Annotation searches - Part 3

by ChessBase
3/21/2009 – In our last two columns we've been examining the "Annotation" tab of the Search mask in both ChessBase and Fritz. In the third and final installment of the series on annotation searches, our columnist teaches you how to perform text and symbol searches in both programs. Read more in the latest ChessBase Workshop.

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In our last two columns we've been examining the "Annotation" tab of the Search mask in both ChessBase and Fritz. By way of review, here again are the instructions for getting to this dialogue:


  1. Right-click on a database icon and select "Search";
  2. When the Search mask appears, click on the "Annotations" tab near the top of the Search mask.


  1. From the main chessboard screen, hit F12 on your keyboard to open the game list window;
  2. Go to the Edit menu and select "Filter games";
  3. When the Search mask appears, click on the "Annotations" tab near the top of the Search mask.

After following the steps in both cases, you'll see the following dialogue appear:

This time around we're going to look at the two most powerful portions of this dialogue: the text and symbol searches.

The purpose of the text search is to find specific words within text annotations. You'll recall from earlier columns that both ChessBase and Fritz allow you to write text annotations to specific moves. You first click on the move to which you wish to add a note; this will highlight the specific move in question. Then you hit CTRL-A on your keyboard to open the annotation window, type in your text annotation ("White has problems here", for example), then click the "OK" button. You'll now see your typed comment appear as a text annotation within the game score in the Notation window. The "Text" boxes in this Annotation search dialogue allow you to search for specific words within these verbal annotations.

This would seem to be a pretty straightforward process and, for the most part, it is. But there are a couple of tricks you should know about.

The obvious basic use is to search for a specific word or name. Let's try one now by searching a particular database (one of my personal opening databases) for the word "unclear". We'll type it in the "Text 1" box as shown:

...and then click "OK". After a few seconds the search results come back in a separate window, with three games from my database displayed:

We can double-click on any of these games to open it in a separate game window, or single-click on it to see it directly in the search results screen. In either case, the move immediately preceding the one containing the text annotation will already be highlighted. If the text annotation is part of a single-move variation, the main line move which occurs just prior to the branching point will be highlighted:

Since the word "unclear" occurs in a variation to White's 34th move in the above example, Black's 33rd move is highlighted.

You can search for any text string you wish. There is a simple tweak which allows you to search for entire words or just parts of words: the "whole word" box. Checking this box means that the text typed into the search mask must constitute the entire word. If you uncheck this box, whatever you type can be just part of a larger word. Let's use a chess-related example. If we type, say, "hort" into this box and check the "Whole word" box, the software will search for games in which "hort" is the entire word and not part of a larger one. Testing this out, my search reveals five games and in each case the name "Hort" appears as part of a text annotation:

Now let's try it again, but with "Whole word" unchecked. This time around we get back many games (so many that we get a scrolling list) and, when we start clicking on games, we see that the name "Short" also qualifies as a hit (as well as the five games containing "Hort" from our previous search).

It's also interesting to note here that the text searches are not case-sensitive; using capital or lower-case letters in your search term makes no difference to your search results.

Sometimes you'll wish to search for more than one word or phrase; this is why a second text search box is included. You can type a word or phrase in the first box and a separate word/phrase into "Text 2". Note that the search result will include all games in which either word/phrase appears, and will not be limited to games in which both terms appear (although any such games will also be included).

Finally we come to the "Symbols" box. You can type in a chess symbol and the software will find all games in which that symbol is used as an annotation. For example, you could simply type in an equals ("=") sign and the search results will include every game in which that symbol appears.

Of course, this is simple enough for symbols which can be typed with a standard keyboard key (such as "=" or "+-"). But what about the symbols which can't be duplicated with a standard keystroke (such as the "infinity" symbol which stands for "unclear")? In this case you'd use a keyboard shortcut; for example CTRL-3 produces the "unclear" symbol in both the annotation window in ChessBase/Fritz and in the "Annotation" portion of the Search mask. You'd just move the mouse cursor over the "Symbols" box and single-click to get a flashing cursor into that box and hit CTRL-3 to enter the "unclear" symbol. Click the "OK" button to start the search.

Now I can already hear people saying, "But how am I supposed to know the shortcuts??!!??" They're located in your program's Help file. Click the "Help" button within the Search mask to bring up the context-sensitive help file; this should already be displaying the "Search mask" entry. Click the highlighted word "Annotations" to go to the "Search mask -- annotations" page of the Help. Then click on the highlighted link "Keyboard shortcuts" to arrive at the list of symbols and shortcuts (which can be printed out for future reference by clicking the "Print" button in the Toolbar).

Until next week, have fun!

You can e-mail me with your comments on ChessBase Workshop. No tech support questions, please.

© 2008, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.

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