Printing games and diagrams with ChessBase 8

by ChessBase
1/6/2004 – In this week's ChessBase Workshop, we look as some questions and answers specifically relating to print publication of chess games and diagrams. If you're planning on writing the "chess book of your dreams", be sure to take a look here before you begin! It is all to be found in the latest installment of Steve Lopez's ChessBase Workshop...

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by Steve Lopez

In this week's Workshop, we'll have a quick look at a couple of (related) questions I've been asked lately and that I've seen pop up on various message boards. Parts of these touch upon subjects that have previously been covered in-depth; in such cases I'll provide links to the relevant pages. Soooooooooo, let's begin!

Q: How can I use ChessBase to publish a chess book?

A: That question encompasses a whole lot of territory and would certainly require more than a "twenty-five words or less" type of answer. But I think I can boil some of it down to a few essentials. Writing a chess book is a major chore and one might break it down into several steps:

  1. Writing the chess content (annotating games, in particular)
  2. Writing the "framing" material (preface, table of contents, introductory sections at the start of chapters, indices, etc.)
  3. Organizing the material (cutting and pasting the sections so that they appear in order, formatting the pages as to number of columns, margin sizes, etc.).

ChessBase is excellent for creating electronic chess books; you can do the whole thing directly within the program. See, for example, this article, as well as this one, and let's not forget this one for details on how to accomplish this. But the context of the message board post I read indicated that the poster was interested in writing a print (i.e. paper) chess book. In such a case, ChessBase is going to be most useful for Step One of the three listed above; for the other two steps, your best bet is to use a word processor (since a full word processing application is going to give you much more control over the final output). So what you would do in such a case is annotate chess games within ChessBase, then export the annotated games into some text format for use in your document.

First of all, how do you annotate games in ChessBase? Again, you'll find a series of my past articles helpful. Have a look here, as well as at this article, and at this one, and finally at this one.

After a game is annotated, how do you get it into your ongoing document? You have a couple of ways to export a chess game out of ChessBase and into your document.

First method:

  1. Open the game in ChessBase by double-clicking on the game in the game list;
  2. Go to the Edit menu, select "Copy", and then "Copy game" from the submenu (or just use CTRL-C as a shortcut right from the game screen without going to the menu). This copies your game to the Windows Clipboard (not the ChessBase clipboard!);
  3. Open your text document (i.e. the chess book you're writing) in your word processing program, position the cursor at the point at which you want the game to appear, and hit CTRL-V to paste the game in place (or go to "Edit/Paste" in your word processor's menus).

Second method:

  1. In the game list, highlight the game you want to export, right-click on it, select "Output" from the popup menu, and then choose "Textfile";
  2. In the dialogue that appears, select the file format into which you want the game to be exported (and you'll want to steer clear of HTML and PGN, as these are unsuitable for use in print documents). Note that you can use the other tabs of this dialogue to set some other export parameters;
  3. Click "OK" and use the dialogue that appears to name your file and select the folder into which it will be stored;
  4. Open that new document in your word processing program, highlight all of the text, and hit CTRL-C to copy it to the Windows Clipboard;
  5. Open your text document (i.e. the chess book you're writing) in your word processing program, position the cursor at the point at which you want the game to appear, and hit CTRL-V to paste the game in place (or go to Edit/Paste in your word processor's menus).

Obviously the second method involves more steps (i.e. more work) than the first method. So why would you use it? Because you can highlight multiple games in the game list (hold down the CTRL key while single-clicking on the games you want to export) and export them all to a single text document (by right-clicking on any of them, and selecting "Output/Textfile" as described above). So even though there are more steps to the second method, using it to export "blocks" of games can actually save you some work.

Once you've copied the game(s) into your document (i.e. your book), you might need to change the font to a chess font (and this will be required if you're using figurines in your Notation display in ChessBase). For the moves of games and your commentary (as opposed to embedded diagrams), highlight a block of text and use the "Font" command in your word processor to apply a font starting with the word "Figurine" to that block of text. For embedded diagrams, highlight the block of text and apply a font that starts with the word "Diagram". The documentation for your word processor (the Help files or a book on that application) will give you specific details on how to do this.

Earlier, I described writing a chess book as essentially a three part process. Parts Two and Three are best handled directly within your word processor application. For those specifics, consult the documentation for your word processor. There's no way that I can give specific details for the scores of word processing applications that are out there. ChessBase can certainly help you a great deal in writing a chess book; it's much easier now than it was "back in the day" (the moves in my first chess publication were typed by hand and the diagrams were created using a vinyl "stick on" board/pieces and a photocopier), but there's not a "magic button" you can click in ChessBase to turn a batch of games into a finished chess book. There's still some "grunt work" involved and that's best left to you and your word processor. Your WP application gives you much greater flexibility and control over the format and look of your finished product.

Q: How do I create chessboard graphics as individual graphics using ChessBase?

A: I get asked about this a lot; people frequently inquire about my chessboard graphics for these articles. It's ridiculously easy and (almost) fun.

Open up the relevant game in ChessBase and go to the position you want to turn into a diagram. Go to the Edit menu, select "Copy" and then "Copy Position" from the submenu. This copies the chessboard to the Windows Clipboard. Note that the size and color (squares and pieces) information is also copied; if you use "Copy Position" with a huge chessboard on your screen, you'll get a huge diagram (note, though, that any graphics editing program worth its salt will allow you to change the size of your graphics).

Next open up the graphics editing program of your choice, hit CTRL-V, and boom! Instant diagram! Save it in the file format of your choice and you're done. You now have a nice Web graphic or an object to import into your text document (which is how this question ties into the previous one about writing chess books -- some folks prefer to import diagrams as objects instead of using the embedded diagram/diagram font method).

Note that your choice of file format into which you save your diagram will be dictated largely by outside factors. If you're creating a Web document and want a diagram for the Web page, you'll want to use .bmp, .jpg, or .gif format (and the latter two are best unless you want your diagrams to take a year and a day to load in your visitors' browsers). If you're creating a diagram as an object to import into a text document, your choice of file formats will be limited to whatever your word processor will accept as valid importable objects. Here again you'll want to consult the documentation for your word processor.

A couple of paragraphs ago, I mentioned "the graphics editing program of your choice" and people often ask me "What does that mean?" It means just what it says: any program that allows you to save, alter, manipulate, and edit picture files. There are about as many of these available as there are word processing programs; in short, tons. Windows Paint is one such, but most versions of Paint allow you to save files only in .bmp or .pcx formats, so you'll likely want to look around for other options. Many photo editing programs are suitable for this purpose and, really, all you need is a very basic graphics editor to get the job done.

Until next week, have fun!

© 2003, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.

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