Time is my enemy...
January is traditionally my busiest month and this one is unusually action-packed. I won't bore you with all of the details, but the number of e-mails hitting my box usually doubles right after Christmas (lots of people get software for the holidays, and ChessBase always releases a lot of new stuff in November and December); I also have several big writing projects in the works right now. So I think this is why I often write "Odds and Ends"-type "roundup" articles near the turn of the year -- it's a means of getting a lot of short information out pretty quickly.
I haven't forgotten the big stuff, though. Articles about the new Fritz8 features, the new ChessBase CDs, some Shredder stuff -- those are all still on the way. But right now I need to wrestle a lot of other stuff to the ground, pin it down, grab a quick breather, and then dive back in for a new round. And still the clock relentlessly ticks onward...
UPDATED MANUAL INSTALL CHART FOR POCKET FRITZ2
The ETN issue for April 28, 2002 ("Installing Pocket Fritz Step-by-Step") also applies to the new Pocket Fritz2. That article will provide detailed instructions for manually installing the program in case there is a problem with the Installation Wizard not finding your pocket PC unit (I love those ActiveSync problems -- $##%*&%). However, a few new pocket units have hit the market since that article appeared. So here's an updated table for that article, showing you which .cab file you'll need to copy for a manual install:
|POCKET PC BRAND||FILE NAME|
Newer Hewlett-Packard Pocket PCs,
and ANY pocket unit with Pocket PC 2002 as its operating system
|Casio pocket PCs||PocketFritz.mips.cab|
|Older (pre-2002) Hewlett-Packard pocket PCs||PocketFritz.sh3.cab|
Please, please, please see the Electronic T-Notes issue for April 28, 2002 before e-mailing us with installation questions on either version of Pocket Fritz!! With the info in that article, the updated table above, and a very minimal knowledge of ActiveSync, you should be able to install the programs with no problem.
Thanks to Peter Schreiner for the updated info!
NEW "FREEBIE" ENGINE FROM CHESSBASE
There's a new (free!) downloadable engine for use in ChessBase and Fritz on the ChessBase GmbH website. It's called Koenig Schwarz ("Black King"? -- I dunno, my German isn't very good. I also Anglicized the name, so please don't send corrective e-mails) and you can download it here. It comes unzipped so, if you've installed ChessBase8 or one of our playing programs to the default folder, you can just download the engine right into your C:\Program Files\ChessBase\Engines folder.
Note that this engine is extremely weak; it moves instantaneously and displays a search depth of 0 plies. "What good is it?" you might ask. It's good for little kids, for one thing (yes, some of us have small ones at home that love to mess around in the Fritz program) or for adult novices. Also, I rather suspect that it's been made available for Windows XP users who can no longer use the older 16-bit engines on their machines (16-bit vs. 32-bit architecture, yah-dah yah-dah, rant rant rant) -- older engines (such as Fritz1 and the Doctor? series) are included with Fritz to provide weaker engines for use by kids or weaker players, but they're unavailable under XP. Now take this with a whopping great amount of salt (since I don't have XP and can't test this), but I strongly suspect that Koenig Schwarz is 32-bit and can be used by XP users. It's also good for cases in which you might want to test how "obvious" an "obvious move" is -- stronger engines rev up to nine plies or better almost instantaneously and might show an "obvious" move as the first one in a variation, but you have no way to know if the engine "saw" that move right out of the gate. You can use Koenig Schwarz to see if it's "obvious" to an engine with a much shallower search depth.
NEW UCI ENGINE FILE FOR PLAYING PROGRAMS
The ChessBase programmers have been improving the UCI.dll file that allows UCI engines to work inside Fritz and our other playing programs (see ETN for May 26, 2002 for info on installing UCI-enabled engines in Fritz, as well as the issue for October 20, 2002 for how to use a third-party program to make Winboard engines work as UCI engines in Fritz).
If you're using UCI or Winboard engines in this way, you should keep your UCI.dll file updated. You can get the latest UCI.dll file here (look under "UCI Adapter" etc.). The same page has some UCI engines for free download as well (I'll get to this in a bit -- see below). The UCI adapter is in .zip format -- unzip it to the same folder as the main files for your playing program (for example, if you're using Fritz8 or Shredder7, unzip it to C:\Program files\ChessBase\ChessProgram8).
If you want to see the changes made to the various Adapter versions, you can find that information here.
OTHER FREE ENGINES FOR CHESSBASE/FRITZ/ETC.
For some weird reason, I get a lot of e-mail from people who can't seem to find the Downloads page on the ChessBase GmbH site (all you need do is click on the "Downloads" link displayed prominently at the top of the page -- I'm baffled). But here are some shortcut links to get you to some important pages directly:
The main engines page Here's where you'll find the most recent free engine versions for use in ChessBase and our playing programs. I always get asked which of these engines is "strongest". Briefly:
Crafty and Comet are comparable in strength, but if you put a gun to my head, I'd say that Crafty is a notch or two stronger. ExChess is much weaker. I haven't used the others enough to formulate an opinion, but they are certainly weaker than either Crafty or Comet.
Download the .zip file and unzip the contained archived file(s) into C:\Program Files\ChessBase\Engines (if you've installed your programs into the default folders).
The UCI engines page Thi is the place to find free UCI-enabled engines. These are executable files, so you need to download them into a work folder on your hard drive. Go to that folder, run the .exe file, be happy. Strength? They're all good, but Sjeng seems to be the toughest.
The Engine Archive If you're a completist and missed a prior version of your favorite freebie engine, you'll find all of the past versions here. The same instructions apply for the .zips and .exes as described above. And, no, you don't need all of the past versions of an engine to install and use the latest one.
FRITZ8 HELP LINK
Some people who are contemplating the purchase of Fritz8 have asked if documentation is available on the Interrant (so they can see what they're getting into).
The answer is "yes" and you can find it here, along with a lot of extra info on Fritz8's features and the features of the Playchess server. Note that this information also applies to Shredder7.
As my man the late, great Sonny Terry used to say, "That's about get it". Until next week, have fun!