29 March 2014

Chess960 Database, Part III

After I wrote the previous post, Chess960 Database, Part II, HarryO commented,
The Chess960 Jungle database has increased to over 1700 games. The database is still useful even if it is small. Seeing the games of top players primes people with the confidence to give 960 a go.

It's a good point, so I counted the different names on the database.

The chart on the left shows the 25 players with the highest number of games. At least half of the top-10 are strong GMs whose names are immediately recognizable.

Third on the list is a surname shared by two players, one of whom (Matthias Kribben) played in both ICCF and Mainz. Sixth on the list isn't Laszlo Szabo, the one time World Championship contender who died in 1998, but again a number of players with the same surname, most of whom played on LSS.

For the link to Chess960 Jungle, see the right sidebar.

22 March 2014

Chess960 Database, Part II

Continuing with last week's Chess960 Database, I ended the post with the promise of a followup:-
A few years ago I assembled a similar database. The next step will be to compare my games with those from Chess960 Jungle and see if I have anything to contribute to the newer collection. There is also the important subject of whether or not such a database is useful for more than its historical overview.

I first collected games in August 2009, but don't seem to have blogged about it. All of those games were from the annual Mainz events, which I blogged about in Chess960 @ Chess Classic Mainz (2001-2008), and CCM9: Nakamura, Grischuk, and Rybka (2009).

Comparing my database with HarryO's, I discovered he was missing one event -- the 2004 Svidler - Aronian match -- and promptly forwarded it to him. The other events in our collections matched very well. I noted a few differences where he chose to exclude certain games. His first rule, 'Human ELO 2000+', excludes engine competitions, of which there were five at Mainz:-

2005; CCM5 - 1. Chess960 Computer WCh; 63 games
2006; CCM6 - 2. Chess960 Computer WCh; 90
2007; CCM7 - Livingston Chess960 Computer WCh; 21
2008; CCM8 - Livingston Chess960 Computer WCh; 34
2009; CCM9 - Livingston Chess960 Computer WCh; 34

His last rule, 'Simultaneous exhibitions where the games last at least 30 moves', limits the number of games from two early simuls:-

2003; CCM3 Chess960 Simul - Leko; 20
2003; CCM3 Chess960 Simul - Svidler; 20

There was another Mainz simul that he might have overlooked, perhaps because it was the only chess960 event organized in the final year of the Mainz series:-

2010; Simul - Kosteniuk; 20

The Mainz events are certainly missed, but there's no need to lament about the past. HarryO is right to include LSS correspondence games, and he might want to consider ICCF games, where the pool of active players is probably stronger than for LSS. I mentioned the site's chess960 activity once in Correspondence Chess Ratings and Chess960. As for other correspondence sites -- Chess.com is a popular example -- I don't know if the percentage of strong players is high enough to merit their inclusion.

Finally, we come to the question of how useful such a database is. With a little over a thousand games in the collection, it can't serve for any sort of opening preparation into one of the 959 non-traditional starting setups. The CCRL, with 100-150 examples per start position (SP) is also not particularly useful, because the positional thinking required in the opening is not the engines' strong point.

For a long time to come, the value of a chess960 database is going to be its de-facto record of chess960 competitions. This alone is enough to justify the effort involved in maintaining it. Imagine how much poorer chess history would be if the traditional chess games played prior to the great 1851 London tournament had never been recorded and saved.

15 March 2014

Chess960 Database

After an important digression for the Moscow tournament first mentioned in Chess960 Live on the Small Screen, it's high time I returned to another topic from that same post: HarryO's Chess960 database - Compilation of games 2001-2014 [chess960jungle.blogspot.com].

I downloaded the PGN file from Chess960 Jungle, loaded the header data into a regular database, and counted 1066 games. The image on the left shows the count of games per year.

The games through 2008 are all from Mainz, while those from 2009 are from Mainz and LSS. After 2009, the games are all from LSS except for the 2011 Kings vs Queens event in St. Louis, and the 2014 Moscow tournament.

A few years ago I assembled a similar database. The next step will be to compare my games with those from Chess960 Jungle and see if I have anything to contribute to the newer collection. There is also the important subject of whether or not such a database is useful for more than its historical overview. I'll have more to say about these topics in a future post.

