28 April 2012

Chess960 Enthusiasm

A frequent preoccupation of chess960 fans is to analyze opening sequences for all 960 start positions. Whether this is worth doing or not is a good topic for discussion. It's not something I would like to do, but other players obviously think otherwise.

One angle I hadn't seen before can be found on Chessplay's Youtube channel. A couple of keen players are playing each start position -- twice (switching colors) -- and filming it. The purpose of the stunt is partly to promote the online play site ChessRex.com.

Not being a member, I couldn't tell whether the site is a live play or a correspondence site, nor whether chess960 is on offer as an option; I'll find out as soon as I can. The site has a blog with a smattering of chess960 posts, like Fischer Random 960 "ChessChallenge" is to Play all Start Positions OTB in 5min Blitz Fun! (scroll down to find the post from 21 February 2012):-

We are playing all the start positions in this great chessfun game that the greatest and most talented chess player left for us to enjoy the "Chess Challenges" on 64 squares with the 960 random chess pieces staring back at you as you search the squares to find a better move! Enjoy the videos for the chessfun that we are sharing with you and spare a chess thought for "Bobby Fischer" the Creator!

Now that's enthusiasm!

21 April 2012

Pros & Cons for Castling

A comment on castling by GM Bill Lombardy, quoted by Chesshistory.com (7578. Lombardy) and picked up by kevinspraggett.blogspot.com (Castling, everybody?), applies even more to chess960 than to traditional chess.
The problems posed by the decision to castle are much misunderstood and thereby underrated.

Ditto for Lombardy's explanation.

Castling is to be considered a waste of time wrongly expended when there is almost always something more important to achieve. Thus castling is a passive move that nurtures the hope of King safety. I believe that a player who learns how and when to delay castling will certainly improve his/her play. Very often that cherished hope of safety is ill founded. I therefore believe that the maneuver of castling is the most dangerous of all moves and the decision thus requires more attention to delicate judgment.

Not only should one not rush to castle, but should delay that passive maneuver for as long as good judgment relates that there are more urgent, if only slightly better, tasks to accomplish.

In chess, for all openings in his repertoire, a good player knows the pros & cons for castling to either side. In chess960 this has to be worked out for each start position and opening sequence. It is one of the most important considerations for planning the play before the first move.

14 April 2012

Rare Birds 2012

Eric van Reem, last seen on this blog in 'A Tempo and a Half in a Symmetrical Position', sends news of several chess960 events in Europe. The relevant pages are all in languages other than English, but with Google Translate (translate.google.com) that's hardly a problem.
  • Congratulations to Hans-Walter Schmitt (last seen in 'Can I use this name "Fischer Chess"?'), who recently celebrated his 60th birthday. You can find the full report with lots of photos at "Schach macht tigerstark!" Hans-Walter Schmitt wird 60. See the links at the end for much more about 'HWS'.

  • Last year, in A Few More Chess960 Resources, I mentioned the annual chess960 event organized by Fischerz.nl ('On-Line bulletin van de schaakvereniging FISCHER Z'); on that site, click 'Random Chess: Aankondiging NK 2012' for details about this year's event, to be held Saturday, 26 May. • Eric van Reem: 'They call it Fischer Random Chess, because the organizing club is FischerZ!'

  • An event I've managed to overlook until now is the Schachclub Waldbronn - Chess960 Open. The 8th edition is scheduled for Sunday, 17 June. The 2011 event attracted 30 players, ten of them titled.

Maybe Rare Bird Sightings aren't so rare any more.