by Steve Lopez

I'm occasionally asked to describe the new "Spy" function in Fritz5.32. "What does 'spy' mean? What does it do? How does it work?"

The Spy function is accessed by clicking the Coach button. Simply select "Spy" from the menu. This activates a feature that allows you to "spy" on Fritz and see what it's "thinking". It's similar to the "Show threat" function.

With "Spy" turned on, Fritz will give you a graphic illustration of what it's planning to play at any given moment. For example, take a look at this position:

I'm the White player in a game against Fritz1.20. So far, we've played 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.f4 Nc6 4.Nf3 d5. It's my move. With the "spy" function turned on, I get a graphic representation of what Fritz plans to do on its next move. The program's idea is to play ...dxe4 in this position.

It's interesting to note that the move displayed by the "spy" function will change as the program's search depth increases. For example, a moment before I grabbed this screen capture of the board, Fritz1.20 had been considering the move...Nf6. A red arrow leading from the Knight on g8 to the square f6 had been shown on the board, but switched to the pawn capture on e4 just a few seconds before I made the screen capture you see above.

So, then, what is spy used for? Experienced players will probably not use this function, but it's a pretty valuable tool for beginners. I've taught a lot of people (of all ages) to play chess and I've noticed that even adults have difficulty with the vital concept of learning to think like one's opponent. After the opponent moves, the first question a player should ask himself is "Why did he do that?", but many newcomers to the game have trouble with this idea. The "spy" function will show the user why a move was made by the computer and (hopefully) get the user in the habit of looking for the ideas behind the opponent's moves. Once that method of logical thought is learned, the "spy" function can be turned off -- the user will have learned to do this for himself.

According to the ChessBase International web site, using "Spy" will tend to increase one's performance by about 200-300 Elo points. I think this is a pretty fair estimate. A typical 1100 player will certainly play at least a 1300 game if he knows what his opponent is planning on his next move.


The downloads at the ChessBase International web site were inaccessible for a couple of days earlier in the week. The problem has been corrected and you can download now with no problems.

On that page, you'll find a new upgrade for Junior5, which improves the program's interface. The features of Fritz5.32 that were not present in the original Junior5 have now been added to Junior's interface.

There's also a new set of .gif files available for use with the web publishing features of ChessBase 7. Go to the News page and then to the section on web publishing to download a .zip file containing the new .gif files.

The ChessBase USA site is presently undergoing a facelift. I'll be working on a new FAQ for the site and hope to have it available in a couple of weeks.

Speaking of web pages, thanks to everyone who has taken the time to visit my Chess Kamikaze sites. The Yahoo club now has 62 members and the club page has received over 11,000 hits. The Home Page has received nearly 9,000 hits in just over six months and I've had to start a second guestbook (the first one was taking too long to download).

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.