27 November 2010

Chess960 Position Generators on the Web

The low-tech method to generate a new chess960 start position is well documented on the web and I wrote about it when I set up my Database of Chess960 Start Positions. The low-tech method to determine the numeric value of a start position (SP) is less well known, so I described it in my recent post Calculate SP Numbers in Your Head.

While it's useful to know that you don't need technology to play chess960, it's also useful to rely on that technology when it's available. Generating a random chess960 start position is one obvious example where technology makes the process a lot easier; calculating the equivalent SP number is another. What tools are available on the web to accomplish these tasks? A search on 'chess960 position generator' appears to identify dozens.

The first on Google is the well known FISCHERANDOM CHESS: Random Position Generator at Chessgames.com. Along with a random start position, it returns a FEN string that can be used to create a PGN file to record the moves of a game starting from that position. Unfortunately, as I've mentioned several times, the 'position #' attached to the start position is nonstandard. This means you need a second tool to do the conversion.

A little further down the Google list is the Starting Position Generator at Chess-960.org. Once you discover its quirks (you have to click the 'generator' button before clicking the 'notation' button) it accomplishes the task it's billed to do. Unfortunately, as I pointed out in Impediments to Chess960 Acceptance, the tool has at least a couple of bugs, rendering it unreliable.

Another tool is the Chess 960: Starting Position Generator at Very.co.il. Unfortunately, like the Chessgames.com tool, it ignores the standard chess960 numbering scheme.

Along with these links, Google returns a variety of other tools for different platforms, including at least one calculator. It was hard to believe that nothing did the task I wanted, so I decided to adapt one of them to suit my needs. I'll cover that in another post.

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