A library on your computer - part four

by ChessBase
1/1/2007 – Now that you have a newly created database, how do you get games into it? In the latest ChessBase Workshop we discuss copying games and inputting them from scratch, and show you how to do it in both ChessBase and Fritz.

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In the last ChessBase Workshop we discussed some legalities about creating electronic copies of printed works. Bottom line: if it ain't yours, don't steal it, and if you make an electronic copy of portions of a book you've legally purchased and don't give it to anybody (not your friend, not your student, not your Uncle Seymour), it's likely going to fall under "Fair Use" and you won't wake up one day with a posse of lawyers hot on your trail.

We also examined how to create a new database in ChessBase and Fritz. This week we're going to show you how to get a printed book's games into that database.

You'll recall that we're using Bruce Pandolfini's Russian Chess for our example. I won't repeat that I found it to be the single most instructive chess book in history for the low intermediate player and mention that Bruce ought to be canonized in Caissa's list of chess saints for writing it. Naw, I won't mention or repeat that.

After last week's column you now have an empty database. There are two ways to get games into it:

  1. Copy them from another database;
  2. Enter them by hand, making the moves yourself.

Both have advantages. The advantage of the first is obvious: it requires less time and effort. The advantage of the second is control: you're entering the moves, so you can be sure that the moves in your database match the moves in the book.

Let's first look at copying games. I'll assume that you already know how to search a database; heaven knows that I've written about it enough times in previous columns. The first game in Bruce's book is Chernin-Miles, Tunis 1985 (the former is spelled "Cernin" in the book, so adjust your search parameters accordingly). After you've searched for the game in ChessBase's Big or Mega Database (or any other master database you might be using), you'll need to copy it to your new database devoted to Bruce's book. Once you've found that game, here's how you copy it using ChessBase and Fritz:

ChessBase: Right-click on the game in the search results window, select "Edit" from the popup menu, then select "Copy" from the submenu. Close that window and return to your database window. Right-click on the icon for the database into which you want the game to be copied, select "Edit" from the popup menu, then select "Copy" from the submenu.

Fritz: Right-click on the game in the game list, select "Edit" from the popup menu, then select "Copy" from the submenu. Go to the File menu, select "Open", then "Database" from the submenu. Use the File Select dialogue to open the database you want to copy the game into. Click on an empty spot on your screen below the last game in the game list (assuming you already have games in the database; otherwise anywhere in the blank game list will do), select "Edit" from the popup menu, then select "Copy" from the submenu. Alternatively you can select the target database from the pulldown menu on the upper righthand side of the game list menu to open the target database's game list and then paste the game as mentioned above.

You can also do "Copy" and "Paste" commands from the Edit menu in these programs. That's the beauty of the thing -- there's often more than one way to skin a particular cat using ChessBase software products.

But now there's a fly in the ointment: if you found the game in the Mega Database it's already annotated. Assuming we want to delete this prior commentary (as I'll assume we do for the purposes of this article, since we're creating a database based on a specific book), how do we do this?

There's a very slight difference in the procedure between ChessBase and Fritz, but it's pretty easy either way. First open the game by double-clicking on it. Then:

ChessBase: Right-click on an empty spot in the Notation pane, select "Delete" from the popup menu, then select "Delete all commentary" from the submenu.

Fritz: Right-click on an empty spot in the Notation pane and select "Delete all commentary" from the popup menu.

That's right -- it's actually a step shorter in Fritz.

Now go to the File menu and select "Replace game" to make the commentary deletion permanent. And I do mean "permanent" here; there's no "undo" command.

If you don't have access to a huge honking database or if you just prefer to enter the games by hand, here's how you do it.

ChessBase: Double-click on the database's icon to open the game list. Click the little button that looks like a black and white chessboard on the toolbar. Enter the main line moves by making them on the chessboard. When you're finished, go to the File menu and select "Save" which will be followed by an arrow and the name of the database you currently have open. Fill in the game header info (players, tournament, year); you might also want to click the "Annotator and Teams" tab and enter the author's name and book title in the "Annotator" and "Source" fields. Then click "OK" to save the game into the database.

Fritz: In the game list screen, open the database into which you want to save the game (either via the previously-discussed pulldown menu or via File/Open/Database). Return to the main chessboard screen using the button on your Windows Taskbar. Open a new game by going to File/New/____ Game (it doesn't much matter whether you choose "Blitz" or "Long" since you're not going to be playing a game anyway). Turn off the chess engine by going to the Engine menu and selecting "Switch off engine" (this is important; if you leave the engine on, it will respond to moves you make on the chessboard, and that's not what we want here). Make the main line moves from the book, then go to the File menu, select "Save" and fill out the header information as described above for ChessBase.

Now we're going to discuss a difference in philosophy regarding entering games by hand. Some folks like to enter just the main line moves before saving a game. Others like to enter moves, variations, commentary, etc. exactly as they come across it in the book. Whatever floats your boat is fine. My personal preference is to do the main line first, save the game, and then enter the rest of the stuff later. But it's up to you.

Returning now to the folks who opted to copy a game from a master database to a book-specific one, you'll want to play through the main line moves once as you follow them in the printed book just to make sure that the two gamescores match up. They should already do so , but that's not always the case. What do you do if they don't? In both Fritz and ChessBase, the procedure is the same. If a move in the copied game is wrong, correct it by making the proper move. You'll see the following dialogue appear:

For those playing along at home with the actual game, I deliberate made a wrong move to bring up this dialogue, so don't panic. I won't describe all of the options in this dialogue, just the presently relevant ones. If you click "Overwrite" the move will be entered into the game, replacing the incorrect one, but the game's remaining moves will be deleted. So don't do this. Use the "Insert" command button instead; the software will still replace the incorrect move with the correct one but will attempt to preserve as many of the remaining moves as possible (i.e. the ones which can still be played according to the laws of chess). Most of the time you'll still lose some of the remainder of the game, but it often won't be nearly as many moves as if you'd used "Overwrite". In short, always use "Insert" instead of "Overwrite"; you'll be a much happier person as a result.

Note, too, that if you're entering a game by hand and realize later that you've made a mistake, you can use the same process to correct errors that you've made in a previously-saved game.

One last philosophical note (and I'm not talking about the notion that Plato was generally full of it). If the gamescore in a book and the score of the same game from a database don't match up, how do you know which is correct? In short, unless you were there and actually saw the game, you don't. Not really. Not conclusively. It's definitely possible in the majority of cases to make a pretty educated guess based on the move's character and the abilities of the players involved.

But for the purposes of this series of articles, it doesn't matter. You're reproducing the moves found in an instructional book and the writer's comments will be keyed to those moves. So use the moves exactly as found in the book on the premise that the overall instruction is more important than the game specifics anyway.

Next time we'll show you how and when to insert commentary so that you stay within "Fair Use" guidelines to keep your butt out of a legal sling. Until then, have fun!

You can e-mail me with your comments on ChessBase Workshop. All responses will be read, and sending an e-mail to this address grants us permission to use it in a future column. No tech support questions, please.

© 2006, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.

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