28 August 2021

New Label 'Download'

Last week's post, TWIC's Chess960 Data 2017-21 (August 2021), mentioned four chess960 events covered by TWIC. It turns out that I covered all four in posts on this blog:-

Of those four events, I provided PGN game scores for only one, the 2018 Carlsen - Nakamura match. TWIC provided PGN for all four. In addition to that, I've provided PGN for other events; ditto for TWIC. To help identify any overlap, I created a new category to catalog my posts having a related PGN file: Showing posts with label Download.

If I take the time to identify editions of TWIC that had chess960 PGN files, I'll be able to catalog the overlap. Watch this space.

21 August 2021

TWIC's Chess960 Data 2017-21

On my main blog I've been using TWIC data (from 'The Week in Chess' by Mark Crowther) to catch up with Magnus Carlsen's record after his last World Championship match. In a recent post, Carlsen's Events 2019-21 (August 2021), I wrote,
[Carlsen's] games were spread across 77 different events, of which 34 were played face-to-face and 43 online.

In that post, plus the next in the series, Carlsen's Online Events 2019-21 (August 2021), I discovered that TWIC had distributed Carlsen's chess960 games from two events:-

(Face-to-face) World Fischer Random 2019; 14; 2019.10.27; Hovikodden NOR
(Online) Champ Showdown 9LX 2020; 9; 2020.09.11; lichess.org INT

The number after the name of the event -- 14 in the first line -- is the number of games that GM Carlsen played in the event. I'm mentioning all of this mainly because Crowther is on record as being firmly in the influential camp whose mantra is 'Chess960 isn't for me!'. See, for example, The Week in Chess960 (December 2013), where I quoted him saying,

If [chess960] is the answer then it's time to take up a completely different game.

If I had been paying closer attention, I would have noticed that Crowther had already distributed Carlsen's chess960 games even earlier. See Carlsen's PGN 2017-18 (October 2018), where we find an entry for 'Fischer Random Rapid/Blitz 2018; Baerum [Norway]'.

Although I discovered the Crowther/chess960 connection by researching Carlsen's games, TWIC has also distributed the games for events where Carlsen did not participate. An example is Champions Showdown 9LX 2019 (theweekinchess.com; September 2019).

It's unusual for high-profile, anti-chess960 personalities to change their minds. Unusual, yes, impossible, no.

31 July 2021

Chess960 1-2-3, New Update

While preparing my previous post, Don't Neglect the Corner Queen (July 2021), I needed to locate on older post on the corner Queen. Although I had a couple of ways to do that, I found it quickly using the page Chess960 1-2-3 : Index to Blog Posts.

I haven't updated that index since Chess960 1-2-3, April 2015 (April 2015), and decided it might be useful to bring the resource entirely up to date. After cataloging the posts since April 2015, I counted 120 of them. That's too many items to treat in a single session, so I'll add them to the index as time permits.

24 July 2021

Don't Neglect the Corner Queen

A few years ago I wrote a post Activating the Corner Queen (September 2013; SP180 NBBRNKRQ), where I concluded,
Black was always in command and eventually won. The early activation of Black's Queen was the deciding factor.

I was reminded of that post in a pair of games that I recently played at the same time and that both ended disastrously for my opponents. I was White in both games.

The position at the top is from a game that started with SP201 QNRBBKNR. Black played the inconsistent sequence 9...Qa7, followed immediately by 10...b6. This left the Black Queen out of play just as much as in the start position. I played 5.b4 and 6.Qb2, followed later by 17.Qd2, where the Queen joined an attack building against the Black King. The diagrammed position, where Black resigned, shows all White pieces participating in the attack.

The position at the bottom is from a game that started with SP495 QRNKNRBB. Black's Queen never moved and Black made no effort to develop it by moving either of the Pawns that blocked it. I played 1.b4, activating the Queen on the first move. Although the Queen didn't jump into the game until 19.Qg7, setting up a killer mating net, it participated in the tactics throughout.

In the traditional start position (SP518 RNBQKBNR), the Queen is well placed to enter the game as circumstances dictate -- via either of two diagonals, up the file (often to the second rank), or occasionally sliding along the back rank. When the Queen starts in the corner, it is badly placed and requires special attention.

