2010 Chess960 Dropout Tournament, Round 4

Start Position: 755
'Standard' (30 days + 1 day/move, max 45 days)
This game is being played under Chess960 rules. Click the 'info' tab for more information.
1. g3 f5
Clock started on 12/25/2010
2. b3 Qe6 3. Nd3 Qa6 4. a4 Qe6 5. Ne3 g6 6. Bxh8 Rxh8 7. Bd5 Qd6 8. Qg2 e6 9. Bf3 Qe7 10. g4 Rf8 11. Rb2 Nd6 12. gxf5 Nxf5 13. Nxf5 Rxf5 14. h3 Nf7 15. b4 Ng5 16. Bg4 b6 17. f3 Rf8 18. h4 Nf7 19. h5 Nd6 20. hxg6 hxg6 21. Qh2 Nc4 22. Rb3 Bd5 23. Rc3 e5 24. e4 Bg8 25. Qf2 O-O-O 26. Rh1 Kb8 27. Qh2 Bf7 28. b5 Rfe8 29. Rg1 Rh8 30. Qg3 g5 31. Kd1 Rh6 32. Rxc4 Bxc4 33. Nxe5 Be6 34. Bxe6 Rxe6 35. Nd3 Rg8 36. e5 Qa3 37. Qg4 Rxe5 38. Nxe5 Qa1+ 39. Ke2 Qxe5+ 40. Kd1 Qa1+ 41. Ke2 Re8+ 42. Kd3 Qf6 43. c4 Qd6+ 44. Qd4 Qa3+ 45. Kc2 Qxa4+ 46. Kb2 Qb4+ 47. Kc2 Qe7 48. Qd5 c6 49. bxc6 dxc6 50. Qxc6 Rc8 51. Qd5 Rc5 52. Qe4 Re5 53. Qd4 Rc5 54. Rb1 Rc6 55. Rb3 Qf7 56. Qe5+ Qc7 57. Qe8+ Kb7 58. Qe4 a6 59. Rc3 Ka7 60. Kb3 Rf6 61. Qd5 Rg6 62. Kc2 Rg7 63. c5 bxc5 64. Rxc5 Qb6 65. Qd4 Rb7 66. Kd3 Rf7 67. Ke2 Re7+ 68. Kf2 Kb7 69. Kg3 Rh7 70. Qe4+ Kb8 71. Qe5+ Ka7 72. Qxg5 Qd6+ 73. Re5 Kb7 74. Qe3 Rd7 75. f4 Qxd2 76. Qxd2 Rxd2 77. f5 Rd1 78. Kg4 Kc8 79. f6 Kd7 80. Kg5 Rg1+ 81. Kh6 Rf1 82. Kg7 Rf2 83. Rc5 Ke6 84. Rc6+ Kd7 85. Rxa6 Rg2+ 86. Kf8 Rg6 87. Ra7+ Kd8 88. f7
White win

Many chess masters valued the challenge of playing chess with a non-standard setup as a way to break out of the opening play doldrums. Chess960 (Fischer Random Chess) plays like Standard Chess with the exception of a randomly generated opening setup of pieces behind the 8 pawns. The game is quite popular and played even by top chess grandmasters, like Svidler or Leko.


1. The rules

Most of the standard chess rules are in place. The only exceptions are:

  • pieces are randomly shuffled on the first/last rank (the only restrictions are that bishops have opposite colors and that the king must be somewhere between the rooks, black setup mirrors white),
  • castling rules are generalised to accomodate varying initial setup.

Example initial setup (one of the 960 possible):


Castling rule is easy to memorize: after castling, king and rook move to the squares they would land in standard chess (after O-O we have Kg1 and Rf1, after O-O-O Kc1 and Rd1). Typical chess restrictions apply - none of the castling pieces moved, source and destination squares are empty, king path is free of any pieces and not under opponent attack. SchemingMind interface shows castling icons whenever castle is possible.

O-O looks fantastic in the above setup, doesn't it? And require some work to prepare... But in setups with Kf1 and Rg1, one can play O-O as the first move of the game.

Except those, all standard chess rules apply, be it en-passant, pawn promotion, stalemate, or whatever. Once both sides castled there is no difference between chess960 and standard chess game (although the middlegame positions are sometimes unique - thanks to nontypical development of pieces or pawn structures).


2. Why play it?

Escaping long, well known, opening lines of standard chess is obvious advantage of chess960. We are again in the world where one must work from the very beginning of the game. It is fun, it is also valuable training for standard chess players (learning to think during opening stage helps when one meets unexpected line in usual chess).

Less known feature is that chess960 frequently creates middlegame configurations (from pawn structures, to piece layouts) rarely or never met in standard chess, giving way to nontypical combinations. Fun, but also good training to search for new tactical patterns.


3. Tips and tricks

Below a few tips for people starting chess960.

1. This is normal chess. The middlegame and endgame knowledge applies as-is. Basic opening principles (develop, castle, claim center, be active) also apply. Memorize castling rule quoted above, and you can play.

2. Spend some time studying initial setup. Are there diagonals you can quickly claim? Which side do you expect to castle? What are undefended or poorly defended pawns and squares? Which pieces can be difficult to develop?

3. Remember about activating all your pieces. There are chess960 setups, in which some pieces are difficult to develop (for example, imagine setup with queens on a1 and a8, especially if there are bishops on h1 and h8). It can pay off to sac some material, but to bring all forces into the battle quickly.

4. Avoid chess960 errors. One can see solid chess players hanging pieces, allowing for major forks, or even blundering a mate in one or two in chess960 games (see for instance cruel miniature , quick knight mate or devastating fork at move 3). The reason is that pieces are differently organised than in normal chess. Some patterns can be similar to known chess setups, and instinctively seen so, but allow for an attack, which in normal chess would not work. Those examples prove also, that one must be alert from the very beginning of the game.

5. Recognize weak squares. Everybody know about weaknessess of f2 and f7 in standard chess, in chess960 (depending on setup) there can be even squares which are not defended at all. Spot them, exploit them, defend them.


4. Instructive games

Selected example games:

Develop to win - white picks better development plan and manages to organise threatening attack before black coordinates his forces

The Queen problem - interesting game, which in particular illustrates the problem with developing queen in some setups; note also phantasy castling at move 14 and interesting endgame,

Castling on the first move - also, interesting example of development in rather difficult configuration (knights in corners)

Another early castling - plus just another example of interesting development problems (note difficulties black face with activating the queen, and both sides have with h bishops)

More links to instructive chess960 games played on schemingmind, are welcome. In particular, it would be nice to find:

more examples of exploration of weak square(s)

illustration of sacrificing some material to activate pieces,

closed position with pawn structure not likely to happen in standard chess,


5. Position number

The position number is a number from range 1 to 960, which in unique way describes the initial position. Exact algorithm (initially described by R.Scharnagl in his German book about the game) is not usually important, but if you are interested, see chapter 5 on this page. In short: if you write the position number in binary notation, then the lowest two bits encode position of light-square bishop, next two bits the position of dark-square bishop, then the rest of pieces are encoded.


6. Valuable links

See this journal article for a few commented games and some links to Chess960 sites.

links to chess960 sites are welcome

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