Back to my blog
After a hiatus of over a year— I was working on two books — I am returning to the Friedel Chronicles
Why the long pause? Well, this is how things developed. As I described in my introductory post, I have a fairly interesting life behind me. When I reached seventy, it seemed that an autobiography would be appropriate. But, said son Tommy, I should not try to flat-out write the book. I should do it bit by bit. I should write about different things, whenever they occur to me. On any of a variety of subjects. Afterwards, we could use the text to make a book (or books). He set me up in Medium.com. Now I had my biographical and general interest blog: The Friedel Chronicles.
It worked like magic. It took me five years to produce a couple of hundred Medium stories, which I then showed to a very influential literary agent. Hanna Leitgeb quickly initiated two generously funded projects, which have occupied me for over a year — and which explain the neglect of my Chronicles.
The first was by Drömer Knaur, a publishing group based in Munich. Hanna arranged for me to join forces with one of her most prolific writers to co-autor a book on chess and mathematics. Christian Hesse, Professor of Mathematical Statistics at the University of Stuttgart, has written over twenty books, making his area of expertise accessible to a lay audience. He has also written a few about chess, his lifelong hobby.
We planned our book to have alternate chapters, with Christian writing, in his entertaining style, about mathematical aspects of the Royal Game, and me writing about my encounters with the World Champions, of whom I got to know and befriend around a dozen. We worked on the project for many months, during which I would communicate with Christian in conference calls on average every second day. When the book was ready, it received the endorsement of five World Champions — in fact, the legendary Garry Kasparov wrote the foreword.
The book is in German, and if you speak the language, you can read the first thirty pages here. Christian and I submitted our text in German and English, and publishers in other languages are being sought. Here are the foreword and blurbs in English. And here a few quotes from Garry Kasparov’s foreword:
Schach-Geschichten shows how deeply human the world of chess is and reveals the passion and beauty it provides its fans and practitioners, from amateurs to world champions. The book maps the breadth of experiences chess can contain, how it can uplift both the mind and the spirit…
Frederic Friedel has met every World Champion since Max Euwe and befriended most of them. I am pleased to say that I am included in this company. We have known each other since the dinosaurs were around, and my friend Frederic narrates many of the things that we have been through together, some never before told…
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, from the Queens Problem to Knight’s Tour to the staggering numbers that the game of chess encompasses…
I would like to mention that I showed all the still living World Champions the chapters I had written on them. When I sent Garry the 34 pages with our adventures of over 30 years, he responded with a few minor corrections. “Don’t you object to the passages where I make fun of you,” I asked, “where I describe how I pranked you?” His reply: “No, that is fine, Fred. It’s personal narrative. The world doesn’t need yet another Wiki article on my chess career.”
Over the last six months or so, I have done a number of video interviews, which essentially involved relating chapters from the book. Here are some you can listen to:
Frederic’s mates — How I met Max Euwe
Frederic’s mates — How I met Mikhail Botvinnik
Frederic’s mates — How I met Boris Spassky
Frederic’s mates — How I met Mikhail Tal
Frederic’s mates — How I met Anatoly Karpov
Frederic’s mates — How I met Garry Kasparov
Chess and digitalization — Interview with Frederic Friedel
In the meantime, I have started experimenting with AI translation, which has become remarkably proficient. It takes a minute or two to translate a chapter, retaining the full layout. I have done trial translations of one chapter into 24 languages — including exotics like Hebrew, Arabic, Mandarin, Hindi, Filipino, even Dravidian languages like Tamil and Malayalam. Experts tell me the results are not perfect and need to be edited by a professional. But it would take between five and fifteen times less time to make print-ready text than if they did everything manually, starting with a blank page.
So the plan is to find publishers for this and my next book in other languages. Maybe some of my subscribers here in Medium — readers who have been wondering whatever became of me — will suggest candidate publishers. Or they can at least show this page to friends who have contacts with book publishers. If you have suggestions, mail me (frederic at chessbase dot com).
Coming soon: a description of my second book, for Penguin, which is currently in print. It is all about logic for children — how occupying them with puzzles and problems from an early age will make them smarter and more inquisitive — and more affectionate to the person who is giving them the puzzles! Here’s what the book looks like in German. It was derived from my Blog section on the Magic of Logic. The text is once again available in two languages: English and German.