by Steve Lopez

Last week, I made the comment that CD-RW disks are "useless", because you can't use them on a computer other than the one on which they're formatted/initially used. A couple of people have written to me to comment that it is possible to use them on a different computer. These folks are absolutely right, of course (I've done it myself, with a lot of sweat and grief). My take on it, though, is that the extra backflips and contortions required to do this (compared to using a CD-R disk) aren't worth the effort and that CD-Rs are better than CD-RWs because of this. But I took the verbal shortcut of saying that it can't be done. So, rather than a "correction", this is more of an "amendment": it is possible to use CD-RWs disks on more than one computer, but it's easier to do it with CD-R disks. My apologies for the confusion caused by my shortcut statement.


by Steve Lopez

It's here. It's arrived. And, lo, there was much rejoicing.

Chess Tiger is the newest addition to the ChessBase stable of strong chess programs. It's actually two engines on one CD -- you get both Chess Tiger 14.0 and Gambit Tiger 2.0 in the package. They both run in the same interface -- you just hit F3 to bring up the engines list (see ETN for Nov. 12, 2000 which applies to the playing programs' interfaces as well as to that of ChessBase 8) and choose which engine you want to use.

There are a couple of important technical items of which you need to be aware regarding the Tigers. The Tiger engines come with the same interface as Fritz6, Junior6, etc., but the Tiger engines do not run in your existing playing program interfaces. What you'll need to do is install Chess Tiger and run it within its own interface. Since Fritz, Junior, Hiarcs, Crafty, Comet, etc. will also run within the Tiger interface (which, as I said, is externally identical to the Fritz6 interface), you might as well save some drive space by uninstalling the old Fritz6 interface after you've installed Tiger. For crucial information on uninstalling old playing program interfaces, see ETN for May 21, 2000.

In a nutshell, Chess Tiger only runs in its own interface, but so will Fritz and all of the other ChessBase engines you have, so just run them all in the Chess Tiger interface. Everything from your Fritz program is usable in Tiger (databases, opening books, etc. -- as I said, the two interfaces are identical as to features), so you don't lose any capabilities by switching interfaces.

If you find that the Tiger engines don't run in your ChessBase 8, use CB8's "Online Upgrade" feature (in the Help menu of the database window) to upgrade your CB8 to the latest version. After doing so, you'll find that the Tiger engines run wonderfully well in CB8.

Tiger comes with all the features of Fritz6 -- a 300,000+ game database, the Talk files (so Tiger will yack at you during a game), and its own "Tiger-specific" opening book. So why get it in addition to Fritz6? First of all, Tiger's a very strong program -- it's won a number of computer tournaments and has done extremely well in human vs. computer competitions -- so you should find its playing strength more than sufficient. The big reason for owning more than one playing engine is this: every program is different, because programs are written by different authors. Consequently, each chess engine has its own "personality", its own style of play, and these can differ radically from engine to engine (just as playing styles differ between human masters). Fritz has always been a tactical engine; Hiarcs has always been pretty positionally oriented. The emphasis in the Chess Tiger engines is very much toward the tactical end. In fact, the Tigers are about as tactics oriented as the Nimzo engines, perhaps even moreso.

So in using multiple engines, you have a number of playing partners, each of which has its own style of play. And in using different engines for analysis, you sometimes get different opinions on a given position. Of course, all engines will see and recommend a forced mate or an obvious combination that wins material. It's in the regular positions, the ones in which immediate tactics aren't present, that you'll see the differences between engines really come to the fore. If you're a fan of very sharp tactical play, you'll be delighted by the analysis that the Tiger engines provide. They'll sometimes find tactics that other programs miss (and this tactical acumen is particularly true of Gambit Tiger). Tiger's programmer, Christoph Théron, has deliberately designed his engines to be tactical monsters.

I've had a great deal of fun playing against the new Tigers, particularly Gambit Tiger. The engine parameters selections in these two engines allow you to tweak their play in a number of ways; it's interesting to stop and take a look at these.

Chess Tiger 14.0

Let's start with the different engine parameters in Tiger 14.0:

Gambit Tiger 2.0

Gambit Tiger has the same engine parameters as Chess Tiger, with an additional parameter thrown in (and this is where the fun starts):

If you've seen my homepage, you know me -- I love that stuff. I'd rather lose an exciting game than win a boring one (which is probably why my chess rating stinks, but what the heck?) and I've played a few very wild games against Gambit Tiger. GT is really different from most other chess programs -- it loves to play gambits (in fact, it's super happy when you let it use the book from the Gambit Lexicon CD) and actually looks for sacrifices to play against you. Playing against it is like being Lloyd Bridges swimming naked in shark-infested waters. Don't cut yourself -- GT will smell the blood in the water and then you've had it.

So whether or not you'll want the Chess Tiger CD comes down to a matter of style. If you relish positional chess, you'd be better off with Hiarcs, which handles that type of game quite well. But if you love tactics, Chess Tiger will be right up your alley. Use Chess Tiger 14.0 for the strength and play Chess Tiger 2.0 for the sheer unadulterated fun. Rebel users will tell you that there's nothing else quite like these two engines, and I'm happy to welcome the Tigers into the ChessBase "family" with open arms. Hey, Cuz, how about another Smith-Morra Gambit? Set 'em up!

Until next week, have fun! But watch your back -- there's a Tiger stalking you!

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