31 July 2010

Banska Stiavnica 2010

A couple of weeks ago, in Chess960 Tournaments Are Rare Birds, I mentioned a Nakamura - Movsesian chess960 exhibition match in Slovakia. TWIC had more info in no.820:
18) Nakamura vs Movsesian Blitz, Chess960 and Living Chess • Hikaru Nakamura was in Banska Stiavnica on the 16th July 2010 to play a one day series of games against Sergei Movsesian which took place alongside the International Championship of Slovakia covered last week. Nakamura won both Chess960 games and a Blitz game before drawing a game of Living Chess where both sides were playing blindfold which was drawn. • Official site: www.livechess.sk/en/

Here's a photo from the official site taken just before the start of the first game.

Movsesian (playing Black) & Nakamura

And here are PGN game scores that I transcribed from the moves of the 'live games' on the same site.

[Event "Chess960 Blitz (10')"]
[Site "Banska Stiavnica SVK"]
[Date "2010.07.16"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Black "Movsesian, Sergej"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Annotator "SP066"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "bnnrkbqr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/BNNRKBQR w KQkq - 0 1"]

1.g3 b6 2.Bg2 Bxg2 3.Qxg2 Nc6 4.d4 e6 5.O-O h5 6.c4 Qh7 7.Nc3 Nd6 8. b3 h4 9.d5 Ne5 10.Nd3 Nxd3 11.Rxd3 hxg3 12.hxg3 Be7 13.e4 Bf6 14.Re1 e5 15.Bb2 a6 16.Bc1 g5 17.g4 Ke7 18.Ba3 Qg6 19.Ne2 Rh7 20.Ng3 Rdh8 21.Bxd6+ cxd6 22.Nf5+ Kf8 23.b4 Bd8 24.a4 Qf6 25.Ree3 Qg6 26.Rh3 Be7 27.Rb3 Ke8 28.Kf1 Kd8 29.Ke2 Bf8 30.Rxh7 Qxh7 31.a5 Kc7 32.Qf3 Qh1 33.Qe3 Kc8 34.axb6 Qa1 35.Qc3 Qa2+ 36.Rb2 Qa4 37.c5 dxc5 38.Qxe5 Qb5+ 39.Kd2 Qxb6 40.bxc5 Qa5+ 41.Ke2 1-0

[Event "Chess960 Blitz (10')"]
[Site "Banska Stiavnica SVK"]
[Date "2010.07.16"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Movsesian, Sergej"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Annotator "SP954"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "rkrnbbnq/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RKRNBBNQ w KQkq - 0 1"]

1.g4 e5 2.Nc3 c6 3.Nf3 g6 4.h4 d5 5.d3 Bd6 6.h5 Qg7 7.e4 d4 8.Ne2 c5 9.g5 Bd7 10.c3 Ne6 11.cxd4 cxd4 12.Rxc8+ Bxc8 13.Bh3 Ne7 14.O-O-O Bd7 15.Kb1 O-O-O 16.Bd2 Kb8 17.Qe1 Nc5 18.Ba5 Rc8 19.Bxd7 Nxd7 20.Bb4 Bxb4 21.Qxb4 Rc5 22.Rc1 Nc6 23.Qb3 Rxc1+ 24.Nxc1 gxh5 25.Qd5 Kc7 26. Ne2 f6 27.Ng3 fxg5 28.Nf5 Qf6 29.Qg8 h6 30.Qh7 Nb4 31.Ne1 h4 32.a3 h3 33.Nf3 Nxd3 34.Nh2 Qb6 35.b4 Qe6 36.Kc2 Qc4+ 37.Kd2 Qc3+ 38.Ke2 Nf4+ 39.Kd1 Qd3+ 40.Kc1 Ne2+ 41.Kb2 Qc3+ 42.Ka2 Qc2+ 43.Ka1 Nc3 0-1

After I take a closer look at the games, I'll examine one in a future post.

25 July 2010

Symmetry Misjudged

In Castling Misjudged, I showed how an error in judgement led to a loss in one game of SchemingMind.com's 2009 Chess960 Dropout Tournament. The other game I lost, which was enough to eliminate me from the event, was also due to an error in judgement, although of a different kind.

Note the symmetry in the diagrammed position. It was even more striking before Black's last move, 16...Rcd8, when the move 16...Bb7 would have achieved perfect symmetry.


After 16...Rc8-d8

The primary tactical consideration for both sides is the sequence starting Nxd5 (or ...Nxd4 for Black), followed by advancing the e-Pawn two squares after the capture. I decided that 17.Nxd5 was premature and played 17.Rfd1 instead, judging that 17...Nxd4 was also premature. My opponent decided otherwise, played that move, and ended up with a long-lasting initiative that eventually netted a Pawn. Here's the full game score, courtesy SchemingMind.com.

