Convekta Logo
Chess Software Sourcebook
Join Chess Reviews<>
Convekta Logo
Second part of my article on Chess Assistant trees
keywords: direct tree, CAP, elm, hsh, hugebase, bookup, chess tree, CA tree, tree configuration, ECO, indexer
Robert Pawlak
Thursday, May 24, 2007

This is the second part of a two-part article. The first part can be found here.

The Tree Button

When you click on the tree button, you are taken to the CA tree for the current database by default. And as I mentioned earlier, the CA tree is linked directly to a particular database. This is fine for instances where you want to examine the tree data in the context of one database. But when you are analyzing a game, you usually want to look at data from a reference database, and so you will probably want to select the Hugebase or direct tree for that. Incidentally, one possible source of confusion is that CA also has different tree configurations. Two of the more important configurations are called Hugebase and Direct Tree. Hugebase refers to a CA tree that is built from the Hugebase database. The Direct Tree configuration actually refers to a direct tree that is built from Hugebase.

When CA ships, the Hugebase and direct trees are constructed from virtually the same data. However, as you add games to Hugebase, the Hugebase and direct trees get "out of sync" that is, since Hugebase uses the CA tree, it is always up to date. But since the direct tree is static, it may need to be updated. If you are using the automatic update feature that is present in recent versions of CA, then your direct tree is updated automatically as new games are downloaded into hugebase. But users with earlier versions of the program need to perform this process manually, or with a script.

Furthermore, you may not realize it, but when you are looking at a particular tree display in CA, you are really looking at the data from multiple trees. Don't believe me? Well, let's take a look at the tree setup dialog box (which allows us to edit different tree configurations), and see if what I said is true. So click on "Tree options" in the Tools menu. Then click on the button that says "Edit configurations". The following dialog box should appear:


If you click on the entry called "Hugebase tree" you should see something like the window shown above (note, your path names will be different from mine). On the right hand side of the screen you see some rows in a table labeled Primary moves, Statistics, etc.  These rows correspond directly to columns in the Hugebase tree display. Just to refresh you memory, take a look at the Hugebase tree display shown below:


So the "Primary moves" row corresponds to the "Moves" column in the above picture. The "Statistics" row corresponds to the "Q-ty" and "%" columns in the tree display. So nearly every column in the tree display arises from one of the direct trees that I mentioned earlier. In fact, the tree configurations dialog box allows you to build your own customized displays of tree data. By double clicking on entries in the "Tree" column in the first figure, you can set which database/tree CA will use for that particular type of data. 

Incidentally, these other tree configurations are accessible by clicking on the small carat that is to the right of the tree button.

One feature introduced in Chess Assistant 7 was the display of the current moves of the game in the tree. However, this is only for display purposes, and the moves from the current game may not really be present in the tree.

A Interesting Little Feature

Let's also go back to the tree settings dialog box again (alt-F7). If you have a version of CA past 7.0, you can click on a button labeled "Set colors for tree", and you will be greeted by the following somewhat cryptic dialog box:


I have to admit, I was a bit puzzled when I first saw this dialog. But its concept is simple. It allows you to color code moves that appear in a certain tree. Why would you want to use this feature? Well, I am glad you asked :-). I've got my entire repertoire built into a direct tree. I normally use Bookup to track my repertoire, but occasionally, I export my Bookup trees as PGN files. I then build a direct tree out of my Bookup repertoire (see this article for details). The tree I use for this purpose is the so-called "Userbook" direct tree. To color code userbook moves as blue, all you need to do is double click on the empty box next to the blue column, and specify the userbook.hsh file that is present in the CA root directory. After doing this, you'll notice that moves in your userbook will now have a small blue box next to them in the tree display.

Changing the information in the User Evaluations Tree

While most direct tree information is relatively static, CA provides a whole host of functions for modifying the user tree. This direct tree is intended as a repository for information pertaining to the opening phase of the game (although it can be used for endgame or middlegame positions as well). CA provides capabilities for annotating both moves and positions in the tree. Essentially, you can make single line comments, which will be displayed as you move through the tree.

Functions for annotating moves in this tree are present on the "Book" tab of the button bar. Most of these functions are mostly self explanatory, so I won't go into them in great detail here.


The type of tree you use under any given circumstance is largely a matter of personal taste and convenience. For most analysis work, the statistics data that you consult will probably come from Hugebase, and so this is the tree you should use for most of your analytical work. If you have a slower computer, moving through Hugebase may be too time consuming, and so, you might prefer to use the direct tree instead.

Another important tree is the User Evaluations tree, which allows you to annotate specific positions and moves, and see these annotations whenever they arise in a game. The latter saves you time, since you can make your annotations in one place, without worrying that you might have an important comment about a particular position that is hidden away in some other database.

I also talked about the different tree configurations. These are actually quite powerful, since they can provide customized views of tree data. It is important to realize that when you are viewing the tree display, you are looking at a particular tree configuration, which is itself made up of multiple trees.

ChessAssistant is a trademark of ChessOK
Syndication available through rss.xml
Click on my name to send me e-mail (must have javascript on)