Bookmark a game in ChessBase 8

7/5/2004 – Many ChessBase users run into situations where they want to "bookmark" a game for later retrieval. The usual solution is to use medals to mark games in the list. But there's another method: creating user keys and manually assigning games to them. We show you how in the latest ChessBase Workshop.

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CLASSIFYING GAMES MANUALLY

by Steve Lopez

One of the most powerful features of ChessBase 8 is the ability to create keys as an aid to classifying games. As explained in past articles, a key is simply an index; these are similar to indices you find in the back of many chess books. For example, many books will provide a list of openings used in the games which appear in that book; after each opening name appears a list of the games in which that opening was played. If you've used any of the large database collections offered by ChessBase, you'll know that they typically come with extensive opening keys -- a hierarchal list of opening variations; you double-click on a key to get a list of the games in which the corresponding variation was played.

In past articles, we've discussed the creation of endgame keys, as well as user keys. Literally any search that you can perform in the Search mask can be used as the basis for a key. But a seldom-used feature of ChessBase 8 is the ability to manually classify games into keys. It's a shame that this is a seldom-used feature because it's potentially one of the most useful tools the software provides.

Several weeks ago a ChessBase Workshop article discussed using a bit of creativity to "fool" the program into doing what might be considered a "fuzzy logic" search for various tactical themes (in that article, we used Knight forks with check as the primary example). But there are going to be some kinds of searches that just can't be performed by the program; for example, you can't just click a button to get all games in which a Bishop pins an opposing piece to the enemy King. But what if you're playing through a game from your database and come across just such a game -- and you decide you want to "mark" it somehow for future reference?

There are a couple of ways to go at this problem in search of a solution. The first thing that pops into many users' minds is to mark the game in the game list by using a medal, most likely the medal for "tactics". That's a bright idea and a danged fine solution -- up to a point. If you don't mark too many games this way it'll be a snap to find the desired game later. But let's say that you've marked dozens (or even hundreds) of games in this manner. You might have a pile of Knight fork games, Bishop pin games, skewer games, castling with check games, etc., all marked with the same "tactics" medal. It's going to be tough to find that one particular Bishop pin game later when you do a search for all games marked with the "tactics" medal and come up with myriad hits.

This is where user keys and the ability to manually assign games comes in handy. You can create keys to store these special games and then pop games into them by hand as you come across them.

Let's use our example to see how this is done. You've found a great game in which the White Bishop pins a Black Knight to the Black King and you want to "mark" it for future reference. The first step is to create a key for games in which a Bishop is pinning an enemy piece. Open the game list for the database and click on the "General themes" tab. If you're using a database you've created, you'll likely see a set of four buttons; click on the button marked "Install empty key" to create a blank "general themes" key file for that database. After you've clicked it, you'll see a new screen saying "Key is empty".

Since the key is empty, you'll need to create a new entry for it into which to store your Bishop pin game (and any such games you might run across in the future). Hit the Insert key on your keyboard to start the process of creating and inserting a new key. You'll see the Search mask appear. You may recall from previous articles that anything you can search for in the Search mask can be used as the basis for a key entry. I can already anticipate what you're thinking: "But you can't use the Search mask to look for Bishop pins!" Correct -- you can't (unless you're looking for games in which the Bishop, the pinned piece, and the enemy King are on specific squares). However, have a look at the title of this article -- we're going to manually assign games into keys, so the Search mask doesn't really enter into the process.

Click the lower "Reset" button in the Search mask (the one located between the "Help" and "Cancel" buttons). Clicking this button will ensure that the Search mask is blank, that none of the fields have any values entered into them. Then click the "OK" button. You'll then see a long narrow text entry box with an "OK" button at its far right side. Type "Bishop pins piece against enemy King" into this box and then click the "OK" button; you'll now see this appear as a new entry in your previously empty key. You've just created a new theme key for games in which a Bishop pins a piece against the opposing King.

As we noted before, there's no way to have the Search mask automatically search for such games and, internally to the program, the key you just created is actually a "null" search -- it doesn't actually have any sort of definition assigned to it. But you'll also recall that you already have just such a game open -- you were playing through a game from the database and noticed this tactic in the game; that's what got this whole ball rolling in the first place. Make sure that the game is still open in its own game window. Then switch back to the key window (either by using ALT-TAB on your keyboard or by using the buttons on your Windows Taskbar). Highlight the "Bishop pins piece against enemy King" key with the black cursor bar (by single-clicking on that key). Then right-click on it and select "Assign manually" from the popup menu. You'll see a confirmation box appear containing the names of the game's players; this is simply asking you to confirm that you really want to assign this game to this key. Click "OK". The next time you double-click on the "Bishop pins piece against enemy King" key, you'll see this game in your key list. Congratulations! You've just indexed this game as one containing the Bishop pin theme. And the best part of it is that the next time you run across a game using the same theme of a Bishop pinning an enemy piece to its King you can use this same function ("Assign manually") to add the game to the key.

You can create all sorts of these "null" keys as classification indices. You might want a key into which to store your favorite games, so you create one and call it "My Best Games". You can create keys on all sorts of normally unsearchable strategic themes, endgame types, or any other kind of category that can't be set up by using the Search mask.

There is, however, one very big fly in the ointment. If you subsequently reclassify all of the keys to this database, you'll wipe out all of the manually-assigned indexes you've created: the categories (i.e. the keys) will still be there but they'll no longer have any games assigned to them. So you have to be very careful when using the "Classify all keys" command. When you activate it (by going to the Tools menu, selecting "Classification", and then the "Classify all keys" command from the submenu) you'll see a popup which allows you to choose which keys you want to classify. Be very sure to uncheck the box marked "Themes" to make sure that the reclassification process skips the "Theme" keys; otherwise you'll wipe out all of the hard work you did in manually classifying games into these keys.

Until next week, have fun!


© 2004, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.


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