[Event "2009 Chess960 Dropout Tournament, Round 5"]
[Site "SchemingMind.com"]
[Date "2010.03.06"]
[Round "5"]
[White "bemweeks"]
[Black "wilfried"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Variant "fischerandom"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "brnqnkrb/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/BRNQNKRB w KQkq - 0 1"]

1.d4 d5 2.Ncd3 O-O 3.Nf3 b6 4.b3 Ncd6 5.O-O g6 6.g3 Ne4 7.Nfe5 N8d6 8.f3 Ng5 9.Bg2 Ne6 10.Qd2 f6 11.Ng4 Bg7 12.Bh3 Ng5 13.Bg2 Qd7 14.Rbc1 Nf5 15.Bb2 Rbc8 16.Nf4 Rcd8 17.Rfd1 Nxd4 18.Bxd4 e5 19.h4 Nf7 20.h5 g5 21.Bh3 Qd6 22.Ne3 Nh6 23.Ne6 exd4 24.Qxd4 Rde8 25.Nxf8 Qxg3+ 26.Bg2 f5 27.Qd3 Bxf8 28.Nxf5 Nxf5 29.Qxf5 Rxe2 30.Qh3 Qf4 31.Qg4 Qe3+ 32.Kh1 Bd6 33.h6 d4 34.Qc8+ Kf7 35.Qf5+ Ke8 36.Qd3 Qxd3 37.Rxd3 Bf4 38.Rcd1 Be3 39.Rxd4 Bxd4 40.Rxd4 Ke7 41.Rc4 c5 42.a3 Bd5 43.Rc3 Re6 44.Kg1 Rxh6 45.f4 Bxg2 46.Kxg2 g4 47.a4 Re6 48.Kg3 h5 49.a5 Re2 0-1

How could the better developed side end up tactically worse in a symmetrical position? That is a question for which I have no answer.

24 July 2010

Castling Misjudged

It seems like ages ago when, in Pyramids and Dropouts, I described the format of SchemingMind.com's Dropout Tournaments. Whether you call it a dropout or a knockout, the end result is the same. You get zero points for a win, one point for a draw, and three points for a loss. Once you've amassed six points, you're out. The format of two games per round means you can be eliminated with two losses in the same round. Even if you go the distance of six rounds, a score of six wins and six draws (+6-0=6) means you just barely survived.

In my first SchemingMind dropout, I survived until the fifth round. I managed to get through the first four rounds with three draws (+5-0=3), but then crashed and burned in both fifth round games. Here's one of those two losses.

As Black in the diagrammed position I was feeling comfortable with my game. Although by playing ...g5 and ...g4, I had forgone the possibility of castling ...O-O, I was happy to play 12...O-O-O. I reasoned: (1) that my King was better on the Queenside than White's King would be on that side, and (2) that White's castling O-O would leave the Queen out of play on h1 with the King exposed to a Pawn thrust.


After 12.d2-d4

When White played 13.O-O, I realized that my reasoning was faulty. If the castled position gets too hot, the King can move to h2, releasing the Queen for action along the first rank. The Pawns on g3 and h4 will provide adequate shelter while White plays against the loose position of the Black King. I continued 13...f5, but was unable to work up any real threats against the White King. Meanwhile my own King fell under the crossfire of White's pieces. Here's the full game score.

[Event "2009 Chess960 Dropout Tournament, Round 5"]
[Site "SchemingMind.com"]
[Date "2010.03.06"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Tyler"]
[Black "bemweeks"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Variant "fischerandom"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "bnnrkbrq/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/BNNRKBRQ w KQkq - 0 1"]

1.g3 d5 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d4 4.Nb5 Na6 5.Nb3 g5 6.c3 dxc3 7.bxc3 c6 8.N5d4 Nc7 9.Nc2 b6 10.Bg2 Ne7 11.h4 g4 12.d4 O-O-O 13.O-O f5 14.exf5 exf5 15.c4 Rg6 16.Rfe1 Qg8 17.d5 f4 18.gxf4 cxd5 19.Be5 Nf5 20.Ne3 Nxe3 21.Rxe3 Bd6 22.cxd5 Qf7 23.Nd4 Nxd5 24.f5 Rh6 25.Red3 Bxe5 26.Ne6 Qxf5 27.Nxd8 Rf6 28.R1d2 Nb4 29.Bb7+ Kc7 30.Rd7+ Qxd7 31.Rxd7+ Kxd7 32.Bxa8 Kxd8 33.a3 Na6 34.Qd5+ Bd6 35.Qg5 Be7 36.Qg8+ Rf8 37.Qd5+ Kc7 38.Qb7+ Kd6 39.Qc6+ Ke5 40.Qd5+ Kf6 41.Qd4+ Kf7 42.Bd5+ 1-0

Even after losing material I continued to play, hoping to find a defense based on the opposite colored Bishops. I finally had to admit that it was a mirage and resigned.

