A Really Really Really Good Excuse
The last blog post I wrote was a while ago now, nearly 6 months in fact. At the time I was in the midst of a great burst of Tarrasch productivity, and my expectation was that I’d keep my momentum up. Unfortunately that was not what happened. Long time readers will understand that I fall into slumps sometimes, but at least this time I had a good excuse. A kidney cancer diagnosis tends to take your mind off your hobbies and on to other priorities.
That sounds really grim, but before I write another word I want to emphasise that my setback was temporary (I hope) and my prognosis is now excellent. My tumour was found early, and excised completely. In fact I still have 1.8 kidneys, more than enough. My lab results are excellent, and although I will need to be monitored for years, my surgeon is encouraging me to consider the whole incident to be something I can now put behind me.
I did have rather a protracted and unpleasant post-operative recovery, because I fell victim to a procession of annoying and enfeebling complications I won’t bore you with. But in recent weeks I’ve finally overcome these problems, and I now feel pretty much back to normal. More than ready to get on with the rest of my life.
I don’t like to have absolutely nothing to show with a new blog post, so I have made a small but important update to Tarrasch V2 which is available for download at triplehappy.com. Like all Tarrasch maintenance releases, it can be freely installed over the top of an existing Tarrasch installation.
The most important change is that I’ve added new engines to the package. It is true that these engines could be separately downloaded and used previously, but extreme ease of use is probably Tarrasch’s most important benefit. Separate download is a barrier, particularly for those who aren’t particularly computer savvy. A new user can now download Tarrasch and start using the latest version of Stockfish, perhaps the most powerful engine available anywhere, with just a few mouse clicks.
The new engines in the package are Stockfish, and the free demo version of Houdini. Stockfish is now the default engine. For the first time Tarrasch checks for 32 or 64 bit Windows, and uses the 64 bit version as the default if it can. Thanks to the Stockfish team for providing such an amazing free tool, and thanks to Robert Houdart for permission to include Houdini.
If you install Tarrasch over the top of an existing installation, your original preferences are respected. So your engine choice won’t change in these circumstances. One easy way to change to the default Stockfish engine is simply to use the Options menu to “Reset to factory defaults”. I cover this issue in the FAQ which I have updated a little, for the first time in a few years.
I took the opportunity to make a few other small improvements;
- Improve colour of dark squares (the screenshot on triplehappy.com has been updated to show the new colour).
- On 32 bit Windows, don’t allow user to try to run 64 bit engine.
- Change text of commands from ‘promote comments to variation’ to ‘promote comments to moves’.
- Fix bug that stopped DELETE key working in pgn dialog.
- Add more menu keyboard shortcuts.
These are all things I should have done much earlier. Sorry. In particular the lack of contrast between light and dark squares has been completely unnecessary, and really just an artifact of my particular monitor. Of course ideally I should provide customisable colours, but I don’t imagine that will happen until Tarrasch picks up some momentum and I get some programming help. With that in mind, I need to stop tweaking V2 and get back to working on V3, which is the future.