27 February 2021

The Early Evolution of Fischerandom

Last week's post, 'Presenting the Fischeramdon' (sic; see the last link in the list below), was the first post in nearly two-and-a-half years to shed new light on the early evolution of chess960. I started to wonder: How many other posts had I done on the early years of chess960? To answer that question, I first turned to a post from 2013 that listed earlier posts focusing on Fischer's activities. For easy reference, that 2013 post is pictured below.


2013-03-09: Remembering Bobby

Using the same format, here are posts about Fischer's activities during the 1990s:-

From this we see that Fischer's early activities were bunched into two time periods. The first period took place in 1992-1993, when Fischer developed the rules of his emerging invention. The second period took place in 1995-1996, when Fischer revealed his invention to the world.

What happened in 1994 and after 1996? Looking at Fischer's other activities in those periods might help answer those questions.

20 February 2021

Presenting the Fischeramdon

Spotted on Twitter: Las revelaciones de Miguel Ángel Quinteros, el ajedrecista argentino que convivió 25 años con Bobby Fischer (infobae.com). Google translates the headline as 'The revelations of Miguel Ángel Quinteros, the Argentine chess player who lived with Bobby Fischer for 25 years'. What sort of 'revelations' are we talking about?
It was Quinteros who assisted him in 1971 to beat Petrosian; in 1972 he was in preparation and then assisted him in the World [Championship] in Iceland. He was also the one who accompanied him to most of the Open, to Las Vegas and three months to Taxco (Mexico) in 1982; to Paris in 1995 to draw up the Fischerandom contract that was launched with singular success on 16 June 1996 at the Pasaje Dardo Rocha in La Plata at the request of the then governor Eduardo Duhalde.

I don't understand the references to the Open, Las Vegas and Taxco, so I'll leave that to the Fischer experts. I do understand the reference to June 1996, which I discussed years ago in Fischer Announces Fischerandom (October 2009). I don't understand the reference to Paris 1995, but I'll leave that for another time.

Even more important to the history of Fischer's invention, the article included a photo. It's reproduced below along with its translated caption.


'Fischer with Quinteros in La Plata, in 1996. He had come to present the Fischeramdon [sic], a chess variant where the pieces (except the pawns) could be placed in the opening in a random way to demand the creativity of the players.'

GM Quinteros has appeared briefly on this blog before, the last time in the post Fischer and 'Wild Variant 22' (December 2013). That post is currently no.1 on 'Popular Posts (All time)' at the bottom of every page on this blog and often appears at the top of every page in 'Popular Posts (Last 7 Days)'. At some time in the past I discovered that it was not for its relevance to chess960, but rather for its discussion of the Fischer - Short ICC controversy in the early 2000s.

I never realized that GM Quinteros played a role in the early history of chess960/FRC. Perhaps that knowledge will lead to further historical discoveries.

***

Later: Re '[Quinteros] was also the one who accompanied [Fischer; ...] to Paris in 1995 to draw up the Fischerandom contract that was launched with singular success on 16 June 1996', I wrote, 'I don't understand the reference to Paris 1995'. I found three references in previous posts:-

  • Brady on Fischer Random (January 2011) • 'While in Budapest, Fischer also made the acquaintance of Andrei [Andor, Andre] Lilienthal, who arranged a meeting with FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. [...] It's not clear from Brady's account when this meeting took place, but the February 1996 issue of Europe Echecs (p.22) gives a date of 15 December 1995.'

  • An Aborted Announcement (February 2012) • 'From The Week in Chess 51, 1 October 1995: "Bobby Fischer to present new chess rules' By Roberto Alvarez"'; I asked, 'What happened to that 1995 announcement? [...] Whatever finally became of the November 1995 plans'

  • Foraging the 'News Groups' (August 2013) • '1996-04-14: Bobby Fischer Announces New Rules of Chess [rgc]; April 1996 was after the first (tentative) formal mention by Fischer in November 1995, as I recorded in An Aborted Announcement, and the formal announcement in June 1996, Fischer Announces Fischerandom.'

I imagine that 'Paris in 1995' meant the meeting with Ilyumzhinov in December 1995. Fischer had one objective for the meeting: Fischerandom; Ilyumzhinov had another: getting Fischer to return to chess.

