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Tarrasch V3.01a

December 27, 2016

I’ve been reasonably happy with the debut of Tarrasch V3. I’ve had about 10,000 downloads in the first month. Not too shabby. I must admit I was hoping that with V3 Tarrasch would make the jump from fringe player to first class citizen, but that hasn’t really happened yet. I’m not sure what it will take to elevate Tarrasch’s profile. Basically I will be happy if it is regularly mentioned as a valid alternative to Winboard, Arena and Scid. My own experience with those programs is that they can all do things Tarrasch can’t, but overall I much prefer Tarrasch as a general purpose chess workhorse. Of course it’s possible I am completely crazy. I am definitely completely biased!

Anyway, the real point of this post is to explain a new “bug fix” release of Tarrasch, V3.01a, available immediately from

I really wish this release wasn’t necessary, but sadly, almost inevitably, glitches and downright bugs show up. Here is my change log for V3.01a

  • Add progress gauge when writing duplicate games, previously this slow operation appeared as stuck progress
  • Title of progress bar during duplicate pgn file write allows discoverability
  • Write duplicate pgn file after database written – so it is optional and can be cancelled
  • Engine dialog box works on smaller screens
  • Arrows allow tab navigation when number of tabs fills main screen
  • Heading in frame is the default option
  • Pattern search – “Don’t allow extra material” no longer the default!
  • Avoid slowly leaking memory on meta-data as databases loaded or created
  • Problems with pattern and material balance searches using clipboard as temporary database – fixed
  • Ctrl-A = select all finally works in game dialogs
  • Error handling in append database was broken – sometimes (eg unrecognised file format) leaving user unsure what happened
  • Slightly more informative “can’t load database” message
  • Never show asterisk = file modified if no current file!
  • Order files after database append as intended – so most recent games appear first

I take comfort from the fact that none of these are “showstopper” type problems, despite frantic work and change right up to the last minute before V3 release. So my take is that V3.00a was a decent release and V3.01a is only a modest delta.

The development of Tarrasch V3 was complicated by the fact that I took several steps back, completely breaking Tarrasch V2, before I started moving forward again. So I always had two quite different versions; Stable but uninspiring V2 and fast moving but incomplete and broken V3. I’ll take this as a lesson and try and avoid doing something similar again. The idea now is that V3 is a stable platform that I can incrementally improve. The V3.01a release is the first example of this pattern in practice.

I am going to take a bit of a break now. There are many good ideas for Tarrasch enhancements that I just couldn’t quite fit in. In 2017 I hope to take another look and hopefully I will be able to incrementally improve Tarrasch with new and useful features.


9 Comments leave one →
  1. Rainer permalink
    January 7, 2017 8:44 pm

    I leave this comment to encourage you and to congratulate to a solid GUI. I’m a passionated corr chess player and use it for analyzing. Since I have an old and slow computer, the FritzGUI consumed 30 percent of my CPU power. This is intolerable. So you can be proud! Your fabulous program replaced FRITZ/ChessBase! Tarrasch V3 is the only program that is installed now and I’m still competitive and pretty successful in combination with Komodo 8. Thank you so much!

    • January 8, 2017 9:12 pm

      Thank you, this is a very nice comment to receive and is very encouraging. I know from another thread you’d like changes to MultiPV. Maybe as a correspondence player you’d just like to be able to turn it off? So effectively 1 line or 4. I’m pretty sure I could rig up an option for you to do that even if as a special build. Maybe by stealing the user interface of the “Ponder” option, which isn’t much use these days (no need to make the beasts even stronger for human v comp!). Let me know.

      • January 9, 2017 8:35 am

        Thank you for your offer. But I really don’t want you to do something special for me. When I asked for the feature ‘various MultiPV lines’ it was just to know whether it exists. It’s also ok to me, that it can’t be changed. I’m a humble minimalist and I learned to take things as they are. I’m convinced that the LORD had his reasons to lead me to your program. So let’s not cross his plans. GOD bless your life and your talents!

