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Some common mistakes
keywords: troubleshooting, problems, chessbase, chessmaster
Robert Pawlak
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

As with any software, it is sometimes easy to make certain mistakes when using CA (present company included). I'm going to tackle a few of these now. Hopefully, this article, and the tech FAQ will help answer some of your questions.

Installing the Shredder 6/7 engine

[Image]The shredder 6 engine works fine under CA 6.X and 7. But you need to do the installation properly. The most straightforward way to do this is to go to the engine's setup dialog box (alt-F11), and click on the"Add" button. Then type in the name of the engine (Shredder 6), as shown in the screen shot. Then make sure that "Universal Chess Engine Interface" is shown in drop-down list next to the "Type" entry (once again, see picture). Then click on the three ellipses nest to the "Path" label; navigate to the directory where Shredder 6/7 classic was installed, and select "engine.exe". Make sure you go to the proper directory here - there are actually two versions of Shredder that come with the Chessbase package. You need to make sure that you use the Shredder 6/7 classic version under CA.

If you want to set up an opening book, you can also do that too. Simply select it from the drop down list next to the "Opening book" label.

The final thing that you want to do is set up hash table sizes. The proper value here will depend on the number of engines that you want to run simultaneously, your OS, and the amount of memory in your machine. If you don't know any of these things, then leave the default value of 2M. The following table is approximate guide for setting hash table sizes under CA. The best value might be above or below the numbers I have set forth below:

64M 128M 256M 512M
Win9X/Me 8M 64M 192M 448M
WinNT/2000/XP - 8M 128M 384M

If you are planning on running multiple engines simultaneously, then divide the above values by the number of engines you plan to run at once. For instance, if you are using Windows 2000, with 512M of RAM, and you plan on running a maximum of two engines at a time, then set your hash size to be about 192M. If you notice your hard drive thrashing away many minutes after starting the engine, then you need to make the hash table size smaller.

For those with Shredder 5; SoS and Nimzo can also be installed via a similar procedure, but both of these are installed as Winboard engines, instead of UCI.  Incidentally, while this article was written with Shredder 6 in mind, Shredder 5&7 can be installed in the same manner.

Installing Chessbase engines

Chess Assistant is not compatible with Chessbase engines. So you should not waste your time and energy trying to make them work. Chessbase uses a proprietary interface for their engines, and CA cannot talk to them directly.

The only exception to this rule is the Shredder 6/7 engine (see previous tip).

Installing the Chessmaster Engine

Unbelievably, Chessmaster can be installed to run under CA. But you have to configure it as a Winboard engine, and there are some additional contortions that you need to go through. If you want more information on this topic, you should go to this link.

Engine tournaments don't work!

OK, quick - what's wrong with the picture below?


Time's up! The problem is that there are only two engines in the tournament :-). As long as you only have two engines, you cannot run a tournament under CA - admittedly, what would be the point of running a Swiss, or Round-robin with only two players? If you want to run a series of consecutive games between two engines, you need to use the "Engine-engine" menu entry in the "Engines" menu.

Also, you need to make sure you enter a name for your tournament. Once you do this, and select more than two engines, the "Ok" button will be enabled.

Game analysis doesn't work

[Image]Before the advent of the full game analysis and blunder checking functions, you had to mark game positions before they could be analyzed. This is accomplished by using one of the two buttons (shown at right) on the "Engines" tab. The button on the left marks individual positions for analysis, while the button on the right will mark multiple positions at a time. This can be useful when you want to analyze every position in a game, or analyze just white, or black moves.

The Personalities Button Does not Work for UCI Engines

You have to load engine first (or at least use it one time). Or there may be a no .eng file for your engine.

Material Search doesn't work!

Ok, I have to admit to falling for this one myself. When you make the mistake I am about to discuss, it appears as though material search is not finding games in a database, even when you know there are games that meet the search criteria. Here's how it goes. You've got a study position, and you want to find out who authored it. It turns out that there is a very nice Chessbase product called the Endgame Study Database 2000. What I typically do, is search for it in this database, and I can find out the author, date, etc.

[Image]The problem is that it is very easy to get carried away when entering the material constraints in the search dialog. For instance, there is very little material on the board in a study position, so one gets in the habit of entering 0 for many of the input fields in this dialog. Take a look at the picture on the right: You will notice that I entered zero in the entries with the large question mark label next to them. This entry happens to correspond to the total number of white and black pieces, respectively. So what I've done is tell CA that there are zero white and black pieces on the board. CA will dutifully search the database, and tell you that there are no games that meet the search criteria. Doh! 


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