ELECTRONIC T-NOTES


CHESSBASE USA'S WEEKLY ON-LINE NEWSLETTER


FOR THE WEEK OF OCTOBER 7, 2001


GAME INPUT USING POCKET FRITZ

by Steve Lopez

I mentioned two weeks ago in ETN that you can input and save games using Pocket Fritz. Since then I've received a couple of e-mails asking for instructions on how this is accomplished.

Let's assume for the sake of the discussion that you want to input games from a chess book you're reading (to make it easier to play through the variations, as well as replay the games later). The first step in this case will be to create a new database for these games. Start Pocket Fritz, tap on the File menu, and select "New Database". Name your file and select a folder for it (and remember the location so that you can transfer the file to your main computer later, if desired). "Type" is easy: PGN format is all that PF currently supports. "Location" will be "Main memory" unless you've purchased and installed an extra storage card for your unit. Tap "OK" when you're finished selecting/filling out these fields.

Next tap on the Edit menu and select "Options". Select "Human vs. Human" in the "Players" field -- this will ensure that PF doesn't respond when you make a move. When you're done, click the "OK" button on the title bar in the upper right corner of the screen.

Now you're all set to go. Just start entering moves. The easiest way to do this is to tap on the piece to move and then tap on the square you want it to end up on. It's possible to drag the piece from square to square, but I prefer to have less wear and tear on my Pocket PC's screen (although screen protectors can be purchased for most Pocket PC models and are a danged good thing to have handy).

The neat part happens when you come to a variation. Let's say that the annotator has provided an alternate variation beginning with White's eighth move. After you make the "main line" move on the board, tap on the left arrow key on the menu bar below the chessboard. The move is retracted. Now make the alternative eighth move. A new screen appears and shows a box labelled "Old moves"; this will presently display the main line move. Three buttons are displayed below this box: "Add new line", "Add new main line", and "Overwrite".

If you choose "Overwrite", the old move is replaced by the alternate move. This isn't what you want to do here, but this is a handy way to correct mistakes you might make when entering moves. "Add new main line" means that the alternate move will become the new main line move, while the old main line move is demoted to variation status.

Instead, what you'll want to select here is "Add new line". This will enter the alternative move as a variation line, but leave the original move as the main line move. When you finish inputting the variation (assuming that it's a multi-move line instead of just a single move) you have a choice of procedures. You can use the left arrow button to play backward through the game until you get to the move just before the one where the variation occurred, then hit the right arrow to proceed with the game (we'll talk more about this in a minute). Another method is to tap the little square button at the upper right of the "Last move" pane (just below the chessboard) -- this will display the complete notation of the game. Just tap on a move in the notation to jump right to it -- in this case, it would be White's main line eighth move. And, by the way, it's possible to enter multiple variations at a given point in the game, plus enter subvariations "nested" within variations (so you can ultimately create a whole tree of variations).

As you replay the game later, you'll see another special screen appear anytime you come to a "fork in the road" (when the moving side has alternate variations in addition to the main line move). The new screen displays a list of moves; the main line move is clearly labelled as such while the other variations are listed below it. Just tap on a move fom this list to make it appear on the chessboard.

After you've finished entering moves for the game you can save it into the database you've created as your first step of the process (back at the start of this article). Tap on the File menu and select "Save game". A new dialogue appears and allows you to enter information such as the player names, tournament, year, and result. Tap the "OK" button in the upper right corner of the screen to save the game into the database.

Note that Pocket Fritz doesn't have a "Replace game" option. If you open up a saved game, add some moves, and use "Save game" again it will add a new game (containing the additional moves) to the database -- so you'll wind up with two different versions of the same game. How do you get around this? If you have ChessBase or one of our PC playing programs, just transfer the PGN file from your Pocket PC to your desktop/laptop PC, open it using ChessBase/Fritz/etc. and copy the games you want to keep over to another database (skipping the incomplete games). However, since a PGN file is just a glorified textfile, you could conceivably use a text editing program (such as Pocket Word) directly on your pocket unit to manually delete the undesired games from the PGN file, eliminating the need to copy them to another computer.

The question I'm always asked is "What do you do?" Let's say that I'm reading Winning with the Tuddrussel Gambit (I started to say Beavis and Butthead Gambit, but that's sooooooo Nineties) and playing through the games on my Pocket Fritz. I save each game into the database (using the method described above). Some of the games are duplicates, though, since I occasionally had to stop in the middle of a game ($%$*# boss kept dropping by unexpectedly), save it, later reload it, finish the moves, and save it a second time. I hook my Pocket PC up to my desktop machine, synchronize the units, and copy the PGN file to a work folder on my desktop's hard drive. I fire up ChessBase 8 (though I could also do this with Fritz or any of the other playing programs) and create a new CBH database for the games from my Tuddrussel Gambit book. Then I open the PGN database and copy the complete games (not the partial ones) to my CBH database. After that, I can delete the PGN database from both the desktop and pocket machines. Simple! Now that the games are in CBH format, I can add verbal annotations, symbolic commentary, medals, training questions, colored arrows and squares, etc. using ChessBase 8.

Until next week, have fun!

You can e-mail me with your comments, suggestions, and analysis for Electronic T-Notes.