by Steve Lopez

Oops (again). Two weeks ago I referred to Alexander Bangiev as a grandmaster. A couple of people wrote to me to point out that he's "only" an International Master. Sorry about the error.


by Steve Lopez

This week, we're going to look at some common concerns about training questions in ChessBase 7 and Fritz6. I desperately wanted to title this article Training Question Questions, but I didn't want anyone to start doubting their eyesight, so I refrained. You can thank me later.

A common question relates to what happens when someone has Fritz analyze a game with the "Training" box checked in the analysis parameters. "The end of my game is missing! It only goes up to move 18 and then shows four asterisks ("****")! What gives?"

What's happened is that Fritz has generated a timed training question at the point in the game where the asterisks appear. The remainder of the game is obscured so that you can't see the answer (hence the significance of the asterisks). When you replay the game and come to the point at which the asterisks are displayed, a timed training question will pop up on your screen. After you've answered it, the rest of the game will be displayed (unless of course there's a second training question later in the game, in which case you'll see the moves up to the point at which the second training question was inserted, followed by more asterisks).

Some common questions have popped up since the release of George Renko's Intensive Tactics Course CD (previewed in ETN on April 16, 2000). One of them involves "bookmarking" a game. Many of the databases on the CD contain more training questions than can be done in one sitting. How do you "bookmark" a position midway through the database so you can come back to it later and pick up where you left off?

If you're using ChessBase 7, have a look at the ETN article for October 10th, 1999. This describes marking a game with a "medal" and then using "Replace game" to save the medal into the game list. Note that this will only work if you have the database stored on your hard drive; you can't use "Replace game" on a database on a CD. Also note that this won't work with ChessBase Light, ChessBase Reader, or any of the playing programs -- you have to own ChessBase 7 to do this.

If you're using one of the playing programs or reader programs, the answer to "bookmarking" is pretty simple (albeit very low-tech): just write down the position number on a slip of paper and put it in the CD case. This is the method I use; I find the medal method to be just a bit more involved than I personally find necessary (I'm a "path of least resistance" kind of guy. Just because something can be done on a computer doesn't always mean that it's the most efficient way to do it).

There also seems to be a misconception that once you've done a training question, you've done it and you can never go back and do it again. This is untrue. It's very easy to reset the training questions for any database in ChessBase 7 or any of the reader programs. Resetting the training parameters makes the program "forget" that you've ever done the database's training questions and allows you to start over and do them all again.

Just click once on the database's icon in the Database window. Then click the Information button at the bottom of the Database window (it's the button that looks like a white letter i inside of a blue dot). In the window that next appears, click the "Training" button. This brings up another window that displays the number of training questions you've answered, as well as your running score for that database. Click the "Reset" button and the values will all be set back to zero. Then you can do the training questions again, as though you've never done them before.

For even more variety the next time you answer the training questions, check the box next to "Random training". ChessBase will then randomize the order of the questions, mixing them up so you don't get them in the same order each time you work through the database. It also "remembers" which positions you've already done, so it won't repeat a position until you've answered every question in the database.

To use this randomized training, just hit F10 each time you've answered a training question. ChessBase will then randomly pick and bring up another training question from the database. It's as simple as that.

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.