2017 Chess960 Dropout Tournament, Round 1

Start Position: 128
'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. Ne3 b6
Clock started on 1/17/2017
2. Nd3 d5 3. b3 c5 4. Be5 Nd6 5. c4 d4 6. Bxd6 Rxd6 7. Nf5 Rg6 8. e4 e6 9. Nh4 Rh6 10. Nf3 Ng6 11. Qe2 Qc6 12. Re1 e5 13. b4 O-O 14. O-O f5 15. b5 Qxe4 16. Ndxe5 Qxe2 17. Rxe2 Re8 18. Rfe1 Nxe5 19. Nxe5 Rhe6 20. f4 g6 21. a4 Bxe5 22. fxe5 Bb7 23. Bc2 a6 24. Bb1 axb5 25. axb5 Ra8 26. Kh1 Ra1 27. d3 f4 28. Kg1 g5 29. Rf2 Kg7 30. h4 h6 31. Kh2 Kg6 32. g4 Bc8 33. h5+ Kf7 34. Rfe2 Re7 35. Kh3 Be6 36. Ra2 Ra7 37. Rxa1 Rxa1 38. Rg1 Bc8 39. Rf1 Bb7 40. Kh2 Ke6 41. Re1 Ba8 42. Rf1 Kxe5 43. Re1+ Kf6 44. Rf1 Ra7 45. Kg1 Re7 46. Kf2 Re3 47. Rg1 Bf3 48. Bc2 Be2 49. Bb1 Bxd3 50. Bxd3 Rxd3 51. Ra1 Re3 52. Ra7 Re7 53. Ra8 Re6 54. Ra7 Ke5 55. Rd7 Ke4 56. Rc7 d3 57. Rd7 f3 58. Rd8 Kf4 59. Rxd3 Kxg4 60. Rxf3 Kxh5 61. Rc3 Kg6 62. Rd3 h5 63. Rd8 h4 64. Kf3 Kf5 65. Rf8+ Rf6 66. Rh8 g4+ 67. Kg2 h3+ 68. Kg3 Rg6 69. Rh7 Ke5 70. Rd7 Rd6 71. Re7+ Kd4 72. Rg7 Kxc4 73. Rxg4+ Kxb5 74. Kxh3 c4 75. Rf4 c3 76. Rf2 Rd2 77. Rf5+ Kb4 78. Rf4+ Kb3 79. Rf6 b5 80. Rf1 c2
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):

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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