Fritz 9 3D boards -- part 2

1/17/2006 – Fritz9 contains some amazing new animated characters for you to test your skills against. In the last ChessBase Workshop we introduced you to Mia, the chessplaying robot. Learn more about how to change some of her numerous settings in the latest edition of ChessBase Workshop.

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In the last ChessBase Workshop we looked at some basic tweaks and toggles for Fritz9's Mia 3D character. This time around we'll examine the remaining options.

As we did in the last column, fire up Fritz9, and click "Play Fritz" in the splash screen; when the main chessboard display appears, go to the View menu and select "3D". Single-click on Mia's name and click "OK" to load the 3D character board. After it loads, click the "Settings" button, then the "plus" sign next to Mia's name (to show the other display options), then single-click on "Pieces" to display those options:

This is a pretty simple dialogue to understand and use. You'll see two buttons marked "White" and "Black" with a box next to each button. The box displays the currently-selected color for each side's pieces. To change the color of a side's pieces (for example, you might be a Lewis Carroll junkie who wants the Black pieces to appear red), click the button for either "White" or "Black". You'll see the standard Windows color palette appear:

I won't attempt to explain the operation of this dialogue (since a half-million Windows books already do it so wonderfully well), but I will give you a helpful tip. It's a good idea to make a note of the values for "Red", "Green", and "Blue" in case you make some changes and later decide that you don't like them. You can get your old settings back (without resorting to Fritz9's "Default" button and resetting everything) just by retyping the original values into these boxes.

There are also two sliders for White and Black which have a very simple function: they control the direction the Knight's heads are facing on the 3D board. Just move a slider, click "Apply", and you'll see the Knights reface themselves accordingly. And if you click the "Mirror" box, the Knights will turn in opposite directions (for example White's Queenside Knight will turn counterclockwise while the Kingside Knight turns clockwise); otherwise the Knights will both turn in the same direction. (And I've gotta tell you, folks, this is a really big honking issue with some people; literally millions of electrons have given their lives in message board posts on the topic of the "correct" direction the Knights should face at the start of a chess game. I'll tell you true, I never paid much mind to this -- as long as my opponent and I have them on the correct starting squares I'm satisfied. I don't really much care which way his Knights face; I fully intend to capture them anyway, which'll render the point moot).

Now let's single-click on the "Board" entry and see what surprises await us there:

Texture resolution board controls the graphics resolution for the chessboard (as opposed to the room surrounding it as we saw in the previous ChessBase Workshop). If you have this set to "High" and you're finding that the program is slow to respond or running in a choppy manner, reset this to "Low" instead.

Field of view is an interesting setting that might have been better named "Zoom" instead. The slider controls how close your "virtual face" is to the chessboard. Moving the slider towards "Wide" moves you closer to the board (in other words, it zooms in on the board like some nearsighted player hovering over it like a vulture waiting for something to die) while sliding it toward "Narrow" zooms back outward.

Square size controls how big or small the chessboard squares are in relation to the size of the chesspieces.

Animation controls the speed of Mia's movements on the screen.

Now single-click on the "RenderOptions" entry and we'll see what these do:

Reflection on pieces controls how shiny and bright the pieces appear. This one's a bit quirky (on my machine anyway). You'd think that shiny pieces would be harder to see and distinguish, but my display shows the opposite effect: I've found that it's easier to tell the pieces apart with "reflection" switched on. By turning this on, you'll give the pieces more 3D definition (shadows and the like).

Ambient light adjusts how brightly the pieces are lit (much like the "Brightness" control on your TV or computer monitor). I'm dead certain that the programmers chose not to label this toggle "Brightness" for a very good reason: they didn't want to receive tech suppport comments like "I turned the brightness down, but Fritz plays just as strong as ever!"

Clicking the Background and Color Coordinates buttons will again display the Windows color palette and let you select the colors of these features (just as you did for the chesspieces).

And, as we saw in the last column, clicking "Apply" will let you test many of these options on the fly, while clicking the "OK" button will save your changes and get rid of the dialogue box.

That's it for Mia! Next time around we'll look at some additional 3D options for the Turk character in Fritz9. 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.


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



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