ELECTRONIC T-NOTES


CHESSBASE USA'S WEEKLY ON-LINE NEWSLETTER


FOR THE WEEK OF APRIL 4, 1999


MISCELLANY

by Steve Lopez

This week, we'll look at various and sundry issues that have come up in the last week or two.

DATABASE CORRECTIONS

Here are a few corrections that you should make to your BigBase 99 and MegaBase 99 databases. Obviously, you'll need to have these databases on your hard drive to make the corrections (you can't alter data on a CD).

Special thanks to Jose Gonzalez-Gigato and "John" (no last name given in his e-mail) for these corrections.

NEW DOWNLOADS

There are a couple of new downloads at www.chessbase.com that you might find useful. Bob Hyatt has provided us with a new version of Crafty for use within ChessBase and Fritz/Junior/Nimzo: it's Crafty 16.6.

There's also a new upgrade to ChessBase7 available. What does this upgrade do? Here's what the on-line upgrade tells us:

April 1st 1999
- Database integrity check enhanced: Automatic repair of databases.

Simply put, this means that the ChessBase7 feature that allows you to check for file errors in your databases will now attempt to correct those errors instead of merely alerting you to their presence. For more on these errors, please check Electronic T-Notes for January 3, 1999.

MORE ON ENDGAME DATABASES

The last two issues of ETN have featured information on the Ken Thompson endgame CDs. Here's the last bit of information I have for you on the subject.

It was mentioned last week that when you reference the endgame CDs, you should use "CD ROM 1-4" if you're accessing the databases from the CDs and "CD ROM Complete" if you're accessing them from your hard drive. This prompted a number of inquires about the proper location of these databases on a hard disk.

It really doesn't matter where you put them on your hard drive, just so long as you know what folder you put them in. When you select "CD ROM Complete", you get a file selector that allows you to tell the program where to look for the databases (i.e. what folder they're in). As long as you know what folder you copied them into, you'll be able to use the file selector to access them.

Be aware that the entire 4 CD set requires more than a gigabyte of hard disk space.

GENERAL ETN INFORMATION

I get a large number of questions about ETN in general, so I thought it might be a good idea to answer them here.

People frequently ask what the name T-Notes stands for. This is best answered with a bit of history about the publication.

The original T-Notes was a paper publication that was snail-mailed to everyone in ChessBase USA's database. It was originally designed to be a quarterly publication that included product announcements and tips for using our software. It debuted in 1991. When the boss was deciding on a title for the publication, he was talking to a key company adviser who happens to be a stockbroker. The guy suggested "T-Notes", playing off of the terms "technical notes" and "treasury notes" (after all, he was a stockbroker). Thus T-Notes was born. (For long-time ChessBase USA customers who might still have a copy of one of these lying around, this also explains why the "s" in the logo appears as a dollar sign).

T-Notes never made a quarterly schedule. It was more like a semi-annual or three times a year. I wrote my first T-Notes article in early 1993. Later that same year, I wrote a fairly infamous two part article on computer analysis which marked the first time (though, unfortunately, not the last) that I ever got in trouble for something I'd written.

The main problem with paper publications is the time factor. I could easily write an issue of T-Notes in a couple of days, but it took much longer to get it typeset, printed, and mailed, especially with ChessBase USA's small staff. This is why it was tough for us to stick to a quarterly schedule.

In 1994, I became the editor of T-Notes. By 1995, I'd decided that trying to get this thing into people's hands on paper was nearly impossible, due to the time and expense. So I decided to go "electronic" by publishing T-Notes on-line. I renamed the publication Electronic T-Notes (to distinguish it from the paper version), and managed to get two issues on-line in Compuserve's Chess Forum archives before I left ChessBase USA in January 1996.

