Twenty years ago...

by Frederic Friedel
9/11/2021 – Twenty years ago, on September 12, 2001, we launched our brand new database-driven news page. The very first report we were forced to file was about the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York, which had been perpetrated on the previous day. It had a special meaning for chess. Six years earlier the World Chess Championship had been staged on the Observation Deck on the 107th floor.

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More... – looking back nostalgically

Our database driven news page has been online for exactly twenty years now. Before that we had a static web site, one that looked like this:

Above is the first web page (nice yellow, blinking text!) that we could locate in the Wayback archives. Note that  ChessBase 6.0 had just been released. That was December 1996.

The news page two years later, with "Anand's analysis competition". Anand also annotated Groningen for ChessBase Magazine 63 (which contained a Fritz 5 update!).

In August 2000 the news page got a big makeover – a template driven page with static HTML files uploaded to the server. You could do that for a couple of years at the time, but at some stage it becomes necessary to install a modern database driven system.

Can you imagine when exactly we launched the new database driven news page? It went online on September 11th 2001! The very first report we had to upload was on the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center in New York. Here it is, in fairly much the same form it was published twenty years ago.

The World Trade Center

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.

World Chess Championship Site 1995

In 1995 the PCA world championship, sponsored by Intel, was held between Garry Kasparov and Vishy Anand, ranked first and second in the world. The prize fund was 1,500,000 US$, with 2/3 for the winner. Here are some pictures I took of the event, which was staged on the Observation Deck at the 107th floor of the World Trade Center, 400 meters above New York City's financial center Wall Street.

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

Garry Kasparov ponders a move in the glass cabin built for the players.

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

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

Looking back from the ferry to New Jersey after the games.


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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