2012 Chess960 Dropout Tournament, Round 5

Start Position: 599
'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. c4 Nf6
Clock started on 5/18/2013
2. g3 d6 3. Nc3 O-O 4. Bg2 Be6 5. d3 c6 6. Nf3 Qc8 7. O-O g6 8. Ng5 Bd7 9. d4 Ne6 10. Qd3 c5 11. Nxe6 Bxe6 12. dxc5 dxc5 13. Nd5 Nxd5 14. cxd5 Bh3 15. Rd1 Bxg2 16. Kxg2 Qd7 17. Rb1 b5 18. Bd2 c4 19. Qf3 a5 20. Bc3 Bxc3 21. bxc3 Rab8 22. Rd4 Rfc8 23. Rf4 e6 24. dxe6 Qxe6 25. Rf6 Qd7 26. Ra6 a4 27. Rb2 Re8= 28. Qc6 Qe7 29. a3 Kg7 30. h4 Red8 31. h5 Qe5 32. Qf3 Rd7 33. Rf6 Qxh5 34. Qxh5 gxh5 35. Rf5 Rd1 36. Rfxb5 Rxb5 37. Rxb5 Ra1 38. Rb4 Rxa3 39. Rxc4 Kf6 40. Kf3 Ke5 41. Ke3 Kd6 42. Kd3 Ra2 43. Rd4+ Ke6 44. Rd8 a3 45. Ra8 Kd5 46. Ra5+ Kd6 47. Rxh5 Ra1 48. Ra5 Kc6 49. g4 Kb6 50. Ra8 h6 51. c4 a2 52. Ke4 Kb7 53. Ra4 Rf1 54. Rxa2 Rxf2 55. Ke3 Rf1 56. Ra5 Rg1 57. Kf4 Rf1+ 58. Kg3 Kc6 59. Rh5 Rg1+ 60. Kf4 Rc1 61. Rf5 Kd6 62. c5+ Ke7 63. e3 f6 64. e4 Rf1+ 65. Ke3 Rg1 66. Rf4 Rd1 67. Rf2 Rg1 68. Rh2 Rxg4 69. Rxh6 Rg1 70. Kd4 Ke6 71. Rh3 Rd1+ 72. Rd3 Rf1 73. Rd2 Kd7 74. Kd5 Kc7 75. Rd3 Rf2 76. Rd1 Kd7 77. Rb1 Rd2+ 78. Kc4 Rf2 79. Rb7+ Kc6 80. Rb6+ Kc7 81. Kd5 Rd2+ 82. Ke6 Re2 83. Kf5 Rf2+ 84. Kg6 Rf4 85. Re6 Kd8 86. Kf7 Kd7 87. c6+ Kc7 88. Ke7 f5 89. e5 Re4 90. Kf6 f4 91. Kf5 Rc4 92. Kg4 f3+ 93. Kxf3=
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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