by Steve Lopez

This week's topic is one that's been covered previously in ETN but, judging from the number of questions I've recently received, it certainly bears repeating. A number of users (particularly younger ones) aren't clear on the difference between saving and replacing games. And some other users are a bit baffled on how to delete games from a database. So this week we'll examine all three of these functions in ChessBase 8 and the Fritz family of playing programs.


Hey, we'll all the same -- all of us just love, love, love to enter new games by hand into a database. The first thing that dang near every new ChessBase/Fritz user does is to save his personal games into a database. When I got my first copy of Knightstalker (Fritz1) back in 1992, I had all of my tournament games saved into a database within the first couple of days after receiving the program.

In case you're not sure how to do this, the procedure's pretty simple but differs between ChessBase and the Fritz playing programs. We'll look at these one at a time.

ChessBase 8

There are a couple of ways to tackle entering and saving a game in CB8. I'll show you the method I use. The first step is to open the game list for the database into which you want to save the game; this ensures that you're controlling which database the game will be saved into (it's possible to enter and save games straight from the Database window without opening a game list, but then you get the extra annoying step of being asked into what database you want to save the game).

Once you've opened the game list for the "target" database, click on the black and white chessboard button in the Toolbar at the top of the screen. You can also do this from the menus by going to File/New/Board or use the keyboard shortcut of CTRL-N. Once you've opened a new game window, just make the moves on the chessboard. CB8 contains an "intelligent move assistant" called Heumas. When you click on a piece, Heumas attempts to "guess" what square the piece will go to and will highlight that square; if this is the correct square, just release the mouse button. If it's not, position the mouse over the proper square and release the button. Conversely, you can also click on a square to let Heumas make a guess as to which piece will go there; again, if the highlighted piece is correct, release the button. If not, place the mouse over the correct piece before releasing the button. I typically click on squares instead of pieces; I've found that Heumas is more accurate in guessing the pieces correctly with this method (there are usually fewer choices when a square is selected compared to when you click on a piece).

Heumas is actually a primitive chess engine which is built into CB8. You can control Heumas' search depth (and, consequently, its accuracy) by going to Tools/Options/Engines and using the slider in the "Heumas" section to change the depth of Heumas' search (from zero to five plies). The higher you set this value, the longer it takes Heumas to highlight a piece or square but the better its guesses will be.

No matter how proficient you become at entering games, there will be times when you make an incorrect move on the board. CB8 gives you a "takeback" button if you have the VCR buttons displayed either below the board or on the Toolbar. The middle (red arrow) button takes back the previous move and allows you to enter a new one.

Once you've finished entering the moves and are ready to save the game, there are three ways to activate the save function. If you go to the File menu, you'll see an entry for "Save -> [name of the currently opened game list]". You can click this, or you can either click the Toolbar button that looks like a floppy disk or hit CTRL-S on your keyboard. Any of these three methods will bring up a dialogue that allows you to enter the game header information (player names, tournament name, year, etc.). Fill out the fields as you see fit and click "OK". The game will then be saved into the database.

Note that a saved game will always appear as the last game in a game list; in other words, it's always tacked on at the end of a database. There's no way to insert new games into the middle of an existing database's game list.

Fritz7 etc.

The first step in entering a game once you've fired up Fritz7 (or one of the other playing programs) is to click "New Game" in the Game menu. You can also click the Toolbar button that looks like a manila file folder or just hit CTRL-N on the keyboard. Then go to the Game menu and select "Infinite analysis"; you'll see the Engine analysis pane come to life. Don't let this bother you -- it's supposed to do this.

Enter your moves on the chessboard by moving the pieces just as you would when playing a game against the program. Make the moves for both players -- this is the reason you put the program into "Infinite analysis" mode (it prevents the engine from replying when a move is made on the chessboard). If you make a mistake, just use the takeback (red arrow) button from the VCR panel (exactly as described for ChessBase 8 above).

When you're ready to save the game, go to File/Save or click the "floppy disk" button in the Toolbar or just hit CTRL-S on the keyboard. You'll see the Windows file select dialogue appear, asking you what database you want to save the game into. Use the dialogue to go to the folder where the database is located and double-click on the database's name. Then you'll see the same dialogue as described for ChessBase 8, which allows you to type in the game header information. When you've finished supplying this info, click "OK" and the game will be saved into the database you selected.

As with CB8, a saved game will always appear at the end of a database (i.e. as the last game on the game list).

Summing up

The important thing to remember about "Save game" is that it always saves a new copy of the game into a database. If you keep using "Save game" to save the same game into a database, it will wind up appearing multiple times in that database. If you want to make changes to an existing game and then save it so that it only appears once, you'll use "Replace game" to do that.


