Saturday, February 16, 2008

Babas/FICS tips and tricks for LEPers

Glenn and I had a little trouble getting out game started for round 1, mostly because my formula was set to restrict my opponents to between 100 points below my rating and 200 above. Babas has a great little feature to make it easy to turn my formula on and off without needing to recreate it over and over.

First off- how to create a formula in Babas:

Go to the View menu and choose Formula Wizard. It goes through several pages of options letting you narrow down what kinds of games your looking for. Personally, I like ~30 minute, rated games with players about my level and no guests, computers or abusers.

Once you have the formula created, the wizard will display it. Highlight it all and copy it to the Clipboard. Click Finish if you'd like to turn it on right now.

Now, pop over to the Quick Commands menu and choose Configure. Click the New Command button. Name it something clever, like Formula On, in the Name field. In the Script to Execute field, delete all the text, type "set formula" and then paste the formula from the wizard. Make sure there is only one space between the word "formula" and the next character, or there could be syntax problems.

Click OK and bam! You can now turn on your formula whenever you like!

To get full use of the ability to turn your formula on whenver you like, you need to create a Formula Off command. Create a new command, as above (do not go through the Formula Wizard this time). In the Script to Execute field, simply type "set formula" and save the command. Choosing this new command will turn off the formula whenever you like.

If you play a variety of games, like blitz or bughouse or whatever, you could create several formula commands specific to each type.

The main benefit to using formulas is that the Seek Graph and list in Babas will only display people looking for what you want, and it prevents random people from poking you for a one minute game with 17 second increment. My graph is often empty with the formula on, because not many people play 30 minute games, but I rarely wait more than 5 minutes when seeking for what I want.

When you use the Action->Seek command in Babas, you can save your preferred time limits, choose to use the formula and get exactly what you want, generally improving the online chess experience.

The second big question Glenn had was about examining the game.

There are several ways to start an Examine session on the server. If you're doing a post-mortem, you should each automatically be examining the game on your own. As long as the other person (or anyone you want to be able to move the pieces and make circles and arrows and stuff) is listed in the Observers tab (under the board), go to the Console window (press F2 if you can't find it- that'll bring it to the top) and enter "mexamine USER" where USER is that person's name.

Now they can move stuff around. I've never done this, so I have no idea exactly how the variations are added and saved or how it works (like a Pushmepullyou, I'm sure). Using the Edit->Examine menu, you can see commands duplicating the arrows most people have below the board, but also the Circle and Arrow tools. These do exactly what they say they do. Go to the Actions menu and choose Examine last game and play around with it. Nifty stuff.

To customize the appearance of the Circles and Arrows (as well as everything else board wise), go to File->Preferences. Choose Board, then Piece movement and scroll the Move Input box almost to the bottom and you can change the color of your Arrows and Circles. If you have an examined game with stuff on it, choose a color and hit Apply and you can see what it'll look like without having to go through the menus again.

Some of this info is in the Babas Help files, some in the Fics files and some by just fiddling around. I hope this saves others a little bit of time, and I'll add other cool stuff as I learn it myself.


  1. Dang. That's great stuff. Continue to explore while I mooch off your findings; it's very helpful, thanks.

  2. Yes, I need a lot more work with Babas to get familiar with it and this has been very helpful--Thanks!

    I actually spent some time the other day setting it up, went to full screen board mode (the only way I can play correctly) and when I came back everything was pretty messed up...don't know what I did but I'm going to force myself to quit using the java board I'm comfortable with and really get down with BABAS.

  3. thanks very much for the helpful tips!!

    i'm going to incorporate them the next time i logon to FICS.