Today’s blog post shouldn’t be any kind of major revelatory experience for users of the Fritz “family” of playing programs; it’s probably not going to make a huge impact on the way you use Fritz13 or any of its associated chess playing programs (Hiarcs, Junior, Shredder, or Rybka). But I’m going to show you a potentially useful feature if you’re a regular user of Fritz13′s 3D chess boards. The feature is called the “control board”. It’s an extra 2D board display which can make using Fritz’s 3D board display a lot easier.
Fritz offers a variety of 3D chessboard displays; using the regular wood board gives you a display like this:
As is the case with many of the illustrations on this site you can click the picture for a larger view.
You can rotate the board on a central axis, tilt it in any direction, and even move it higher or lower on the screen – all of which mimics the human ability to move one’s head to get a different view while using an actual physical board and pieces. As anyone who’s been playing chess for longer than five minutes knows, sometimes a bigger or taller piece obscures a smaller piece directly behind it; for example, in the illustration above, the f6-Knight is kind of obstructing our view of the f7-pawn.
Now we could use the “track ball” (in the lower left-hand corner) to change the angle of the board and get a better view:
…but then we end up with a different strange situation: we lose perspective on the White pieces that are closest to us (that is, on the first rank). It’s not terribly critical in the present board position, but it’s a potential problem should a White Bishop end up on the second rank – we could easily mistake it for a pawn.
It’s not a big deal to adjust the board’s angle to get a different perspective, just as we’d move our heads when using a physical board. Speed games, though, do present a bit of a problem, as it takes a bit longer to adjust a virtual board than it takes to move one’s head, and we don’t want to waste clock time futzing around with the track ball.
That’s where the “control board” comes in. The control board gives us a second way to view the position without having to adjust the virtual 3D board. Here’s how it works…
Click on the “View” tab and you’ll see a variety of check boxes in the “Panes” section of the ribbon. When you roll the mouse cursor over an entry, you’ll see a popup describing what that entry displays. “Mousing over” the “Control board 2D” box, displays this message:
The popup reads “2D board to enhance the preception [sic] of a 3D board” (obviously, they meant “perception” but I’m not going to belabor the point, as I’m frequently guilty of nots gotting no good grammar myself). The idea is that the 2D board will help you with the occasional perspective problems which are created by a 3D board projected on a 2D surface (i.e. “orthagonal views” to those of us who are computer game geeks).
Checking the box beside “Control board 2D” changes your Fritz13 screen display to this configuration:
We now have an additional 2D board which we can use as a reference for those occasions when the current 3D board position might make it difficult to see (or, worse, difficult to move) a piece in a particular location. The 2D control board acts as any other pane, in that it can be resized (by clicking and dragging its borders) or even moved (by clicking its title bar and then using one of the presets which appear on the screen):
Best of all, not only does the control board give us a second way to see the chessboard, we also have a second way to move the chesspieces – any move made on the 2D control board is also made on the 3D chessboard.
So if you’re a fan of using the 3D chessboards in Fritz13, but don’t like the occasional difficulties in seeing or moving pieces, you have a way to facilitate those tasks by using a secondary “top-down” view on the optional (and traditional) 2D chessboard.
When you purchase ChessBase, Fritz, FritzTrainer DVDs, ChessKing, and ChessOK Aquarium Windows PC computer software from uscfsales.com, you will receive free technical support from yours truly. Fair warning: you will NOT get technical support from me if you purchase your chess software anywhere else! Just e-mail me with your questions (but don’t forget to include your uscfsales.com order number!).
Have fun! – Steve Lopez
Copyright 2012, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.