10 July 2010

DGT960 Chess Clock

'♫ We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave ♫', my attic office is even hotter than it normally is, and the last thing I want to do is write a complicated post requiring all sorts of detailed analysis. That means it's time for a video, where the hard work has already been done by the video maker. In this case the video is about the DGT960 clock, narrated, if I'm not mistaken, by Albert Vasse of DGT.

DGT960 Chess Starting Position Generator (4:11) • 'The DGT960 can random generate one of the starting positions of chess960, also known as Fischer Random Chess.'

The first sequence in the video shows the start position of a traditional chess game (SP518 RNBQKBNR), where you can see the graphics used to denote individual pieces. Then it goes on to explain how you can select a position randomly...

Every time I push this button there will be a number between 1 and 960. [The display shows the number 466.] With this number there is a starting position. In this case it means BRNNKBRQ. (1:30 into the clip)

...select a numeric start position yourself...

I can set up a number for myself. Let's say I want to see what position 960 really is. I set up the 960 with the '+' and '-' button, and I see that position 960 is BBQNNRKR. (2:10)

...or enter a start position by setting up the pieces on specific start squares.

It looks great, except there is a small error in the explanation: 'Let's say I want to see what position 960 really is.' In chess960 there is no start position 960. The positions are numbered 000 to 959, so position 960 in the clip is in fact start position 0 (SP000 BBQNNRKR).

The reason why this must be is that the numbering of the first 16 positions (SP000-SP015) cycles through the 16 possible combinations of the two Bishops (BB......, B..B...., B....B.., etc.) while the relative position of the other pieces is fixed (QNNRKR for SP000-SP015). The same is true for all subsequent blocks of 16 positions.

This quibble aside, the DGT960 performs a valuable service to the chess960 community. See the end of the clip for related videos explaining other DGT960 functionality common to chess clocks in general.

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