'll want Fritz6 to shut up after you've heard about a half-dozen comments. To gag it, go to the Tools menu, select "Options", and click the "Multimedia" tab. Uncheck the "Talk" box. NOTE: "Chatter" has nothing to do with what you hear coming through the speakers -- it refers to the little chatty messages Fritz6 displays at the bottom of the screen. You can turn these off, too, by unchecking the box. "Board sounds" gives you the neat sound of a wooden chesspiece hitting the board every time a move is made. You can turn this on or off just by checking or unchecking the box provided.

If, on the other hand, Fritz6 doesn't talk and you would like it to, make sure the CD is in the drive. Click the "Find TALK.CHT" button, click the "Browse" button, and use the dialogue that appears to go to your CD drive and select "talk.cht" (if you have Windows configured to not show file extensions, this file will appear simply as "talk"). You'll get bounced back to the previous window, where you'll click "Close". This will take you back to "Options" under the "Multimedia" tab. Fritz6 will now yammer away until you turn off the talk feature or smash your computer with a sledgehammer.

While you're here, you can set a variety of musical styles if you prefer music in your program. Fritz6 installs with "No music" as the default. I will make a bold prediction here and say that there will be literally dozens of "I clicked 'Test music' and nothing happened -- those idiots haven't fixed it!" posts to various chess message boards on the Interrant. There's a subtle but important point here: if "No music" is selected and you click "Test music", there's no music to test -- hence there is no sound. Select one of the music styles before you test the music.

SETTING THE SCREEN DISPLAY

This is a topic worthy of its own article, but here's a brief tour to get you started.

If you prefer a 2D board, you have a lot of options as to how to make it look. Go to the Tools menu and click "Board design". You'll see an entry for "Color Schemes" -- this controls how the chessboard appears on the screen. The default is "metal". To change it, click on the small arrow button to the right to expand the window. You'll see 15 preset options for board colors. To try one out, select it and click "Apply" -- the board behind the dialogue box will change to reflect the selection you just made. You can try a number of board styles this way to find one that you like. Once you've decided on one, click "OK".

If you're especially ambitious, you might try choosing your own board and piece colors rather than use one of the presets provided. Select "Plain Color", click "Apply", and you'll see the four buttons immediately below "Color schemes" become available to you. You can click on one of these to bring up Windows' color palette and you can select your own colors for the light and dark squares and the White and Black pieces. When you're done, click "OK" and you'll see the change on your screen.

If you're one of those disgusting overachievers, you can use a graphics program to create your own light and dark squares plus a new border for around the playing area. Just create the artwork in your favorite graphics program, save the art as .bmp files, select "User BMP" under "Color schemes" and use the buttons to tell Fritz6 where the files are located. Pow! Instant homemade board -- great job, Rembrandt!

Fritz6 gives you five styles of pieces to choose from, located (oddly enough) under "Pieces". Pick one, click "Apply", see if you like it, and click "OK" when you find one you prefer.

You can even change the look of the "table" beneath the board by selecting "Background" and making your pick.

There are a number of sliders in this dialogue. "Proportion" adjusts the size of the pieces in proportion to the squares; you can make the pieces larger or smaller. "Margin width" adjusts the size of the border area around the chessboard (between the squares and the edge of the board). "Animation" allows you to select the speed at which pieces glide from square to square when they move.

The "Coordinates" box, when checked, will put algebraic notation around the board. "No scaling" takes you back to the "plain color" board (see above). "Shadows" and "Rounded" give the pieces an attractive, slightly more three-dimensional, appearance. "Replay arrows below board" provide VCR buttons below the chessboard (to make it easy to replay a game from the database).

There are a lot of neat things you can do with the 3D board, too, but we'll look at them another time (I'm trying to keep this article just a page or two shorter than War and Peace).

RESIZING THE SCREEN ELEMENTS

To make the notation and analysis windows wider or narrower, just grab the left edge with the mouse cursor and drag it. This also serves as a way to resize the chessboard. By making the information windows wider, you make the chessboard smaller. You can also make the information windows larger or smaller in relation to each other by grabbing the top or bottom edge of the element you want to resize and just dragging it. For example, if you want to make the analysis window larger and the notation window smaller, just grab the border between them and drag upwards.

