Chess960 League - Season Seven

Start Position: 438
'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. d4 d5
Clock started on 2/8/2015
2. Nbc3 Nbc6 3. Nb5 Qd7 4. c3 a6 5. Na3 e5 6. dxe5 Nxe5 7. Bf4 f6 8. Ne3 Ne6 9. Bg3 d4 10. cxd4 Qxd4 11. Qc1 Nc5 12. Nac4 Be6 13. Nxe5 fxe5 14. f3 Ne4 15. fxe4 Bd6 16. Bf2 Qxe4 17. g3 Qa4 18. b3 Qb5 19. Bg2 Qxe2 20. O-O Qb5 21. Rd1 Rf8 22. Qd2 Bb4 23. Qd3 c6 24. Qxb5 axb5 25. Be4 Bc3 26. Rac1 Bd4 27. Re1 h5 28. Nd1 Rh6 29. Bxd4 exd4 30. Nf2 Rhf6 31. Nd3 Bg4 32. Rf1 Re8 33. Rxf6 gxf6 34. Nf2 Kg7 35. Bd3 Bc8 36. Kf1 Rd8 37. Rc5 Kh6 38. Be2 f5 39. Nd3 Bd7 40. Nf4 b6 41. Rc1 c5 42. Ke1 Be8 43. Kd2 b4 44. Bd3 Ra8 45. Rc2 Kg5 46. Ne6+ Kf6 47. Nc7 Rd8 48. Nxe8+ Rxe8 49. Rc1 Ra8 50. Bb1 Re8 51. Rf1 Re5 52. Rf2 Rd5 53. Kd3 b5 54. Kd2 c4 55. Rf4 Kg6 56. Bc2 d3 57. bxc4 bxc4 58. Rxc4 dxc2+ 59. Kxc2 Ra5 60. Kb3 Ra3+ 61. Kb2 Re3 62. Rxb4 Re2+ 63. Ka1 Rxh2 64. a4 Rh3 65. a5 Rxg3 66. Kb2 Rg2+ 67. Kb3 Rg1 68. Ra4 Rg3+ 69. Kb2 Re3 70. a6 Re8 71. a7 Ra8 72. Kc3 h4 73. Rxh4= Rxa7 74. Kd3 Rf7 75. Ke3 Kg5 76. Ra4 Rf6 77. Kf3 Rd6 78. Rc4 Rb6 79. Ra4 Rb3+ 80. Kf2 f4 81. Ra8= Rb6 82. Rg8+ Rg6 83. Rxg6+ Kxg6 84. Kf3 Kg5 85. Kf2 Kf6 86. Kf3 Ke5 87. Kf2 Ke6 88. Ke2 Kf5 89. Kf3 Ke5=
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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