by Steve Lopez

We've looked at PGN (Portable Game Notation) format in past issues of ETN (see June 1, 1997 and October 17, 1999), but I've lately received a mountain of e-mail on using this format in Fritz6. So this week, by popular demand...

Portable Game Notation is just a glorified ASCII textfile of a chess game or group of games. The game headers and moves are written in the file according to a precise standard regarding ordering of header information, notation style, even spacing. If you'd like to have a look at the specs of PGN, click here, then (once you get to the other page) click on the PGN link, then the Demo link, and then download the file pgnstd.zip. Of course, you'll need to unzip it with Winzip or some other similar compression program to be able to read the document therein.

You can read PGN games directly using Fritz6 without converting them to a ChessBase format. However, Fritz6 won't analyze a game in PGN format. You also can't delete games from a PGN database using Fritz6, and a few other program features won't work on PGN databases either. Basically, Fritz6 is limited to acting as a game viewer for databases in PGN format.

To open a PGN database in Fritz6, click the File menu, then "Open", then "Database". This will take you to the database (i.e. game list) screen. Next go to the File menu in this screen, then click "Open", then "Database". This will give you the standard Windows file select dialogue. Use it to go to the folder the PGN database is in. When you get to that folder, you'll see the PGN file listed in the large white box. Double-click on the PGN file's name and Fritz6 will open the database -- you'll get the list of games in that database.

You can use this game list just like any other. You can do searches and double-click on any game from the list to load it and replay it on the main chessboard in Fritz6. However, you can't use opening keys (or any other keys for that matter) with a PGN database -- it has to be in ChessBase format for that. The same thing goes for the other features mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago. So you might want to consider converting the games from PGN format to ChessBase format.

Converting the games into ChessBase format is an easy multi-step process. First create a new database by clicking the File menu, then "New", then "Database". The Windows file selector appears. Use it to go to a folder into which you want to store the new database. Make sure you have *.CBH selected after "Save as type" and rename the file to something a bit more relevant than the default Noname.cbh. Click "Save" to save your new database to the hard drive.

Next open your PGN database as described above. Highlight all the games in the list by hitting CTRL-A on your keyboard. Then go to the Edit menu and select "Copy to". This brings up the Windows file select dialogue again. Go to the folder where you created your new empty database and select it by double-clicking on it. Fritz6 will then copy the games from the PGN database into the CBH database, converting the file format as it's copying them.

Once the games are copied into a CBH database, you can use the full range of Fritz6's features on them: game analysis, deletion of games, creation and use of an opening key, etc. Another benefit to a CBH database over PGN is that the games don't require as much storage space -- a PGN database is about seven or eight times larger than a CBH database which contains the same games.

This should help answer most of your questions on using PGN databases in Fritz6. There are hundreds of thousands of PGN databases available for download on the Internet and these can easily be viewed and converted in Fritz6.

Until next week, happy downloading and 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.