From the mailbag

by ChessBase
12/3/2005 – In the latest ChessBase Workshop we again field a number of e- mailed questions submitted by our readers. Included are questions on text colors, gamne list notation and symbology, and even one letter that has us scratching our collective heads. Workshop...

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by Steve Lopez

Continuing our look at reader mail:


hello! I would like to ask something about a feature in chessbase where you are going to print a particular game in a database and the ECO code is displayed at the top. For most beginning players, they don't know what the ECO means or what particular name of the opening is referred to without a handy copy of the ECO and its description. Now, my question is, Can chessbase print the description along with the ECO code? With this feature, desktop publishing would a lot easier with the description or name of a particular ECO code. Many would be happy with this feature especially those beginning to appreciate games of chess. Thanks and more power.

James Neo

Before I answer the question, let me make an observation. ECO doesn't contain the names of the openings either, so having that five volume set handy wouldn't help either (ECO is printed for an international audience, and that's also why it uses symbolic notation for its evaluations rather than verbal descriptions of the evaluation or motive).

You can't get the verbal name of the opening as part of the header. You could insert it manually (by right-clicking on the game's first move and using the "Text before move" command) or even insert it as a page header (File/Print/Page setup/"Title" tab and then type it in as a header line). But either way you'll need to insert it manually.

If you have one of our recent databases (such as Big Database 2005 or Mega Database 2005) you can find the names of the openings in the Opening Key along with the ECO code for each. -- SL


Rick Kennedy asked if there was a way to automatically download games from the ChessBase website rather than enter them into the program by hand.

Yes, Rick, you can, but the process isn't exactly automatic. After you've conducted your search, click on the games in the right-hand "game list" pane on the site. This'll slow you down a bit because the games must be clicked on one at a time. You'll notice that each game you clicked on is now marked with an asterisk. After you've selected the games you want, click the "View * as PGN" button.

This will open a new window in your browser showing all of the games you selected in PGN format. You'll also note that every bit of this text is already highlighted. Hit CTRL-C on your keyboard to mark this as text to be copied (it's actually already copied to your Windows Clipboard, by the way). Then open Notepad, Wordpad, or any other text editor of your choice and hit CTRL-V to paste in the text. Next save that file somewhere on your hard drive and be sure to give it the .PGN file extension.

Now open ChessBase, go to File/Open/Database, and open that .PGN database. It will appear on your ChessBase "desktop" as a new database icon. You can work with this database in raw PGN form (in which case not all features of ChessBase will be available to you) or copy the games from that PGN database into a ChessBase database (and the easiest way to do this is just to drag and drop the PGN database's icon onto a ChessBase database's icon).

It's not really "automatic", but it does nicely for small selections of games (such as the variations you mentioned in your e-mail).


Bill Atkins wrote to inquire of we have a newsletter available.

ChessBase GmbH doesn't (as far as I know) but several regional ChessBase distributors do send out regular e-mails containing product announcements. Check with your local distributor to see if such is the case.

ChessBase Workshop isn't distributed as a newsletter. While the main purpose of this column is to publish material and tips that'll be helpful (or at least interesting) to our users, another function of the column is to draw visitors to the ChessBase website. So sending it out as a newsletter to e-mail boxes would be counterproductive in light of that second purpose.


A few columns ago I responded to an e-mail concerning variation colors in ChessBase. That column elicited this question:

I still don't understand how to use different colors for different text annotations. For example, if I want my text annotations to be green and my opponent's text annotations to be red, and someone else's text annotations to be blue. The article was clear on how to change the colors of variations, but not how to make change the colors of text annotations so it is more clear who wrote which text annotation.

Walter Wood

Unless there's a "hidden" toggle I don't know about, you can't change the color of individual text in ChessBase. You can set a uniform color in which all text will be displayed by going to Tools/Options, clicking the "Notation" tab", then clicking on "Text color" to set the tone in which all text commentary will be displayed, but you can't set different colors for specific individual blocks of text.

By the way, I did try this by using the HTML "Font" tag in ChessBase's annotation box, but the program doesn't recognize HTML tags. This might be something for the programmers to consider for a future versions, assuming it's possible to program CB to recognize these tags internally.


I'm using Fritz 8 to analyze my played games which are stored in a separate database. To make this as efficient as possible, I open this dbase, select three or four games and let the computer then analyze those with 90sec per move and a threshold of 0,15. That takes for four games roughly the whole night. One thing I don't understand though are the comments Fritz inserts into the "header" of the game as it is shown in the database after the analysis is completed. Often there is a code like vc, but sometimes also VC or Vc or Vct etc. I have some ideas (t probably stands for "tactical" - usually there is such a "please try a white move" - giving you the chance to practice tactics), but sometimes there is also a small black rectangular box to the left of that code, sometimes that box is half black, half red - well, it's just somewhat confusing and I haven't found a place yet where that is clarified.

Maybe you can help?

Albrecht von der Lieth

I sure can and, in fact, you already have the answers. The colored boxes are called "medals" and you can find a description in Fritz8's Help file under "Medals" (click "Help" then the "Index" tab, scroll down to "Medals" and select it.

As for the letters you'll see in the game headers, these too are described in the Help file under "Games list". Here's a list of the abbreviations, straight from the Help file:

On the right is a column that tells you what the game contains:

  • V = the game contains variations (alternate lines)
  • C = the game contains text commentary
  • A = it contains graphic annotations (coloured squares and arrows)
  • F = the game contains correspondence chess commentary
  • I = critical positions (special annotation) are marked in the game
  • T = the game contains training commentary
  • S = the game contains commentary symbols (!, !?, etc.)
  • G = another game is quoted in the notation
  • R = a repertoire game
  • M = the game contains multimedia elements (sound, pictures, videos)
  • P = the game starts from an entered position (studies, problems)

The above letters may also be small, if the variations, commentary, etc. are not extensive. For instance Vca means a lot of variations, but relatively little text commentary and graphic annotation.


Finally, there's this little gem which left me scratching my head:

I am going to avoid making this long...but i am tempted to write an e-mail 'book' to you!.

Please could you rephrase this project as follows:

'Completing The Chess G-Nome' as in Genetic Code...

Believe me, do this and you will set the whole world on fire!!!, it will start with, "We have the Roy Lopez Code!' then the Petroff then...!!! Oops no e-book! sorry!

But hey, Please do this, if not me or yourself, do it me Chess!

Kindest Regards,

Kajani, 4 times Nationals Chess Champion of the Republic of Malawi, Africa. {2000,2001,2002,2003}

OK, I'll admit it -- I ain't got a clue here. But my left leg has this distinct odd feeling like it's being yanked somehow.


That's far from being everything from the mailbag. In the next two ChessBase Workshop columns we're going to consider a specific e-mail which deserves a column of its own, and we'll take a long, last, loving look at the "intelligent mistakes" discussion. Then we'll have a couple of product previews and it'll be back to "business as usual". 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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