ELECTRONIC T-NOTES


CHESSBASE USA'S WEEKLY ON-LINE NEWSLETTER


FOR THE WEEK OF NOVEMBER 10, 2002


ODDS AND ENDS

by Steve Lopez

This week we once again present a potpurri of tips, tricks, and other short items, none of which were extensive enough to warrant a complete ETN issue of their own.


ILLEGAL POSITIONS IN CHESSBASE 8 DATABASE TEXTS

A long time ago (June-July 2001) I ran a three-part series of articles on creating database texts in ChessBase 8. The procedure for inserting diagrams in these texts was discussed in two articles and I gave a workaround for creating illegal positions as illustrative diagrams for these texts (no, you still can't have illegal positions in the games themselves). ETN reader David M. St. Pierre chimes in with this extremely useful tip:

In your July 1, 2001 issue you discuss inserting positions into database texts. You also state that the position must be legal, and in the July 8, 2001 issue give a work around for illegal positions. I discovered that you don't need the work around, as it is possible to insert an illegal position in the database text using the position editor.

If you invoke the position editor from inside the database text editor by clicking on Position without a game window open, it brings up the position editor. Notice that Castle option, side to move, move number, and en passent are disabled (grayed out). This was my clue that the position doesn't have to be legal. You can have both kings off the board, both kings in check simultaneously, whatever. Set up your position, click OK, choose size and coordinates option. Voila! Your position, legal or not.

Now to insert a position in a database text with colored squares and arrows, you have to start with a legal position in a game window. Set up any legal position using Ctrl-Shft-S. Put your colored arrows and squares in. Then insert the position in the database text. Now for the interesting part. In the database text, right click on the position and choose Edit. The position editor, inside the database text editor, comes up. Edit your position at will, legal or illegal. Click OK. And your position with the colored arrows and squares is in the database text.

This should remove the necessity for your workaround described in the July 8, 2001 T-Notes (though that technique is useful for other graphics images).

My readers positively astound me sometimes -- my mouth is still hanging open over this one. David, you are an extremely brainy individual to be able to figure this out! Thank you for sharing this valuable tip!


MORE ON RUNNING WINBOARD ENGINES IN FRITZ7

In the October 20, 2002 issue of ETN, I provided the link to a utility that allows Winboard-compatible engines to run as UCI engines in the Fritz family of playing programs. Now, to be honest, the whole thing isn't for everybody -- you really have to be someone who likes to tweak and tinker to get this thing to work. The majority of Winboard engines (particularly the newer ones) will run fine using the adapter with no additional tweaking required (beyond setting up the eng file as described in that ETN issue). But there are a few hardcase engines out there that require additional command parameters to be added to the Wb2Uci.eng file in order for them to run properly.

Alex Schmidt has come to the rescue. Alex has provided us with two web pages that illustrate additional command parameters required for some Winboard engines. He gives us some pre-tweaked files for a few engines here. And Alex's general troubleshooting tips can be found on this page. Alex also suggests the WBEC Ridderkerk page for additional information on possible tweaks that are required to get some Winboard engines to run properly in the Fritz7 interface.

To date, I've downloaded about 70 Winboard engines to try in the Fritz7 interface. Only about fifteen or so failed to run right off the bat; after some tweaking (mainly suggested by Alex), I've found just nine that refuse to do anything when invoked in Fritz7. (This doesn't include engines that show "reversed analysis" when playing as Black; I'm still working on identifying and correcting those).

Thanks for the e-mail, Alex! Those links are extremely useful.


A FRITZ7 MISCONCEPTION

Every so often (when I'm feeling especially masochistic) I read the various computer chess message boards around the Internet. One question that pops up every so often has once again reared its ugly head: "After I have Fritz7 analyze a game, it doesn't give any spoken commentary! I can't get this to work -- can anyone help me?"

In short -- no. Spoken analysis isn't a feature of Fritz7; it will only speak during a game (and those wisecracks aren't anyone's idea of "analysis"). The "Full analysis" option of Fritz will add some text commentary to a game but it's not spoken commentary; that's not a feature of the program.

I've only seen two programs that give spoken analytical commentary after a game: Sierra's late lamented Power Chess and Power Chess 98 programs. The analysis was pretty rudimentary but it was still a pretty cool feature (one of many -- readers of my ChessBase USA Guide to Computer Chess already know how highly I thought of the Power Chess series).


