Today I’ll answer a ChessBase 11 question I receive with surprising regularity (I’m asked this question at least once a week)…
Just how does an annotator get those colored arrows and squares onto the board?
There’s really nothing to it once you know the trick (and, really, it’s not even a trick – it’s covered in the Help file under “Graphic commentary”). It’s simply a matter of holding down a key or key combination and either clicking on a square (to get a colored square) or dragging the mouse (to get a colored arrow).
Here’s an illustration (no pun intended). If you hold down the ALT key on your keyboard and single left-click click on a square, it will create a green square:
If you hold down the ALT key, click and hold the left mouse button on a square, then drag it to another square before releasing the left mouse button, you’ll get a green arrow:
If you need to remove a green colored arrow or square, just repeat the process and the green square or arrow will be removed.
It’s that simple. The process is similar for yellow and red arrows or squares, except that you have to hold down more than one key on your keyboard. Here’s the complete list:
Green square – hold down the ALT key and single-click on a square
Yellow square – hold down the ALT and CTRL keys simultaneously and single-click on a square
Red square – hold down the ALT and SHIFT keys simultaneously and single-click on a square
Green arrow – hold down the ALT key and drag the mouse from square to square
Yellow arrow – hold down the ALT and CTRL keys simultaneously and drag the mouse from square to square
Red arrow – hold down the ALT and SHIFT keys simultaneously and drag the mouse from square to square
Now that we know how to draw colored arrows and squares on the chessboard, the next step is to figure out what each of these graphic annotation forms signifies. Certainly there’s noting stopping you from using any color to signify whatever you wish, but that would be like using other chess annotation forms and symbols in a non-recognized manner. You wouldn’t be caught dead using a question mark to denote a good move, would you?
In order to keep the use of colors from becoming helter-skelter and higgledly-piggledly (not to mention random and catch-as-catch-can), the ChessBase programmers and editors have suggested a standardized usage for each of these graphic annotation forms, as follows:
Green square – piece with important function, strong square
Yellow square – general definition of square complexes (files, ranks, central squares, etc.)
Red square – attacked piece, weak square
Green arrow – defense, control, occupation
Yellow arrow – indirect attack, plans, chain of moves in a maneuver
Red arrow – attacks and threats
So, for example, in the following diagram:
…we see that the Black Bishop attacks the c2-pawn, which is adequately defended by the White Knight. Meanwhile the White Rook on b8 can move to f8 and check the Black King. And, once you know what the colors signify, this information has been conveyed without using a single word of text — just some colored arrows and squares.
If you use these suggestions when annotating games using these graphical forms, you’ll be using them the same way that the ChessBase annotators do, and thus you’ll avoid the confusion that’s caused by not following a standardized annotation form.
Have fun! – Steve Lopez
Chessplayers who have purchased their ChessBase brand software from USCFSales can receive free technical support and advice on their purchases straight from me; just shoot me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), but please remember to include the USCF Sales order number from your ChessBase software purchase. – Steve
Copyright 2011, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.