30 January 2021

Wesley So's Tactics

After with last week's post, So Explains So vs. Carlsen (January 2021), I continued with Chessable's free course 'Short & Sweet: Fischer Random Chess' by GM Wesley So. The third of the three chapters is titled 'Intro to Tactics'. It consists of a 17 minute video and 22 exercises, of which nine are covered in the video.

I watched the video and worked through the exercises. The top half of the image below shows the first position explained in the video. It is undeniably a chess960 position and illustrates a tactic that is not likely to arise in any opening from SP518 RNBQKBNR.

The bottom half of the image shows my score from the exercises. I aced the nine positions repeated from the video and had trouble with three of the new positions. In a couple of those positions, I wasn't sure why my move was inferior to the 'right' move, but using the 'Analysis Board', managed to see where I had gone wrong. In my original post about the Chessable courses, Wesley So's Strategies (December 2020), I said about the longer course,

The Chessable price for the recent 'Wesley So's Fischer Random Strategies and Tactics' is more than I care to pay for a resource of unknown quality.

I'm still not convinced that the price is right, but the quality is definitely there. GM So has discovered and shared many of chess960's secrets.

23 January 2021

So Explains So vs. Carlsen

In last month's post Wesley So's Strategies (December 2020), I located a pair of Chessable courses -- one of them pricey, the other free -- and finished saying,
I can't argue with 'Free', so I started the [Chessable] course and hope to have more to say in a followup post.

I hadn't accessed Chessable since writing that post, but had no trouble finding the course again. After signing in, I received the following screen.

Using that as a start point, I accessed the course, repeated the first chapter '1. Introduction' to get my bearings, and started on '2. Wesley So vs. Magnus Carlsen'. That second chapter is an hour-long video presented by GM Wesley So, where he discusses the third game from his FWFRCC final match with GM Carlsen (see my previous post for more about the match).

The third game of the match used SP729 RKNBBQNR as the start position. Before making his first move, So offered a preliminary analysis:-

Looks at first to be a very peculiar position, because the White King is far inside the Queenside and there are no less than five pieces blocking his way if he ever wants to castle Kingside to g1. So he has to move five pieces away from the back rank before he is able to castle [O-O].

The King feels a little bit vulnerable being so far away from the Queen. All the squares in front of the White King are protected for the time being. However he doesn't feel as safe as in other starting positions because the White Queen is so far away.

Other than that the other pieces are pretty much in regular starting positions, the difference being with the Bishops in the center so it's not clear exactly which direction they should go.

I split that analysis into three paragraphs, because they serve as a useful checklist for a generic analysis of any start position:-

  • Consider the castling options
  • Weigh the King's safety
  • Note the position of the other pieces

The focus on the start distance between the King and the Queen was a new consideration for me, but the rest was familiar ground. One imprecision I noted was: 'All the squares in front of the White King are protected'. If we count the King as a protector, this is true of every start position. If we don't count the King, the g-Pawn in SP729 is not protected. After his introduction, So said,

I played the move 1.e2-e4, which in my view is the best move in the position.

He then went on to explain why he thought it was best, also considering other reasonable first moves. In the first half of the video, GM So discussed the first dozen moves of the game (out of 60 played), providing some astute observations on the evolution of the play. Although I didn't watch the second half, I assume that it was equally instructive, given (1) that a chess960 game eventually comes to resemble any game stemming from SP518 RNBQKBNR, the traditional start position; and (2) So's status as one of the best SP518 players in the world.

A forum discussion is attached to the course. One comment, titled 'So lazy', said,

Come on, this is sooo lazy. It's just the most basic explanation of rules and some not Fischer Random only tactics, nothing about strategy or any good principles.

Anyone agreeing with that comment is advised to stick with SP518. First learn the basics of traditional chess, after which GM So's commentary should make more sense. Since winning the '2019 FWFRCC', crushing GM Carlsen in the final match, he is considered the no.1 chess960 player in the world. This video shows why. I am one step closer to shelling out the bucks for the full, pricier course.

26 December 2020

TCEC FRC2

On my main blog I've been keeping track of the TCEC engine vs. engine tournaments. Last month, in Stockfish Wins TCEC Cup 7; CCC GPUs Back (November 2020), I reported,
The [TCEC] '!next' plan says, 'next FRC2 testing and FRC2 ~1.5 weeks'. When was FRC1? As far as I can tell, it was more than six years ago. [...] I'm looking forward to reporting on FRC2 for [my chess960] blog.

