by Steve Lopez

There seems to be a great deal of confusion lately regarding the Internet options in ChessBase 7. After the fifth time in two weeks that I had to type essentially the same e-mail about these options, I figured it was time to put the word out in ETN.

Please forgive my surliness this week (I prefer to think of it as being "curmudgeonly" now that I'm hitting middle age), but I'll be writing about two unpleasant (for me) topics: Windows and the Internet (hereafter referred to as the Interrant). What I'll be doing in this isue is providing some general ChessBase information. What I won't be doing is providing step-by-step Windows instructions (if Bill Gates wants to pay me $100 an hour to provide information about his program, I'll be happy to do it but I'd still rather have teeth pulled sans anesthetic) or providing instructions on how to use a Web browser (there are so many different browsers in use that this would be an impossible task anyway).

I'll provide some basic instructions on how to alter some things concerning your ChessBase program, but a very small bit of Windows knowledge will be required. When in doubt, check your Windows Help file, the Windows documentation that came with your computer, and/or the for Dummies or Complete Idiot's Guide book for whichever flavor of Windows you're currently running.

This article will take a slightly less tortuous meandering course than the Nurburgring, but the side trips, curves, and switchbacks may be tough, so please buckle your safety belt before we proceed.

At this point, it might be helpful to go back and review the ETN issue for August 2, 1998. I'll be briefly reviewing the same material here but that older issue goes into more detail.

When you first install ChessBase 7, you're given the choice of installations: "Typical" or "Custom". Choosing "Typical" does not install the Interrant version of CB7. The reason for this is provided in the ETN issue for August 2, 1998. At the time CB7 was released, many people were still using Microsoft Interrant Explorer 3.0 which is incompatible with the Interrant version of CB7. So "Typical" gives you the non-Interrant-enabled version of ChessBase. Most folks are now using IE4 or IE5, so installing the Net-enabled CB7 is no longer a problem in most cases.

To get the Net-enabled version, you need to choose "Custom" installation. When you do so, another box appears that offers you the choice of either "Internet (IE4)" or "Standard". If you choose "Standard", this just gives you the same thing as a "Typical" installation (e.g. you get the non-Interrant-enabled CB7).

Choosing "Internet(IE4)" gives you the Net-enabled version of CB7. It does not install IE4 to your computer, so users of IE5 can choose this option with no problems.

Note that in this box you must choose either "Internet(IE4)" or "Standard". If you choose neither option and click "Next", everything will appear as though ChessBase was installed on your computer but you'll actually have installed diddley-squat to your hard drive. (I have a hilarious tech support story about this, but I don't want to offend the customer involved by including it here. Let's just say that calling a software tech support number to brag about one's software development accomplishments while seeking installation assistance is generally not a good mix).

Now let's assume that you've been running CB7 with no problems for several weeks but you then discover that the Interrant options included in the program's Support menu aren't functioning. It's obvious that you've installed the non-Net-enabled version. You want to go back and reinstall the program to get the Net-enabled version. How do you do this?

First, you can't simply reinstall the program over the existing copy. It won't work -- in fact, it will probably disable your CB7 completely. You'll need to uninstall the program and then reinstall it. You also can't just drag and drop the \CB7 folder to your Recycle Bin -- you'll end up with multiple listings of "ChessBase 7.0" in your Windows registry (which isn't crucial but is annoying as all get out).

Here's what you have to do. First you must exit CB7; don't just minimize it. Copy the file cb.ini (which may be listed as just "cb" depending on how you have your copy of Windows configured -- the icon will look like a white notepad with a little yellow gear superimposed over it) from your \CB70 folder to some other folder on your hard drive (it doesn't matter where -- just make sure you remember where you copied it). Then click your Windows Start button, go to Settings, then to Control Panel. Double-click the icon for "Add/Remove Programs". Highlight "ChessBase 7.0" in the list of programs and click the "Add/Remove" button. Follow the steps for removing the program. Any databases or trees you've installed or created will not be deleted (but see the next paragraph. Also, it's an excellent idea to back up your databases anyway -- see the January 3, 1999 ETN for my rambling tale of woe on the topic of backups).

