31 October 2009

Fischer Announces Fischerandom

Fischer's initial press release about *his* version of chess was an item in Mark Crowther's THE WEEK IN CHESS (TWIC) no.88, dated 24 June 1996. Here's a copy of the press release:

Bobby Fischer returned to Buenos Aires, Argentina after 25 years and it was as if he had never left. At a press conference on June 19 in the Argentine capital, the World Chess Champion was received by hundreds of journalists and chess fans, many of whom had come from all over the world. It was apparent from the feeling of anticipation in the room before he arrived that the Fischer mystique is alive and well.

The object of the conference was to publicize the launch of Fischer's new game, Fischerandom Chess, and to announce the match of Fischerandom Chess between Philippine Grandmaster Eugene Torre and two-time Argentine champion International Master Pablo Ricardi which begins July 12. Both players attended the conference and displayed enthusiasm regarding the match and the new game.

Before taking questions from the assembled press, Fischer spoke out on several topics. He apologized for bringing up subjects unrelated to Fischerandom Chess, and he then began a counterattack on several companies that he claimed had been defrauding him of huge amounts of money as well as trying to destroy his image. He targeted the British publisher Batsford for releasing a forged and unauthorized new edition of his renowned chess classic "My 60 Memorable Games", for deliberately making erroneous changes in the text itself and for never having paid him royalties for the book. He also attacked the motion picture company Paramount, producer of the hit film "Searching for Bobby Fischer", saying he never received "a penny" from the film. He also mentioned a CD-ROM, "Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess", that had been made using his name unlawfully. He strongly criticized US Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor for not protecting his intellectual property rights in direct contradiction with Kantor's position on Red China, which Kantor has denounced for alleged violations of international copyrights. Fischer angrily accused the U.S. government of a double standard and disgusting hypocrisy in this regard. He made the point that his new, improved version of classical chess will eliminate the large amount of study and analysis that are involved in chess. He stated that many games are prearranged before the players begin the game, and that even the so-called world championship matches between Russian players Kasparov and Karpov had been prearranged, and that this would be impossible in Fischerandom Chess.

Fischer also ridiculed the U.S. government for indicting him and issuing a federal arrest warrant in his name for his alleged violation of an executive order by then President Bush barring U.S. citizens from doing business with Yugoslavia. Fischer claimed one of the reasons the U.S. government has indicted him and issued the arrest warrant, which is valid all over the USA, was to prevent him from returning to the USA to get access to his enormous file on the first so-called world championship match between Karpov and Kasparov so that he could write a book proving that that match was prearranged move by move.

After making these impassioned remarks, Fischer answered questions from the press for nearly an hour. In explaining the concepts behind Fischerandom Chess, Fischer said that although the rules are basically the same as those of traditional chess, each game begins from a different starting position, randomly chosen by the Fischerandom Chess Computerized Shuffler, making creativity and chess talent more important than analysis and memorization. He also pointed out that due to such long hours in front of the computer screen and with books, many top young players today, such as Kamsky, Kramnik and Anand, wear thick glasses. He also mentioned that all of the study necessary to play conventional chess made it into hard work, and that he had got into chess in order to avoid work!

With many people wondering about the future of chess after the IBM computer Big Blue beat Garry Kasparov earlier this year, Fischer's statement that computers would be at a considerable disadvantage in Fischerandom Chess received a great deal of attention. He stated that without access to databases of the millions of opening variations in traditional chess, computers do not really play chess all that well.

Now the world awaits the first Fischerandom Chess match which will commence at Pasaje Dardo Rocha in the Argentine city of La Plata on July 12. The match between Torre and Ricardi will be played until one player accumulates four victories, draws not counting.

The appearance of Robert J. Fischer in Buenos Aires left no one disappointed. After finishing with the questions, Bobby signed autographs for the dozens of fans who had come to catch a glimpse of the legendary genius. Many of the chess fans had clear memories of his last visits to Buenos Aires in the early seventies. Fischer's popularity here was clearly shown as well by the intense coverage by all the local media. Everyone is eagerly looking forward to Bobby Fischer's next move, whether it be on or off the board.