Once you've set the screen elements the way you want them (colors, sizes, etc.), you can save the layout. Go to the Window menu and select "Save layout". You just give the layout file a name and click the "Save" button. If you're horsing around with the display elements later and find that you can't get your old (preferred) display back manually, just go to the Window menu, select "Load layout" and reload the original layout you saved. You can create and save as many layouts as you please.

Fritz6 allows you to resize the whole shooting match in relation to your monitor's screen area. Note the three buttons in the top right corner of the program (on the title bar). Clicking the "X" exits the program, of course. Clicking the dash minimizes it down to the Windows Taskbar. But clicking the middle button (the "square") resizes Fritz6's window to about 90% of the screen. You can then grab a corner or edge of the window and drag it to whatever size or rectangular shape you want. You can also grab the title bar at the top of the window to reposition the whole window on the screen. As promised, Fritz6 is a true Windows application.

CD ISSUES

There are several CD-related issues which popped up with Fritz5.32 that I'm pretty sure will also be a factor in Fritz6. Let's have a look at these.

THE OPENING BOOK

The opening book is called general.ctg and is located on the CD. It's not copied to the hard drive during the installation process because of its size (it requires over 130 MB of space). If you don't want the opening book on your hard drive, make sure you have the CD in the drive when you start the program so that Fritz6 will have access to the opening book.

If you want the opening book on your hard drive, Fritz6 will do this for you. First load the opening book. Go to the File menu, select "Open", and then choose "Openings Book" from the submenu that appears off to the side. Use the dialogue box to go to your CD and select General.ctg (again, this may be displayed as just "General" if you have Windows configured to hide file extensions). Double-click it (or else just single-click it and click the "Open" button). The opening book is now loaded.

To get it onto your hard drive, follow this procedure: on the right side of the main (chessboard) screen of Fritz6, you'll see a box with two tabs: "Notation" and "Openings Book". Select "Openings Book". You'll see a display with the opening moves for White. Go to the Edit menu, select "Openings Book", and then pick "Copy tree to hard disk" from the submenu. Another dialogue box opens which allows you to select a folder on your hard drive in which to copy the opening book. Once you've selected a folder, click the "Save" button. Fritz6 copies the opening book to the hard drive and then automatically switches to it once the copying is complete. You no longer need the CD in the drive to access the opening book.

THE DATABASE

Fritz6 comes with a database of nearly 320,000 games. To load it, click the File menu, select "Open", then choose "Database" from the submenu. Use the dialogue box to go to the CD and then to the folder called "Database". You'll see a file called "Fritz6.cbh" (or, as always, depending on your Windows configuration, just "Fritz6"). Double-click on it or else single-click to highlight it and then click the "Open" button. You'll now get the game list for Fritz6's database.

If you want to put this pup on your hard drive, go to the Tools menu (at the top of the game list screen) and select "Install to hard disk". A dialogue window appears which allows you to select the folder in which the database will reside. The program then switches automatically to that database after the copying is done.

THE TALK FILES

In theory, you can copy these to your hard drive. In practice, it's a major pain in the patoot. I don't recommend it. The whole set of files takes nearly 230 MB hard drive space to store and you have to be careful of what you copy and where you copy it. I'll likely do a future ETN on this topic; just keep the CD in the drive for now if you really want Fritz6 to talk. By the way, the Talk CD from Fritz5/Fritz5.32 will work with Fritz6 (in case you prefer mildly annoying over super annoying).

REFUELING

No refueling. It's gone. Forget about it.

Don't use your Fritz6 CD as a drink coaster, though. Files do get corrupted, hard drives do crash, and you will need the CD again someday.

Well, my pawn-pushing pals, those are the basics. That'll get Fritz6 on your computer and ready to play. We'll get into the goodies over the coming weeks right here in ETN. Until next week, have fun!

You can e-mail me with your comments, suggestions, and analysis for Electronic T-Notes. If you love gambits and sacrificial play, stop by my Chess Kamikaze Home Page and the Yahoo Chess Kamikazes Club.