("Why did you leave?" is another question I'm asked with startling regularity. Without going into gory details, I just plain burned out. Don and I had a long discussion about this and we mutually agreed that my departure was for the best. I'd actually been thinking about leaving for around six months before I finally made the move. I subsequently took about a year off from chess, even letting my chess magazine subscriptions lapse. I did play two tournaments in 1996 -- my results prove that going to a chess tournament as a way of getting out of the house is a bad idea. I started playing a lot of skittles late in the year, but this didn't do much for my game either).

In early 1997, Don asked me to write two features for the ChessBase USA home page: Battle Royale (which itself has a huge amount of background history) and T-Notes. I was to be employed as a freelance writer rather than a full company employee, which suited me fine -- I'd been thinking of returning to chess and this gave me a reason to do so, without chess "eating up" my life as it had done previously. It also allowed me the freedom to work for some other businesses as well.

I again tacked the word "Electronic" onto the title, and it debuted on the Internet two years ago last week. Since that time I've written over 100 weekly columns and never missed a week (I overran a few deadlines due to illness, but I've never actually skipped a week). Anyone who knows my work habits realizes that this is a pretty big accomplishment.

Last year, ChessBase International and I struck a deal that would allow them to carry ETN on their web site as well, where it debuted in July 1998.

Having ETN appear simultaneously on two different web sites carries with it a bit of interesting baggage. I've been asked frequently by international readers if the tips contained in ETN are only good for the "American" versions of ChessBase and Fritz. There aren't multiple "national" versions of our programs. The programs come with help files in a number of different languages, and the user has the option to have his menu items appear in a variety of languages, but the programs themselves are always the same. There is no difference in ChessBase sold to an American user versus that sold to a French user. The programs are identical -- the same applies to Fritz/Junior/Nimzo. Anything you read in ETN is applicable to all copies of the same version number of a program.

Since ETN started appearing on the ChessBase International site, I've also been taken to task a number of times in the Usenet newsgroups (though never in personal e-mail) because of my nationality. It's never been due to any specific thing I've written. There are just a few people on the Interrant who make it their business to flame Americans whenever possible. To this I can only respond that if you want to know how to really flame an American, please refer to rec.sport.soccer where such flaming has been developed into a fine art. It's no less stupid in the soccer newsgroup, but the practitioners there are better at it.

In October 1998, I was asked to return to ChessBase USA as a full-time employee in charge of technical support, a position which I accepted. This has been generally beneficial to ETN readers, since I'm now directly involved with common everyday questions and problems; much of this information finds its way into ETN.

I'm asked almost daily if there are any plans to publish back issues of ETN as a book. There are no plans for such a work, due entirely to the same factors that made the old paper T-Notes so difficult to produce and distribute.

I'm also sometimes asked what happened to the "fun" stuff like "Chess Embitterment". I haven't been too embittered lately, to be honest. As soon as I play a game that meets the minimum humor requirements for that column, I'll bring it back. I do have quite a few gamescores lying about that display someone else's embitterment in a game against me, but putting them on the Web is hardly sporting. I also get asked about the return of non-ChessBase chess content (book reviews, etc.). A lot of that stuff finds its way onto my personal home page, but I'll be including some of it here as well.

And, yes, there *will* be an index for Year Two of ETN as soon as I properly motivate myself to create one.

Finally, no I am *not* the guy who writes for that newspaper in Philadelphia. I *do* have other writing projects in mind, but they are not chess-related. Two are historical novels, one is a fiction novel. Unless I can stop myself from messing around on the Interrant for three hours every day, they will never get written.

Now that ETN is two years old, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for reading ETN each week, and particularly so if you've taken the time to e-mail me with your comments and suggestions. Without you and your ideas, this column would just be a case of me ranting into the darkness once a week.

And specific thanks to Don, Allison, John, Wanita, Fred, Matthias (2T), Mathias (1T), Andre, Steffen, Rainer, Wolli, Mig, dansin (the best-looking spellchecker ever), and my gang of chess cronies (you know who you are). Thanks for making the task of writing ETN fun and easy! The only way this could be simpler is if I had a hundred monkeys with typewriters and a hundred-year deadline (instead of a weekly one).

Until next week, have fun!

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