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Miscellaneous Chess Assistant Tips and Tricks
keywords: Tips, Tricks, Arrows, Interactive analysis, Player encyclopedia, ECO codes
Robert Pawlak
Sunday, May 01, 2005


In this article, I will talk about some Chess Assistant features that you may not know about. Some are undocumented, while others may be enabled only through well-hidden settings in the options dialog ;-) In any case, some of these features can be quite valuable for specific tasks.

Interactive analysis mode

There are several different methods for using engine analysis in CA. While many people may be familiar with the blunder checking and infinite analysis modes, there is another mode that can provide very detailed commentary on a game. However, many people are unaware of its existence, since the method for enabling it is somewhat hidden.

Interactive analysis will take the current game, and add detailed commentary to it, with nested variations (where applicable), and an indication of the computer's evaluation of the game at each move. One big advantage of this mode is that it starts at the end of a game and works backward. Because of this, there are increased efficiencies realized in the analysis process. It is also capable of providing deep, nested variations (depending upon the position and analysis settings).

If you want to apply interactive analysis to a game currently shown on the screen, you first must place the cursor within the game body, and click. Then go up to the button bar on the engines tab and click on the small carat to the right of the game analysis icon (see picture), and select the interactive menu from the drop-down list.

[Interactive Analysis]

Controlling move highlighting
Some of you may have noticed that CA highlights the next piece to move when you are examining a game. Some people like this feature and some do not. To turn this feature off, you need to select "Options" under the tools menu. Then click on the "General" tab. Finally, uncheck the setting called "Board cursor".
Show Arrows on the Board for Moves in the Tree
It turns out that there are a number of other move highlighting features that can be used to automatically show tree or engine moves on the board. In the above figure, I have turned on the program's ability to automatically show color-coded moves from the tree (green is good, blue is ok, red is sub optimal). These are enabled and disabled by selecting Tools->"View options". [Turning on hints from tree]Then look on the lower right hand portion of the dialog box. You should see a drop-down menu for selecting the types of move highlighting to show. Make your selection from this list. One caveat here - you need to also make sure that the tree display is enabled if you want to show tree move arrows on the board. Click on the box labeled "Tree" to enable the tree display.

Removing the engine analysis style

To change a variation that has an engine style, you need to go into the style menu (shift-S), hit operations, and from that menu you can delete or change styles.

Change the default time used for background analysis of positions

With a fast processor, one second is ok for checking for tactical mistakes, but you may prefer a longer time for other tasks. Go to the BGA manager, click on projects tab, right-click on default. You can also add other projects as well, with their own engine and default time.

Access the player encyclopedia

Many owners of CA 7/8 do not realize that there is a player encyclopedia included with this version. To access the encyclopedia, simply open the base called "guru" in the "...\Chess Assistant 7\bases" subdirectory. You will then see a searchable classifier display of all the players in that database. You can either browse for a particular player, or input a player's name into the search box on the left hand side of the screen. See this article for more information.

Add ECO numbers to a list of games

When you first input a game there is no ECO number assigned to it. But CA provides an automatic method for computing the ECO code and putting it in the game header. Simply select the game(s) you want to index, and use the "Index" command on the dataset menu.

Add an empty move

This is a very handy feature when you wish to illustrate the threat in a particular position, or show a possible game continuation (without distorting the game score). This feature is only available through a shortcut key (shift-ctrl-z). Note that this feature only works for the last move.

Game progress display

Ever since version 5, CA has had the ability to display its evaluation of the opening moves of the game. Unfortunately, I have heard from a number of people that have turned this feature off, and could not figure out how to get it back on. For this feature to work, you must first enable it in the View tab of the Options dialog box. So click on Tools->Options, select the tab marked "View" and then make sure that you click on the check box in the lower tight called "Game Progress".[Position from english]

Incidentally, CA version 7.1 and greater will also show engine evaluations in the progress display as well! If you have version 7.0, the update is free and can be downloaded here.

Showing transpositional paths

CA also has a little know ability to show all the transpositional paths to a particular position on the board. To illustrate this feature, I will use an example from the English opening. Enter the position shown on the board to the right. Use any move order you want, just so long as you reach the position in the graphic

Then click on the tree icon in the main button bar , and afterwards, click on the "Moves to" tab of the tree window. Then right click over the moves display, and select the menu labeled "Show paths". You should then see a display of all the move orders that were used (for the hugebase tree) to reach the current position. It should look something like the picture below:


Close all open database child windows except the one you want

CA provides a very nice function specifically for this purpose. Simply right-click over the element (dataset, game, tree) that you want to keep open, and select "Crop windows".

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