How I experienced 9/11

by Frederic Friedel
9/12/2023 – This horrific 2001 terror attack took place far away, but oddly close by for us. The World Trade Center, which was destroyed, had been the site of the 1995 World Chess Championship. Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand faced each other on the 107th floor, 400 meters above the streets of New York City. The destruction of the towers was the subject of the very first article we posted on our newly launched news page.

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It was twenty-two years ago, to the day. Wife Ingrid, who was at the dentist, suddenly rushed back home and said: “Quick, switch on the TV!” One of the doctors had told people in the practice that there was some very alarming news.

For the next six or eight hours we sat there, transfixed, watching the most horrific terrorist attack in history. During this coverage two things happened that have stuck in my mind. Our friend Birgit came over on a surprise visit. She watched in horror with us, and around midnight she said she wanted to stay over. There was no way she could go home, where she lived alone. The next day she spent many hours trying to contact a friend who worked in the World Trade Center. She found her. The friend had luckily taken the morning off. That had saved her life.

The second incident on September 11 was that I received a casual call from Nigel Short. He started the call with a joke. “Nigel,” I interrupted, “switch on the TV!” He was baffled. He was in Argentina — how could I know what was on TV there? “Just switch it on,” I insisted. He reluctantly did. I just heard him exclaim, “Holy sh**!”

In New York my good friend Stepan Pachikov, who lived in an apartment building on the banks of the Hudson, was wakened by a noise outside his bedroom window. He looked out and then grabbed his camera. Stepan shot the following set of pictures of the attack in progress:

Stepan watched it happen, including the moment when the second plane, flight 175, hit the South Tower, at 9:03 a.m., all the way to the collapse of both buildings.

We learned all about what took place on September 11, 2001 in the days and weeks that followed. Four coordinated attacks had been staged by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda. They resulted in 2,977 fatalities, 25,000 injuries, and over $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage.

I had a special connection to the twin towers. I had visited them a number of times, because the company SciSys/Saitek, which manufactured chess playing computers, had their US office in one of the towers. I was considered an expert in Artificial Intelligence and was advising them.

In 1995 Intel sponsored the world chess championship, a battle between Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand. The prize fund was 1.5 million US$. I was one of the organizers, and we decided to stage it on the Observation Deck at the 107th floor of the World Trade Center, 400 meters above New York City’s financial center Wall Street. Here are some pictures I took during the event.

Crossing from New Jersey to New York on the Staten Island Ferry

Kasparov pondering a move on the 107th story of the World Trade Center

Audience watching the moves of game 16

GM Yasser Seirawan explaining the position in the VIP room

Following chess moves on the observation deck

Son Thomas Friedel feeling a bit queasy while looking down on Manhattan...

...from the very top of the World Trade Center

I proposed two ideas to Intel: one was to stage a public relations game with each of the players on top of separate towers, within sight of each other; and secondly, during the match itself, to signal the winner of each game with a laser beam into the sky coming from the Kasparov or the Anand tower.

 Unfortunately, both ideas did not materialize, for technical reasons.

I was home in Hamburg, Germany, when disaster struck, six years later. I should mention that the above pictures are taken from a report on the ChessBase news page. Our new CMS was launched on September 12th, 2001, and that was the very first report I posted.

This was the front page blurb:

9/12/2001 – Yesterday, in one of the most horrifying terrorist atrocities in history, the World Trade Center in New York was destroyed. We extend our deepest sympathies to the people of America. Our thoughts and feelings are with the victims and their families. The World Trade Center had a special meaning for chess. In 1995 the World Championship was staged on the Observation Deck on the 107th floor. We look back at in a commemorative picture gallery.

There was one more shock in store. The ringleader of the 9/11 attack, Mohamed Atta, who piloted American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, had studied at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg, and had stayed in a flat within short walking distance from where we were (and still are) living.

It is chilling to think that in the years that Atta spent here, we must have encountered him, seen him in the Harburg city center, where people congregate, shop and eat. We probably travelled on buses or on the underground with him. Once, when I had my passport refreshed, I asked the official in charge whether he had seen Atta. He sagged in his seat. “Yes, the guy was here, where you are currently sitting, a number of times.”

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.


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JanBloemendal JanBloemendal 9/16/2023 06:40
@lajosarpad Experts have different opinions and are subject to biases. One has to try to evaluate the evidence oneself and come to a conclusion.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/16/2023 01:12
@JanBloemendal thanks for the link.

I am not an expert in the relevant fields and therefore I cannot determine whether the evidence presented in the link you shared is proving your position or not. But what I do know, without being an expert or anything of the like is that Islamists hijacked planes and crashed into the buildings. We have a lot of evidence about that and I'm glad we agree on that. It just so happens that you have a further claim, which requires expert analysis to evaluate, given the arguments in the link.
sivakumar R sivakumar R 9/15/2023 06:52
@ JanBloemendal : Thanks for the post
JanBloemendal JanBloemendal 9/15/2023 12:20
@lajosarpad Very few members of the so-called 9/11 truth community dispute the fact that planes were hijacked, that planes struck the WTC buildings, and that passengers died (I do not myself: one person on one flight was known to a close personal friend). However, that the attack was organised by Islamic terrorists is incompatible with the overwhelming evidence for the controlled demolition of these three buildings and much other evidence that this was an inside job. If you are seriously interested in this (and everyone should be given that 9/11 was used to justify the enormously destructive global ‘war on terror’), then here is a useful summary with links of some important pieces of evidence: Some of it is published in peer-reviewed journals. This evidence includes: nanothermite in the WTC dust; evidence for extreme temperatures and persistent molten metal; free fall collapse of WTC7 (not struck by a plane) - impossible without the simultaneous destruction of the structural columns); witness testimonies of explosions; analysis of seismic data; symmetrical building collapses with asymmetrical damage; air defence anomalies, including stand down; multiple war games on the same day; evidence of foreknowledge – insider trading.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/15/2023 10:13
Jan, your initial comment was

"Those who believe that the US was attacked by Islamic terrorists on 9/11 must also believe that giant skyscrapers can collapse in seconds (in the case of WTC7 at free fall acceleration) without accelerants. "

and the matter of fact is that according to all evidence the planes existed, the passengers of those planes indeed died, there is video evidence of the planes crashing into the towers and 9/11 was widely celebrated by islamists. My position is that the planes indeed crashed into the towers. And there is quite a lot of evidence supporting this position.