I've truncated the press release to remove the rules, which were longer than the release itself. Since they represent an integral contribution to the history of chess960, I'll post them elsewhere. Crowther had this to say about Fischer's press conference (copied verbatim):


Bobby Fischer returned to the limelight three years after his match against Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia. Bobby Fischer provokes extreme reactions from most chess fans. I'm very much of the school that found both his play and his life-story fascinating (Bobby Fischer Profile of a Prodigy by Frank Brady is an excellent and very balanced account of his career up to 1972) and find it rather sad he won't return to over-the-board chess. (Brady quote "He [Fischer] accepted an invitation to compete in the great Capablanca Memorial Tournament to be held in Havana, Cuba from August 25th to September 26th. I know some people who cried with joy when they heard the news.") This would certainly be my reaction if he decided to play now. But the press conference and the wait from 1992 suggests that Fischer doesn't have the commitment to work on chess anymore, this press conference is Fischer effectively announcing his retirement.

Whilst I'm sure that he has thought very deeply about the development of the Fischerandom Chess I don't think that things have changed so radically in over-the-board chess as he makes out. Fischer himself brought to new heights the level of opening preparation required to compete at the highest level. Fischer on the way to the World Title in 1972 studied at least as hard as they do nowdays on the openings. Recent International Tournaments show that there is still a lot of creativity possible in the opening, and some players don't work especially hard on their openings. Karpov shows that you can get by playing a limited series of systems and rely upon the middlegame for results. Fischer's obsession with fixed games is certainly as a result of personal observation during his own career (I don't quite believe it was as rife as he says but it is certain that the Russian's did agree draws with each other very frequently in those days) but the rivalry between Karpov and Kasparov makes it impossible to believe they fixed games.

I think it was a big shock to Fischer when he came back against Spassky, it is said that friends from throughout the World sent him masses of analysis that was unlooked at during that match. The sheer volume of material probably brought it home to Fischer that there was no way back to the very pinnacle of World Chess (as a student of 19th Centuary chess Fischer should have known that with Andersson's comments about his match against Morphy) but it doesn't mean that he couldn't have competed at a high level. The message from Argentina is that he has no will to do the work on the openings. His demeanour against Spassky suggested that he did enjoy competing again but this didn't last after the match, perhaps he enjoyed it too much?

One wonders what Reshevsky would have made of all this. Reshevsky struggled against Fischer throughout the 60's when Fischer's superior knowledge of openings had a direct effect on their results (remember Fischer winning in about 12 moves due to a piece of Russian analysis refuted a quite standard Sicilian setup?).

So, its all over for Fischer, he leaves a legacy of superb games, one wonderful book, and a life story packed with incident. I wouldn't be Bobby Fischer for any money. His capacity to surprise, and also shock will remain but it would be the biggest shock of all to see him play chess again.

Crowther appears to have been more interested in Fischer than in the variant he was trying to promote. I suspect that was the case with most observers in the mid-1990s.

25 October 2009

Castling Stats

In More from Mainz 2009, I quoted Alexander Grischuk, the winner of the chess960 open at the 2009 Chess Classic Mainz, on castling in chess960: 'You should not castle too quickly because you still keep the option to castle on the other side. In some positions it's totally clear to which side you will castle. Then it makes no sense to delay it.'

This made me wonder if the choice of which side to castle is consistent between chess960 and traditional chess. In other words, after castling do the Kings end up on the two sides of the board -- Kingside or Queenside (h-side or a-side in chess960 parlance) -- with the same frequency in both versions of the game. The game scores from the 2009 Chess960 Rapid World Championship (RWC), won by Nakamura, seemed to indicate that there was no castling in many games and that castling O-O-O occurred more often castling O-O. This is contrary to my experience in traditional chess and I decided to do a simple analysis.

First I looked at the games from the recent Pearl Spring tournament, won by Carlsen. In the 30 games played there I found that O-O occurred 42 times and O-O-O occurred 14 times. This means that of the 60 times the castling option was presented (30 games x 2 players per game), the players castled 56 times. In those games where the players castled, castling O-O occurred 75% of the time and castling O-O-O 25%. These results were approximately what I expected to see.

The 2009 RWC presented a different picture. In the 20 games played, O-O occurred 9 times and O-O-O occurred 14 times. This means that of the 40 castling opportunities, the players castled only 23 times, and O-O-O was played more often than O-O.

Would previous years confirm this result? The year 2008 saw a match for the Women's RWC title, with fewer games than in 2009, so I skipped to 2007. The 2007 RWC featured 22 games. The move O-O occurred 29 times and O-O-O occurred 8 times. These results were more in line with the Pearl Spring statistics.

My conclusion was that the samples were too small to be meaningful. I'll come back to this question another time when I have more data to analyze.