  2. Robert M. permalink
    January 18, 2017 6:04 am

    I’ll tell you where Tarrasch shines for me. I visit a bunch of different chess sites every day of my life. These sites give me problems to solve and games to review. I need a fast, relatively lightweight program that allows me to easily set up the positions or load the PGN’s. Tarrasch is ideal for this!

    Fritz is an elephant. I don’t want to launch that elephant just to review a game with an engine or to try my hand at solving a problem. Arena is great for engine vs. engine matches but I prefer Tarrasch for routine analysis and most other day-to-day chores. Aquarium is feature rich and powerful but also complicated, confusing and less than ideal for my modest purposes.

    One other thing that I like: When I make Tarrasch my default program for PGN files, it handles the task correctly. If I double-click on a PGN file, Tarrasch will launch and display the game or games – perfect! Fritz, Arena and Aquarium don’t do this. Opening a PGN is always a multi-step process: launch the program, navigate to your file, open it. Tarrasch is much better in this regard.

    I have a wishlist but I’ll keep it to myself. You have to please yourself first. Also, I would hate to see Tarrasch become overweight. Sometimes less is more!

    • January 18, 2017 3:50 pm

      Thanks for your kind comments Robert. And also for trying to get the people interested in Tarrasch!

  3. March 20, 2017 2:55 am

    Thank you for an excellent program Bill! I use Tarrasch mainly for analyzing games. I have some small improvement suggestions: 1. Could the Engine Analysis-window text font-size be somewhat larger? Now it is slightly difficult to read. 2. The Engine Analysis-window shows at the moment four best lines/variations. Could it show some more, perhaps 6-7? Even weaker lines can be interesting and happen in the games of ordinary players. 3. Could you add in the Engine Analysis window the time spent in reaching certain ply-depth and the positions examined? These facts are fun to know for a person using the program.

    Tarrasch v3 is much crisper and modern than v2! Thank you very much. The database capabilities seem to be good too. I have to examinate them more closely.

    You seem to be a decent man with good values Bill! God bless.

    • March 20, 2017 9:08 pm

      Thanks for your kind words. Just at the moment I am fixing a few small but annoying problems I’ve noticed in Tarrasch V3. Once I’ve done that I will think about enhancements. I will blog about this soon, probably once I release the fixes. (I do seem to get a lot of requests to make the number of lines of engine analysis adjustable rather than stuck at four – perhaps I won’t be able to ignore these requests for ever :- )

  4. March 20, 2017 11:46 am

    Does it make difference in analysis make the engine ponder?

    • March 20, 2017 9:29 pm

      No. Ponder only affects human versus engine or engine versus engine, never analysis (also known as kibitz). Of course in Tarrasch there is (unfortunately) no engine versus engine, so it only affects human versus engine. Consequently ponder is not really useful or important for Tarrasch (after all why help these absurdly strong engines beat us even more). Ponder was invented in the days when computers were much weaker to try to make some sensible use of the otherwise wasted time when the engine’s opponent is thinking. The way it works is that while the opponent thinks, the engine starts analysing the position that will occur if the opponent plays the best move. Then if the opponent does play this best move, a “ponder hit” occurs and the engine enjoys a head start as it works on its next move (often it will be satisfied already and play a move immediately – depending on its time management). If a ponder hit doesn’t occur (I think that’s called a “ponder miss” I should check), then the engine admits its pondering was in vain, and it starts its thinking from scratch. Of course this means that each time the engine decides on a move, it also provides the “best” reply for the opponent so that the GUI can orchestrate the pondering process. It’s easy for the engine to do that because the basic min-max algorithm that all engines use finds the best move for itself (max score) by finding the move that limits (min score) the best reply by the opponent. The whole pondering process is controlled by the GUI and it is quite a lot of work and complexity. In retrospect I wouldn’t have done it, but I took advice from old heads on the Rybka forums when I first started out on Tarrasch V1.

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