Editing player names in ChessBase 9

by ChessBase
5/12/2006 – A potential problem with using chess data gathered from multiple sources (especially online ones) is the non-standardization of player names in the game headers. The good news is that ChessBase 9 provides you with the tools you need to help you standardize these miscellaneous spellings and clean up your database's Player Index. Learn how (and why) to do it in the latest ChessBase Workshop.

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I've recently been reviewing some of my (very) old columns, preparing them for republication on my own website, and I've been rediscovering some interesting topics which ought to be addressed again. This isn't only for the benefit of newer users who've come into the fold since the original articles were published; it's also because the programs themselves have changed and evolved over the years.

One such topic is the subject of editing player names in ChessBase. I suppose the immediate question is "Why would anyone want to edit the player names in a database?" If you're a database user who relies solely on data obtained directly from ChessBase (i.e. the Big/Mega databases, Opening Encyclopedia, etc.), chances are good that you won't need to edit names except in a very rare instance in which a particular player's name is presented more than one way.

But most ChessBase users I've talked to get their data from a variety of sources: ChessBase, other vendors, and myriad online sources such as The Week in Chess. Editing player names can be particularly crucial when dealing with the many online sources for downloadable data. There's no standardization between sources as to the spellings of names or even the manner in which they're presented.

Let's look at a couple of scenarios (and longtime readers of my columns will doubtless recall the first example). The single biggest hurdle to the standardization of player names is the variety of alphabets used throughout the world. An obvious example is the case of translation between the Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet and the English one. Some Cyrillic characters have no single standard one-to-one correspondence to a particular English character. So, in the case of a name like "Victor Kortchnoi", we get two variations on his first name: "Victor" and "Viktor". His last name? To cite just a few English examples, I've seen "Kortchnoi", "Korchnoi", "Kortchnoy", "Korchnoy", "Kortschnoj", and "Korchnoj" used in various databases. When combined with the two first name spellings, that's twelve different variations on the same player's name. Which one's correct? You can make a case for any of them or none of them -- technically, the only correct spelling would be the original Cyrillic.

The problem isn't exclusive to translations from one alphabet to another. Take a look at this one: "José Capablanca" and "Jose Capablanca". Technically the first spelling is correct (with the accent over the "e" in his first name), but such accenting isn't standard English usage (we prefer our lettering straight without salt or pepper) so you'll most often see the latter usage when reading chess works in English (or perusing a database created by an English-speaker).

Sometimes the problem is caused by a database creator who doesn't understand the proper usage of the header fields in ChessBase. Let's take an example in which a user is about to save a game he's input using ChessBase. Here's a part of what you see when you click "Save":

This is the upper portion of the "Save game" dialogue. To fill in the "White" and "Black" player fields properly, you need to take note of a very small but important thing: the tiny comma which separates the first and second boxes of each color's entry. To properly fill in these fields, you need to do it just like a telephone book: last name first (i.e. in the lefthand box) and first name or initial second (i.e. in the righhand box). So if you're manually entering the names of the players in a game from a tournament you directed -- and you were blessed to have Judith Polgar as one of your players -- you'd enter her name like this:

That's the correct way to do it: standard ChessBase usage which has been in place for years.

But the problem with obtaining and combining data from various sources is that everyone doesn't follow the standard usage. You'll sometimes get a database creator who enters a name like this:

and that just SNAFUs the works: if you combine this database with a standard ChessBase database (or from any other source in which the creator has followed the correct standard) you'll end up with two separate Player Index listings for Ms. Polgar -- "Polgar, Judith" (as separate first and last names) and "Polgar,Judith" (as a "combined" last name).

And that's why you might find it useful and necessary to globally edit player names -- that is, edit every instance of an incorrect entry all at one crack instead of picking out the games individually and editing them one at a time. And this global editing is exactly what I'm going to show you how to do.

But first I have to give you a warning: global edits can't be undone. If you make a mistake, you can't just click an "Undo" command to set things back to the way they were. You'll need to go back and re-edit the games individually to set things right -- and that's going to be danged difficult (or maybe even impossible) to do.

My warning bears repeating:

Global edits of player names can't be automatically undone, so use this feature with caution!

Now that I've sufficiently struck fear into your heart, here's a tip for safety's sake. If you're unsure about the correctness of what you're doing, or even a little bit nervous about this process, feel free to make a backup copy of your database before embarking on a global edit; if you accidentally screw something up, you've still got an original copy of your database to fall back on.

Editing player names in ChessBase 9 is actually ridiculously easy (which is part of the reason why I gave you that warning -- twice). Fire up your CB9 program and double-click on a database's icon to bring up its game list. Click on the "Players" tab at the top of the list to change the view from the game list to the Player Index. We'll be concerning ourselves with the lefthand pane, the one which shows an alphabetical listing of player names:

And here we see a whole lot of prime candidates for editing. The creator of this database often used this format for entering player names: "[first initial].[last name]" and typed it all into the slot which should have been used for the last name only. Looking at the first name on the list (the one with the blue cursor bar on it), we see the name entered as "A.Fuchs" rather than "Fuchs, A" (notice that the "First name" column is blank for this player). I will refrain from punning on this individual's last name as a means of describing the overall state of this database and will instead move on.

We have two ways to bring up a dialogue which will let us correct this non-standard. We can right-click on a player name and select "Edit" from the popup menu, or we can highlight a name by single-left-clicking on it and then click the "Edit" button visible in the bar at the bottom of the player list. Either method will give us this:

This is a standard text editing box. We can delete characters and type new ones in. If the database concerns a single event and the player has a Elo rating listed, we can change that, as well as his team name in the case of a team tournament (and had he or she been the captain of a team, it would doubtless have been named "Fuchs' Ewes" with a big ol' sheep for its mascot. Tasteless, but twistedly funny. If your name is Fuchs, feel free to use it as your team's name. I stole it myself from a Rotisserie Baseball team name anyway).

So in the case of A. Fuchs, we'll change the player's listing to standard usage:

Note that you don't have to type in a period after the initial. It's not necessary and it's not considered standard usage for a ChessBase database. After you finish editing and you're satisfied with the result, click "OK" and you'll see the listing change in the main player index:

Take note of something here: since we changed the first letter of the listing (it's now "F" instead of "A" since we moved the player's initial to its proper place), the name has consequently been moved to its proper place in the Player Index. This may take a few seconds on your machine (much depends here on the size of the database) and you'll see a progress dialogue appear while the change is made, so don't panic.

That's a pretty simple straightforward example (just the way we like 'em). There are a lot of reasons why you might use this feature, the main one being (as we've discussed) the standardization of multiple spellings of a player's name. Just remember: there's no "Undo" command, so be sure you really want to make a change before you make it.

Until next week, 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.

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