A swat team to New York

by ChessBase
11/11/2003 – Our trip to New York to play in the upcoming match between Garry Kasparov and X3D Fritz started on a frightening note. Take a deep breath before you read the following story. We would like to warn you that some readers may find the images disturbing. Here is our express report.

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Our flight was leaving at 7:15 a.m. from Hamburg, and we arrived at the ChessBase office, which is just 15 minutes from the airport, shortly before six in the morning. Mathias Feist, the Fritz programmer who was travelling with me, needed to pick up his notebook, which contained all the main preparation for the match, and some important installation CDs from the office, where everything had been prepared and placed on the desk for him to pick up.

We arrived at the large office building block in which ChessBase is located only to find it surrounded by police cars. When we tried to turn into the underground parking lot we were stopped, and a well-armed police officer asked us exactly what we wanted. When we told him we intended to go up to our offices they said it was completely out of question. There were burglars somewhere in the building complex, probably armed and dangerous, and they were waiting for additional swat teams and dogs before entering the location.

That was quite a dilemma. We did not have time to wait, and explained the gravity of the situation. After a while the officers agreed to allow us up the staircase to our office, where we promised we would quickly nip in to extract the notebook and the CDs. "It will take us just one minute," I said, "and then we will be out of here."

The police built a small swat team to accompany us upstairs. When we arrived at our storey this is what we found:

Yep, the burglars had broken into our office, we were the object of their evil intentions. Note that our doors are made of heavily reinforced glass. The way they had broken in was by heaving a cast-iron manhole cover into it.

The three-man swat team asked us to stand back and entered the facilities. Everything was thrashed, computers had been vandalised, draws opened, lockboxes destroyed.

With guns drawn they secured the front half of the office, allowing us to enter the room where the notebook and the CDs had been deposited for us. But of course there was no notebook in sight. Only the Tablebase CDs were untouched. These we grabbed and made a dash for the airport. We caught our plane with minutes to spare. Mathias spent the first leg of the flight shaking his head. Somewhere over the Atlantic, after we had taken a glass of excellent Lufthansa red wine, our hands stopped shaking, and we could start thinking about how to work around the damage that had been done to our preparations for the match (the other staff members in Hamburg could figure out how to repaire the damage done to our facilities).

In New York things ran much smoother. The five team members all arrived safely and on time at the New York Athletic Club. With less than two days before the start of the match we got to work immediately to set everything up. But first a look out of the windows.

The view from the balcony of the NYAC, over Central Park in its Fall beauty

Looking down from the 12th floor where the match will be played

Setting up mobile phones that will be used during the event

The computer equipment arrived late in the evening. Everyone was especially interested in the Intel four-way system, which we had been remotely testing for the past few weeks.

This is the machine against which Garry will be playing.

The exact specifications will be provided in a later report, but here is a sneak preview of how Fritz feels running on this machine:

3.4 million nodes per second in the starting position, with an 18-ply search depth in less than four minutes! Experts will recognise that this is quite extraordinary. Frans Morsch and Mathias Feist, the authors of the program, tell us that Fritz has never before run on such a fast machine.

Late in the evening Garry Kasparov came in to test the equipment. Mathias Feist, Jeroen van den Belt and Bill Drury look on. Jeroen is responsible for the 3D chess display that Garry is using instead of a regular chess board, Bill is the director of productions for X3D.

At last Garry is satisfied with the setting and the image of the floating 3D board.

Frederic Friedel

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