Let's say that you open a game from your database and you want to add variations, text notes, Informant symbols, graphic commentary, etc. to it. In this case, you'll open the game, make your additions/changes, and then use "Replace game" to replace the old version of that game with your modified one.

ChessBase 8

Nothing could be easier than this. Double-click on a game in the game list to open it in a game window. Make your changes to the game (this article won't delve into the various annotation styles and procedures you can use; we've covered those before and will likely hit them again at a later time). When you've finished adding notes/commentary or making other changes, go to the File menu and select "Replace", or else just hit CTRL-R on the keyboard. The game header dialogue appears, allowing you to make changes in the game header. If you've annotated a game yourself, you might want to click the "Annotator and teams" tab and fill in your name in the "Annotator" field (so you'll know later who annotated the game). If it's a game out of a book or magazine you can enter the annotator's name in this field and also fill in the "Source" (the name of the book or magazine from which the notes came). When you're finished with the header info, click "OK" and the new version of the game will replace the old version in the database.

Fritz7 etc.

Double-click on a game from the game list to load it into the main chessboard screen. Add your variations or notes (remember to first put the program into "Infinite analysis" mode as described above if you want to add replayable variations). When you're finished, go to the File menu and select "Replace" or hit CTRL-R on the keyboard. Change the header info if you like, perhaps adding the annotator or source information as described for ChessBase 8 above. When you're done, click "OK" to replace the old version of the game with the new one.

Summing up

The difference between "Save" and "Replace" should be apparent. "Save" always tacks the game onto the end of the database, while "Replace" will overwrite the old version of the game with the new one in which you've made the changes.

By the way, I'm sometimes asked how to change header information in existing games in a database ("I entered one of my games and saved it, but put in the wrong result. How do I change it?"). "Replace game" is the way to go in the Fritz family of programs -- just load the game, hit "Replace game", change the header info, and click "OK". You can do it the same way in ChessBase 8, but CB8 gives you additional ways to do this. The easiest way is to just highlight the game in the game list (by single-clicking on it) and hit F2 to bring up the header dialogue (or select "Edit game data" from the Edit menu). Make the changes and click "OK" -- the header will be corrected. You can also do "global" edits on player names; see the ETN issue for June 22, 1997 for info on how to do this.


The opposite side of saving new games is deleting unwanted ones. What happens if you accidentally save the same game into a database twice? How do you get rid of the unwanted duplicate? It's an easy thing to do in ChessBase 8 and the playing programs, but keep in mind that it's a two step process (and we'll explain why shortly).

ChessBase 8

Open up the game list, highlight the game you want to delete (by single-clicking on it), and then mark it for deletion in one of two ways: either hit the DELETE key on your keyboard or go to the Edit menu and click "Delete". You'll see the game list change: the game in question will now appear in half-tone and look like someone drew a line through it. The game is now marked for deletion, but it's still present in the database -- it will still come up in search results and you can still double-click on it to load it (but while I'm thinking about this, if you later change your mind and decide that you don't really want to delete it after all, just highlight it and hit DELETE again to remove the half-tone). The game's still there; you have to perform a second process to actually physically delete the game from the database.

Close the game list and return to the Database window. Click once on that database's icon to highlight it. Go to the Tools menu, select "Database", and then "Remove deleted games" from the submenu. A dialogue appears which allows you to confirm that you really want to remove the games that you've previously marked for deletion. This dialogue is your last chance to back out of the process. When you click "OK", any games you've previously marked for deletion will be completely and permanently removed from the database -- there is no "Undo" command that lets you reverse the process, so be sure you really want to delete the games before clicking "OK"! The games get deleted, any keys attached to the database get reorganized, and the process is done.

Fritz7 etc.

You can mark a game for deletion in the game list by hitting the DELETE key or go to the Edit menu and click "Delete" (both as in CB8, with the same result: the game will appear in half-tone with a line through it). Then go to the Tools menu, select "Database", and then "Remove deleted games". You'll see a new dialogue called "Pack database"; this is pretty much the same as the confirmation dialogue in CB8, with the same function and caveats as described above. When you click "OK", games marked for deletion are removed, keys are reorganized, the file sizes are reduced (hence the expression "pack database"), and the process is complete. But keep in mind my prior warning: once you've physically deleted games from a database, there is no way to automatically undo the process to get them back!

Summing up

Why is deleting games from a database a two-step process? The key can be found in the last sentence of the previous paragraph: deleting games is a permanent change to a database, so the programmers decided to make it a multi-step process. Unless you're hacking around by clicking on stuff without knowing what it does (and this is why Help files were invented), it's pretty danged hard to accidentally delete games from a database. The process is pretty easy, but the fact that it's a two-step process with an additional confirmation dialogue saves you a whole lot of potential embitterment.

So there you have it: the differences between these three functions in ChessBase and our playing programs. In a nutshell:

Until next week, have fun (and sweet dreams)!

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