2011 Chess960 Dropout Tournament, Round 5

Start Position: 787
'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 5/30/2012
1. g3 g6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc2 Nd6 4. d3 b5 5. Bxa8 Rxa8 6. cxb5 c4 7. a4 cxd3 8. exd3 a6 9. b4 Bxa1 10. Rxa1 axb5 11. a5 Qb7 12. Ne2 f5 13. O-O Nf6 14. Qh6 Ke8 15. Ncd4 Kf7 16. Qe3 Rfe8 17. Nc3 e5 18. Nf3 Kg8 19. Nxe5 Ng4 20. Qd4 Nxe5 21. Qxd6 Nf3+ 22. Kh1 Re5 23. Qb6 Qc6 24. Qxc6 dxc6 25. Kg2 Nd4 26. Rae1 Rxe1 27. Rxe1 Kf7 28. Ne2 Nc2 29. Rb1 c5 30. bxc5 b4 31. Rc1 b3 32. Rb1 Rxa5 33. Rxb3 Rxc5 34. Rb7+ Kg8 35. Nf4 Ne1+ 36. Kf1 Nf3 37. Rb8+ Kf7 38. h4 Rc2 39. Rb7+ Kg8 40. Re7 Rc1+ 41. Kg2 Ne1+ 42. Kh3 Nf3 43. Re3 Nd4 44. Ne6 Nxe6 45. Rxe6 Kf7 46. Rb6 Rd1 47. Rb7+ Ke6 48. Rxh7 Rxd3 49. Ra7 f4 50. Kg4 fxg3 51. fxg3 Rc3 52. Ra6+ Kf7 53. Ra5 Kg7 54. Ra7+ Kh6 55. Ra4 Rc5 56. Rb4 Rd5 57. Re4 Rf5 58. Rc4 Rb5 59. Rd4 Rf5 60. Rd6 Re5 61. Rc6 Rf5 62. Rc3 Re5 63. Kh3 Rf5 64. Re3 Rd5 65. Re4 Rf5 66. Re7 Rd5 67. Re3 Rf5 68. g4 Rb5 69. Kg3 Ra5 70. Re6 Ra3+ 71. Kf2 Ra4 72. Kf3 Ra3+ 73. Re3 Ra4 74. Rd3 Rc4 75. Ra3 Rb4 76. Kg3 Rd4 77. Ra6 Rd3+ 78. Kf4 Rd4+ 79. Kf3 Rd3+ 80. Ke4 Rd7 81. Rc6 Rb7 82. Re6 Rb4+ 83. Kf3 Rb3+ 84. Re3 Rb4 85. Ra3 Rd4 86. Rb3 Ra4 87. Rc3 Rd4 88. Rc6 Rd3+ 89. Ke4 Rd7 90. Rb6 Ra7 91. Rf6 Ra4+ 92. Kf3 Ra3+ 93. Kf4 Ra4+ 94. Kg3 Ra3+ 95. Rf3 Ra4 96. Rd3 Rb4 97. Re3 Ra4 98. Re6 Ra3+ 99. Kf2 Ra2+ 100. Kf3 Ra3+ 101. Re3 Ra4= 102. Rd3
Draw

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):

rkbnrnqb/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RKBNRNQB

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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