by Steve Lopez

As I was casting about for an article idea for this week's ETN, I came up dry. I wanted to write about "Cannibalize database" in CB7, but I ran out of RAM (as well as Donner Party jokes). I received a couple of suggestions via e-mail, but they came too late in the week for me to make a decent go of it, so I'll get to them at a later date. And I'm still testing the beta of ChessBase 8 and don't feel completely qualified to comment on it yet. So this week we'll just hit a few questions, answers, issues, comments, rants, etcetera that come up from time to time.

1) A friendly reminder

If you e-mail us for tech support, you must include a valid return e-mail address, otherwise we can't reply to you. I realize that this appears to be pretty obvious to most folks, but several e-mails I replied to right after my vacation riccocheted straight back to me. Evidently the return addresses were munged to prevent e-mail spamming. Unfortunately, it also prevents e-mail replying. If you've written to me with tech questions and haven't received an answer, this is likely the reason why.

2) ChessBase 8 information

There is now some ChessBase 8 info on line at www.chessbase.com -- have a look there for some preview info on the new release. Please (I'm begging here) don't write to me with specific CB8 questions. The info will be provided at ChessBase GmbH's site and I'll have some preview info in upcoming ETNs. No offense to anyone, but I'm unable to answer 50 e-mails a day with requests for CB8 info.

However, I can tell you this: the widely reported system requirements for CB8 are dead wrong. It does not require a Pentium 233 -- I have a Pentium 133 and it runs wonderfully well on it. According to the programmers, CB8 will run on a machine as slow as a Pentuim 90.

3) Invoking Fritz6's engine in ChessBase 7

This has been touched on in past ETN issues, but it bears repeating.

If you've installed both CB7 and Fritz6 and you don't see Fritz6 appearing in CB7's engines list, there are a couple of possible causes. The first is that the Engines list in CB7 has a finite number of "slots". The engines are listed in alphabetical order. If you have ten versions of Crafty in your engines folder, your list probably ends with a version of Doctor? or an earlier version of Fritz. In this case, you'll need to remove some engines from your engines folder. A workaround is to go to the Status menu, click "Select analysis engine", and assign an ALT-F key shortcut to the Fritz6 engine. That way you can invoke the engine by hitting one of the keystroke combinations (since installing the Young Talents engines, this is the only way I can get to Hiarcs and Junior in CB7 without removing a bunch of engines I'd like to use to play against in the Fritz interface).

Another possibility is that the Fritz6 engine isn't in the proper folder for ChessBase 7 to be able to "see" it. In this case (and assuming you installed the programs to the default folders recommended by their respective "Installation Wizards") you just need to copy the file Fritz6.dll from the folder c:\program files\chessbase\engines to the folder c:\program files\chessbase\CB70\engines -- that's all there is to it. Restart your CB7 and you should see Fritz6 in your engines list.

4) Copying games from e-mails and web pages into ChessBase and Fritz

Last week, we looked at how to cut and paste a game into an e-mail. Since then, I've seen several e-mails asking about the reverse process -- getting a game from an e-mail into ChessBase or Fritz. This was covered in a previous ETN issue on January 17th, 1999 (Inserting ASCII Notation in ChessBase 6 and 7). The procedure for doing this is similar in Fritz6. You just highlight the moves in your e-mail and click CTRL-C to copy them to the Clipboard. Then, in Fritz6, click "New game" and hit CTRL-V to paste the moves into a game window.

Which brings us to the next question...

5) "I tried to save a game in Fritz6, but the command is greyed out!"

You have to open a database first (F12 to go to the database window, then "Open" and "Database") -- otherwise Fritz doesn't know where to save the game. Also be sure that you haven't selected the database on the CD -- you can't save a game to it.

6) "I'm getting weird characters for the evaluation symbols in ChessBase/Fritz"

Right-click in the pane or window in question (notation, evaluation, or tree) and choose "Font" from the menu. This brings up a list of all the fonts on your hard drive. Make sure you've selected a font that begins with the word "Figurine". This does not mean that you're forced to display the pieces as figurines in the notation (they'll still be letters, unless you specify otherwise) but the Informant-style evaluation symbols will display properly now.

7) "I had a hard drive crash and had to reinstall Fritz, but I no longer have the e-mail containing the information on how to obtain the upgrade patch"

Just reregister the program (Help/Register Fritz) and they'll send you another e-mail with the info.

8) "I keep hearing about a new Fritz engine, Fritz6b. How can I get it?"

According to the programmers, any changes to the upgrade after the initial patch have been "negligible" (to use their term). However, if you really want to go through the large download again, feel free to reregister the program and follow the instructions in the e-mail you'll receive from ChessBase GmbH (as in #7 above).

9) Playing chess against ChessBase 7

This was previously covered in ETN (August 16, 1999) but this, too, bears repeating.

It's pretty much common knowledge that, when running an analysis engine in ChessBase 7, you can "force" the engine to make the current top move in its analysis by hitting the spacebar on your keyboard. You can play a "game" against it by mentally deciding on a search depth and then hitting the spacebar when the engine reaches that depth (for example, choosing nine plies and then hitting the bar when the engine reaches that depth). The reason I put "game" in quotes is because the engine won't use an opening book or time controls in this case, so it's not really like playing a full version of the program with opening books, book learning, time controls, etc.

However, you can also play a game against Heumas, CB7's "intelligent move assistant" which is provided as an aid when entering games by hand into a database. Again, this won't allow the use of opening books or a time control, but saves you having to hit the spacebar to force a move. Just hit CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-H and this will cause Heumas to reply to the moves that you enter.

The depth of Heumas' search is configurable. Go to the Status menu, select "Options", and then the "Misc" tab. Use the slider to set the search depth.

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.