Miscellaneous options

2/6/2005 – Tweak, tweak, tweak -- doesn't this guy ever do anything else? In his never-ending quest to unearth and reveal underdocumented features, columnist Steve Lopez shows you how to add voice support (among other things) to ChessBase 9 in the latest installment of ChessBase Workshop.

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CHESSBASE 9 "MISCELLANEOUS" OPTIONS

by Steve Lopez

We're going to look at some more of the "little" stuff in ChessBase 9 this week: small often-overlooked features which can jazz up your program or make your life easier.

In the initial database window of CB9 you can access these options by going to the Tools menu, selecting "Options", and then clicking on the "Miscellaneous" tab. You can also reach these options from a board window the same way. Either way, you'll see the following display:

There's no "common theme" to these tweaks -- that's why they're grouped under "Miscellaneous". But all of them can prove useful to various degrees, so let's look at what each of these options accomplishes.

Right click retracts. If you're entering games by hand to save them in a database you're gonna make some mistakes; it's a given and there's no way around it. You'll be banging in your moves from the latest weekend swiss and accidentally drop the Knight onto the wrong square; whoops. If you just back up one move and make a different move with the Knight you'll get a popup dialogue asking if you want to overwrite the old move or enter the new one as a new variation. While this is certainly a useful dialogue (especially when you're annotating games in a database) you might find yourself wishing for a quicker, easier way to take back and overwrite a move. One way to do this is to use the "red arrow" VCR button below the chessboard (if you've chosen to display the VCR buttons). But there's still a quicker way. Checking the "Right click retracts" box in the Options/Misc dialogue enables taking back and overwriting a move with a single click of the right mouse button. Just click the button and make the correct move from your gamescore; the old incorrect move is now overwritten by the move you've just made.

Note that this probably isn't an option you'll want to keep on all the time. An awful lot of ChessBase functions are accessed by right-clicking; leaving this option checked permanently opens up the possibility of accidentally overwriting moves when you're replaying games from a database. So it's best to use this option when you're entering a bunch of games by hand and then deselect the option when you're finished with your game input.

Register as PGN reader. A feature of Windows allows you to associate file types with certain programs. For example, on my computer I have .txt files associated with Notepad; when I'm browsing the contents of a folder using Windows Explorer or My Computer I can double-click on a .txt file to have Notepad open it and display the file's contents.

ChessBase allows you to associate PGN (Portable Game Notation) files with the ChessBase program. If you select this option, double-clicking on a PGN file in Windows Explorer or My Computer will launch ChessBase and load that PGN file. You'll see a game list of the games contained in the PGN file; double-clicking on a game in the list loads it and lets you replay it.

Announce moves. Select this option and you'll hear a voice announce the moves as you make them. Note that this doesn't happen when you're replaying games from a database, only when you're entering moves by hand. This is a really useful means of double-checking your moves as you're entering them -- if the voice says something other than what you have on your gamescore, you'll know you goofed up.

Here's another interesting fact about the audio announcement of moves. If you've selected algebraic, descriptive, or international correspondence notation as your visual preference in the Notation pane, you'll hear the voice announce the moves in algebraic notation. But if you've selected "computer algebraic" notation (i.e. 1.e2-e4) as your visual preference, the voice will announce the moves in that same style of notation.

Board sounds. Select this option and you'll hear the wooden "thunk" of pieces hitting the chessboard as you're inputting moves. Note that it's not awfully useful to have both "Announce moves" and "Board sounds" checked simultaneously, so don't do what the idiot who created the above graphic did.

Evaluation sounds. Many of us like to have a chess engine running as we're replaying games from a database; the engine constantly evaluates the positions and displays its "thoughts" on the screen. If you select "Evaluation sounds", the program will play a sound whenever the engine's positional evaluation changes drastically (usually by a pawn or more). As a technical note, the sound played will be whatever tone or sound effect you've selected in Windows as the "Exclamation" sound in your current Sound Scheme.

Show opening. Selecting this lets the program display the name and ECO code of the game's opening in the Information pane at the bottom of your CB9 screen.

Game history. Selecting this option adds a "Game History" entry to the Folders pane in the initial screen of ChessBase 9:

It will display a database for every day you use the program. Double-clicking on a day's database icon will display a list of every game you loaded that day. This is really handy for going back to games you've recently viewed or annotated.

Of course, deselecting this option turns off the Game History feature.

It's a short list of tweaks to be sure but they're certainly useful ones which I'm sure you'll find beneficial. Until next week, have fun!

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© 2005, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.


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