by Steve Lopez

In last week's article we looked at a variety of ways to display game lists in ChessBase 8. This week we'll look at a few minor tweaks you can do to the list.

If you right-click in the game list and select "List format" and then "Properties" from the popup menu, you'll see the following dialogue appear:

This dialogue allows you to further "tweak up" the game list's appearance. We'll examine these various settings one at at time:

First name length: This is a box which allows you to set the number of characters (i.e. letters) in players' first names which will be displayed in the game list. The default is "99" meaning , obviously, that players' entire first names will be displayed. There are pros and cons to setting this parameter either way. If you leave this set at the default of "99", you'll see players' entire first names but this will also take up more horizontal space in the game list (remember, however, that you can change the spacing between the Player and Tournament columns; this was discussed in last week's ETN). Note that if the players' names "overrun" the allotted space, it's the Player column which will be truncated, not the Tournament column. If you set this parameter to a low figure (such as "1"), you'll only see players' first initials rather than their whole first names. This shouldn't be a problem in most cases, but if you want to be able to differentiate between the games of Anatoly Karpov and Alexander Karpov you'll need to set this value to at least "2".

Annotator: Checking this box means that, in the case of annotated games, the annotator's name will be displayed in brackets at the end of the Tournament column after the name of the tournament.

Sources: Checking this box will cause the publishing source of the games (when available) to be shown in the Tournament column; the publishing source (such as "CBM 67" for ChessBase Magazine 67) will appear between the tournament name and the annotator's name (if you also have this option checked).

Game number: The games in a database are numbered by default; these numbers appear in the leftmost column of the game list display. If you're not terribly interested in these, you can uncheck this box -- the numbers won't appear and you get a few extra characters' worth of room on each horizontal line.

Full date: When games are saved in ChessBase 8, you have the option of entering the full date of the game (month, day, and year) instead of just the year. If you choose to save games with the full date info, selecting this parameter will cause this complete information to be displayed in the game list.

Foot line: This is an interesting tweak that is pretty useful when you've chosen "Full game header" as your default display (see last week's ETN for details). Checking this box will display a white information bar at the bottom of the game list. When you click on a game in the list to highlight it, the first several moves of the game will be visible in this white bar.

While it's possible to check all of these options, be aware that (in the case of most of them) more and more information will be "crowded" into the game list. For example, selecting "Full date" means that the Date column will become wider (by default) and will push the Tournament Column closer to the Players column; this will usually mean that more games will be displayed with the Player information truncated. If you try to compensate by widening the Player column, the Tournament information will become truncated. This is just a simple physical fact: you can fit only so much information on a computer screen.

You can compensate for this (a bit) in a couple of ways. The first is to increase your monitor's screen resolution. But keep in mind that when you increase the resolution, you actually make the characters on the screen appear smaller. So this solution may work at first, but the "law of diminishing returns" applies here: at some point, you'll be able to get all of the information on the screen, but the letters will be too small for you to be able to read them comfortably.

The second solution is effectively similar but has less drastic (in terms of your computer's other programs) results: you can decrease the font size of the characters displayed in the game list. Right-click in the game list, select "List format" and then "Font". Use the pulldown menu in this display to select a smaller-sized font. As with changing your screen resolution, a smaller font means that more information will be displayed in the list but also means that the information will be harder to read.

It ultimately becomes a matter of selecting the information that's most important for you. You likely won't be able to display every category of information provided in the "Properties" dialogue (unless you have a monitor the size of a TV "home theater" setup), so you'll need to decide what information is the most valuable to you. And, because I know I'll get a pile of e-mails asking me what settings I use (and why), here's the lowdown:

I leave the "First name length" set to the default of "99" for the reason I stated above: it makes it easy for me to distinguish between players with the same last name and first initial. I work with a lot of annotated games, so I have the "Annotator" field selected. "Game number" is important to me as it helps me relocate particular games in a database without having to do a search a second time, as well as allowing me to "orient" myself in the midst of a long game list. "Foot line" is handy for identifying games of a particular opening in "mixed" databases (that is, bases in which all the games aren't of a particular opening). For example, if I want to find a particular game from a World Championship match in which I know a specific opening was played, but I can't remember which game it was in the match, I can just use the "down cursor" key on my keyboard to flip down through them one at a time until I see the proper opening moves appear in the footline.

As for what I don't use, "Sources" isn't a terribly important field to me, except in cases in which I've constructed a database of games taken from various publishing sources. And "Full date" isn't a really big deal; the year alone is typically enough. But, as always, your mileage may vary. Experiment with the different list formats and tweaks until you find a combination that makes you happy.

Until next week, have fun!

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