Tweaking Fritz - PART 4

by ChessBase
5/26/2008 – The subject of our latest ChessBase Workshop column is the "Multimedia" tab under "Options" in Fritz11. Learn how to make Fritz talk (or shut him up!), plus the difference between "Talk" and "Chatter". You'll also learn how to make Fritz play music, all in the newest Workshop.

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Continuing our examination of Fritz11 tweaks, this week we're going to move on to another "Options" tab. Fire up Fritz11, go to the Tools menu, select "Options", and click on the "Multimedia" tab:

This dialogue lets you configure various audio and visual elements of the Fritz11 program.

The first thing we come to in this dialogue is the "Audio" section, arguably the most important element found under the "Multimedia" tab. This allows you to control the amount of spoken dialogue delivered by the software. As you're likely aware, Fritz talks as you play against it, producing a barrage of (often humorous) "coffeehouse" comments. The first step is to "point" the program toward the proper file on the DVD so that Fritz will talk to you as the game is played. Make sure the Fritz11 DVD is in the drive, click the "Find TALK.CHT" button, and use the resulting Windows "File Select" dialogue to navigate to your DVD drive. You'll see the file "talk.cht" right on the DVD, not buried in a folder (it should be the last file you see in the Fritz11 DVD's "root level" list). Double-click on this file to show the Fritz software where the file is located.

If you want to have Fritz keep up the coffeehouse kibitzing as you play against the program, make sure the radio button beside "Talk" is selected. A second option is to have the program only speak whenever a move is made, and then only to announce the move (in algebraic notation). If that's your choice, click the radio button beside "Announce moves". Finally, you have the ability to just shut the little beggar up completely; selecting the radio button beside "Off" will silence all spoken commentary produced by the program.

(By the way, it is possible [although potentially space-consuming] to copy the Fritz Talk files onto your hard drive so that you won't need to have the DVD in the drive to hear the audio commentary. We're not going to cover that in this column, but if you click the "Help" button in this dialogue, you can find instructions contained in the popup Help file entry.)

Two other sound options appear as check boxes within the "Audio" section of the "Options" dialogue. One is "Board sounds". Clicking this box enables a couple of kinds of chessboard sounds. One occurs when you start a new game with the program (and is also heard when you click "Play Fritz" in the initial splash screen); you'll hear the sound of a box of wooden chessmen being dumped out onto a wooden chessboard, followed by the "clack" of the wooden pieces being set up for a game. The other board sound occurs whenever a piece is moved; you get that satisfying "thwack" of a wooden piece striking the square to which it's moved.

A second check box is only available when "Board sounds" is selected: "3D sound". This option is for users who have computer audio systems capable of "surround" sound, i.e. directional sound capability. Now I'll be honest about this: I've not tried this option and I'm not sure what it produces -- maybe Fritz throws its King against the wall behind you and screams "Why must I lose to this idiot??!!??" if you beat it. I don't know; try it and tell me what you get.

The next check box enables Fritz' "Chatter" abilities. This has nothing to do with audio commentary. Instead, this enables or disables the on-screen printed comments that appear in one of two places. If you go to the Window menu, select "Panes", and then "Chatter", you'll see a new pane appear on the screen. This is the "Chatter" pane, in which Fritz will supply "coffeehouse" comments (similar to the audio comments made by the "Talk" feature), as well as occasionally useful information such as the name and ECO code of the game currently being played. If you don't have the Chatter pane enabled, Fritz will instead supply this printed commentary in the Information Bar located at the bottom of the screen.

A surprisingly popular feature is the background music which Fritz can supply during a game. I'm truly amazed by the number of favorable comments this feature has received over the years since it was first introduced. A pulldown menu supplies a variety of musical forms which can be played by the software:

Just click anywhere in the pulldown window (or use the supplied "Down arrow" button on the far right of the display) to view the options. You can select any of the supplied choices (or leave it at the default "No music" if you prefer). You can preview any of the musical selections by clicking on one to choose it and then clicking the "Test music" button. Not all choices will be audible on all computers, however; much depends on your sound card's capabilities. The "Fritzmusic" option, though, should be usable on practically any computer hardware (as long as some kind of sound card is present, of course).

Just make your selections in this dialogue, click "OK", and you're all set.

We'll have more Fritz11 tweaks in the next ChessBase Workshop. Until then, 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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