24 January 2015

Chess.com, Comments on Chess960

The previous post, FICS / ICC / Lichess, Comments on Chess960, discussed the last of the Crossboard (Live) Chess960 servers listed on the right. With this post I'll tackle the Correspondence (Turnbased) Chess960 servers.

I'm sure that nearly everyone is familiar with Chess.com, a site that has been discussed many times on this blog; earlier posts can be found under Label Chess.com, also listed to the right of every page. Along with correspondence play, the site has the most active chess960 forum on the web: Chess960 and Other Variants. The only function missing from the site is live chess960 play, an anomaly mentioned frequently in the forum.

[There is another chess960 forum on Chessgames.com which was active during the early days of chess960, a time when the topic was more controversial, but the frequency of posts has declined steadily over the last few years. I once used it as the subject of another post, Chess960 FAQ (June 2009).]

The most important chess960 forum post on Chess.com is undoubtedly Chess960 101. Along with pointers on aspects of chess960 that might be useful to the newcomer, it has links to Erik (aka Mr. Chess.com) Allebest's introduction to the new chess960 function (June 2009?) and to IM David Pruess's followup essay on tips to play successfully.

I have many other links to the Chess.com forum that are worth referencing. Unfortunately, as mentioned in a recent post on my main blog -- Blog Maintenance -- I'm currently overhauling my bookmarks. A discussion of those resources will have to wait for another day.

17 January 2015

FICS / ICC / Lichess, Comments on Chess960

After ChessCube, Comments on Chess960, let's take a look at comments about chess960 on FICS. First, here are the FICS rules on how to play (first written in 1996!):-

FICS doesn't have a forum and I couldn't find much discussion on other forums. The recurring theme seems to be how problematic it is to find a game there. For example:-

As for the last two servers listed after ICS under my 'Crossboard (Live) Chess960' links, I've already discussed them on this blog. Here is the final post for each server; follow the link to find earlier posts:-

In my next post I'll start looking at servers listed under 'Correspondence (Turnbased) Chess960'.

10 January 2015

ChessCube, Comments on Chess960

While working on Lichess, Second Look, I thought it might be a good idea to look at comments about chess960 from each of the ten online play sites listed on the right. That would give me some insight into practical issues involving the implementation of chess960. First on the list is ChessCube.com, where I found two good comments about when the clocks should be started.

Chess960 clock change (Feb 2011):-

At the moment the clock timer only starts once White has made his first move. White gets too much advantage! White is free to think for as long as they like while Black cannot predict what White will play with any degree of confidence and thus cannot properly prepare a reply during the time the clock is still. Once White has moved, Black's time is then the first to suffer!

The situation is made worse because White automatically get's one free tempo simply because they are White. Statistically speaking, this tends to put Black on the defensive from the game start. If White's time counts down immediately, this tends to balance out Black's chances to attack and play aggressively because at least there is some compensation to Black for being a tempo down.

Chess960 clock change (Aug 2013):-

White's countdown clock should start immediately on White's first turn. Black is already at a disadvantage and so when it comes to their first turn, all of the thinking they were doing on White's first turn might well come to nothing because White plays a different first move.

They almost sound as if they had been written by the same person. Whoever the author is, I agree with the reasons given.

While I was working on ChessCube, I deleted its label, which had also been listed on the right. When I set it up, I thought I would be playing frequently on the site, but it hasn't worked out the way I expected.

03 January 2015

Lichess, Third Look

After Lichess, First Look and Lichess, Second Look, is there any more to say? Yes, there is. That 'First Look' post only introduced the site's chess960 play against an engine, while 'Second Look' was a review of all my links to online play sites.

The site appears to be managed from ornicar/lila · GitHub, which bills itself as 'Best chess web application, ever'. Wikipedia, on its GitHub page, tells us,

GitHub is a web-based Git repository hosting service, which offers all of the distributed revision control and source code management (SCM) functionality of Git as well as adding its own features. Unlike Git, which is strictly a command-line tool, GitHub provides a web-based graphical interface and desktop as well as mobile integration.

The ornicar/lila page adds,

It's a free online chess game focused on realtime and ease of use. It has a search engine, computer analysis, tournaments, forums, teams, puzzles, a weird monitoring console, and a world map. The UI is available in 80 languages thanks to the community.

Since my interest in the site is mainly for chess960, I searched both the web and the Lichess forum for material relevant to Fischer's greatest invention. One forum post from the past month, Forum > General Chess Discussion > Chess 960, asked, 'How popular is this variant here?', and led me to the site's search page.

There I learned that of the 50.000.000+ games recorded on the site, almost 600.000 are chess960. As a percentage that might seem small, but it's hardly discouraging; chess960 adoption is still in its very early days. I also learned that 32 games have been played where the average rating of the two players was more than 2400. That could be a good starting point for a future post on this blog.

Another starting point might be the on the site's GitHub page.

If you want to add a live chess section to your website, you are welcome to embed lichess. It's very easy. [...] Just embed lichess using an iframe.

I'm looking at those tabs at the top of every page on this blog -- 'Home' ... 'Chess960 1-2-3' -- and telling myself, 'Let's give it a try!'

27 December 2014

Lichess, Second Look

I ended the previous post, Lichess, First Look, with the question 'where should it be placed in the list of chess960 servers shown in the sidebar of this blog?'. The main page, en.lichess.org, which is also the 'Play' page, lists both 'Real time' and 'Correspondence' play. Since I have fewer 'Real time' links than I have 'Correspondence' links, I listed it under my Crossboard (Live) links.

While I was working on those links, first documented in Chess960 Online Play Sites (March 2011), I checked all links to ensure they were still active. One site had disappeared (Brainking.de) and one site had changed its main address (LSS), so I made those corrections.

As for Lichess itself, everything I look at tells me that it's highly unusual. I'll need a 'Third Look' before I make any conclusions.

20 December 2014

Lichess, First Look

An online play resource I haven't covered yet is Lichess.org. HarryO mentioned it in a comment to Foraging the 'News Groups' (August 2013), and it always pops up on searches for specific chess960 positions like the all important BBQNNRKR. It also offers a chess960 'Play with the machine [Stockfish]' service.

Lichess.org : Play with the machine

What else does it offer? And where should it be placed in the list of chess960 servers shown in the sidebar of this blog? A longer look is needed.

13 December 2014

Design the Chess960 World Championship

Earlier this year I posted a series on my World Championship blog -- The Road to the World Championship: Part I, Part II, and Part III -- along with an opinion on my main blog, The Winning Formula, 'Has FIDE finally found the winning formula?'. The posts describe the qualification process for the FIDE World Championship.

Let's suppose we're tasked with designing a World Championship for chess960 using the same four-stage structure as the FIDE qualification cycle for traditional chess:-

Continental Championships -> World Cup -> Candidates Tournament -> Title Match

This structure uses four different types of event -- Swiss system, Knockout, Round robin, and Match -- corresponding to the four qualifying stages. For each equivalent stage of the chess960 championship,

  • How are start positions (SPs) chosen?
  • When are SPs announced to the players?
  • How many games are played with each SP?
  • What time controls are used?
  • How do tiebreaks work?
  • Is SP518 in use?

Lots of questions. Any opinions?