24 October 2009

More from Mainz 2009

Following up my post on CCM9: Nakamura, Grischuk, and Rybka, there were reports on this year's Chess Classic Mainz (CCM) from other news sources than Chessbase.com. Before I get to them, it's worth giving one more link to Chessbase -- Mainz 2009 - Schmitt: 'I suffer vicariously with Anand' -- and a quote: 'With more than sixteen years of experience in the chess business, Hans-Walter Schmitt is one of the dinosaurs in the chess organizers circuit. With all his energy, stunning ideas and passion for the game, together with his friends he has developed the Chess Classic into the best and most popular rapid chess tournament in the world.'

The Chessbase article is more about CCM's flagship rapid event than its chess960 event, although the two share a common format.

In 2007 we changed the format to a double round robin with four players and a four-game final. We wanted to be able to upgrade the Ordix Open, but we also wanted to keep the opportunity to invite certain players to Mainz. The same format is applied in the Chess960 competition, in which the challenger for the world champions is determined in the FiNet Chess960 Open.

Here's a pre-event interview with defending chess960 champion Levon Aronian from the official CCM site Chesstigers.de: You need a good feeling for harmony • Chessninja.com (aka 'The Daily Dirt') featured a couple of posts which attracted comments from the Dirt's many loyal fans: Chess in the Mainztream and Nakamura 180 in Chess960 • Chessvibes.com had several reports on the event; here's one; follow 'Tags: Chess960' for more: Aronian and Nakamura qualify for Chess960 Wch final • Post-Mainz reporting included a wrapup article from NYTimes.com on Nakamura's win over Aronian in the final: A Game With 960 Possible Openings, but an American Champ Is Unfazed • Finally, here's an audio report from the ICC's Chess.FM (webcast.chessclub.com): Grischuk post-FiNet win. Insights from the interview with Grischuk included the following.

This year I was really very lucky on the second day. I scored 5 out of 6 but I could have easily scored 1 out of 6. There were some very memorable games, with Mamedyarov especially, and also obviously in the last round the only chance for me was if Kamsky loses and I win.

I'm pretty bad in this game in the opening stage. I've really improved since my first year. You cannot say I was in bad form because I won that year the normal rapid [event], but in Fischer Random I was totally humiliated. I was losing to amateurs with no fight. Then I learned.

The first year I was playing like g4/b4, but in order to play like this successfully you have to be either Aronian or Nakamura. They look to be the only two persons who do it successfully. Kamsky does it but he tries more like f4/c4, but they are g4/b4. It works for them, but for me it was just terrible. Since then I try to play a more central approach at the starting stage.

I also learned that you should not castle too quickly because you still keep the option to castle on the other side. In some positions it's totally clear to which side you will castle. Then it makes no sense to delay it.

I'll feature a Grischuk game in a future post.

18 October 2009

Winter's (Chess960?) Proposal

Continuing with Some Numbers on Chess Book Publishing and Whistling Past the Graveyard?, the topic is chess publishing and the subtopic is books about chess openings. If chess960 eventually nukes the market segment built around opening books, what will take its place?

One idea is Wanted by Edward Winter, the doyen of chess history. Written in 1999, before chess960 was even introduced at Chess Classic Mainz, Winter's essay included the following lament.

Until the day we too 'cease publication' we shall never fully understand why so many chess writers (and, it must be assumed, so many book buyers) are primarily interested in books on individual chess openings. Is the chess public as a whole really more inspired by a book on the Semi-Slav Defence than by a comprehensive guide to Euwe's career or, even, Kasparov's? In a sane world, wouldn't at least some of the works proposed in the present article be viewed as mainstream chess literature, with openings monographs regarded as of merely minority, and ephemeral, interest?

The proposals embedded in the query -- 'a comprehensive guide to Euwe's career or, even, Kasparov's' -- are just two examples of many scattered throughout the essay. Along with 'monographs on individual players', Winter suggested 'games collections grouped around an identifying theme', 'treasures contained in old magazines', 'algebraic editions of the classics', 'books for which English translations are sorely needed', 'basic reference material', and more. It's easy to come up with many similar ideas.

When I was in my pre-teen years, I was intensely interested in baseball. On top of following my Dad's favorite team, I had a small collection of books related to the history and lore of the game. I remember passing many an hour reading and re-reading the stories about the great players, teams, and events that had taken center stage before my time. The intense interest lasted only a few years, but it established a comfortable acquaintance with the sport that has stayed with me throughout my life. Where are the books that will kindle a similar interest in young chess enthusiasts? Chess isn't just for grownups, after all. It's for everyone.

