by Steve Lopez

There have been a few questions popping up lately about ChessBase 8's Player Encyclopedia. A few folks have trouble opening it, while others seem to think that it's a game database or a separate CD that wasn't included in their CB8 package. This week, we'll clear up some of the mystery surrounding this feature of CB8.

The Player Encyclopedia is a database, but not a game database. It's a database of names, nationalities, ratings, and photos for players from throughout chess history. It's used to provide photos of players for the "photo" pane in ChessBase 8 and as a handy tool for finding useful info about a player (such as a graph of his/her Elo progression or trees of his/her opening repertoire).

The Player Encyclopedia (hereafter referred to as the PE) is located on the ChessBase 8 CD. To be able to use it, you need (at least initially) to have the CB8 CD in the drive. The first step is to tell CB8 where the PE is located. In the initial window of CB8 (the database window, which displays the icons for your game databases), go to the File menu, select "Open", and then "Players Encyclopedia" from the submenu. This will bring up our old buddy, the Windows file select dialogue. Use it to go to your CD drive, where you'll see a folder icon called "Playbase". Double-click on it.

The file select dialogue will now refresh and you'll see a whole heaping metric boatload of folder icons. Scroll this display the whole way to the right, past all of the folder icons. You'll see one lonely forlorn little file icon at the end of all of the folder icons; the icon is for a file called playbase.plh -- that's our target. At this point you can either double-click on the filename or else single-click it and then click the "Open" button.

Aside from the file select dialogue vanishing at this point, it'll look like nothing happened. You'll just be back at the database window. This is good. This is what you want. Now you can use the Player Encyclopedia to do neat stuff like create player dossiers and provide photos in the game window's Photo pane:

You can do searches in the PE by going to the Edit menu in the database window and selecting "Search player". This and other uses of the PE deserve an ETN article all their own (which they'll get after the first of the year); for right now, we're just looking at the technical nuts and bolts of getting the PE loaded.

Note that even after you've pointed CB8 at the PE by following the steps given above, the PE itself is still located on the CB8 CD. You'll still need to have the CD in the drive to use the PE unless you install the PE to your hard drive.

Installing the PE to your hard drive is pretty easy to do but, as with just about everything in life, there's a caveat. The PE is huge; it takes up a large amount of hard drive space. It's 650 MB (that's megabytes, friends) in size. This is no big deal if you have the latest whiz-bang computer with a 30 GB drive, but for older computers with smaller hard drives this will be a problem. If you've checked your drive space and have the room for it, putting the PE on your hard drive can make your life easier if you like having player pictures displayed with games or if you're a regular user of the other PE-related features.

The first step in installing the PE is to create a folder for it. This isn't (strictly speaking) necessary but I personally think it's a good idea. You can certainly install the PE to an existing folder but I just found it better (from a hard drive management perspective) to create a new Playbase subfolder within my ChessBase 8 folder. As always, your mileage may vary.

To install the PE to your hard drive, just go to the File menu in the database window, select "Install", and then "Players Encyclopedia" from the submenu. This brings up the Windows dialogue entitled "Choose a folder" where, obviously, you'll choose a folder into which you want the PE files to go.

If this little beast is new to you, have a peek at your Windows Help files or a basic Windows book. It works almost exactly like the left-hand pane in Windows Explorer or the left-hand pane in the database screen of ChessBase 8.

Once you've selected a folder and clicked "OK", the process of copying files will begin -- and there are a lot of files to copy. This takes a fair amount of time (even on a fast computer). If you have a fast PIII, go have a cup of coffee and come back in about ten minutes. If you have a PI computer, go have dinner. When the status bar hits 100%, it's done.

Here's an optional extra step that could save you some later hasslement: when the process is finished, exit ChessBase 8. This will write the PE's location to CB8's INI file, which ensures that you won't have to go through the File/Open/Player Encyclopedia step again anytime soon.

Tah-dah! You now have the PE installed to your hard drive. In a couple of weeks, we'll look at some of the neat stuff you can do with various PE functions. But next week you'll get Steve's annual "working week off" in which I describe some ChessBase CDs, a couple of additional e-books, and maybe a handheld chess game (if I'm feeling especially energetic due an overabundance of holiday spirit). Until then, Happy Holidays and have fun!


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