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First steps with Chess Assistant
keywords: chess assistant, introduction, tutorial, datasets
Robert Pawlak
Friday, January 17, 2003

This article will examine some of the basic elements of the ChessAssistant interface. It is good reading for those that are new to the program, since it starts with the installation of Chess Assistant Lite, and then discusses the browser pane, workspace and button bars.

CALite Installation

CALite can be obtained from several different sources. ChessOK provides a download of the software on their site. There is also a CALite archive on this site as well (go to the downloads section for more information). CALite is capable of quite a few functions, and as such, the download is broken up into different pieces. You do not need all of them to do the install, but I would recommend that you download all the files except This file provides spoken move announcements from the program, and is not necessary for the demo to function.

Ok, once you've completed the download, put all the files in one directory on your hard drive, and double-click on the file called CALSetup.exe. You should see a dialog box like the one below. Assuming that you don't want to install move announcements, uncheck the box labeled "Pronouncing Moves".

calite install

Now you are ready to go. Navigate to the directory where you installed CALite, and double-click on the file called calight.exe. The program should then install to your hard drive, and create an icon in the start menu, Go there, and start the program.

Basic Interface Elements

After you start CA for the first time, you will be confronted with a window that looks something like the picture below. I will now discuss some of the more important functions and elements of the interface.CA Lite

There are three very important regions shown in this window. The large white region (1) on the left is the browser pane, which shows all the open databases, datasets and games (datasets are simply collections of games). The browser pane is very useful for copying games from one database to another, and for moving between open windows in the workspace (2).

The workspace is where you can see database contents and games. Most of the work you do in CA will be accomplished in the workspace, since it provides the most detailed view of the data. In the case of CALite, the program opens the default database, called Elite, and puts it in the workspace. It contains a little over 5000 games, and is meant to be used for evaluation purposes.

The final important element is the button bar (3), which appears across the top of the window. Most CA operations are accessible from the button bar, so it is important to understand what it can do. The other important thing to realize about the bar is that buttons are contextual. That means that you will only see the buttons that can be used with the current database, dataset, or game that you are viewing.

Button Bar Functions

The button bar looks something like this when you first open CALite (note that some of the buttons will be grayed out, when the program first starts):

Button bar
Starting from the upper left corner and proceeding right, we have the following:

Starting from the lower left, and working right, we have:

Once a game is opened, another set of button bars will appear. To see this in action, double click on the third game in the game list/dataset in the content pane. This should be the game Sokolov vs. Van Der Weil 1995. A game should open in the workspace, and you should see a button bar that looks something like this:

Game commenting button bar

If it doesn't look like the picture shown above, then click on the tab labeled Comments, shown upper-left in the picture. Each of the tabs on the button bar has a set of icons and functions associated with it. I will not discuss all of them in this article, but will look at the most important one that deals with annotating a game.

Starting from the left we have the following:


The three important parts of the CA GUI are the browser pane, workspace, and button bar area. The browser pane shows a compact view of what games, datasets and databases are currently open. The workspace shows games and datasets that are in the browser pane. Almost all of the program functions are available from the button  bar, and it probably is what you will use for 90% of your CA tasks. It is important to realize that the functions available on the button bar change, depending on whether you are working with a dataset, database, or game.


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