x3d fritz – brains and beauty
We asked ChessBase co-founder Frederic Friedel for a biography of the Fritz program and the creation of X3D Fritz.
Once upon a time...
The story line is that in 1990 Frans Morsch, a Dutch programmer who was creating chess engines for board computers (some of them just a few kilobytes in size), was invited by us to Hamburg to discuss a co-operation. He, Matthias Wüllenweber and I went for a long walk in a park and worked out the chess engine concept – how to interface a chess engine with our relatively new ChessBase for Windows and make a dedicated chess playing program. Everything was worked out on that walk in the park.
Fritz was published in 1991. The name was selected because at the time Germany had just been reunified and we were (for the first time in many decades) feeling good about ourselves. It was kind of a defiant "Fritz – yes, we are Germans, and feeling good about it." More importantly we wanted to make the program sound non-threatening, to give it a personality people could relate to. It worked.
Today if you are uninitiated and attend a big tournament you will think that Fritz is a reclusive German Grandmaster all the top GMs like and respect, and whom they always consult before and after their games. Typical quotes are "Fritz said I could play it, so I simply went ahead and did," or "I must go upstairs and show my game to Fritzy, he'll love the piece sacrifice on move 25." Former world championship challenger Nigel Short refers to the program as "Herr Doktor Fritz." Former FIDE world champion Viswanathan Anand says, "Fritzy is just like one of the boys, except he doesn't come to the bar in the evenings."
X3D Fritz is born
We met X3D in January, 2003, saw the very cool technology they had and decided to build a virtual 3D chess world with their help and cooperation. We worked on it all summer, showed the result to everybody including Garry Kasparov in June.
Now we have a spectacular product called X3D Fritz that X3D Technologies will be preinstalling on their X3D PCs for everyone to use. It is exactly the same program Kasparov will play against.
The chess engine, by the way, is the latest and strongest we have, and it has been specially tuned to play against human opponents rather than being optimized for matches against other computer programs.