17 October 2009

Kasparov's Chess960 Proposal

In two of my recent posts -- 'I'd be on my very own from the first move' and Some Numbers on Chess Book Publishing -- I mentioned some macro changes that would sweep through the chess community if chess960 ever takes root and threatens the extinction of traditional chess openings. How can we accommodate these changes and minimize their impact?

Kasparov proposed one idea in an interview he gave shortly after he retired from chess in 2005: Garry Kasparov Interview, Part 2 (part 1 is linked at the end of the second part). The 13th World Champion said,

I’m in favor of at least investigating doing one position per year from chess960. I know the reaction is "Aahhh, horrible!" Most players think it’s terrible, saying the purpose is to start each game from scratch. I don’t think so, I think the point is to create more space for creativity. If you have a position for a year you can’t go too far in analysis. You can reach move maybe four or five, that’s a lot of room for creativity.

The purpose of the suggestion seems to be letting professional players continue with the working methods they have used for decades -- preparing opening systems in advance, committing them to memory, and playing their ideas in important games against unsuspecting opponents. It has the advantage of keeping an element of psychology in the game.

The lack of opening psychology is a noticeable disadvantage of chess960. In traditional chess a player makes a statement in playing 1.d4 instead of 1.e4, in playing the Caro Kann instead of the Sicilian, in choosing a rare side variation instead of a main line, and so on. The psychological struggle in the opening is even more important for players who meet each other regularly, like the world's elite do.

Unfortunately, a rhythm of one position per year wouldn't have much impact on the publishing business. A year is not enough time to gather experience with a particular start position, to write a book on that experience, to publish and market the book, and to use the ideas contained in the book in further competition.

A good starting point for Kasparov's proposal would be one of the 11 symmetric positions (12 positions minus RNBQKBNR) with the King and Queen on the central files that I listed in A Database of Chess960 Start Positions; for example, RNBKQBNR (SP534). Since it is the closest relative to the traditional start position (SP518), many of the ideas known to current chess theory would be naturally reused. It would also show what impact the slight change in the castling rules, described in Arbitrariness in Chess Rules, has on the overall game. This would be useful knowledge for evaluating differences between the other 479 chess960 twins.

In one of his radio interviews, Fischer scoffed at Kasparov's idea. Perhaps he reacted too hastily.


Later: A better start position to explore Kasparov's idea might be what H.J.R.Murray (see More on the Initial Position in Chess) called the 'crosswise arrangement: where the King and Queen start not on the same file, but where the King starts on the same file as the opposing Queen'. This is not a chess960 position, but still has the advantage of being unexplored opening territory.

11 October 2009

Whistling Past the Graveyard?

The graveyard of chess opening books, that is. While browsing various items about Chess960 @ Chess.com, I found the following morcel by Chess.com member FM_Eric_Schiller (comment to World Championship Computer-Assisted Predictions):-
I have to say that in my view Chess960 is no better than any other chess variant. All variants are way inferior to the true game. Chess has evolved over 1500+ years to achieve such a great balance that we have no idea what the best first move is.

Players who are too lazy to study openings may indeed prefer Chess960, but it hasn't caught on and will never do so. Chess openings are still unclear and exciting, and computers have increased the number of playable openings, not decreased them.

The Chess.com page for FM_Eric_Schiller confirms that the member is FM Eric Schiller of chess publishing fame: 'I have a full website at www.ericschiller.com, which includes samples of many of my more than 100 books, mostly of chess but a few on linguistics.' Following that URL, we find that many of the 'more than 100' books are listed on Eric Schiller's Books on Chess, while others can be located via Bookfinder.com: Searching for books where author is Eric Schiller.

Although opinions vary on the quality of Schiller's work (see Eric Schiller [Wikipedia] for a sample), here we have a bona fide contributor to the massive pile of opening books I discussed in Some Numbers on Chess Book Publishing, together with thoughts on the destiny of chess960. I imagine the thoughts are representative of the community of chess opening authors. Thank you, Dr. Schiller, for sharing.

Getting back to the specific remarks, my first comment is a reminder that chess960 is not a chess variant. It's an evolution of traditional chess as it has been played for the last several hundred years. Traditional chess is itself a subset of chess960, one of the 960 possible starting positions. The traditional start position dates to the mysterious appearance of chess over 1400 years ago, when before the battle began, armies assembled in symmetric formation facing each other across an invisible dividing line, generals in the center.

