2012 Chess960 Dropout Tournament, Round 4

Start Position: 889
'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. Ng3 f5
Clock started on 1/14/2013
2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 Nf6 4. c4 Be7 5. Bc2 c5 6. dxc5 Bxc5 7. Bc3 Qf4+ 8. Bd2 Qc7 9. O-O Bg6 10. Bd3 O-O 11. Qc2 Nf7 12. Bc3 Ng4 13. Rad1 Nfe5 14. b4 Be7 15. h3 Nxf3+ 16. exf3 Nf6 17. Rfe1 Rfe8 18. Be5 Qc6 19. Qb2 a5 20. a3 axb4 21. axb4 b6 22. Ne2 d6 23. Nd4 Qd7 24. Bh2 e5 25. Nb5 Rec8 26. Bf1 Qc6 27. Rc1 Nd7 28. Qd2 Rd8 29. Nd4 Qc8 30. Ne6 Re8 31. c5 bxc5 32. bxc5 Nxc5 33. Nxc5 dxc5 34. Bc4+ Bf7 35. Bxf7+ Kxf7 36. Rxe5 Kg8 37. Qd5+ Kh8 38. Rxf5 Rd8 39. Qe4 Rd4 40. Qc2 Kg8 41. Be5 Rd5 42. Qc4 Qe6 43. Re1 Rf8 44. Bc3 Qxf5 45. Rxe7 Rd8 46. Rxg7+ Kf8 47. Qh4 R8d7 48. Rg4 Qe6 49. Qg3 Re7 50. Kh2 Rf5 51. Re4 Qb6 52. Be5 Rd7 53. f4 Rff7 54. Ra4 Ra7 55. Rc4 Rad7 56. Rc3 Qc6= 57. Rb3 Rb7 58. Qg5 Rxb3 59. Qd8+ Qe8 60. Bd6+ Re7 61. Bxe7+ Kf7 62. Qd5+ Kxe7 63. Qxb3 Qc6 64. Qc4 Kd6 65. f5 Qd5 66. Qxd5+ Kxd5 67. Kg1
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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