2011 Chess960 Dropout Tournament, Round 4

Start Position: 520
'Standard' (30 days + 1 day/move, max 45 days)
This game is being played under Chess960 rules. Click the 'info' tab for more information.
Clock started on 1/22/2012
1. c4 c5 2. Nb3 Qc7 3. Nf3 e5 4. O-O f6 5. d3 Bf7 6. Bc3 Nge7 7. e4 O-O 8. Re1 a6 9. a4 Bh5 10. Qe2 d6 11. Nbd2 Ng6 12. Bc2 Nce7 13. Bd1 Nf4 14. Qf1 Bg4 15. Nb1 Bd7 16. Bd2 Ne6 17. Nc3 Qd8 18. Nd5 Bc7 19. b4 Nc6 20. bxc5 dxc5 21. Qe2 Rb8 22. Rb1 Bd6 23. Rb6 a5 24. Qe3 Bc7 25. Rb1 Nb4 26. Nh4 Kh8 27. Bg4 Nf4 28. Qg3 Be8 29. Bxf4 exf4 30. Qh3 g6 31. Be6 Nc2 32. Re2 Nd4 33. Ra2 Be5 34. Nf3 Nxf3+ 35. Qxf3 Qd6 36. Qh3 Kg7 37. Ra3 b6 38. Bc8 Bf7 39. Ba6 h5 40. Qf3 Be6 41. h3 g5 42. Rab3 g4 43. Qd1 f3 44. gxf3 Bd4 45. Kh1 Bxf2 46. Qf1 Qg3 47. f4 Bxd5 48. cxd5 Qxf4 49. Qg2 Bd4 50. Rf1 Qg5 51. Rf5 Qh4 52. Rb1 Rg8 53. Bc4 Kh6 54. d6 Rg5 55. d7 gxh3 56. Qh2 Qg4 57. Rxg5 fxg5 58. Qd6+ Kh7 59. Qe7+ Bg7 60. Rg1 Qf3+ 61. Kh2 Qf4+ 62. Kh1 g4 63. Qe8 Kh6 64. Bf7 Qf3+ 65. Kh2 Bd4 66. Qe6+ Qf6 67. Qxf6+ Bxf6 68. Be6 Kg5 69. Rf1 Bd4 70. Kh1 Kh4 71. Bf7 g3 72. Rf4+ Kg5 73. Rf5+ Kh6 74. Rxh5+ Kg7 75. Rxh3 Kxf7 76. Rh6 Rd8 77. Rh5 Rxd7 78. Kg2 Bf2 79. Rh7+ Ke6 80. Rh6+ Ke5 81. Rh5+ Kf4 82. e5 Rxd3 83. e6 Re3 84. Rh6 Kg5 85. Rh8 Rxe6 86. Rg8+ Kf4 87. Rc8 Bd4 88. Rf8+ Bf6 89. Rg8 Re2+ 90. Kf1 Rb2 91. Rf8 Ke3 92. Rxf6 Rf2+ 93. Rxf2 gxf2 94. Kg2 c4 95. Kf1 c3 96. Kg2 c2 97. Kg3 f1=Q 98. Kg4 Qf4+ 99. Kh5 c1=Q 100. Kg6 Qg1+
Black 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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