by Steve Lopez

This is really cool...

How many times have you been frustrated by seeing gamescores on Usenet and wished you could find a way to just play them on your screen? Or how about somebody who puts a game on a Web page without a Java-enabled way to play through the moves (like that idiot who does the Chess Kamikazes page)? Wouldn't it be cool to be able to somehow transfer the game to ChessBase and play it on the screen?

Heh heh heh heh...

Check this out. Minimize your Web browser, fire up ChessBase 6 or 7, click on the top button on the left side of the screen (the one that opens a new game window and lets you input a game), then use ALT-TAB to come back to this page. Go ahead, I'll wait for you.

Now take a look at this game:

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bf4 d6 3.e3 g6 4.c3 Bg7 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qb3 b6 7.Bc4 e6 8.Bg5 d5 9.Bd3 0-0 10.Nf3 Nc6 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.h4 a5 13.h5 Ne7 14.Qc2 Nf5 15.hxg6 hxg6 16.g4 Nh4 17.Nxh4 Bxh4 18.Bxg6 Bxf2+ 19.Kxf2 fxg6+ 20.Ke2 Qf6 21.Rh6?? Qf1+ 22.Kd2 Rf2#

There's an interesting (but not terribly sound) Bishop sac on move 18. Would you like to be able to see it without entering the moves by hand? Here's how you do it. Use your mouse to highlight the moves of the game above. Then hit CTRL-C on your keyboard. This sends the text of the moves to the Windows Clipboard.

Now hit ALT-TAB to go over to ChessBase. Click on the game notation window and hit CTRL-V. This copies the moves from the Windows Clipboard to the notation window. BOOM! Instant game! You may now play through the game right there on the screen, just like a game from your database. In fact, you could even save the game (should you want it in your database for some unfathomable reason). By the way, for those new to computers or Windows, this CRTL-C and CTRL-V process is called "cut and paste", because it's similar to a technique we all learned in kindergarden (though not as much fun, since you can't eat the paste). Seasoned kidnappers who are used to creating ransom notes from newspaper and magazine clippings will recognize the technique as well.

You can cut and paste games from any on-screen source that CTRL-C will work upon. Just highlight the moves, hit CTRL-C, then ALT-TAB over to ChessBase and hit CTRL-V in a board window. It's that simple.

This feature's been a part of ChessBase since version 6, but I didn't try it until recently (for some stupid reason. Actually. quite bluntly, I initially overlooked it and then, after I found it, I didn't think it would work). I have to tell you, this is so cool! Now you can take somebody's analysis from Usenet or the Web, drop it into ChessBase, run an analysis engine on the position, find out the guy was wrong, and type a flame calling him an idiot, all in a matter of seconds!

More importantly, you can take some valuable analysis or games and add them to your database without the hassle of making a printout and adding the games by hand.

Using this feature even eliminates text commentary and just gives you the moves. But what if the commentary itself contains moves and variations? Or what if you want to keep the commentary?

First of all, as soon as the program encounters a move it doesn't understand (an alternate variation, for example), it stops cold. It truncates the game at the point where it got "confused". This is no problem. You just highlight and CTRL-C the main line moves in "blocks", skip the side variations and commentary, and CRTL-V the main line moves into the game window a few at a time.

Once you have the main line moves in place, you can then add the variations. For example, the game has an alternate line starting at White's fifteenth move. All you have to do is highlight the variation, CTRL-C, ALT-TAB back over to ChessBase, click on White's move 15, hit T on the keyboard to take back White's move and start a variation line, and hit CTRL-V to paste the variation in place. Easy, right?

Now what about the commentary? Just highlight the golden prose from the Web page, CTRL-C, ALT-TAB to ChessBase, click on the move where the commentary should appear, CTRL-A to open the annotation window, and CTRL-V to drop the wonderful verbage gently into place. Voila! The masterpiece is complete!

Don't forget to save your work if you want to hang on to it, otherwise all the CTRLing and ALTing will have been for nought should you close the game window.

Give this feature a try. I was absolutely stunned at how well it worked the first time I tried it. It has saved me literally hours of work in the last few months in checking out games from Web pages and Usenet, seeing if the writers had any useful insights into openings I play. If the commentary was useful, I just went to the Window menu in ChessBase, brought the Database window to the top, highlighted the database I wanted the game saved into, clicked the button at the bottom of the screen to make it the active database, went back to the Window menu to bring the game window back to the top, and clicked the "piggy bank" to save it (giving it a clever title like "Joe's master analysis, Usenet, 12/15/98" or some such).

Until next week, have fun cutting and pasting! Oh, and have the $10,000 in a brown paper bag behind the police call box at Tenth and Main by 9 AM Wednesday or you'll never see Baby Seymour again.

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.