How do you do variations?

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How do you do variations?

Postby kwkingdom123 » 20 Jul 2010, 21:30

I want to study from a chess book using winboard and they have a bunch of variations for each move. How do I do that?
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Re: How do you do variations?

Postby H.G.Muller » 20 Jul 2010, 22:18

You need to have the development version for that (e.g. from http://hgm.nubati.net/winboard0526.zip ); 4.4.3 does not do variations yet.

To enter a variation simply enter the main line first (in edit-game mode), then use the < and > buttons (or arrow keys) to step through the main line to the move you want to play a variation on, and simply play the moves of the variation from there. This will make WB shelve the tail of the main line. When you are done entering the variation, you can use the Step->Annotate menu to return to the main line. The variation will be added as a PGN variation comment (i..e. in parentheses) to the move where you branched off. This will be visible in the Comment popup window. When you later save the PGN, the comment will saved with it.

When you load a PGN containing variations, they will show (together with other comments) in the Comment popup. (You would want to make sure that /autoDisplayComment=true.) The < and > will step you through the main line, and show the comments for the move where you currently are in the Comment popup. If you want to follow a variation, right-click it in the Comment popup on that variation. (One move can have more than one variation on it.) This brings you to the move where the variation branched off, after shelving the main line. With <, > you can then step through the variation. This time you should use Step->Revert to return to the main line, because the variation comment already existed.

That is really all. And it works recursively (variations on variations).

There is some limitation in the level of nesting the parser can handle when it reads PGN, though (I think three levels of nesting beyond the main line). The level of nesting you can use internally (and then write) is much larger (16, I think).
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Re: How do you do variations?

Postby kwkingdom123 » 21 Jul 2010, 00:05

It doesn't seem to be working still. I played 1. e4, e5, 2. Nc3 d6 and I then went back to the move before Nc3. When I played a new move, winboard just replaced Nc3 with the new move and all the moves after it. Am I doing something wrong?
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Re: How do you do variations?

Postby H.G.Muller » 21 Jul 2010, 03:42

You have to use Step->Annotate after that to return to the main line, and add the variation as a comment.
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Re: How do you do variations?

Postby mocha1961 » 21 Jul 2010, 04:15

H.G.Muller wrote:You have to use Step->Annotate after that to return to the main line, and add the variation as a comment.


annotate isnt highlighted as an option to use in step. why?
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Re: How do you do variations?

Postby kwkingdom123 » 21 Jul 2010, 05:14

I get it now! It works! Thanks for all the help. Mocha1961, you have to go back to where the variation starts, play the variation, and then the annotate should work. Oh, by the way, is there a shortcut key for annotate or a way to set one?
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Re: How do you do variations?

Postby H.G.Muller » 21 Jul 2010, 13:44

Annotate and Revert should beccome highlighted as soon as you have entered or loaded a variation on an existing line in the display, in edit-game or analyze mode. It is greyed out if you already are on the main line (so there is nothing to revert to).

There is no accelerator key defined for Annotate yet, and I don't think Windows supports a general way to make such associations through the OS. (In XBoard you would have a .xresources file where you could do this.)
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Re: How do you do variations?

Postby chessp » 27 Jan 2015, 23:26

is this still not in the release version?
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Re: How do you do variations?

Postby H.G.Muller » 28 Jan 2015, 15:41

It has been released long ago. But the procedure was changed a bit, in that you now have to keep Shift pressed during the move in order to start a variation. Just playing a move replaces the main line. (This to prevent unbounded accumulation of variations when someone is just editing a game.) And if you are at the end of a game the Shift would be ignored, and the move you played would always be appended to the game. (It makes no sense to start a variation when there is nothing to vary on.) The 'Enable Variation Trees' in the General Options dialog must be ticked for it to work, though. The Annotate and Revert items are in the Edit menu nowadays.
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Re: How do you do variations?

Postby roundandround » 14 Apr 2015, 16:13

Thanks for all the help, really useful to me.
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Re: How do you do variations?

Postby Josh Pettus » 15 Apr 2015, 04:19

I think it could be made a little smoother.

Most programs when they do variations, they put the variation in the move list within brackets, as oppose a comment window. So you see both the moves of the main line and the that of the variants in the move window for easier navigation. Also right now when you enter a variant, you see the main line disappear, so you may not realize you are in a variant when you held shift and it worked as you wanted it too. It could have just as easily started a new main line off that point, and you wouldn't have known unless you see those extra options ungrey out in the edit menu.

Really the whole process needs to be more obvious. Hidden key strokes are fine when used for shortcuts, but are not fine at all when they are meant for actual functionality. If there were at least a message when in edit game mode and not viewing the last move,then in the message box it said, "hold shift and move piece to start variation" that would be a little better. But the feature is all too hidden and cumbersome and should probably be rethought.
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Re: How do you do variations?

Postby Jonathan Hilton » 04 Jun 2021, 00:15

Hello, I have Winboard 4.8 and have ticked the "Enable Variation Trees" box under general options. I've been holding down the shift key and entering moves, but am not getting it to create any variations. Any ideas on how I can create variations? Thanks!
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Re: How do you do variations?

Postby H.G.Muller » 04 Jun 2021, 21:06

After you played the line you have to hit Edit -> Annotate to revert to the main line, and add the moves played after the one with Shift that started the line as a variation.
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