06 December 2014

The Initial Positional Considerations

In my previous post, Breaking the Symmetry, I reported on the 2012 SchemingMind Chess960 Dropout Tournament. In this post I'll report on the 2013 event. In fact, SchemingMind conducted two 2013 chess960 dropout tournaments. The first was an experimental event using the 60 day countdown time control that I discussed in my initial post about The Lechenicher SchachServer (LSS). The second was a traditional event using the same time control (30 days per game plus 1 day per move) seen in the previous SchemingMind dropout tournaments. Because I had switched to LSS to try their more relaxed countdown control, I decided to skip both SchemingMind events.

Since the first 2013 SchemingMind tournament finished recently and the second is in the last round, I'll report on the first event: 2013 Chess960 Dropout Tournament (Schemingmind.com). A key game took place in the fifth of the six rounds, between the eventual runner-up and the eventual winner, playing White and Black respectively. The chess960 wheel of fortune gave the players SP718 RKQNNBBR, shown in the top diagram.

The initial positional considerations in every chess960 game are nearly always the same:-

  • To which side will I castle?
  • How will I deploy the minor pieces?
  • Where will the Queen go?

In SP718, castling O-O-O appears to be the obvious choice, but the other considerations are not so straighforward. Let's see what the two players did.

The game started 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 f6 3.e4 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd6 5.f3 e5 6.dxe5 fxe5 7.Bd3 Be7 8.c3 Ne6 9.Be3 Bf7, reaching the position shown in the bottom diagram. Both players have developed the minor pieces in different arrangements. Black has completed their development, while White still has to move the Knight off e1. Its only move is Nc2, which apparently did not appeal to White for his next move, since he played 10.g3. Besides making space for the Knight on g2, the move keeps the enemy Knight off f4, and prepares a Kingside expansion with h2-h4.

Now Black had to tackle the questions concerning castling and the Queen's development. The obvious choice is a Queen move followed by ...O-O-O, but Black found another possibility: 10...a5!. This move says that Black will leave the King in place, will deploy the Rook via the a-file, and will use the a-Pawn to harrass the White King. This plan must have sent White scrambling to find a good counterplan, but he eventually decided to continue on his chosen course. A few moves later Black sacrificed a Pawn to get attacking chances against the White King, and finally won the game. The full game score is...

[Event "Chess960: 2013 Chess960 Dropout Tournament, Round 5"]
[Site "SchemingMind.com"]
[Date "2014.04.18"]
[Round "-"]
[White "pjl1015"]
[Black "Ezedoke"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Variant "fischerandom"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "rkqnnbbr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RKQNNBBR w KQkq - 0 1"]

1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 f6 3.e4 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd6 5.f3 e5 6.dxe5 fxe5 7.Bd3 Be7 8.c3 Ne6 9.Be3 Bf7 10.g3 a5 11.h4 a4 12.Qc2 g6 13.Qe2 Rf8 14.Nc2 Nxe4 15.Bxe4 Nc5 16.Bxc5 Bxc5 17.Qb5 Bb6 18.Qxe5 Ra5 19.Qe7 Bc5 20.Qg5 Qe6 21.a3 Qb6 22.Qd2 Rb5 23.Nb4 Bb3 24.Nc2 Bc4 25.Nb4 Be3 26.Qc2 Re5 27.Qxa4 Rxe4 28.fxe4 Qe6 29.Re1 c5 30.Qd1 Bf2 31.Nd3 Bxd3+ 32.Qxd3 Bxe1 33.O-O-O c4 34.Qd4 Bxg3 0-1

... courtesy of SchemingMind.

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