16 October 2021

Crossover Ideas from my Main Blog

Since this is a month with five Saturdays, I get three opportunities for a chess960 post. By coincidence, I have exactly three ideas for those posts.

1) Add CFAA posts to the download tag

A few months ago I created New Label 'Download' (August 2021), to keep track of posts with a download, most likely a PGN file. Before starting this blog I used my main blog 'Chess for All Ages' to write about chess960. Were there any posts on that blog to add to the 'Download' label? Short answer: No.

2) Review Carlsen's chess960 activity

Again referring to my main blog, I've been building a reference for World Champion Magnus Carlsen's playing record over the past three years. The most recent post was Carlsen's TMER 2019-21, 'Online = Y' (October 2021), where TMER stands for 'Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record'.

So far I've identified two chess960 events for the TMER. Were there others? Short answer: Yes. A post on this blog, Carlsen Wins Lichess Again (March 2019), discussed one chess960 event and pointed to a previous event, neither of which is listed on the TMER. While researching those two events, I discovered a third. This needs more work.

3) Review the recent CCC chess960 tournament

Another recent post on my main blog, TCEC Testing Cup 9; CCC C960 Blitz Semifinal (October 2021), refers to Chess.com's ongoing 'Computer Chess Championship' (CCC), where the latest event is the 'Chess960 Blitz Championship'. The semifinal finishes this weekend. Can we expect a final? Short answer: Probably.

I'll come back to Carlsen's chess960 activity and the CCC chess960 tournament in the next two posts scheduled for this month. I expect both of those posts will lead to new ideas. That's life in the chess960 blogosphere!

25 September 2021

2021 Champions Showdown, Live

At the end of last week's post, 2021 Champions Showdown, St. Louis (September 2021), I finished with a promise:-
I'll continue the report on the 2021 event in a follow-up 'Live' post.

The Saint Louis Chess Club has videos for all three days, three rounds per day. Here's the video for the first three rounds.

2021 Champions Showdown | Chess 9LX: Day 1 (4:10:36) • 'Streamed live on Sep 8, 2021'

The description informs,

The world’s top grandmasters battle from September 8-10 in a Fischer random chess round robin. It's Chess960: see what happens when bank-rank pieces are scrambled and opening theory is obliterated! Join GMs Alejandro Ramirez and Maurice Ashley for the move-by-move.

Here are the links for all three days, including the first dayembedded above. '2021 Champions Showdown, Chess 9LX, streamed live on':-

As for past events, the 9LX organizers used a non-standard numbering system to identify the start positions (SPs). See this page to convert to standard numbering: Chess960 Start Position Converter for Chessgames.com (m-w.com). Here are the nine SPs from the event (using standard numbering):-


The PGN game scores were distributed with TWIC 1401. I've extracted them to m-w.com/c960/blog, hoping that some day I'll actually be able to play through them.

18 September 2021

2021 Champions Showdown, St. Louis

Remember chess 9LX™? That's the Saint Louis Chess Club’s name for chess960 so they can slap 'TM' on everything, as in Rex™ Sinquefield™, NIH™. Joking aside, the club has become one of the most ardent supporters of Fischer's greatest invention.

Last year we saw the second edition of the club's signature C960 / FRC / 9LX event hosted at an online venue because of the covid pandemic. I covered it in two posts: 2020 Champions Showdown, Lichess (September 2020) and 2020 Champions Showdown Live (ditto). This year the event returned to 9LX's spiritual home in St. Louis.

The official home page for the event appears to be 2021 Champions Showdown: Chess 9LX (uschesschamps.com). That's where we find the crosstable shown below.

A striking aspect of that chart is that the two players who finished last, GMs Nakamura and Svidler, were both World Champions at 960's first spiritual home in Mainz. See, for example, Chess960 World Championships (January 2009) on my main blog, and No Place for Chess960 (February 2011) on this blog. I'll continue the report on the 2021 event in a follow-up 'Live' post.

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.