by Steve Lopez

If you're a ChessBase 8 owner, the first thing you noticed upon installing and running the program is that the interface is completely different from ChessBase 7's screen layout. A bit of initial confusion is natural; this week, we'll try to clear up some of the little mysteries.

Before we begin, I strongly encourage you to go to the Help menu in CB8 and select "Online upgrade". There have already been a couple of new features added to the program through these upgrades and CB8 is now much more stable under Windows ME with these upgrades installed.

On to the tips!

Q): I can't figure out how to set a database as the "write database" in CB8.

A:) The feature's been eliminated in CB8. When you enter a game manually and are ready to save it, go to the File menu and select "Save as". The Windows file select dialogue appears; use it to go to the folder containing the desired database and select it there.

Also note that if you have a game list open, you'll have another option available in the File menu: "Save ->" followed by the name of the open database. This is a very handy shortcut. When I'm entering games by hand, I open the game list for the database first; then, when I'm ready to save a game into that database, I just go to the File menu and select "Save -> [database name]" and the game ends up there.

Q): If I have multiple windows open, how do I get back to a previously-opened window?

A): Just go to your Windows taskbar at the bottom of your screen. All of your open windows will be displayed as buttons there. Click on the button for the window you want to be on top. Using ALT-TAB on your keyboard also works wonderfully well.

By the way, there are some interesting shortcuts in the program. If you have a game window open (that is, a game loaded and the chessboard displayed on the screen), you can go to the File menu and select "Recent games". This will provide a short list of the last few games you viewed. Clicking on one of these entries opens the corresponding game in a new board window (note, however, that this closes the board window for the game you're currently viewing). If you're in the database window, you'll see "Recent games" in the File menu, along with another similar command: "Recent databases". This provides a list of the last few database game lists you've viewed. Clicking on one of these does not close any other game list that may be open.

These two menu items are configurable. In the database window, go to the Tools menu and select "Options". In the new dialogue that appears, select the "Limits" tab. You'll see two entries for "Number of recent games" and "Number of recent databases". You can set new values in these boxes which will change the number of entries displayed in the menu items described in the previous paragraph.

While we're here, note the items "Maximum board windows" and "Maximum database windows". Here is where you can set values for the maximum number of these types of windows that can be open at any time. Why is this feature in the program? Over the years, I've received a number of calls from people who said that their system resouces display in ChessBase for Windows 1.1/ChessBase 6/ChessBase 7 had turned red and was reading 1%. "I have plenty of RAM!! What's going on??!!??" was the typical cry from the other end of the phone. Here's what had happened in these cases: the user was entering a pile of games by hand and saving them into a database. However, he wasn't closing the window for a previously saved game before opening a new window to enter the moves of a new game. I talked to people who had fifty or more game windows open at once -- and that's where the RAM went. Once these windows were closed, the resource meter jumped back up.

That's why this feature was added to CB8 -- it's to prevent people from overloading their computer's resources through absentmindedness.

Before we proceed, here's a major, important, crucial, overall ChessBase 8 tip:

When in doubt, right click.

Many, many, many of the features of ChessBase 8 are accessed by right-clicking. For example, to change your 2D board colors or other board features, right-click on the 2D chessboard. In fact, some of the features below require right-clicking. Onward...

Q): How do I perform a search across multiple databases?

A): First, select the databases you want to search. Hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard and single left-click on each database icon you want to search. Then (you guessed it) right-click on any of the highlighted icons and choose "Search" from the menu that appears. The search mask will pop up and you can enter your search criteria. Click "OK" when you're done and a new "search results" window appears to display the games that match your search criteria (we had a look at this window two weeks ago in ETN).

Q): Once I've done a search, how do I copy the games into another database?

A): Once again, right-clicking comes into play here. Right-click on the first game in the search results window, select "Edit" from the menu that appears, then choose "Select all" from the submenu. You'll see that all of the games in the list are now highlighted. Right-click again on any of the highlighted games, again choose "Edit" from the menu, and this time select "Copy" from the submenu. Then go to the database window, right-click on the icon for the database to which you want the games to be copied, choose "Edit" from the menu, and then select "Paste" from the submenu. You'll see the familiar "Copy games" dialogue (just as you saw it in CB7). Click "OK" and the games are copied from one database to the other.

Q): OK, wise guy, how to I get a group of selected games to the CB8 clipboard?

A): It's very similar to the above procedure. After getting all the games highlighted (as described above), right-click on any of the highlighted games, choose "Edit" and then "Copy to clip database" -- this will send all of the games to CB8's clipboard.

Q): And if I want to copy the contents of the whole clipboard into another database...?

A): Just go to the database window and "drag and drop" the clipboard's icon over on top of the icon for the target database.

Q): How do I clear the clipboard?

A): Right-click on it and choose "Erase" from the menu.

Q): I've just searched the online database and want to save the games into another database. How do I do this?

A): Same deal as above. Once the search is finished, highlight the games, and then "Copy" and "Paste". Be aware that this will definitely take longer than copying games that are already on your hard drive. The faster your modem, the less time it takes, but expect it to be slow no matter what. I did a search with a 56.6 connection that turned up a few thousand games. I copied them to my hard drive and it took so long that I thought I was back working on my old 386 again.

Q): How do I search the player encyclopedia?

A): There's a button for this at the top of the database window. If you haven't copied the 600+ MB player encyclopedia to your hard drive, you'll need the ChessBase 8 CD in your CD drive to access it.

Q): I went to the File menu and selected "Goto Fritz" but it doesn't work? Why not?

A): You need to a) have Fritz6 installed; and b) install the Fritz6 upgrade service pack that's on the ChessBase 8 CD. It's an EXE file that's located in the folder \Fritz6SP.

Q): When I click on "Goto Fritz" it closes my ChessBase 8 program. Why?

A): It's a Windows thing. Two separate programs can't share database access, so one of them must close. If you're in Fritz6 and select "Goto ChessBase" the same thing happens -- Fritz6 closes and the game is loaded into CB8.

And a final non-ChessBase note. In last week's ETN, I wrote the following (and ended up wishing I hadn't):

Even after vowing to never buy another dedicated chess computer, I broke down the other night and ponied up the bucks for the latest handheld model that everyone's raving about.

I've received an astounding number of phone calls and e-mails asking me what computer I was talking about. The unit in question has been a hot topic on Usenet over the last few weeks, so I naturally assumed that most readers would know the computer's identity. It's the Excalibur LCD board, which uses an LCD display instead of a standard pressure-sensitive board and pieces. It's a neat toy and I estimate (heavy emphasis here) its strength in the 1700 range. It's got a weird shape, but it's just a hair bigger than a pack of cigarettes, so you can take it almost anywhere (plus there's no chance of losing pieces). You can get one for about $20 at Toys'R'Us or Best Buy. It's fun, I like it, 'nuff said.

Until next week, have fun!

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