by Steve Lopez

Two weeks ago in ETN we looked at how to load the Player Encyclopedia (hereafter referred to as the PE, for brevity's sake). This week we'll look at some neat things you can do with it.

When you've loaded the PE and open a game in ChessBase 8, you can choose to display the "Photos" pane and see pictures of the players displayed on the screen:

To display this pane in a game window, go to the Window menu, select "Panes", and click the entry for "Photos". It gives you a nice display with the player names, their photos, the flags of their countries, and their ages at the time the game was played. (Note, however, that if there is no entry for the player in the PE, you obviously get none of this, or if the entry is incomplete some of the info is not available).

This is some pretty neat stuff. It's nice to be able to associate faces with the game you're currently replaying. But there's still more information available if you know how to access it (wink, wink).

Right-click on a player picture in the Photos pane and you'll see the "ID card" for that player appear in a new window:

We get some additional info about the player on his ID card: his date of birth, his title (if any), the date of his latest entry in the PE, his "Elo trend" (whether it's been going up or down, and by what amount), and a photo. However, if there is more than one photo in the PE for that player, you'll see a "slideshow" of his photos. Under each photo you'll see the year it was taken and the photographer's name. There are also two buttons that allow you to flip forward backward through the slideshow to examine different photos at your leisure. (Just wait'll they figure out how to do this on your driver's license. If you think your present photo on it is bad, just imagine a whole scrolling series of crappy photos. It'll be great fun at parties).

There are two additional buttons on the ID card. The "Elo profile" button invokes a graph showing how the player's Elo rating has gone up and down over the years:

Please excuse the lousy quality of my reduced-size graphic. The one you'll get in CB8 is much larger and sharper.

This is a pretty simple graph to read. The Elo ratings are displayed on the vertical (left) axis, while the years are displayed on the horizontal (bottom) axis. You just look at a dot on the graph and look to the left of the graph for the rating and the bottom of the graph for the year. For example, we see that Jussupow's rating was around 2565 in 1984.

(And, as one of my patented side rants about one of my personal pet peeves, it's "Elo" not "ELO". The Elo rating system is named for Arpad Elo, the mathematician who designed it. It's used for chess ratings and has recently spread to other competitive endeavors: FIFA is now using it to rate national soccer teams in international play. ELO, on the other hand, is an abbreviation for The Electric Light Orchestra, which had a leader with big hair [Jeff Lynne] and a huge string of Top 40 hits in the 1970's.)

This graph gives you a quick way to chart a particular player's success (or lack thereof). Note, too, that this is only available for players from the late 1960's onward -- there was no rating system back in chess' "Golden Age", so you won't get ratings for players like Capablanca or Alekhine.

When you're done looking at the Elo graph, just click on it to make it disappear.

The second button is a quick shortcut for creating a dossier for that player. Dossiers were described in detail in the ETN for July 12th, 1998, but we'll look at a few features of them now.

If you haven't desginated a database as your reference database (by right-clicking on it in the database window, choosing "Properties" from the popup menu, and checking the box next to "reference database"), you'll see this window appear when you try to create a dossier:

The dialogue will suggest a reference database for you. If this is acceptible, click "OK". Otherwise, click "Browse" and use the Windows file select dialogue (our old buddy!) to go to the drive and folder where the database of your choice is located, and then select it. You'll usually want your largest database to be the reference database simply because the number of games provides the program with more information.

Once you've designated a reference database and clicked "OK", the program gives you another dialogue that allows you to configure the player dossier:

One of the features of the player dossier is that it creates statistical trees of the player's openings as both White and Black, as well as some opening repertoire info in the generated dossier text. The "repertoire" section of this dialogue allows you to configure the detail provided in the text: "Fine" will give you a general overview of a few lines while "coarse" provides much greater detail and many more opening variations. If you select "none", you'll get no opening info for that player (and this also includes the separate opening trees).

"From year" provides a way to cut down on the amount of searching that CB8 will do. Since I'm using Artur Jussupow for this example, it'd be stupid for me to search the games of the 1800's for this player. So I'll set the date to 1970 (since he was born in 1960 -- I'll get any junior games of his that might be available).

"First name length" is more important than you'd think -- it lets the program differentiate between players with the same last name. I leave this setting at "99" to make sure that I don't get any of Alexander Karpov's games mixed in with Anatoly's.

