A new dimension in computing

7/16/2003 – In the last few days the news on the ChessBase web site has been somewhat sporadic. The reason for this is that our team was caught in a storm that swept over New York. But now hurricane Kasparov has passed (it took the one o'clock flight from La Guardia) and we can bring you a fresh report from the world's most exciting city, where chess is entering a new dimension.

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The hurricane passes

But seriously, it has been a busy week for Garry Kasparov in New York. He is here primarily to promote his book, “My Famous Predecessors”, the biggest and most ambitious work of his life. It culminated in a book signing at Barnes & Noble, during which the entire stock of the book was sold out in 15 minutes. But that is the subject of a separate report that will appear on this site later tonight.


Signing his book for young chess enthusiasts (His Famous Successors, maybe?)

Another task was to set the stage for a spectacular man vs machine match that is scheduled for November this year. For this reason a ChessBase team had set up a work place in the offices of X3D Technologies, a company that is pioneering “a new dimension in computing”. The third dimension, to be precise.

X3D Technologies is located at the lower end of Broadway, on the 45th story of the magnificent Woolworth Building, just a few blocks from where the World Trade Center stood. The new dimension that first strikes our eye is the view from the windows on all sides of the office.


Bridges of New York: the view directly from our X3D office window


The most famous skyline in the world


As dusk falls over the Hudson


...and turns into a spectacular panoramic night

A new dimension in computing

For his November match against the computer Garry Kasparov had tentatively agreed to play, for the first time in history at this level, on a virtual chessboard. There will be no wooden board and pieces in front of the champion, no clock and scoresheet. Instead Kasparov will wear the synchronized shutter glasses manufactured by X3D Technologies and see the position on a virtual photo-realistic 3D board. This is built into a new program called X3D Fritz, which will play against Kasparov in the match.

Naturally the board has to be of very high quality, and for this reason the X3D office the ChessBase team had set up a laboratory to work out the details of the handling and optics with the man who will be sitting across the 3D board for six hours at a time.


Frederic Friedel and Jeroen van den Belt (standing) show Garry Kasparov and X3D CEO Eliot Klein the latest version of the 3D graphic chessboard.

In the above and the following pictures you only get a rough image of the X3D Fritz chessboard. The monitor displays two pictures in quick succession, and the X3D glasses allow one at a time to enter each eye, producing a stunning 3D image. The board actually appears to emerge from the screen and part of it floats between the monitor and the viewer. In our pictures the camera, which has only one lens, simply shows a slightly blurred image on the screen.


Kasparov trying to find the perfect angle for his game


Playing a game against X3D Fritz on a virtual floating chessboard


Jeroen showing the reigning US women's champion Anna Hahn how X3D Fritz works


Anna has a lot of fun playing on the virtual board


Susan Polgar, four-time women's world champion in the X3D Fritz laboratory

You have to imagine that with the glasses on Susan can see some of the pieces floating between herself and the screen. She tried to touch one and found it quite weird to wrap her fingers around it and still not be able to feel the piece.


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