Frederic's mates - How I met Mikhail Botvinnik

by Arne Kaehler
9/24/2022 – Mikhail Botvinnik was the second of the twelve World Chess Champions whom Frederic met. In our new weekly series he tells us how he met and befriended the top players, and the adventures they experienced together. Frederic has written a new book, together with Professor Christian Hesse, with fascinating chess stories from the last 50 years. It will appear (first in German) in October.

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ChessBase is a personal, stand-alone chess database that has become the standard throughout the world. Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it.


Frederic's Mates

Through the years, Frederic Friedel had many encounters with chess players, and he became friends with most of the World Chess Champions. Frederic recounts various anecdotes and stories about the experiences from each of his mates in chronological sequence.

Schachgeschichten - a chess book by Frederic Friedel and Christian Hesse

In tandem with the renowned chess expert Prof. Christian Hesse, he lets us share his encounters with world champions Mikhail Botvinnik, Mikhail Tal, Boris Spassky, Bobby Fischer, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, Magnus Carlsen.

The initial edition of Schachgeschichten is in German and can be ordered on Amazon Germany. In the book sample ("Blick ins Buch" you can read the foreword by Garry Kasparov, and endorsements by Kramnik, Judit Polgar, Hou Yifan, Helmut Pfleger (with additional blurbs by Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand on the book cover). They essentially confirm that Fred's stories about them are enjoyable, accurate and approved.

Frederic's co-author is Christian Hesse. In his foreword to Schachichten Garry Kasparov writes:

Christian Hesse is an internationally known Professor of Mathematics with a PhD from Harvard. He has thought about the relation between chess and mathematics for decades. It is fascinating how deep the connections between these two human endeavours are... Frederic and Christian are a dream team that has succeeded in writing a chess book like no other. It is full of entertaining and heart-warming stories, on and off the board, and it introduces a new genre of wonderfully entertaining logical chess puzzles.


Arne Kaehler, a creative mind who is passionate about board games in general, was born in Hamburg and learned to play chess at a young age. By teaching chess to youth teams and creating chess-related videos on YouTube, Arne was able to expand this passion and has even created an online course for anyone who wants to learn how to play chess. Arne writes for the English and German news sites, but focuses mainly on content for the ChessBase media channels.


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genem genem 9/28/2022 11:18
Per the embedded video...

VIDEO: At time mark 18' 30" (2022/09/24)

"Once I gave Garry [Kasparov] a problem. A game starts with 1. e4, and ends with the fifth move NxR mate. Can you reconstruct the game?"

I suspect the phrasing of this problem tries to fool the student by using the sadly ambiguous term of 'move'. The solution likely requires ten (individual) moves, which is five move-pairs. Thus NxR is likely a Black move.

My attempts have failed, as I can only generate a twelve move solution, where a nine or ten move solution is required:

1. e24 nc6<b8
2. g24 ne5<c6
3. h24 rb1<a
4. Rh3<1 ra1<b
5. Ne2<g1 rb1<a
6. Rf3<h n:f3<e5/R##
genem genem 9/27/2022 08:59
We await the English edition of this upcoming book!
Schnabelwolke Schnabelwolke 9/26/2022 10:25
I'm pretty sure that Frederic has met more than 12 world chess champions in total - if you count all the disciplines like blitz, rapid, correspondence, junior and senior (and of course the womens). Most of them can now actually call themselves official FIDE World Champions. Even I have met more than 40 of those, a handful even over the board and played with a few more at least in the same tournament. And I heard that one renowned world chess problem champion is well acquainted with Frederic ...
Frederic Frederic 9/26/2022 06:44
Thanks, A.Alekhine (whom I didn't meet). You are quite right. I took your advice and modified the blurb.
A Alekhine A Alekhine 9/26/2022 12:39
Wow, what a confusing first sentence of this article.

How about this for a new first sentence:

"Mikhail Botvinnik is one of twelve world chess champions Frederic Friedel has met over the years."

It doesn't matter that Botvinnik was the second of the champions that Friedel met. It isn't necessary to say that he met them "before and during his involvement with ChessBase."
dusica dusica 9/25/2022 08:10
He was the sixth world chess champion.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/25/2022 01:43
Botvinnik was one of the greatest chess players in history. His positional play, opening ideas fine tactics and eloquent explanations makes him worthy of respect for his chess legacy and we should not forget about his contribution to chess computing either.

As about his political views, his open support for one of the worst dictators in history (I'm talking about Stalin, obviously) I do not find much to admire.

However, the chess world wisely differentiates Botvinnik the chess player from Botvinnik the political activist. This is why we can enjoy his great contribution to chess, even though I do not share his political views at all.
Frederic Frederic 9/25/2022 10:49
Hang on, I did meet Morphy, didn't I? Well, Kramnik said it in his blurb to the book: "Frederic Friedel is a cult figure in the chess world. He has been around for such a long time that I wouldn’t have been surprised to find a story about his encounter with Paul Morphy." But seriously, I am four handshakes away from him:
Karsten Müller Karsten Müller 9/25/2022 08:28
adalthor23: Botvinnik was the second World Champion Frederic met...
adalthor23 adalthor23 9/25/2022 02:04
Strange start of the article: "Mikhail Botvinnik was the second of the twelve World Chess Champions ..." Steinitz was the first world champion, Lasker the second, Capablanca the third, Alekhine the fourth, Euwe the fifth and Botvinnik the sixth world champion ... or?
John Maccormack John Maccormack 9/24/2022 04:53
Dear Editor: You are missing a critical word in the lead. He met them in the late WHAT? Thanks. JXM
Karsten Müller Karsten Müller 9/24/2022 01:02
PhishMaster: I agree. And it seems that Frederic agrees as well (quoted from the comments on the Euwe part):
Frederic 9/12/2022 10:40
Yes, working on that, Metaphysician. We have done full translations - well, Christian did. I wrote my part in English and translated it (myself) into German.
PhishMaster PhishMaster 9/24/2022 12:32
Please translate this into English also. I would love to get this book.