"Max. photographs" determines how many player photos will be displayed in the text dossier. One is usually sufficient for me -- as always, your mileage may vary. You might even want to set this at zero for no photographs at all.

Finally, "Career highlights" (which provides links to that player's games from specific tournaments) can be toggled on or off.

Once you've set your parameters, click "OK" to start the process. The length of time required depends on a number of factors, the most crucial of which is the speed of your computer. But it's also affected by whether or not you've opted to display photos (and how many you've chosen), career highlights, and the level at which you set "repertoire".

Once it's finished, you'll get some neat stuff. You'll get two statistical tree windows -- one for the player as White and one for the player as Black. And you'll get the heart of the dossier: the text window. Rather than try to provide screen shots of all of this stuff (most of which are available in ETN for July 12th, 1998), I'll just givea brief description of each numbered section of the dossier.

First there's the overall header, with name, birthdate, age, and country, as well as a link you can click to bring up a list of all games of that player from your reference database. Then we come to the numbered sections:

1) Pictures Here we get a photo (or photos) of the player, depending on the choice you made in the configuration dialogue when you created the dossier.

2) Individual development This is the same graph we saw earlier when we clicked on the Elo button.

3) Statistics This presents overall stats for that player. You get a bar graph showing the number of games played by year. Below that you see a breakdown of the number of that player's games as White and Black (these breakdowns double as links to those games), plus a statistical breakdown of how the player performed with each color.

4) Career highlights This only appears if you checked the box in the configuration dialogue. It's a list of tournaments the player participated in; each tournament name is a link to the games by that player from that tournament. You'll also see the FIDE category of each event, the player's overall score, and how he finished in the event.

5) Opponents This provides a list of the player's most-often encountered opponents. Each player name is also a link to that player's card. You get the overall results of the games they've contested (for example, Yussupow scored 24 out of 53 against Timman [half-points for draws are included] and stands at -5 lifetime). There's also a link to games that these two players contested.

6) Repertoire - White This shows the specific opening variations the player prefers as White (and the detail of this was determined by your selection in the configuration dialogue). It also provides his statistical performance with each variation, the avaerage Elo ratings of the opponents he faced in each variation, and a link to the games in which that variation was played.

7) Repertoire - Black The same information as in 6, but with the player handling the Black pieces.

8) Spectacular games Displays a board position for each game that qualifies, with a listing as to which player moves. You can try to solve these like puzzles, then click the provided link to see what was actually played. This will show some great sacrifices and amazing mating combinations.

9) [Player name] mates A similar section to 8, but this one provides mate-in-one puzzles taken from the player's games.

10 [Player name] annotates his games Links to games from the database which were annotated by the player himself.

As you can see, there's a lot of really useful biographical and career information provided in player dossiers. I write historical articles on chess personalities from "the Golden Age" and I've found the Player Dossier to be a really useful tool for researching these players' careers.

It's possible to save a player dossier into a database. If you do this, make sure that you save it into the reference database you used when creating it -- otherwise the links won't work. Also be aware that the dossier isn't automatically updated when you add new games of that player into the database -- you'd have to generate a new dossier to take these games into account. Also, if you eliminate games from a database, the dossier links may no longer be correct. In light of these caveats, I generally prefer to not save the dossiers I create. It only takes a few minutes for me to create a new one whenever I want it. But if you want to save the dossier, you can just click the command in the File menu or click the "floppy disk" button at the top of the dossier window.

A frequently-asked question is whether or not you can add your own photo and player info into the PE. In theory, with a hex editor or decompiler and a lot of programming knowhow, you could probably do this. But for us average Joes and Janes, there's no way to do this. However, you can submit your photo to ChessBase GmbH for inclusion in future editions of the PE. There's a link provided at www.chessbase.com for this purpose, or it can be done from within ChessBase 8. In the main database screen (with icons for your databases), go to the Tools menu and select "Options". Click the User tab, make sure your name is filled in, and click the "Update my encyclopedia entry". You get a dialogue asking you to confirm that you want to go online and then your browser will open to the web site I just mentioned. You can fill out the "ID card" info, attach a photo, and you might end up in the next PE. Note that titled players have much greater chances of getting into the PE than average players.

Until next week, have fun!

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