In both diagrammed games, White was virtually playing with an extra Queen, a significant advantage for any player. It can't have been pleasant for either of the opponents.

26 June 2021

People Also Ask About Chess960

Last week's post on this blog, An Underused Resource (June 2021), led to a post on my main blog, Key Moments in Video (ditto), where I looked at a recent development in Google Search. This week's post is about another, older feature in Google Search.

A simple search on 'chess960' yields a list of about four questions which result in additional questions -- apparently unlimited in number -- after expanding any of the original questions. Shown here is the list for chess960.

And here is the same list using numbered bullets:-

    People also ask:-
  1. Why is Chess960 not popular?
  2. Why is it called Chess 960?
  3. Is Chess960 better than chess?
  4. Is Chess960 the future of chess?
  5. How do I get good at Chess960?
  6. How popular is Chess960?
  7. How many positions are there in Chess960?
  8. Will chess ever be solved?
  9. Is castling a real chess move?
  10. Is it good to play Chess960?
  11. Do people play chess 960?

The two questions about popularity (no.1 and no.6) link to further resources, and I imagine that most (all?) of the other questions also lead to other resources. Some of the questions are about fact (no.2 and no.7), others are opinion (no.3 and no.4; I say 'Yes!', but I'm obviously biased).

One curiosity is that almost all references to chess960 use the uppercase form, 'Chess960'. Almost no one does this for 'chess'. Here's a similar list for a search on 'fischer random chess':-

    People also ask
  1. How do you play Fischer Random Chess?
  2. Can you Castle in Fischer Random Chess?
  3. What does Fischer mean in chess?
  4. Why is it called Chess 960?
  5. Who is the greatest chess player of all time?
  6. What does FF mean in chess?
  7. Can a rook be called a castle?
  8. Can pawns move backwards?
  9. How many times can we check in chess?
  10. Why is Chess960 not popular?

Question no.6 had me stumped, so I expanded it. 'FF' apparently means,

A fairy chess piece, variant chess piece, unorthodox chess piece, or heterodox chess piece is a chess piece not used in conventional chess but incorporated into certain chess variants and some chess problems.

What does that have to do with chess960? We may never know. When I get a chance, I'll take a closer look at Google's 'People also ask' feature on my main blog.

19 June 2021

An Underused Resource

For many reasons, we don't see too many instructive videos about chess960 -- small expert base, difficult thinking process, small subscriber base -- so any time a good video comes along it's worth featuring. This clip, from Youtube channel 'Chess on the Brain with NM David Bennett', does a good job of instructing.


Chess strategy explained with Fischer Random on lichess.org (3:53:56) • 'Streamed live on Sep 28, 2020'

The description says,

No opening theory, just pure chess strategy & tactics with Chess 960 / Fischer Random Chess. I aim to provide as lucid / honest an explanation as possible of my thinking process and the ideas behind the moves rather than just streaming live games.

The games were played at time control '3+3' (three minutes per game plus three seconds per move). NM Bennett spends much of the three minutes explaining the first moves, then gets into time pressure, then plays quickly to avoid time forfeit. All in all it's good entertainment and debunks the frequent criticism -- dare we call it a myth?-- that chess960 is too esoteric for expert commentary.

There is more chess960 material on the same channel, including some videos in Spanish. None of it has as high a view count as it merits.

***

A second reason for featuring this video is that it popped up on Google search with the following annotation.

I had never seen 'key moments in this video' before and will take a closer look on my main blog. The 'key moments' here aren't really key; I would prefer the start times of each of the live games, but I'm not sure it's possible to do that.

29 May 2021

Chessgames.com Converter Cleanup

In last month's post, Chessgames.com Start Position XREF (April 2021), I created a Chessgames.com SP Converter and finished with an action:-
My cross-reference is crude and lacks the HTML tags that make a proper web page. I'll improve it as soon as I can and, at the same time, integrate it into my other chess960 resources.

While doing that I renamed the page 'Chess960 Start Position Converter for Chessgames.com'. As for integrating it into other chess960 resources, how much attention should be given to a resource that is fundamentally misleading? I decided that only the minimum is necessary.

This is a good time for a general reminder that although a chess960 start position has eight pieces, only five pieces are necessary to determine the new position. After placing the Queen, Bishops, and Knights (NB: Bishops first!), the position Rook-King-Rook is automatically determined.