2019 Chess960 Dropout Tournament, Round 4

Start Position: 149
'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. e4 e5
Clock started on 5/11/2020
2. Nd3 Nf6 3. Bf3 Nb6 4. Qe2 d6 5. b3 Be6 6. Ba3 Be7 7. c4 Nbd7 8. Nc2 b5 9. cxb5 Rxb5 10. O-O Qb8 11. Ndb4 Qb6 12. Rfd1 a5 13. Nd3 a4 14. b4 Bxa2 15. Rb2 Bb3 16. Nc1 Be6 17. d4 Nb8 18. d5 Bd7 19. Na2 Qa7 20. Nc3 Rb7 21. b5 h5 22. Rb4 Bg4 23. b6 Rxb6 24. Bxg4 Rxb4 25. Nxb4 Nxg4 26. h3 Nf6 27. Qc4 O-O 28. Rd3 Rc8 29. Nc2 Na6 30. Qxa4 Qb6 31. Ne3 Nc5 32. Bxc5 Qxc5 33. Nf5 Bd8 34. Ne2 g6 35. Rg3 Kh7 36. Nh4 Rb8 37. Rc3 Qb5 38. Qxb5 Rxb5 39. Rc4 Rb1+ 40. Kh2 Rb2 41. Nc3 Rc2 42. f3 Nxe4 43. fxe4 Bxh4 44. Rxc7 Kg7 45. Rc6 Kf8 46. Nb5 Re2 47. Nxd6 Be7 48. Rc8+ Kg7 49. Ne8+ Kh6 50. Rc7 Bg5 51. Nd6 Bf4+ 52. Kg1 Be3+ 53. Kf1 Rf2+ 54. Ke1 Rxg2 55. Nxf7+ Kg7 56. Nxe5+ Kf6 57. Nc4 Bf4 58. Rc6+ Ke7 59. Re6+ Kd7 60. Ne5+ Bxe5 61. Rxe5 Rh2 62. Rg5 Rxh3 63. Kf2 Rd3 64. Rxg6 h4 65. Rh6 h3 66. d6 Rxd6 67. Rxh3 Rd2+= 68. Ke3 Rd1 69. Rh6 Ra1 70. Kd4 Rd1+ 71. Ke5 Re1 72. Rh7+ Ke8 73. Kf5 Rf1+ 74. Ke6 Kd8 75. e5 Re1 76. Rh5 Re2 77. Kf6 Rf2+ 78. Rf5 Rxf5+ 79. Kxf5 Ke7 80. e6 Ke8 81. Ke5 Ke7 82. Kd5 Ke8 83. Ke5 Ke7 84. Kf5 Ke8 85. Kf6 Kf8 86. Kg6 Ke7 87. Kf5 Ke8 88. Kf6 Kf8 89. e7+ Ke8 90. Ke6

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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