Tweaking Fritz - PART 7

by ChessBase
6/24/2008 – Our ChessBase Workshop series concerning various Fritz "tweaks" continues this week with a discussion of customization options under the "Tablebases" and "Clipboard" tabs, including a description of various types of text output. Learn more in the latest Workshop.

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In our continuing series on how to tweak up your Fritz11 program, we'll go back to the Tools menu and again select "Options". This time, though, we'll click on the "Tablebases" tab and look at our options:

We're not going into a lengthy discussion of endgame tablebases here; these have been covered at length in previous columns. In this dialogue you can set up three separate aspects of tablebase functioning. The first is to "tell" the program where the tablebases are located. There are four "path" boxes; this means that you can split the large number of tablebase files across four different locations (even separate drives) on your computer. You can click the "Browse" button to bring up the standard Windows file select dialogue:

...and use it to point the program at up to four separate folders on your computer (one for each of the "Path" boxes provided). Why would you wish to spread your tablebases across separate folders? Tablebases take up a lot of storage; it's possible that a user might not have enough space (due to drive partitioning, for example) on a single drive to hold all of the tablebase files. I've also heard of some users keeping some of the tablebases on their hard drive while storing others on a removable medium (such as a flash drive or DVD).

Another aspect of tablebases performance which can be adjusted in this dialogue is the cache size for holding information in RAM (helping to speed up access while a game is being played). The programmers suggest that a value of between 1 MB and 8 MB be selected in this dialogue.

The last selection you can make is whether or not to have Fritz11 load the tablebases when you start the program. Why would you not want them to be loaded? TECH SUPPORT ALERT!!! This next section provides a useful tech tip of the variety that you'll never remember until you need it, and when you need it, you'll never remember where you saw it. So write it down, print it out, use a stylus to impress it on a small clay tablet -- in other words, store the info in the medium of your choice for later reference.

Every so often, Fritz11 will take an eon or three to load when you click the splash screen's "Play Fritz" command to launch the program. There are a number of potential causes for this behavior, but far and away the most common one is a problem with a tablebase file. If one (or more) of your tablebase files becomes corrupted, it can cause the Fritz program to take an abnormally long time to start. (And, to clarify things a bit, I'm not talking about the program taking fifteen seconds to start instead of five seconds; I'm talking about a "go make a cup of coffee and see what's on TV for awhile" length of time to start the program)

In such cases, you should go to this dialogue and uncheck the "Load at program start" box. Exit Fritz and restart it. If the program fires up straight away (or nearly so), it means that you likely have a corrupted tablebase file. Here you have a couple of choices. You can delete and reinstall/recopy/etc. the tablebase files from whatever separate backup medium you've stored them in, but this is time-consuming. Your other choice is to do an Internet search for a utility which will check the integrity of tablebase files; there are a couple of them kicking around out there and a 'Net search should scare them up. Run one of these utilities, which will them tell you which exact file(s) you'll need to delete and replace.

Let's take a quick look under the "Clipboard" tab before we move on and call it a week:

You have several choices here for how games and positions are sent to the Windows clipboard. If you select "Old format" under "Text", the entire "PGN" section of this dialogue appears in half-tone ("greyed out") and is unselectable. The "Old format" option under "Text" results in output like this:

Mares,Vaclav - Stejskal,Pavel [C56]
Klatovy op Klatovy, 1996

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nc6 4.d4 exd4 5.e5 d5 6.Bb5 Ne4 7.Nxd4 Bd7 8.Bxc6 bxc6 9.0-0 Be7 10.Nd2 Nxd2 11.Bxd2 0-0 12.f4 c5 13.Nb3 f6 14.Be1 c6 15.Bf2 fxe5 16.fxe5 c4 17.Nd4 Bc5 18.c3 Qc7 19.Bg3 Qb6 20.Qd2 Bf5 21.Kh1 Bd3 22.Rxf8+ Rxf8 23.Ne6 Be3 24.Qd1 Rf1+ 25.Qxf1 Bxf1 26.Rxf1 Bc5 27.Bh4 g5 28.Bxg5 Bf2 29.Bh4 c5 30.Bxf2 Qxe6 31.Re1 Qe7 32.e6 Kf8 33.g4 a6 34.Kg2 a5 35.Re5 Qg7 36.Rf5+ Ke8 37.h3 Qg6 38.Bg3 d4 39.Bd6 Qg7 40.e7 1-0

Selecting "PGN" under the "Text" options then enables the choice of "Old format" or "New format" PGN. Games output in PGN format will look like this:

[Event "Klatovy op"]
[Site "Klatovy"]
[Date "1996.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Mares, Vaclav"]
[Black "Stejskal, Pavel"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C56"]
[PlyCount "79"]
[EventDate "1996.??.??"]
[EventType "swiss"]
[EventRounds "9"]
[EventCountry "CZE"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1997.11.17"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bc4 Nc6 4. d4 exd4 5. e5 d5 6. Bb5 Ne4 7. Nxd4 Bd7 8.Bxc6 bxc6
9. O-O Be7 10. Nd2 Nxd2 11. Bxd2 O-O 12. f4 c5 13. Nb3 f6 14. Be1 c6
15. Bf2 fxe5 16. fxe5 c4 17. Nd4 Bc5 18. c3 Qc7 19. Bg3 Qb6 20. Qd2 Bf5 21. Kh1
Bd3 22. Rxf8+ Rxf8 23. Ne6 Be3 24. Qd1 Rf1+ 25. Qxf1 Bxf1 26. Rxf1 Bc5 27. Bh4
g5 28. Bxg5 Bf2 29. Bh4 c5 30. Bxf2 Qxe6 31. Re1 Qe7 32. e6 Kf8 33. g4 a6 34.Kg2 a5
35. Re5 Qg7 36. Rf5+ Ke8 37. h3 Qg6 38. Bg3 d4 39. Bd6 Qg7 40. e7 1-0

As you're likely aware, PGN stands for "Portable Game Notation", and was designed as a "standard", a means of passing ("porting") information back and forth between different software programs.

FEN is similar is some regards to PGN, except that it's designed as a means of porting positions instead of games. "Old format" position notation looks like this:


...while the same position in FEN looks like this:

4k3/4P1qp/3B4/p1p2R2/2pp2P1/2P4P/PP4K1/8 b - - 0 40

A position designated in old format text is more "human readable" than one provided in FEN, so your choice of format will often be dictated by the intended "target"; for example, if you were passing a position between Fritz and another software program, you'd use FEN, but if sending the position in a letter to another person, you'd select "Old Style".

Until next week, 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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