I did not speak about controlled demolition, I have no means to determine whether anything like that happened at all. If you claim this happened, you might want to show your evidence for it. But, the undisputable fact in serious discussions is that planes actually crashed into the towers.
JanBloemendal JanBloemendal 9/14/2023 10:04
JanBloemendal 2 hours ago
@lajosard None of the evidence you mention conflicts with the conclusion that all three WTC buildings were destroyed by some form of controlled demolition. Those who dispute this must explain the nanothermite in the WTC dust, the rapid and near-symmetrical collapses, and the explosions within the buildings documented by firefighters and by Barrie Jennings and Michael Hess inside WTC7 (among much other evidence).
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/14/2023 05:47
@JanBloemendal I'm pretty sure I have seen video evidence of planes crashing into the towers. There are camera footings, eye witnesses, relatives and friends of those who were on the planes, etc. How do you reconcile with all this evidence?
JanBloemendal JanBloemendal 9/14/2023 10:18
Those who believe that the US was attacked by Islamic terrorists on 9/11 must also believe that giant skyscrapers can collapse in seconds (in the case of WTC7 at free fall acceleration) without accelerants.
oxygenes oxygenes 9/12/2023 09:42
I like your arrangement.
First is article from Robert Ris - The swindle of the year! , then follow article about 9/11 events.
Stephen Ham Stephen Ham 9/11/2023 10:41
Dear Frederic,

The WTC was on the bank of the Hudson River. So Stepan's pictures could not be from there as they clearly show many buildings between him and the WTC.

If your friend's apartment was truly on a river bank, then he was instead on the East River, in Brooklyn, looking across Manhattan. Or, if he was on the New Jersey side, then he was not on the Hudson River bank. He was instead inland, due to all the buildings between him and the WTC.

Alles Gute,
ChessSpawnVermont ChessSpawnVermont 9/11/2023 09:02
The Staten Island Ferry runs between Staten Island, NY and Lower Manhattan, NY, not from New Jersey to New York.
Frederic Frederic 9/11/2023 04:48
@PhishMaster: thanks for your personal comments. I do hope others will provide similar stories.

@Lajosarpad: When I took the first flights of my life, it was like getting on a train: you bought a ticked and boarded. That was it. no checking. Today they actually X-ray you. I have described the process in this article on my biographical and general interest blog: And about what happens if you arouse suspicion...
WillScarlett WillScarlett 9/11/2023 04:27
Once you get over - if you ever do - of the shock and awe of the totally unexpected attack and devastation of the horrendous attack, and once you have felt the pity and sorrow for the three thousand dead, it must be, at least, a sort of palliative to receive and accept an official explanation for the acts of the 19 terrorists. For those who actually lost loved ones there is, naturally, no effective balm or consolation, even in the sanctioned, state version of the attacks in Manhattan and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

There are those who were not and are not persuaded by the official narrative. Their sense of justice and of truth is strained or even outraged further by a myriad of questions that were either ignored, derided , or answered insufficiently - to this day. For their efforts they continue to be dismissed, marginalized, ridiculed, and slandered.

If you accept, unquestioningly, the official version of events that's certainly your prerogative. But please, don't add to the tragedy by hounding and bashing those who are motivated to seek and find more convincing and compelling answers. The memory of the victims and their kith and kin would be served by the honest rendition of the truth.
If you believe the truth has already been definitively established it is possible that, in your desire for "closure" you have been prematurely satisfied, or, your trust in officialdom is perhaps misplaced, considering their record.

“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” - Benjamin Franklin

"The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting ..." - Pierre Abélard
PhishMaster PhishMaster 9/11/2023 03:05
The only time I had ever been in the WTC was for the last game of that 1995 match. I drove about 6 hours to get there, thinking that the game would be a game, but of course, the match was already out-of-reach for Anand, and they drew in just 12 moves (I knew it was short, but I had to look this up). I still do not know what I was thinking, and why I did not realize that would happen.

I was very disappointed for a long time, feeling like I wasted my time going down, and back; but as my years have worn on, it is still a memory that I now cherish. I went to a World Championship match, and I would never be able to go to the WTC again. I took my daughter to NYC a few years ago, and while she was not yet born in 2001, we did visit the memorial.

I have never been great at remembering every small detail, but I do remember how vast the first floor of the WTC was before I went up in the elevator. It did not feel like you were in a skyscraper, but rather, in a large was very open in places. I think that when I entered the 107th floor area where they played, that glass cube was on the right, but I went over to the windows to the left and looked out. Yeah, that confirmed that I still do not like heights.

I was at a gas station in Nashua, NH, when I was listening to the radio about the first tower being hit. I am not sure they even knew it was a plane yet, but I rushed home, and was glued to the television for the rest of the day. It was just a horrible time that changed my psyche forever.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9/11/2023 11:32
It was a horrific and gruesome act of terrorism. It's difficult to understand how was it possible to attack the USA, the leading military power with four planes. It boils down to safety measures when the passangers are boarding on, the inaccessibility of the pilot area and how should the authorities handle the case when a plane does difficult-to-understand manouvers, such as deviating from the planned course.