by Steve Lopez

I'm occasionally asked how to send a chess game to someone via e-mail over the Internet; it's asked often enough that I've decided it's time for me to finally break down and devote a column to it. It's really pretty simple and we've looked at various methods for this in earlier ETN columns, but we'll do a bit of extra amplification this week.

The typical scenario is that two players are having a game via e-mail and keep track of the position using ChessBase or Fritz. They'd like to have a shortcut whereby they can just stick their new move directly from their program into an e-mail and fire it off to their opponent without having to type the new move. It's pretty easy to do this, but you need to do a little preparation first.

In ChessBase 7, go to the Status menu, select "Options", and click the "Notation" tab. You'll see two buttons marked "KQNBRP.x+" and "Figurine". Make sure you click the button with all of the letters instead of the "Figurine" button, and then click "OK". I'll explain why in a minute.

Next open your e-mail game in a board window. After you've made your move and used "Replace game" to save it, go to the Printing menu and select "Notation -> clipboard". This sends the game notation to the Windows Clipboard (not the ChessBase clipboard).

Next, you just fire up your e-mail client software and start writing your e-mail to your opponent ("Hi! How are you? Sorry to hear that your chihuahua has developed heartworms, blah blah blah..." etc.). At the point in the e-mail where you want the game notation to appear, just hit CTRL-V on your keyboard and the complete game notation will be pasted into the e-mail. Your particular e-mail client might have a "paste" command in a pull-down menu (typically this will be the Edit menu); you can do it that way, too. Then you just send your e-mail.

I can already hear some people saying, "But what if I don't want to send the whole freaking gamescore, just the latest move I made?" That's easy enough -- just edit the game header and all of the previous moves out of your message (and if you need to ask how to do this, I hope you never misspell anything when you're writing e-mails).

This can also be done in Fritz6. Just load the game, go to the Edit menu, and select "Copy game". Then open your e-mail software and do "paste" or CTRL-V at the point in the e-mail where you want the gamescore to appear.

Why did we change the notation style from figurines to letters? It's because the figurines are represented in plain text by high-ASCII characters, such as and , which will not display as figurines in your opponent's e-mail client. So if you want your opponent to be able to read your move, you'll need to change the notation to letters rather than figurines.

Be aware, too, that Informant-style evaluation symbols are also represented in high-ASCII, so they won't come out right in your e-mail either. It's best not to use them in games that you intend to send in text form in the body of an e-mail.

That's all pretty simple stuff. But what if you want to send a whole bunch of games via e-mail (or even a single game, but in ChessBase format instead of plain text)?

There are two ways to tackle this. One is to copy the games from a ChessBase-format database into a PGN format database and then send the PGN file as an e-mail attachment. However, if you know your friend is using ChessBase or Fritz software and you want to send the games in ChessBase format, archive the database first and then send the resulting .cbv file as an e-mail attachment. For information on how to archive databases into CBV files, see the ETN issue for January 3, 1999.

Now comes the big question that I'm always being asked: "How do I send a chess diagram via e-mail?".

You don't. There are two main ways around this, but if you're hoping to send an e-mail with a cool board position diagram embedded as an illustration in the middle of your message, chances are not good that you'll be able to do so. Some e-mail client software allows you to do this, but there's no guarantee that the guy on the other end will be able to view it in his e-mail program. So it's best to put that thought out of your head now.

The first way to send a diagram is by using Forsythe (or FEN) notation (also known as EPD). This was covered in the ETN issue for October 31, 1999, where you can find a description of this kind of notation.

To get it into your e-mail, load the game and get to the board position you want for your diagram. Then go to "Setup Position" (Game/Setup position in ChessBase 7, or File/New/Position setup in Fritz6). You'll see a button on the right-hand side of the window that says "Copy FEN". Click it and the Forsythe notation for the board position will be sent to the Windows Clipboard. Then you simply open your e-mail program and, at the place in your e-mail where you want it to go, you hit CTRL-V -- there's your board position in Forsythe notation. When your opponent gets the e-mail, he just highlights the line with the notation, hits CTRL-C to copy it to the clipboard, and then pastes it into whatever chess program he's using (in the case of ChessBase and Fritz, you just activate the "setup position" function as described above and click the "Paste FEN" button).

Of course there are always the cases in which the recipient doesn't own any chess software capable of importing Forsythe notation. In this case, you're going to need to make an actual graphic file of the board.

To start the process in ChessBase 7, you go to the position in a game window and then, in the Printing menu, select "Diagram -> clipboard". This sends a bunch of control characters to the Windows Clipboard, which will be turned into a graphic in the next step. To do the same thing in Fritz6, you get to the position you want and then pull down the Edit menu and select "Copy diagram/position".

You can use just about any graphics program to perform the next step, but to make it easy we'll use the one that everybody running Windows already has -- good old Paint. You'll typically start Paint by clicking the Windows Start button, going to Programs, then to Accessories, and then clicking the Paint icon. However, your mileage may vary. When in doubt, consult the documantation that came with your machine.

Once you have Paint running, go to the Edit manu and click "Paste". Bingo! Instant diagram! Of course, you'll need to save this graphic to your hard drive so that you can send it as an e-mail attachment; to save it, go to the File and select "Save as".

A word about file formats is in order here. Most versions of Paint use BMP format files as the default format when you save a file. If you're going to send a file to someone over the Internet, please don't use BMP format! Those stinking files are HUGE and take forever to download, even at 56.6kps. Please follow this recommendation -- it might save your life someday. Speaking for myself, when someone sends me an e-mail with a BMP file attached, my first impulse toward that person is purely homicidal. I'm serious. I immediately want to strangle the $*@#@* who sent it.

When you save a chess graphic file in Paint, please use a much smaller file format, either GIF, PCX, or JPG format, depending on what your version of Paint supports. You're not sending the Mona Lisa here; it's just a chessboard picture. A small file format will do quite nicely and the recipient will thank you rather than kill you.

As stated previously, you won't be able to embed the graphic in the middle of your e-mail. Just send it as an e-mail attachment. If you don't know how to attach a file to an e-mail, consult the help files or other documentation for your e-mail program (there are literally hundreds of such programs, so giving step-by-step instructions here is obviously impossible). If you don't know what an e-mail is, sorry I wasted your time this week (but at least you won't be e-mailing me to complain about it -- hee).

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.