by Steve Lopez

Last week's column on game searches prompted a lot of user questions on copying games, creating opening trees, etc. In answer to these questions, I'm going to spend a couple of weeks showing you how to create new databases, copy games into them, and make opening trees from them.

These instructions work equally well with Fritz5, Junior5, and Nimzo99. For brevity's sake, the name Fritz will be used throughout the articles.

At the risk of generating some hate e-mail, there's something that needs to be discussed before we get started. Using a computer is not rocket science, but it does require a wee bit of knowledge. You need to know what a "drive" is, you need to know what a "folder" (formerly called a "directory") is, you need to know what a "file" is. This is not advanced computer knowledge. This is stuff that anyone can learn in fifteen minutes. The trick is you have to want to learn it. You can't keep putting it off for later. It's now or never.

Consequently, I'm not going to attempt to explain these terms which are explained much better elsewhere. If you don't know what a folder is or how to use a file selector in Windows, you will get very little out of the next two issues of ETN (and probably very little from most other issues as well). If you need to learn these concepts, try the help files for whatever flavor of Windows your using. If that doesn't help you, try a basic-level book on Windows. Again, these are things that every person operating a computer needs to know. Believe me, it will make your life infinitely easier in the long run.


You may be thinking, "Why would anyone want to create a new database?" A new database has several important uses. For example:

and so on. Being able to create a new database and copy games into it is a pretty handy tool.

To create a new database, click on the Database button in the main (chessboard) screen of Fritz. Click on the "New" button. You'll see the dreaded Windows file selector appear:

As stated before, I'm not going to give you a step-by-step on how to use the file selector. This is a standard Windows box, the same as you'd see in a word processor, a graphics program, or in a Web browser when you're downloading something from the Interrant. It's not coldheartedness that causes me to omit the step-by-step here. It's practicality: this box allows you to create a database in any folder on any floppy or hard drive and I have absolutely no way of knowing where you want this new database to reside on your computer.

Contrary to what some folks believe, you do not have to keep all of your databases in the same folder as your Fritz program. Databases can be in any folder on any drive. Therefore, if you have ChessBase, Fritz, Nimzo, and Junior, you do are not required to have the identical database in four separate places on your hard drive. One will do nicely. You just need to be able to use the file selector to "tell" each program where the database is located. (For example, I have a folder on my hard drive called "Bases" in which I keep all of my various databases; all four programs are happily accessing them from where they reside).

One the file selector appears, you use it to select the folder where you want the database to be stored. After "File name:" you'll notice that the program gives you the default name of "Newbase.cbh". You'll obviously want to change this to something a bit more relevant. For example, if you're going to create a database on a certain opening, you might name it after the opening (alapin.cbh) or for the ECO code of the opening (C02.cbh).

"Save as type:" lets you create databases in a variety of data formats:

The .CBH format is the only one that lets you use all of Fritz' features, so use this format unless you have a specific reason for doing otherwise.

Once you've selected a folder for your database, selected a file type, and named it, you can click "Save" to finish the job of creating a new database.

You'll notice that your game list has now vanished. That's because you're now in your new (empty) database. You can confirm this by looking at the box at the top of your screen. It gives you the "path" to your new database: the letter of the drive it's on, the main folder it's in, any subfolder it's in, and finally the name of the database file itself.

Some extra tips for creating databases:

You can't create a database on a standard CD, so don't even try. Unless you have a special drive that lets you write information to a CD, you can't do it.

While it's possible to create a database on floppy disk, it's probably not a good idea. If you plan to copy more than approximately 4500 games to the new database, they won't fit. Even if you're copying fewer games the chances of data corruption is greater copying to a floppy than onto your hard drive (see the ETN entitled "Back it up!" from earlier this month for more on copying to floppies). Personally, I don't trust the things. I'll copy existing files to a floppy with no problem, but I don't trust any process that alters contents within a file on a floppy. I've been burned too many times by data becoming corrupted during the process.


You now have a brand-new empty database. How do you copy games into it?

Go back to the database where the games currently reside. There's a shortcut for this: click the "Pick" button. A window appears that lists the last ten databases you opened:

Just pick the proper database from the list and click "OK". You'll see the list of games from that database appear on your screen.

Next you do a search for the games you need. Just click "Search", click "Reset all" (see last week's ETN), and enter your search criteria. Click "OK" and the program finds all the games that match.

Use the scroll button on the right-hand side of the game list to scroll up to the top of the list. Hit CTRL-A on your keyboard. You'll see the entire game list appear to turn black (with white lettering) -- this is because the whole list is now highlighted (the games are marked for copying).

Click the "Copy" button. You again see the Windows file selector. This allows you to select the database into which you want to copy the games. Just go to the folder that holds the new empty database you created in the last step, click on it in the list, and click "Open". The games are copied into that database.

Now click the "Pick" button and select the new (formerly empty) database and click "OK". You'll now see a game list for the games that were just copied into that database.

What could be easier?


Remember that when you play a game against Fritz and save it, it gets added to the end of the currently loaded database. Typically before I play Fritz, I click the Database button to make sure my database of games against Fritz is loaded, rather than some wonderful database of beautifully-played GM games (to which my feeble loss to Doctor?3.0 has no business being appended).

If you want an opening key for your database, click "Do Index" in the database screen. "Coarse" means that the opening key will appear as verbal names of the openings ("Sicilian Defense", etc.). "Fine" means that you'll get an ECO-style opening key, with ECO classifications and hundreds of sub-variations shown as move orders.

The ECO key is much larger (in terms of both disk space and number of variations) than the "coarse" key. If you select it for a small database of games, the key will be many times larger than the actual game files. For a small database, use "coarse". For a large (tens of thousands of games) database, use the "Fine" (ECO) key.

If your database contains games of a single opening, don't even bother creating a key. You'll end up with dozens or hundreds of entries in the key that don't even apply to the opening in question (and that just takes up disk space). If you own ChessBase, you can import part of a larger key to act as the opening index, delete the non-relevant portions of the huge key, or just have the program generate a tree from scratch (none of which can be done in Fritz).

We now have a new database of games. One of the key things we can do with it is create an opening tree/book from these games. We'll check out that procedure next week in Electronic T-Notes. Until then, 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.