Ignoring the unsubstantiated opinion ('all variants are way inferior'), the name calling ('lazy'), and the idle speculation ('hasn't caught on and will never do so'), Schiller's objection to chess960 boils down to

  • 'we have no idea what the best first move is', and
  • 'computers have increased the number of playable openings'

This is just as valid for chess960 as it is for chess and overlooks the main reason for considering chess960: that opening theory has reached the unfortunate point where

  • the early moves of the game are based increasingly on memorization, and
  • the real struggle often starts in the late middlegame or endgame.

The message of any author of opening books is 'buy this book and follow the instructions'. The message of chess960 is 'think for yourself'. World Champion Bobby Fischer -or- FM Eric Schiller? I know which horse I'm backing.

10 October 2009

Some Numbers on Chess Book Publishing

In 'I'd be on my very own from the first move', I quoted Chess.com member DrawMaster asking, 'Why not give up completely on traditional chess?', then making three important points,
  • 'You would never waste another $20 on some nearly useless openings manual.
  • Or waste another moment trying to remember lines.
  • Or waste another thread post ruminating on the merits of the QGD or the Ruy.'

Note that the question is not about giving up completely on chess; it is about taking up chess960 and giving up on traditional chess. If this should happen -- and it's not at all certain that it will -- any obsession with specific chess openings would disappear. What then would chess writers publish, what would chess players study when they're not playing, and what would they talk about with other chess players?

The issue of chess publishing is the most critical. Along with playing and teaching, writing is a source of income for many professional and semi-professional chess players. Are books about openings really so important to the publishing industry? Let's look at the British Chess Magazine's (BCM) Chess Books & Reviews for Q3 in 2009.

  • September 2009 • 8 books reviewed, 4 on the openings : King's Indian; Trompowsky; Pirc; Secrets of Opening Surprises, Vol. 11

  • August 2009 • 9 books, 6 openings : Sicilian Dragon; Colle-Zukertort (1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.Bd3 c5 5.b3); Catalan; Spanish (Ruy Lopez); Sokolsky (1.b4); Sicilian 3.Bb5

  • July 2009 • 8 books, 3 openings : Ruy Lopez; Dutch Stonewall; Sicilian

Out of 25 books reviewed over the three month period, 13 were on the openings. That implies that about half of all chess books published today have something to with openings. What are these opening books about?

Although a few opening names appear more than once in this list -- Sicilian, Ruy Lopez -- the 13 recent books cover a variety of different openings. Extend the three months over a longer period, and we start to see a lot of duplication. Taking the first opening on the list, the King's Indian, here are titles from Book Reviews on JeremySilman.com ('Our complete archive of book reviews. Dwarfs anything else on the web!').

  • BEAT THE KID by Jan Markos
  • DANGEROUS WEAPONS: THE KING'S INDIAN by Palliser, Dembo, and Flear
  • KILL KID 1 by Semko Semkov
  • KING'S INDIAN WITH h3 by Breutigam [CD-ROM]
  • OFFBEAT KING'S INDIAN by Panczyk and Ilczuk
  • PLAY THE KING'S INDIAN by Gallagher
  • SAMISCH KING'S INDIAN UNCOVERED by Cherniaev and Prokuronov

These are titles that have been reviewed in the seven or eight years that JeremySilman.com has been on the web. There are certainly others.

How profitable are these books? That is a question that only the publishers and authors can answer. My guess, based on what little I know about the chess publishing industry, is that the average number of copies sold is in the four digit range and that each copy sold makes a couple of bucks for the publisher and similar for the author.

04 October 2009

'I'd be on my very own from the first move'

Along with Chess Ratings as a Predictor of Chess960 Skill, another Chess.com forum post that captured my attention was Has it really: 'Has chess 960 become a real part of real chess like blitz and regular chess.' DrawMaster wrote,
Why not give up completely on traditional chess? You would never waste another $20 on some nearly useless openings manual. Or waste another moment trying to remember lines. Or waste another thread post ruminating on the merits of the QGD or the Ruy. Or ... • Well, the list goes on. • Then, I realized that I'd be on my very own from the first move. And that thought was decidedly scary.

Point. Counterpoint:-

  • 'Give up completely on traditional chess' • Let's not carried away with chess960. It's a complement, not a replacement, to traditional chess.
  • 'Some nearly useless openings manual' • Yes, this is a real concern that needs to be discussed intelligently.
  • 'Waste another moment trying to remember lines' • Ditto.
  • 'Waste another thread post ruminating on the merits of the QGD' • Ditto.
  • 'The list goes on' • Does it? Looks like an excellent list as it is.
  • 'I'd be on my very own from the first move' • Scary? Maybe. Exhilarating? Definitely!

