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by ChessBase
9/29/2008 – What question does our ChessBase Workshop columnist receive more often than any other? Go ahead amd guess -- and we'll bet you get it wrong. Steve Lopez reveals the single most burning question on the minds of his longtime readers in the latest ChessBase Workshop.

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I've been writing about chess software for more than fifteen years, and the folks who read my words never cease to surprise me. I often get the "Where can I find your article on ___________?" question, with all sorts of subjects filling in that blank. One particular subject comes up over and over again. It seemed like such a simple little thing at the time, but if I was to make a list of the Top Ten Most Requested Bits of Information, this little bitty thing would be on the list.

Nearly a decade ago (dang, the time flies!) I wrote an article about changing the chessboard colors in ChessBase and Fritz. Now keep in mind that back in those days we didn't have the cornucopia of default choices which the programmers have since provided: the various colors of marble and types of wood (even an old dinged-up wooden board) from which we can now choose. Back then we had to use the Windows palette for color selection the way great-grandad did using Windows 3.0 on his old steam-powered 486 computer.

You can still do this with your ChessBase and Fritz software (and even save your choice as a new layout). All you have to do is right-click on the 2D chessboard (in Fritz' main chessboard screen or a game window in ChessBase) and select "Board design":


This dialogue gives you all kinds of control over the appearance of your onscreen chessboard. To change the colors of the squares by using the Windows palette, your first step is to click on the pulldown menu beside "Color schemes" and select "Plain color". Then click "Apply" and you'll see your chessboard color change to this:


Yup. tht's pretty plain all right. But you'll also notice that selecting "Plain color" activates the four buttons to the right of "User". The "White" and "Black" buttons let you change the colors of the pieces, but we're not going to mess with those right now. Instead we're going to change the color of the board's squares. Clicking either the "Light squares" or "Dark squares" buttons will bring up the Windows color palette:


Without going into tremendous detail here (that job belongs to Bill Gates or any of the many folks who've written Windows "how-to" guides), there are several ways to select and change colors in this dialogue:


  1. Clicking one of the "Basic colors" choices;
  2. Grabbing the "crosshairs" with the mouse and moving it to the desired color;
  3. Typing numbers in the "Hue/Sat/Lum" or "Red/Green/Blue" boxes;
  4. Fine-tuning the color by moving the black arrow up and down the far righthand slider.

Make a selection in the palette using one of the above methods, then click the "OK" button. You'll need to click the "Apply" button in the board design dialogue to see your changes take effect. (By the way, by grabbing the blue bar at the top of this dialogue with the mouse cursor you can move the dialogue away from the board for a less obscured view.) After you've found a pleasing combination of light and dark squares, you simply click "OK" in the board design dialogue to close it. If you want to save the color layout, go to the Window menu and select "Save" to name and save the color scheme.

And all of this brings us to the question I get asked with truly surprising frequency: "A long time ago in one of your columns, you provided the color settings for a USCF green and buff vinyl board. Where can I find them?"

US Chess Federation players are very familiar with the standard roll-up vinyl boards preferred by many weekend tournament players. These have been available in a variety of colors over the years with an off-white (called "buff") as the color of the light squares. The dark squares have been printed on these roll-up mats in a variety of colors over the years, with red and bright blue being among the several available choices (my favorite board which I used in tournaments for years was dark brown and buff). But the most popular choice by far has traditionally been the green and buff board.

The settings I provided for the dark green squares all those years ago were as follows:

Hue: 80
Sat: 240
Lum: 87

...but today that seems awfully bright. So let's try a modified version. Here's how to set the dark squares for a bit darker green:

Hue: 80
Sat: 240
Lum: 62

...which I like a lot better than those settings I provided in 1998. As for the buff color for the light squares:

Hue: 40
Sat: 240
Lum: 202

I think this comes pretty danged close:


But, as always, you're invited to play around with the settings and see if you can get even closer to the actual colors. Note, too, that different monitors have variances in the way they display colors, so even if you use the settings I gave above, you might see slightly different colors. So please feel free to play around with these colors a bit until you hit a combination that suits you.

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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