Fritz 9 3D boards – part 3

1/25/2006 – Meet The Turk: von Kempelen's famous chessplaying automaton of the 1800's. A 3D virtual version of the first chessplaying "machine" is included with Fritz9 and now you can play against the legendary machine in your own home. Learn about the various tweaks and settings for this new Fritz9 character in the latest ChessBase Workshop.

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In this continuing series on Fritz9's 3D boards we're going to look at The Turk, a Fritz character based on von Kempelen's famous nineteenth century chessplaying "automaton". I won't go into detail on the history of the real Turk; there's plenty of info available online if you do a search for it (and such a search should turn up an extensive article I wrote about The Turk for another chess site back around 1999 or so).

To go to The Turk's 3D board, fire up Fritz9 (and click "Play Fritz" in the opening splash screen), go to the View menu, and select "3D". After the default 3D board appears, click the "Settings" button in the lower lefthand corner of the 3D board display, click the "plus" sign next to "Character boards", highlight "Turk", and click the "OK" button. After a few moments you'll see The Turk's board appear on your screen:

As with our previous closer look at the Mia character, we're going to look at the display options available to you when using The Turk's 3D display. Click the Settings button again and then click the "plus" sign next to "Turk" to expand the tree of options. If you single-click on "Turk", you'll see a dialogue containing the general display options. There are identical to Mia's (check back two ChessBase Workshop columns ago to see a graphic of this display) with one exception: The Turk has no check box for "Speaks". True to historical form, The Turk doesn't talk while you play against him.

Single-click on the word "Pieces". This will bring up a dialogue that allows you to set the piece options (and this was shown in last week's ChessBase Workshop). You'll note another difference here between The Turk and Mia: you can't change the piece colors on The Turk's board. This, too, is done in the name of historical accuracy; since the real Turk's pieces were made of wood, you're limited to wooden pieces when playing against the virtual version of The Turk. Otherwise the dialogue is the same: two sliders let you change the facing of White's and Black's Knights (see last week's ChessBase Workshop for a full explanation of how these sliders operate).

Next single-click on the word "Board". This display is identical to Mia's and was explained in the last ChessBase Workshop.

Now go to "Render Options" and single-click on it. You'll see the following display appear:

There are three options for setting the shadows that the chesspieces cast on the chessboard. "No Shadows" (obviously) means that the pieces don't cast shadows. "Rendered shadow" will give you a bit darker shadow, while "Real Shadows" will make the pieces cast a somewhat darker and longer shadow than "Rendered". Note that you'll need a high-end graphics card to be able to use "Real Shadows".

You'll also see an "Ambient light" slider which controls the intensity of the light cast upon the chessboard and pieces. This slider won't work if you've chosen "No Shadows"; this is because the amount of light won't make a lick of difference if the pieces won't cast a shadow anyway.

"Reflection on pieces" determines whether or not the pieces will reflect the ambient light. This tends to work properly only with high-end graphics cards; otherwise you'll see a slight reflection on the tops of the pieces by default.

I'm not sure why the color selectors for "Background" and "Color Coordinates" are provided, since neither of these applies to the "historical" Turk display.

Finally single-click on "Physics" to get the following display:

Among the 3D characters this display is unique to The Turk; you'll not find this dialogue available with Mia (although you will find it with most of the regular 3D displays). To make this display work, you'll need to check the box next to "Enable". But I'll warn you going in that you'll need the graphics card that ate Toledo to have this work properly.

The next check box is "Kings Fall When Lost". This means that when a player loses his King will fall over. This is just the same as tipping your King when you resign a real-life game, except that the Kings will also topple over in the event of a checkmate.

The next two sliders (labelled "Forces Applied...") controls how hard the pieces slam into each other when they collide. "Resitiution" controls how easy it is to tip the pieces over. "Static friction" can best be described as the "weight" of the pieces; the heavier the pieces, the slower they move (it appears on screen as though more force must be applied to move the piece). Finally there's a slider for "Drop height" which (I gather, since I've not been able to get it to work on my low-end graphics card) controls how high the pieces are lifted when they're moved. Obviously you're going to want to set this higher, otherwise you can end up with pieces tipped all over the board when you move your Knights.

As the Help file recommends, it's a good idea for you to play around with these settings to get an idea of the ways they interact.

So although Mia and The Turk share a lot of settings, there are some differences. I hope this short series of articles has helped you understand these differences and the various ways in which you can set the new Fritz9 3D character displays. 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.


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


Topics: f9, Fritz 9
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