Tweaking Fritz - PART 1

by ChessBase
5/9/2008 – In a new ChessBase Workshop series, columnist Steve Lopez examines ways to "tweak up" your Fritz software. The first of the series covers the various settings contained within the "Clocks + Notation" tab of the Options dialogues. Learn more in the latest Workshop.

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Each new release of Fritz means that new users have come into the fold. It's a bit much to expect them to read more than ten years' worth of these weekly columns overnight, so a number of typical "newbie" questions appear in my mailbox and on Interrant message boards annually during the winter months.

A fair number of these questions actually deal with "cosmetics"; i.e. the look of Fritz and how one would configure its appearance. In this and the next few ChessBase Workshops, we'll examine a tool that'll be your new best friend when you're configuing certain aspects of your Fritz software's appearance: the Options command.

The Options dialogues contain a majority of the features which let you control the way Fritz appears on your computer monitor (as well as a few ways the software actually behave internally). You get to the command by going to the Tools menu in Fritz and selecting "Options". After doing so, you'll see something like this:

This window contains all of the dialogues associated with the Options menu. There are myriad tweaks contained here and we'll be examining them here and in the next few ChessBase Workshop columns.

Notice the presence of a number of tabs near the top of this dialogue ("Game", "Multimedia" etc.). These tabs help classify the myriad configuable settings together into related groupings. To change to another set of these groupings, just click on one of the tabs near the top of the dialogue; for example, to switch to the "Game" group, click on the "Game" tab:

For now, though, we'll return to the "Clocks+Notation" tab to begin our tour of Fritz11's tweaks:

We'll start with the box marked "Notation"; this sub-section of the "Clocks+Notation" tab controls the way Fritz displays game notation on the screen. Selecting the radio button beside "KQNBRP" means that Fritz will display "Letter" notation when it shows game moves (as well as in the preferred variations displayed in the "Engine analysis" pane). Selecting "Figurines" means that you'll see the little crowns, horse heads, etc. instead of capital letters when Fritz displays moves.

Either way, you'll need to select a "Figurine" font for your Notation and Engine analysis panes, or else the evaluation symbols won't be correctly displayed. You do this by right-clicking in one of those panes, clicking "Choose font" in the popup menu, and then selecting any font starting with the word "Figurine" from your scrolling list of fonts. Sure, you could select any of the numerous other fonts on your computer, but the chess evaluation symbols will then appear as High ASCII (or "gibberish characters" as indignant e-mails usually word it). So you'll need to select a Figurine font to prevent this, plus do this twice -- once for each of the two panes in question.

You also get your choice of two forms of algebraic notation: "short" algebraic (such as "Nf3") in which the piece and destination square are displayed (or just the destination square if the wood being pushed is a pawn), or "long" algebraic (sometimes called "computer algebraic"; i.e. "Ng1-f3") which displays both the starting and ending squares. Sorry, but the archaic form called "descriptive notation" is not an option in Fritz.

Moving on to the box immediately below "Notation", you'll see three toggles for various possible informational displays you can use when playing a game against the chess engine. All three of them will cause aditional annotations to appear after each move in the Notation pane's display of the gamescore:

  • Store thinking time -- the amount of time a player pondered a move;
  • Store evaluations -- the chess engine's opinion of who's winning in the position will be displayed in numerical form (which has been described at length in numerous other ChessBase Workshop columns);
  • Store expected move -- if you have the engine toggled to think on its opponent's time (it's located in the engine selection menu), the "expected move", i.e. what the engine expected the opponent to play, will be displayed as a post-move annotation if the expected move differs from what was actually played.

Astute readers may have already figured out that the first two of these three listed options constitute the same information which is displayed in the Evaluation profile pane. You'll want to store this info as part of a saved game if you'd like the Evaluation profile to contain that info the next time you load the same game.

In any case, all three of these toggles are independent of each other; in other words, you can select any, all, or none of them in any combination.

Finally we come to the "Clock" box, which offers you a variety of settings for displaying the chess clocks on the screen. The first option is "Digital", which is a straight readout of each player's remaining time presented in electronic digital clock format:

The second choice is "Analog", the old-style clocks with actual hands (and I'm old enough to remember the days when these were used in real-life chess tournaments. Heck, I'm old enough to remember when people used to play in "real-life" events, when folks gathered in the same physical place to play in a tournament):

The third option is called "Double-digital", which provides a second set of clocks displaying extra information depending on what other options are set:

In its normal mode, the upper clock will display how much total time you have remaining to complete your game, while the lower clock will display how much time you've spent on the current move. Obviously, this lower clock will reset to zeroes each time your opponent completes his move and starts your clock.

The "Time difference" box is only selectable when one of the digital clock types is chosen. This will display different things depending on the type of digital clock display as well as the time control selected for the game, but is especially useful when playing with "Fischer" (a.k.a. "incremental") time controls: one of the clocks will show how much time you've "picked up" or "lost" depending on how quickly you're moving compared to the increment added.

Finally, the last toggle allows an engine's logo to be displayed as part of the clock pane:

Note that any UCI or Winboard engines you've added to the program yourself will likely not display a logo unless you've added one as a .bmp file to the same folder as the engine files (plus properly named the file). The logos themselves as well as instructions for displaying them can be found on a number of third-party websites and won't be dealt with here.

Until next week (when we'll look at some more Fritz tweaks), have fun!

You can e-mail me with your comments on ChessBase Workshop. No tech support questions, please.

© 2008, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.

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