by Steve Lopez

I'm getting a truckload of calls and e-mails regarding the new features of ChessBase 8. Unfortunately, as of this writing (August 17), I have no information. I'm hopeful that when I return to work on August 28, I'll have some info for you. In the meantime, please check ChessBase GmbH's site at www.chessbase.com and the ChessBase USA site at www.chessbaseusa.com -- the latest information will be posted there as soon as it's available (if it's not up already -- I'm on vacation the week of the 21st, so you'll likely see the info before I do).


by Steve Lopez

I've received a few e-mails from folks who tell me that the introductory text links don't work in George Renko's Intensive Tactics Course CD. This is due to a new feature that was implemented in ChessBase and Fritz that may not appear in the version of the program you're using to view the CD. A new hypertext feature was added to enable links to databases in other folders. For some reason, the links appear in some people's software but not in others.

There's a pretty easy workaround if you don't see the green database links in the introductory text. First, pop the CD in your computer's drive, and then start ChessBase or the ChessBase Reader (we'll get to Fritz in a minute). In the Database window, double-click on the icon for your CD drive:

Once you've clicked on this icon, another window will open that looks like this:

You'll see five folders in this window. You can forget about three of them right away. "Engines" and "Messages" are subfolders of the ChessBase Reader program, while "Texts" contains the introductory texts for the Intensive Tactics Course. You've already seen these, so you can just bypass them.

Instead, you want to look at the other two folders. The first is called "1. Direct Hit Methods" (which will likely appear in abbreviated form) and the second is "2. Support Methods". Each of these folders contains databases of tactical positions.

Let's double-click on the folder "1. Direct Hit Methods" and see what we get:

We find that Direct Hit Methods is further subdivided into three folders: "1. Win", "2. Draw", and "3. Exercises". The names are fairly self-explanatory: the first folder deals with winning tactics, the second with drawing tactics (salvaging a draw in a losing position), and the third contains various timed training questions that you'll use later to test your tactical knowldge when you're not given the theme in advance.

Let's do these in numerical order. We'll double-click on "1. Win" and see what we get:

Ahhhhhhhhh -- here we go! Now we find the databases! Twenty-three of these bad boys, in fact, all categorized by tactical theme. Since one of the guiding principles of my life is "KISS" -- Keep It Simple, Stupid -- I opted to do the CD in numerical order. I just double-clicked on "1. Checkmate" to get the game list for that database, double-clicked on the first game in the list to load the first test question, and off I went on my tactical odyssey.

That's my personal recommendation to you for using this CD -- do the thing in numerical order. Start with the folder "1. Direct Hit Methods", go to "1.Win", and then do the positions in the 23 databases in numerical order, starting with "1. Checkmate", then "2. Double Attack", then "3. Simultaneous Attack", and so on. Once you've finished with these 23 databases, go to the folder "2. Draw" and do those databases in order, and so on. Once you've finished with the folder "1. Direct Hit Methods", you can move on to "2. Support Methods". And by the time you've finished all 4000 positions, it's be a couple of years from now and we'll likely have a new tactics CD available by then.

As discussed in a previous T-Notes, I "bookmark" games the low-tech way: I write the game number down on a piece of paper and put it back in the jewel case along with the CD. I seldom complete an entire database of positions in one sitting, so this helps me remember where I left off in a database.

For you Fritz6 fanatics, it's easy to do the same thing. Just put the CD in the drive, click the File menu, select "Open", and then "Database" from the submenu. This opens up the database window, where you'll again go to the File menu, select "Open", then "Database", and you'll see something resembling the following window:

If you've owned a computer for longer than a week and you just now said "Ooooo, what's this?" or "What's this do?", go to the back of the class. I'm serious. This is the Windows File Select Dialogue -- everyone (and I mean everyone) who owns a Windows 95 or Windows 98 machine absolutely positively without any exceptions needs to know what this is and how to use it. Period.

If you don't know how to use this window and you can't find the instructions in your Windows help file (that's the Windows help file, not the Fritz help file), get yourself a basic book on whichever flavor of Windows you're running; this dialogue will likely be covered somewhere in the first two or three chapters. You'll thank me later -- dang near every Windows program known to mankind uses this box in some form or other and you'll see this little baby popping up again and again in your travels on your computer.

However, for the Fritz user who already knows how to use this dialogue, you just go to your CD drive (as I did in the above graphic) and you'll see the same folders we discussed in the section for ChessBase users. Just follow the same sequence of folders previously discussed and you'll be solving tactics problems in no time.

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.