18 July 2010

Chess960 Tournaments Are Rare Birds

While writing yesterday's post on Special Chess960 Dice, which were used for a side event of the 2010 Canadian Open at Toronto (for more about the event see the press release for the Canadian Open Chess Championship), I noted that the Shabalov simul was the only chess960 event taking place during the Open. In 2010, chess960 tournaments are rare birds and it's worth mentioning a few others I've discovered.
  • Although the Chess Tigers have scaled back chess960 at Mainz this year -- (Almost) No Chess960 @ CCM10 -- they organize other chess960 events. If you don't understand German you'll need to have their page Chess Tigers: Chess960 translated to find out more about their events.

  • This weekend the Swiss Chess960 Championship was held as part of the Biel Chess Festival. The winner was the current women's chess960 champion at Mainz: Kosteniuk is Chess960 Swiss Champion.

  • In June, Chessdom.com reported that Ram S Krishnan wins 1st Chess960 title at Chennai, India: '118 players participated in this nine round Swiss event, and prizes were awarded in open, boys & girls category'.

  • Chessdom later reported, in International Chess Championship of Slovakia, that chess960 would be played as a side event during the Slovakian Championship this week: 'Exhibition events will include two-games match between GM Hikaru Nakamura (World champion in Chess960) and GM Sergei Movsesian (3rd place in Chess960 World championship) in Fischer Random Chess'.

If you know of game scores for these events, or if you know about other chess960 events that I've overlooked, add a comment or send me an email at the address listed under my profile. And thanks!

17 July 2010

Special Chess960 Dice

While browsing YouTube videos for my most recent post in the Video Friday series (see 1993 Kasparov - Short on BBC for the video I eventually selected), I watched the first few minutes of 2010 Canadian Open Chess Championship Day 3+4, and was pleased to see that it was about a Shabalov chess960 simul at the Canadian event. Even more intriguing was a set of unusual dice used to select a different start position for each game in the simul. The dice are shown in the following screen capture from the video.

Using normal six-sided dice (where in fact only one 'die' is needed) to generate a chess960 start position is standard practice, and I once described the procedure in a post titled A Database of Chess960 Start Positions. The difference with the dice pictured above is that, rather than generate the start squares for each piece one at a time, the chess960 dice generate the start squares for all pieces at the same time. The five chess960 dice appear to be of three varieties:

  • 1 x 6-sided die (colored red in the photo)
  • 1 x 5-sided die (green)
  • 3 x 4-sided dice (blue, white, & yellow)

While I can't make out the details on each die in the photo, I can see that the blue & white dice are both marked with a Bishop, and the green die is marked with a Knight. If the red and yellow dice are marked respectively with a Queen and a Knight (it could be the other way around, which also works), and if each side of all the dice is marked with a number (as appears to be the case with the green die: the numbers 5, 1, & 2 are visible), then we have all the information necessary to generate a chess960 start position:

  • Place the dark squared Bishop using the blue die.
  • Place the light squared Bishop using the white die.
  • Place the Queen using the red die.
  • Place a Knight using the green die.
  • Place the other Knight using the yellow die.
  • On the three remaining squares, place the King between the Rooks.

As for which face of the die to use for placement, I suppose it has to be the side which is face down. A web search turned up a related page -- Canadian Open Chess Championship half-way through -- which confirmed,

On Monday American GM Shabalov gave a simultaneous exhibit of Chess960 on 13 boards. The game similar to Fischer random chess (except that there is traditional castling) invented by American World Champion Bobby Fischer rearranges the starting pieces to avoid memorization of the opening moves. There are 960 different starting positions. Special dice were made for this event to generate the starting position. Players have to think from move 1. Shabalov said it was the hardest simultaneous he has ever given. Shabalov won 10 tied 3, had a lunch break, gave a lecture then played a 4-hour slow game in the tournament. (marketwire.com)

The accuracy of the phrase 'The game similar to Fischer random chess (except that there is traditional castling)' is questionable, because chess960 and Fischer Random Chess are one and the same thing. But who cares! The simul and the dice are two more steps in promoting chess960, the most significant evolution of chess in 500 years.

11 July 2010


Since my post on the DGT960 Chess Clock was more about the video than about the clock itself, I decided to find out more about the clock. The DGT Home Page (digitalgametechnology.com) seemed like a good place to start, but it uses the 'mystery meat' style of navigation where you have to know how the page works before you can go anywhere else.