Two weeks later, in TCEC FRC2 Underway; CCC 'Currently Uncertain' (November 2020), I reported,

After 'Sufi Bonus 3', the [TCEC] ran a chess960 event, dubbed 'FRC2'. It started with 16 engines in four 'Leagues' (A to D), followed by eight engines in two 'Semileagues' (1 to 2), followed by four engines in a 'Final League', followed by two engines in a 'Final' match. The 'Final League' is currently underway.

Another two weeks passed and in TCEC S20 Underway; CCC Less Uncertain (December 2020), I reported,

In the FRC2 Final League, LCZero and Stockfish finished first and second to qualify for the 50-game final match. Stockfish beat LCZero +8-0=42.

The first of the three posts above linked to Stockfish, the Strong (July 2014) on this blog, plus two other followup posts based on FRC1. FRC1 was held three and a half years before AlphaZero made waves with its revolutionary AI/NN technology, soon to be followed by Leela Chess Zero (aka LCZero / LC0). The chart below overviews the different events that made up FRC2. The top portion of the chart flows upward; the bottom portion flows downward.


Source: TCEC Wiki

The semifinal event, dubbed 'Final League' in TCEC nomenclature, had Komodo representing the traditional engines that competed in FRC1, Lc0 and AllieStein representing the AI/NN generation of engines, and Stockfish representing the even newer NNUE generation. I haven't decided if I'm going to spend time looking at the games from FRC2. We already have years of engine experience documented in the CCRL datasets (see the right sidebar under 'Resources') and I'm not sure what can be gleaned from the latest TCEC experiment.

19 December 2020

Wesley So's Strategies

A couple of months ago a new resource appeared on my radar: The Ascent - Wesley So's Fischer Random Strategies and Tactics (chessable.com). GM Wesley So has been seen on this blog many times, most notably in So Beats Carlsen in FWFRCC Final (November 2019; 'FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship').

Chessable is a newcomer here, although it's merited several mentions on my main blog. The first post was Chessable and 'Game Changer' (February 2019), followed some time later by 'Smart Is the New Sexy' (September 2019), where I linked to 'Chessable joins the Play Magnus chess24 family (chess24.com)'.

The Chessable price for the recent 'Wesley So's Fischer Random Strategies and Tactics' is more than I care to pay for a resource of unknown quality. After a few searches on the site -- 'chess960' returns nothing, 'chess 960' returns everything headed by two relevant courses, 'random' returns only the two courses -- I found a second course at Short & Sweet: Fischer Random Chess [FREE] (chessable.com, also by Wesley So). I can't argue with 'Free', so I started the course and hope to have more to say in a followup post.

28 November 2020

Chess960 Movers and Shakers

Last week's post, The Norwegian Connection, featured Eric van Reem's two part podcast interview with GM Jonathan Tisdall, where part 2 was subtitled 'Let's talk about Magnus and chess960'. At the end of the post I promised,
I'll cover van Reem's second chess960 podcast in another post on this blog. The invited expert was GM Andrey Deviatkin, another chess960 mover and shaker.

If you haven't already listened to the podcast, here's the link:-

  • 2020-11-03: #9 GM Andrey Deviatkin, 'Let's talk about Chess960' • 'In this episode Eric talks to the Russian grandmaster Andrey Deviatkin. Andrey decided to quit his chess career a couple of years ago, because he wanted to try something else: Chess960. But why did Andrey stop playing "traditional chess"? He said: "I understood that chess has become an absolutely different game from the one I have played in my childhood and youth. The computer has changed it dramatically. I have been working hard to become a chess grandmaster, but now my interest is over". Enough to talk about in this episode!'

A few minutes into the discussion, the two chess960 experts address one of the nagging controversies:-

07:25 EVR: 'What is the correct name?' [lists several names for chess960] • AD: 'I thought a lot about it. Maybe my best answer is that, at some point, maybe five or ten years [from now], we'll just call it chess. The game we're playing right now will be called old chess or traditional chess or something like this.'

GM Deviatkin has been seen several times on this blog. For the most significant post, see 'The Essence and the Rules of Chess' (June 2017). That quote is his title, and the post went on to give his full Facebook entry, starting with:-

Seen on Facebook: 'From time to time, I receive requests for chess coaching...' (facebook.com/andrey.deviatkin)

The rest of the Eric van Reem podcast is more than 40 minutes of discussion about chess960. It touches on many of the issues facing chess960 today, most of them even more important than the name.