Workshop: Pocket Fritz2

by ChessBase
11/24/2003 – If you're watching the televised chess match but don't have your TV in the same room as your PC, Pocket Fritz2 can give you some useful analysis during the broadcast. This week's ChessBase Workshop shows you how to do it.

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by Steve Lopez

With all the chess being shown on U.S. TV lately, it's useful for us to examine how to use Pocket Fritz2 to follow along with (and analyze) a chess game. Not everyone has their PC conveniently located in the their living room; I suspect that more than a few of us are keeping our Pocket PCs handy while we watch the Kasparov match on TV.

Obviously your first step is to launch Pocket Fritz2. Then go to the File menu and tap on "New Game". The next steps aren't so obvious. If you want to be able to make moves for both sides (without PF2 replying) and see the program's analysis of the moves as they're made, you need to tap on the Edit menu and select "Options" -- then select the "Input" tab, click on the arrow to pull down the "Mode" menu, and select "Analyse". Then tap the "OK" button (located in the upper right corner of your Pocket PC's screen).

You'll see a narrow window appear below the PF2 chessboard; in this window you'll see the Pocket Fritz2 engine analyzing the position. To reduce the board size and increase the size of the analysis window (in order to make the analysis window's contents more readable), go to the Toolbar at the bottom of the screen and tap the button that looks like three overlapping windows. This also increases the size of the clock pane and notation pane -- the basic layout is similar to the default for the same panes in the PC version of Fritz. (For more on the Toolbar buttons see the next-to-last paragraph of this article).

Now you can make moves on the chessboard and the PF2 engine will "follow along", always analyzing the last move made on the chessboard. This is a great way to generate "commentary" on the game as you watch it on TV; you just make the moves the players make and keep an eye on the engine's analysis on your Pocket PC's screen.

How do you interpret the analysis? The window starts with a "Depth" number; this is the number of plies (i.e. half-moves) the engine has examined (so, for example, if it says "Depth=8", the engine has looked four moves deep for each side). After the "Depth" number, the engine shows the move it's currently considering (for example, "10.Bf2") followed by a pair of numbers in parentheses. The number to the right of the slash is the number of legal moves in the position, while the number to the left of the slash is the number of the move it's currently analyzing; so, for example, if the move and numbers read "10.Bf2 3/27" it means that there are twenty-seven legal moves for the player whose turn it is to move and that Pocket Fritz2 is currently analyzing 10.Bf2, the third of the twenty-seven moves to consider).

The variations displayed in the analysis pane always begin with a numerical analysis of the position. If the number is positive, it means that the position is in White's favor. A negative value indicates that the position is favorable to Black. And this numerical value relates to the position at the end of Pocket Fritz2's suggested variation, not the current board position. This numerical value is given to the 1/100th of a pawn; for example, a value of +0.54 means that White is 54/100ths of a pawn ahead at the end of PF2's suggested variation.

But what about the TV commentators' analysis? How can we keep track of that? It's pretty simple to add variations to a game in PF2. Let's say that Black has just played 7...0-0, but the commentators want to explore what might have happened after 7...Bb7. You would simply use the arrow buttons below the chessboard to take back 7...0-0 (by tapping on the left-arrow button) and make the move 7...Bb7 on the chessboard. A new window will appear and give you several options in the form of buttons; in this case, you'd click on the "New line" button. After you do so, you'll see 7...Bb7 appear as a bracketed subvariation in the notation pane.

Of course, you could enter PF2's analysis in the same way. If you're looking at the engine's analysis after White's seventh move and you see that PF recommends something other than 7...0-0 as was actually played, you could take back 7...0-0 and make PF's suggested move (as well as any moves following it). And to jump to any position in the game or its variations, just tap on a move in the notation pane.

Note, too, that you can use the plus and minus buttons at the upper right of PF's analysis window to show a greater or fewer number of variations. For example, you can have PF2 show you the two best variations it's found so far by tapping the plus button once. Tap it again and PF will show you the three best lines of play (ranked in order from best to worst). Note, though, that the Help files give us a warning: that displaying many lines of play increases the amount of time the program requires to process all of the additional information and slows down the analysis process.

While PF2 is in analysis mode, it displays several buttons in the Toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Here's what they do:

  • Left arrow -- go back one move in the main game or current variation.
  • Right arrow -- go forward one move in the main game or current variation.
  • "Yield" sign with exclamation mark -- causes PF2 to make the best move it has found so far in its analysis of the current position. (In other words, the engine will "play" the next move it thinks is best).
  • Binoculars -- starts/stops analysis mode.
  • Overlapping windows -- toggles between large and small chessboard views. Using the smaller board allows more information (analysis and notation) to be displayed on the screen.
  • Two-headed arrow -- flips the board, toggling back and forth between the White pieces or Black ones starting at the bottom of the chessboard.
  • Question mark -- the engine will "show a hint" (i.e. it will briefly play the best move it's found so far, then will return the piece or pawn to its former square and display a colored arrow showing the intended move).

Using these features in Pocket Fritz2 can help you get much more from a televised chess event, without requiring you to lug your desktop PC into the same room as the TV set.

Until next week, have fun!

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

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