FRITZ7 -- THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "TALK" AND "CHATTER"

The documentation and dialogues within Fritz7 make reference to two entirely different features that have similar connotations: talk and chatter. These features are completely separate from each other. "Talk" refers to the spoken wisecracks that Fritz makes during a game. "Chatter" refers to the comments that appear on the screen during a game (these appear in either the information bar at the bottom of the screen or in the Chatter pane [if you've chosen to display this pane in Window/Panes]). Either or both of these comment types can be turned on/off under Tools/Options/Multimedia.


FRITZ7 -- COPYING THE TALK FILES TO THE HARD DISK

I'm occasionally asked on the phone to "help" a user copy the Fritz talk files to his hard disk (i.e. talk him through the process of copying files step-by-step). I don't give basic Windows instruction over the phone (that's the job of Gates' gnomes over at Microsquash), so this won't be a step-by-step tutorial on files, folders, and how to create/copy them (there are links to such tutorials provided in the October 20, 2002 issue of ETN). What I will describe is the basic stuff you'll need to know to get it to work properly.

The whole trick is to keep the same talk file/folder structure that appears on the Fritz7 CD. Here's how to do it:

1) Create a \TALK folder on your hard drive to house the actual talk files themselves. The easiest way to do this is to make it a subfolder of your \Fritz7 folder. So, if you've installed Fritz7 to the default folder suggested by the Installation Wizard, your new folder's location will be C:\Program Files\ChessBase\Fritz7\TALK

2) Copy all of the files from the \TALK folder on your Fritz7 CD to your C:\Program Files\ChessBase\Fritz7\TALK folder.

3) Copy the single file talk.cht from the root folder of the Fritz7 CD to the folder C:\Program Files\ChessBase\Fritz7 on your hard drive. It's crucial that you get this file to the \Fritz7 folder, NOT to the \TALK folder; otherwise the magic won't work.

4) Start Fritz7. Go to the Tools menu, select Options, and then the Multimedia tab. Be sure to put a check in the box next to "Talk". Then click the "Find TALK.CHT" button and use the dialogue that appears to navigate to your C:\Program Files\ChessBase\Fritz7 folder. Double-click on the file talk.cht to "point" the program to this file.

5) Exit Fritz7. This ensures that the program will "remember" the location of the talk.cht file in future sessions.

That's all there is to it. All you really need to know (Windows-wise) is how to create a folder and how to copy files.

A couple of additional notes. Contrary to what Fritz7's Help files tell you, there is no ecosnd.cht file or ECO folder that needs to be copied. These were done away with in a prior version of Fritz and no longer exist; the fact that a reference to them still appears in the Help files is just an oversight.

And if you're getting strapped for hard drive space, you probably don't want to copy the Talk files to your hard drive. The whole shebang takes about 229 MB of drive space, which is a lot of room to use just to hear some guy heckle you during a game. I can do that down at the chess club with 0 MB space required on my drive.


NEW (FREE!) CHESSBASE ENGINES

Two new engines have appeared as free downloads on the ChessBase GmbH site: Crafty 19.01 and Comet B50. You can get 'em here. Just unzip them into your \Engines folder and let 'em rip! You can use them in ChessBase 7, ChessBase 8, or any of the Fritz family of playing programs from Fritz5.32 onward.


THAT AIN'T ME

And now for the usual self-indulgent junk...

I've received a bunch of e-mails and phone comments about how handsome "my" picture is on the main page of the new ChessBase USA web site. Thanks for the compliments, but that's not me -- I never looked like that twenty years ago, much less now. If I was still into pranking I'd tell you that it's a pic of Don Maddox or Billy Smith, but the fact is that I have no idea who that guy is. I rather suspect that the folks we contracted to design the new page hired some male model to pose for the pic. As far as I know, my pic doesn't appear anywhere on the ChessBase USA web site. If for some sad reason you really, really want to see my pic, you can find two of them here on the ChessBase GmbH page. Since Halloween is over, though, I advise against it. (And, yes, that is a beer in my right hand in the first pic -- a Rolling Rock to be exact. 33 is replacing 64 as my lucky number.).


I'M BAAAAAAAACK...

Finally, just so you know, I'm back full-time with the U.S. company as of November 4th. I'm dividing my time between tech support (and some temporary sales duties) for ChessBase USA and major writing/editing assignments for Chess Digest (which is now in partnership with ChessBase USA). It's good to be back for a third full-time stint with the company (just like the swallows, I always come home to roost) and I'm looking forward to pitching into some really interesting and exciting new projects that we've lined up. The new gig also gets me a big chunk of my life back (you wouldn't believe the number of hours a week I routinely worked during the last sixteen months) and I'm also looking forward to my freelance chess and historical research/writing/lecturing projects that have been sitting on the back burner for far too long (yes, this means that you can look for a second issue of The Kamikaze Times on my web page in the near future).

Until next week, have fun!

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