by Steve Lopez

First off, over the weekend I've received a couple of e-mail regarding an inability to download a particular issue (or issues) of The Week in Chess by using the "Get New Games" feature in ChessBase 8. Anytime this occurs, it could be due to any of a number of factors:

Unfortunately, I can't help much with these matters -- I handle tech support for ChessBase USA, and all of the Internet-related functions of ChessBase and Fritz connect to servers operated by ChessBase GmbH (in Germany). I have no internal access to these servers and, as such, have no way to even research such problems. These concerns should be directed to ChessBase GmbH -- information on how to do so is on their web site.

Where I can help you is in the area of downloading The Week In Chess when (for whatever reason) you can't get it using the menu item in CB8. You can find the latest issue (as well as the last several back issues) on The Week in Chess web page. Use the "Games in ChessBase 6 format" link on that page.

In the January 5, 2003 ETN, we looked at the new 3D board in Fritz8. In that article, I confessed that I had no idea what "anti-aliasing" did. Frank Reynolds sent an e-mail and clued me in:

In the help file of Paintshop Pro. ('Using the Vector Properties Dialog Box'), it says:- 'Select the "Antialias" check box to smooth the edges of the object'.

Thanks, Frank! I appreciate the info, and confess that I'm a bit red-faced about it: I have several graphics programs but never do any 3D work -- all of the graphics work I do is 2D, so I never thought to look in their Help files. I will now sheepishly turn to the next e-mail from the virtual mailbag...

Bob Durrett is a longtime ChessBase user and frequent correspondent who has sent along a tip for chess improvement. Bob takes positions from his games and is making a book of tactics problems from them -- but instead of the typical "Great Tactical Shots From My Games" approach, Bob is creating a workbook of tactics that he missed:

It is a two inch three ring binder. The first page is my title page, and then comes 45 sheets of 8.5" x 11" high gloss photography paper [50 cents a sheet] each with six chess positions, in...color. [45 x 6 = 270 positions, or 270/58 = 4.66 positions per game, average.] The only things on these sheets are the six positions, with color to move on the bottom, and a game-plus-position notation in small print below each position. [Example: 46-7] I am just now beginning to use this as a sort of "closed book exam."

Next in the book is some blank paper for me to use to make notes while "taking the exam." After going through each position for a game, I will then look to the next section of my book where all the complete games, fully analyzed, are. I will compare my test results to the "answers" in the game printout [58 games] to get a better understanding of the reasons behind the correct answers. Then I move on to the positions for the next game.

I said I had played 60+ games but have only 58 in my book. The reason is that three of the games contained no "blunders" on my part. A "blunder" is defined as a move lowering my score by 0.5 pawns or more. Blunder-free games produce no positions for my book since I only include positions that confused me enough to cause me to blunder. There were also a few where the opponent quit before enough moves were made.

Thanks for sending that tip, Bob (and for granting permission for me to use it here). That last paragraph brings up an interesting point which was the topic of an e-mail and phone discussion I had with another user a year or so ago. What constitutes a "blunder"?

I think Bob's on the right track here, and a lot of it will depend on an individual's level of play. For a relative novice, anything less than a pawn (i.e. a Fritz evaluation of 1.00) might not qualify as a "blunder" to that player because such a player might lack enough knowledge and experience to recognize it as such. A more advanced player might view a swing of 0.30 (roughly equivalent to a tempo) as sufficient cause for major garment rending and gnashing of teeth. This is just my opinion, of course, but I think a move that lowers one's score by 0.25 to 0.30 is a cause for some level of concern, while a 0.50 swing could conceivably be termed a "blunder". As always, your mileage may vary.

And I really like the idea of creating a workbook (either in print or as a separate database) of one's mistakes. It's very reminiscent of approaches recommended by Jeremy Silman and Rolf Wetzell. And pain is a great teacher -- you learn more from studying your mistakes than from relishing your victories. Thanks again for the tip, Bob!

Until next week, have fun!

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