The only mention of chess960 is on the navigation bar at the top of the page, which leads offsite and which doesn't appear to have been updated in two years. If you're patient, the clock will eventually appear in one of the blurbs that rotate through 'DGT Headlines'. There's also an unlabelled picture of the DGT960 (Hint: It's a folding clock with orange as a dominant color) that leads to the main page on the product: DGT960.

These days I suppose that being found in the search engines is more important than internal site navigation, and Google reveals several other interesting pages on the DGT site. First, there is a collection of the same YouTube videos I flagged in my original post on the DGT960: How to operate the DGT960. Then there is the product's user manual: DGT960 User Manual (English). Finally, a page announcing The NEW Chess960 Ambassadors! ('Miss Bianca Muhren and Mr Dennis de Vreugt are the new Chess960 Ambassadors') leads to the same chess960 offsite page I mentioned earlier: DGT Chess960!.

Disclaimer: While I haven't used the DGT960 myself, I have used and written reviews on other DGT products: Two Digital Clocks from DGT and Review of the DGT 2010 Digital Chess Clock. They were all top quality clocks. I can't imagine buying the DGT960 solely for the chess960 functions, but I will definitely consider it if I ever buy a new chess clock.

10 July 2010

DGT960 Chess Clock

'♫ We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave ♫', my attic office is even hotter than it normally is, and the last thing I want to do is write a complicated post requiring all sorts of detailed analysis. That means it's time for a video, where the hard work has already been done by the video maker. In this case the video is about the DGT960 clock, narrated, if I'm not mistaken, by Albert Vasse of DGT.

DGT960 Chess Starting Position Generator (4:11) • 'The DGT960 can random generate one of the starting positions of chess960, also known as Fischer Random Chess.'

The first sequence in the video shows the start position of a traditional chess game (SP518 RNBQKBNR), where you can see the graphics used to denote individual pieces. Then it goes on to explain how you can select a position randomly...

Every time I push this button there will be a number between 1 and 960. [The display shows the number 466.] With this number there is a starting position. In this case it means BRNNKBRQ. (1:30 into the clip)

...select a numeric start position yourself...

I can set up a number for myself. Let's say I want to see what position 960 really is. I set up the 960 with the '+' and '-' button, and I see that position 960 is BBQNNRKR. (2:10)

...or enter a start position by setting up the pieces on specific start squares.

It looks great, except there is a small error in the explanation: 'Let's say I want to see what position 960 really is.' In chess960 there is no start position 960. The positions are numbered 000 to 959, so position 960 in the clip is in fact start position 0 (SP000 BBQNNRKR).

The reason why this must be is that the numbering of the first 16 positions (SP000-SP015) cycles through the 16 possible combinations of the two Bishops (BB......, B..B...., B....B.., etc.) while the relative position of the other pieces is fixed (QNNRKR for SP000-SP015). The same is true for all subsequent blocks of 16 positions.

This quibble aside, the DGT960 performs a valuable service to the chess960 community. See the end of the clip for related videos explaining other DGT960 functionality common to chess clocks in general.

04 July 2010

More Chess960 Instructional Videos

In yesterday's post, Chess960 Instructional Videos, I featured a Chess.com video by FM Charles Galofre. I discovered afterwards that Galofre released a few chess960 videos on YouTube before making them for Chess.com. Here's the first.

Real Men Play Chess960 Ep.1 (6:51) • 'Real Men Play Chess!? you heard of that one? There is a youtube video with a continent full of views.' • SP032 BBNNQRKR

The clip he mentions is Real Men Play Chess, which has nothing to do with chess960. As for real men and chess960, the description continued,

Real Men Play Chess960 is a livestream video where FM Charles Galofre (me) rationalizes these irrational positions in live 3 minute games! Enjoy.

The position displayed at the beginning looks a lot like a successful attack for Black in a King Indian's Defense, until you realize that White, at the top of the screen, has just checkmated Black. A new game (SP032 BBNNQRKR) starts at 3:45 into the clip. • For more in the series, see YouTube - CharlesGalofre's Channel, and search 'chess960'. At the present time, there are five clips.

03 July 2010

Chess960 Instructional Videos

It's been a few months since my last post with label Video and in the meantime several video makers have produced instructional videos for chess960. Here's a recent one from Chess.com (SP917 RKBBRQNN).

Chess.com - Fischer Random Matches 2 (Chess960) (3:52) • 'Today FIDE Master Charles Galofre continues his video series on the subject of Fischer Random chess.' • SP917 RKBBRQNN

The description continues,

As he gains experience, Charles also finds a way to apply some important "classic chess" principals like development, central control, and even castling! His perspective and understanding, as he puts it, is "maturing". Take a look at these entertaining games, and see if you too can increase your Chess960 skills

For the moment, there are only two clips in the series and I suppose adding more will depend on their popularity. For both videos see Chess Video Lesson Library - FM Charles Galofre.