Intelligent discussion, or a well-disguised facsimile, to follow.

03 October 2009

Chess Ratings as a Predictor of Chess960 Skill

After writing the short post on Chess960 @ Chess.com, I spent some time reading relevant threads on Chess.com's chess960 forum. A few of them touched on points that I hadn't encountered before, and immediately caught my interest.

The first post that interested me was "Rating too low to accept this match!" Are you kidding me!?. The initial point of the thread was a complaint about how Chess.com uses ratings to match players who have requested a game with upper/lower limits on the ratings of potential opponents. It seems that traditional chess ratings are used in the algorithm for chess960 games. I assume this is done because the chess960 service was introduced on the site a few months ago and there were no chess960 ratings.

If that were the only point in the thread, I wouldn't bring it up here. More relevant were the following comments by ReLentLess5150, who was also the originator of the thread.

'I sincerely doubt that the so-called "higher rated players" in chess 960 have as huge an advantage as the might in standard chess.' • 'Do you HONESTLY believe that ratings play that much of a role in 960!?' • 'Chess 960 is basically a free for all, and I would hazard a guess and say that the odds of a low rated versus highly rated player [at traditional chess] are probably pretty low, 1400 versus a 2200. Who would you put your money on? On the other hand, I would give the 1400 at least even money in 960.'

Despite ReLentLess's apparent unfamiliarity with the rating system -- a 1400 has almost zero chance of winning a traditional game against a 2200 (see the table 'Rating expectancies vs. differences' at the end of Chess Ratings for the odds at different rating spreads) -- the writer raises some good points.

If we're talking about chess960 ratings that have been computed only on the results of chess960 games, then the chess960 rating will be just as good a predictor of future chess960 results as the chess rating is for traditional chess results. This has nothing to do with skill at chess; it's a result of the statistical and mathematical foundation of the rating system. As Elo pointed out, his rating system is valid for any two-player competition, whether fencing, boxing, or cribbage.

Of course, cribbage ratings have no predictive value for a chess game between the same pair of adversaries, just as chess ratings have no predictive value for a boxing match. The more pertinent question is whether traditional chess ratings have any predictive value for a chess960 game. I am certain that they do.

Suppose our 1400 player survives into an endgame against the 2200 player. As I pointed out in Differences Between Chess and Chess960, a chess960 endgame is 'usually indistinguishable' from a chess endgame. I said 'usually' because we can imagine some chess960 endgames where a Bishop might be in the corner, still blocked on the diagonal by a Pawn of the same color. That is obviously the result of a chess960 opening.

What chance does the 1400 player have against the 2200 in the endgame? A little better than in the earlier phases, because the position might peter into a theoretical draw (assuming the 1400 recognizes the opportunity and steers for it), but in general, the 2200 will win due to a better grasp of endgame principles and general superiority in accurately calculating long variations.

Now suppose the 1400 player reaches a middle game against the 2200. It is very unlikely that the 1400 is going to survive that phase. The 2200 has a superior ability to calculate tactics, a better understanding of positional play, a greater familiarity with combinations, and a wider knowledge of stock positions. One, if not several, of those advantages will result in a win for the 2200.

If the 1400 is totally outclassed in both the endgame and the middle game, that leaves the opening. Unlike the 'free for all' that ReLentLess imagines, the opening is exactly the phase where the 2200's superior knowledge of positional play is likely to swamp the 1400 even before the pieces are fully developed. The choice of castling (less obvious in chess960 than it is in chess), the effective deployment of the minor pieces, and, above all, the choice of a game plan are going to leave the 1400 hopelessly confused.

The example of a 1400 against a 2200 is just that: an example. The statistical advantage of the higher rated player is the same across the entire rating scale. The example might have been a 2200 against a 2700, where the same table of 'Rating expectancies vs. differences' predicts a 96% winning chance for the higher rated player.

I'll go even further in my claim that chess ratings are good predictors of chess960 results. In chess960 the lower rated player can no longer hide behind the shield of memorized opening variations and will make a mistake even earlier than in a traditional chess game. That means the higher rated player has a greater statistical chance of winning the game, meaning that the chess960 rating difference between the two players will be even greater than the difference in their chess ratings. Chess is, after all, a game of skill rather than a game of chance, and so is chess960.