A major element of serious chess play is the study of openings*
-- of known series of moves from the starting position whose effects to the later stages of the game are well established through previous games and through manual and computer analysis. Chess960
a.k.a. Fischer Random Chess
was introduced in 1996 by chess genius (and reclusive paranoid anti-semite) Bobby Fischer as an alternative that aims to remove the emphasis on this laborious element while keeping other central aspects of the game intact. The tagline of one blog dedicated to the game calls it 'a return to the pleasure of the first move in a vast unexplored wilderness'
. Some of this wilderness is being explored with new theory, linked below the fold among other things.
A quick summary of the basic rules as they are deviated or rephrased from traditional chess
* The positions of the pieces on the back rank are randomized
with the following constraints:
* The bishops must be on squares of opposite colors.
* The king must be on some square between the rooks.
* The positions of the pieces are mirrored on the opponent's side.
* Castling is done into the same positions as in traditional chess. All the squares between the rook's and the king's starting locations and their castled locations must be free of other pieces.
Given this setting, basic chess strategy
) are still in effect, but traditional opening theory will only apply in one of the 960 possible starting positions (often numbered
). So, once you've rolled a new starting position, what to look for?
On the Opening in Fischer Random Chess
presents some general considerations, focusing on 'naturally weak' pawn squares.
Chess960: How to practice it - part two
has additional points on how to exploit those (part one
is for the hard core).
Some advice for more specific scenarios along with statistics on how often they may occur:
Chess960: Queens in the Corner
Chess960: Develop the Centre Bishop with Bf3?
Two and a half blogs on the subject:
, already linked above.
and a number of older chess960 posts on its mother blog,
Chess for all ages
A natural question that arises is whether some of the starting positions are trivially unfair for either black or white. That would appear to not be the case
; dozens of games in each starting position between top-level chess engines have not turned out a starting position with a clear advantage for either side. Some, though, can have some hairy early situations, as illustrated by this series of posts
Some YouTubers who've posted chess960 games with live commentary:
-- 1 2 3
-- 1 2 3 4
-- 1 2 3 4 5
Piewalkermatt has also posted analyses of two
between top-level chess grandmasters Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian.
Where to play online?
does not require registration (which itself is also very simple) and sets up a game for you with a couple of mouse clicks.
has tons of features, and several (high-speed) chess960 tournaments every day.
Free Internet Chess Server
can be accessed with your preferred chess client software
Internet Chess Club