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Rough Edges

January 11, 2012

I’m in the middle of a mini burst of Tarrasch activity after quite a long lay-off. A few days ago I finally worked through the process of getting the Tarrasch source code onto a proper public repository. The last couple of days I have been working on Tarrasch’s main website ( Hopefully it is now looking a lot more respectable and professional.

The other day I promised I would layout a plan for Tarrasch V2.1, based on fixing the rough edges that I’ve observed using Tarrasch V2.0 extensively. Here’s a list of the problems I want to fix, in rough order of priority (higher priority) first.

  • Houdini 1.5 works pretty well in Tarrasch, however for some reason it seems to be necessary to manually stop the engine in circumstances where other engines gracefully stop themselves. For example, before loading a new game, or quitting the program. Investigate this and fix this.
  • Changing engines a lot causes unnecessary pain because all the file selection dialogs in the program remember the last directory you accessed. The engine selection dialog should not start in the last place you opened a .pgn file. Conversely, the .pgn file open dialog should not start in the engine directory if you just changed engines.
  • Some extra file management commands are needed. The existing Save as… should be complemented by and Save as game. Save as game will always create a new .pgn with just the single game you are working on. The existing Save as… command creates a new file with all the games in the current file, sometimes that’s a curse not a convenience.
  • It would also be really nice and convenient if the Games -> Clipboard (and maybe Games -> Session) dialogs had a button that let me save these clipboard (and maybe session) games into a new file.
  • If you are in the habit of pasting text into an empty edit window, subsequently pressing “New game” will (always? sometimes?) resurrect that text instead of starting fresh.
  • There’s a bug in the “4th kibitz line” that stops V2.00a showing all 4 lines with Komodo. I fixed this bug for V2.00b (the Komodo special edition), but I worry about its presence in V2.00a
  • It would be nice if Ctrl-A selected all games in all Game > dialogs
  • There is a bug whereby if a file save fails (eg because ChessBase has opened your file too), then subsequent file saves will appear to work, but actually won’t.
  • I should really look at what happens if you try to use a 64 bit engine on a 32 bit system. I’ve never even tried this and have no idea if it fails gracefully or calamitously.
  • It would be nice if you could edit text before a move in those circumstances where a move is the first move after the end of a nested variation. (Silly me only took into account the possibility of wanting to use “text before move” in the first move of a variation).
  • I’d like to improve the up and down arrow functions so that you can move smoothly through a list of alternative variations.

I’m sure I’ll think of other things. That will have to do for now though!

It’s a few days work, but I don’t imagine I’ll get it done for several weeks.


7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2012 12:15 am

    Hey there! This is a great GUI! My personal favorite up to this point has been the Shredder Classic GUI. But I am enjoying the new Tarrasch! I downloaded it from the komodo website since you stated that version was just a bit more developed.

    I will keep you posted if I have any suggestions. So far I am really liking what I see. It is easy to use. I will keep using it and comparing it to the Shredder GUI mentioned above.

    I know you are going for simple but a great thing for training purposes would be to be able to search a pgn file by material. (not position but material) So far Chessbase can do this, the free Chesspad can as can Scid vs. PC. I find it to be a great feature for looking for training positions.

    Oh and with regards to Houdini, it is not always compatible with other GUIs. He seems to have focused on Arena, Aquarium and the Shredder Classic GUIs.

    Thanks again!

    • January 15, 2012 11:48 pm

      Thanks for both helpful comments. I can’t reply properly because I’m on the road, and I only have a few minutes at a time. I’ll reply properly when I return

  2. tommyg permalink
    January 14, 2012 10:14 pm

    Sorry for all the comments. 🙂

    Houdini 2.0c works great in Tarrasch GUI. Houdini does stay “open” even when the kibitzer is turned off BUT the engine does close when you close the Tarrasch GUI program. This is about the same as the Shredder Classic GUI so it doesn’t bother me.

    Three other little suggestions if I may. (i am really beginning to like your GUI!)

    I wouldn’t worry about engine vs engine matches!! There are enough GUIs for that. In fact I think that is what makes most GUIs turn into bloatware. Your GUI is running a CLOSE second to the Sredder Classic GUI for ease of use to analyze one’s own games and for playing against an engine.

    Ability to set the UCI parameters in each would be great. (unless I am missing that)

    The ability to see only the engine’s evaluation and not it’s move choice when analyzing. Great for testing yourself before relying on seeing the engine’s move in post game analysis.

    But this is all quibbling. You have a great piece of software! As I stated before, it and Scif vs PC are a wonderful one-two freeware punch!

    • February 13, 2012 4:00 am

      Thanks again for your kind comments, and my apologies for this (very) delayed reply. I have noticed I’ve received traffic from similar comments made on your blog as well. I really appreciate it when people blog about Tarrasch, it certainly drives traffic. As far as your suggestions go;

      -Search for material. Good idea, I think it would be weird to have this feature without also being able to search for position. When I add search I will endeavour to add both.

      -No engine v engine. I understand your position, but this does seem to be something a lot of people want – and I want to be responsive to my users. Having said that, it’s not something that is even on the horizon yet. I won’t do this feature if it degrades the usability of Tarrasch

      -Ability to set UCI parameters. Yes absolutely, this would be a great advance. Tarrasch could really use a proper engine management system whereby the first time an engine is introduced to Tarrasch, the UCI parameters are analyzed, presented as settings to the user using GUI controls, and the users choices saved. And of course the user could revisit these settings at any time, on a per-engine basis.

      -Optional display of evaluation without moves. Good idea! I hadn’t thought of this.

      By now you may have noticed that progress on Tarrasch is not necessarily quick, but rest assured that your ideas will influence future Tarrasch development as I find time for it.

  3. Michael permalink
    February 14, 2012 5:27 am

    I really like this GUI, because it’s so easy to use – especially the entering of comments.

    But what is really needed, is: a resizable board, because e.g. on my 1920×1200 notebook the board is pretty small.


    • February 14, 2012 10:09 pm

      Yes I am sure you are right. A resizable board would be a great feature. I had it on my original plan for V2, but dropped it in order to keep the schedule reasonable. The problem is that it’s by no means easy to do. However it’s not prohibitively difficult either, so I will get to it in due course.

  4. February 20, 2012 6:14 pm

    Still loving Tarrasch! I can foresee a day when it and Scid Vs PC might be my go to software.

    For training and using engines for post game analysis, it will be great when you add the capability to hide the engine’s move choice but only show evaluation. (almost like playing a game but different)

    After that-tweaking engine parameters and Tarrasch GUI is golden!

    I hear you with regards to engine vs. engine testing. But I can always hope! :0

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