Next go to the \CB70 folder and delete the file cb.ini as well as any non-database/non-opening tree files you may find there; DON'T accidentally delete any of your databases or trees (this is why I never create any databases or trees in the same folder as my program files, but that's another rant for another time). Then reinstall ChessBase 7, making sure to choose "Custom" installation and then "Internet(IE4)". Also make sure you install it to the same folder path as your previous installation (so that your Fritz/etc. engines will work after ChessBase is reinstalled). Once the program is installed, double-click the Desktop icon for CB7 to start the program. Follow the steps for setting languages, performing the CD verification check, etc.

Once you're in the program, you'll notice that your database icons are gone. This is why I had you make a copy of the cb.ini file. Exit the program (don't just minimize it). Use Notepad (generally found by clicking the Windows Start button, then going to Programs, then Accessories) to open the old cb.ini file that you previously copied to another folder. Highlight the entire first section of this file (the section designated [Databases]). Hit CTRL-C to copy it to the Windows clipboard. Then use Notepad to open the new cb.ini file in the \CB70 folder, position the cursor at the start of the file, and hit CTRL-V to paste the section from your Windows clipboard into the file. Make sure you use "Save" from Notepad's File menu to save the changes before exiting the program.

Now restart CB7 -- you'll see all of your database icons just as they were before you reinstalled the program.

So exactly what do the items in the Support menu do? "ChessBase Web Site" fires up your Web browser and takes you right to ChessBase GmbH's web site (ChessBase International in Germany). "Register" allows you to register your software on-line. "Get new games" will automatically download the latest issue of Mark Crowther's excellent The Week in Chess to your computer. "Online upgrade" will automatically upgrade your program to the latest available version, giving you the newest features, fixes, and tweaks.

Some folks prefer to download the upgrades manually from the ChessBase web site and this is fine. You'll get the same thing as users who opt for the online upgrade. However, if you choose to download the .zip file manually, make sure you get the right one. There are two separate files available -- one is for the Net-enabled version of CB7, the other is for the non-Net-enabled version. Downloading and running the wrong one will cause your program to become inoperative and you'll have to go through the hassle of uninstalling and reinstalling as I've described above.

A common misconception among non-users is that you can download the upgrade patch from the site and somehow get a full copy of CB7 on a shareware/freeware basis (in other words, "Enjoy the program, pay us the $250 only if you feel like it"). Don't laugh -- I answer this question via e-mail or on Usenet at least twice a week for someone who doesn't own ChessBase but has downloaded an upgrade file and wants to know why it "doesn't work". There is a very functional demo version of CB7, called ChessBase Light, available for download at the web site. Many of the functions of the full program are included and it's free. Have fun! (By the way, this is an excellent program for ChessBase-using chess teachers to give to their students. You can prepare lessons or "homework" in ChessBase, give them to your students, and have them read the lessons using ChessBase Light).

Hopefully I haven't lost you yet -- we're nearing the finish line. If you don't want to go through all the grief of uninstalling and reinstalling just to get automatic Interrant accessibility, that's no problem. Most of the Support menu functions are available manually through your Web browser. Here are the links to get to these items; just click on each one, bookmark it in your browser, and hit the "Back" button to come back to this article:

Online registration of the program can only be done from within ChessBase 7.0.

Some points to remember:

Installing the Net-enabled version of CB7 will destroy your Microsoft Interrant Explorer 3.0 (for a slightly technical explanation, see ETN for August 2, 1998), but will not harm IE4 or IE5. If you're not sure which browser version you have, just start it -- you'll see a big panel which will give you the number. You can also go to your browser's Help menu, click "About Interrant Explorer" and see the version number there.

Uninstalling the program will not delete existing trees or databases within the same folder as your program files, but it's a good idea to err on the side of caution and back them up anyway before uninstalling.

When downloading the upgrade files manually (using your web browser), make sure you download and run the correct file. Please don't try to be "safe" and run them both -- you'll severely screw things up.

Until next week, have fun!

Please note that ChessBaseUSA will be closed Monday September 6th for the US Labor Day holiday. (That's right -- Americans take the day off on Labor Day. We also eat "jumbo shrimp" -- go figure).

This issue of ETN is dedicated with great admiration to Tazio "Who needs sheet metal?" Nuvolari, one of the all-time greats and a major hero of mine in my youth. If there's a heaven, I'm sure they have a track with absolutely no straightaways and Tazio's still happily blowing everyone's doors off while littering the track with various parts of his own vehicle.

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