07 July 2010

2009-2010 Women's Grand Prix, Jermuk (Not!)

As preparation for this post I intended to add a crosstable for Jermuk 2010 to my page on the 2009-2010 FIDE Women's Grand Prix, but technology got the better of me. As I outlined on my main blog in a post titled How I Spent My Summer Vacation, I was forced to upgrade my laptop and ran into more than the usual number of upgrade glitches. It's been less than two months since my previous post on the prestigious series of women's events, 2009-2010 Women's Grand Prix, Nalchik, but it might be a while before I can do similar updates. The last successful update was documented in 2008-2009 Grand Prix, Astrakhan (an unrestricted, i.e. men's, GP event), dated 26 May 2010.

My procedure to create a crosstable is relatively straightforward. First, I collect the PGN game scores, usually from TWIC or from the official site. Then I extract the data from the PGN headers and feed it into a database. From the database I produce a formatted text crosstable which I transform into an HTML crosstable. The HTML crosstable is merged into the relevant page on my World Chess Championship (WCC) site along with explanatory notes. Then I upload the changed page and accompanying PGN to the WCC site.

The entire procedure takes less than an hour using a tool chain which has varied little since I first created the WCC site in 1997. The crosstables are nothing special to look at, but they sufficiently document the individual WCC events. I always compare my new crosstable with another version to see that it is accurate. When there are discrepancies, it is almost always due to an error in the PGN file. I correct these when I discover them and restart the tool chain.

That tool chain broke down when I tried to process the women's Jermuk event on my new laptop. First, I ran into a glitch extracting data from the PGN headers. Although I quickly discovered a workaround, I don't understand why the glitch occurred. It indicates there is a basic, underlying problem which needs further investigation.

More importantly, I ran into a major problem with the database. On my old laptop I used MS Access under Windows XP, but after checking the price of Access and the related suite under Windows 7 -- 'Microsoft Office Professional 2010 • What's included: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access, and Publisher • Suggested retail price: $499.99' -- I decided to give the competing OpenOffice suite a try. My initial vacation trials for the software were positive, but when I tried to use OpenOffice Database for a real job, I discovered that it was much further from MS Access than other OpenOffice software was from the corresponding MS package. I'm not yet convinced that OpenOffice Database can't do the job I need to do, but the learning curve will be steep.

On top of this I discovered that my trusty software to process PGN files is incompatible with Windows 7. While I'm sure that I can find a replacement, this will also take some time.

My first reaction to these problems was to run the tool chain on my old laptop, then transfer the new files to the new laptop. As luck would have it, I also ran into a glitch here. The network connection between my old and new laptops, which had taken considerable time to implement and which had served to transfer all of my personal files to the new laptop, suddenly decided that it didn't want to work anymore (WIN7: 'The network path was not found'). Of course, I could transfer the files using a USB flash drive, but this is getting far away from my original intention. My experience is that when multiple technical failures occur in reaching a goal, it's time to rethink the original goal.

While I'm rethinking, the crosstable and results can be found on the official site, Women GP - Jermuk. I assume they are also on other sites documenting the World Championship, like Wikipedia.

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