08 March 2014

World Champions on Chess960

One of the resources I discovered while working on the previous post, More from Moscow 2014, was the Russian Wikipedia page Chess 960; (that link is for the ru.wikipedia.org page fed to translate.google.com). As usual with computer translations, the text is 75% comprehensible, 25% nonsense, but the meaning still shines through. Unfortunately, the automatic translation stopped at the beginning of the most interesting section, 'Professional opinions about chess players Fischer', so I fed the rest paragraph by paragraph into the translator. Here's what I got.

[Start of translation]

Professional opinions about chess players Fischer: Opinions of professionals and amateurs of chess Fischer random chess expressed different - from enthusiastic to extremely negative. But the most well-known players refers to them as is evident from their statements, at least cautiously optimistic. There were criticisms of the features of the rules. For example, some players were unhappy professionals random selection starting position for each game, and they expressed offers to hold tournaments chess Fischer, in which the initial position was chosen to be one for the whole tournament, and detects and reports the players in advance (for a few days or weeks before the tournament). Such rules would allow pre-prepare for the tournament, reducing the time spent thinking about opening moves. At the same time, the effect of the failure of opening theory would remain - for a short time to undertake a full analysis of the position can not be willy-nilly would confine common basting.

Anatoly Karpov:

Do "Fischer Chess" future is hard to say. Now hold separate tournaments rules Fischer. The idea is, but how it will be received in the future is hard to say because there are pluses and minuses.

Plus quite obvious: at the time of computers Fischer tries to get away from home training and believes that in this way he removes the importance of a set of a team working with computer

Actually, to "Fischer Chess" prepared especially not necessary. Endgame positions and endgame knowledge and "Fischer Chess" can also be used with even greater success. But as the opening theory, there is, of course, everything is broken. And here the basic principles - who understands better and faster and decides who intuition who are better prepared for battle. Therefore do not need to prepare especially, the main thing - to be in excellent condition, to head to work, legs, hands moving.

Garry Kasparov: According to Garry Kasparov at chess Fischer has a future, mainly because they give a person a more equal position to play with the computer - the computer will not be able to rely on accumulated centuries debut base. Nevertheless, the ex-champion predicted major upheavals when introducing new chess.

But my main comment is new chess - a dream Losers ! After all, everyone thinks about Losers honors that he crams the book and why it's best estimates . Those who are just too lazy to learn the theory , do not realize that the so -called " Fischer Random Chess " sharply increase the gap between the very strong and chess grandmasters just strong. After all, today a certain alignment between these players is because they are approximately equal the opening stage . Each learned his option and may, at its "own territory" fight successfully even with the world champion.

Vladimir Kramnik: Vladimir Kramnik offered his version of reducing the effect of home preparation and analysis of individual computer systems debut: the draw debuts at which the initial position of the classical random, but also with certain restrictions that exclude obviously dubious beginning, given the first few moves. Then the players play as usual. About chess Kramnik Fischer said:

I played a little bit in the "Fischer - rand ." Of course, this is completely knocks opening preparation . But the problem is that you lose some games harmony . It is difficult to explain it in words , but when the starting position elephant standing on h8, the knight on g8 rook on f8, then lost sense of aesthetics of chess. By the way , I asked players - many have the same feeling that something " is not " somehow ugly ... And fans are accustomed to the beauty of interaction figures under normal initial position .

Therefore, if we want to clean up the opening preparation , it seems to me to toss a successful exit . In this case study of the theory began to go in a more general way: hardly a chess player would be forced to study hard variants with a large number of branches anywhere in Benoni protection simply because they can not remember . Rather, people will learn debuts with a positional point of view: the general plans , strategy. Unlikely to be a lot of parties where chess 25 moves spend one minute. This will cause more people to play the board .

Boris Spassky:

To chess Fischer positive attitude, because it's the same rules of the game, you just freed from theory and doing. By the way, the idea of gently reorganize classical chess were also to Fischer. What can I say, if my uncle called: let's change places with elephants and horses, all will be fine. Fischer, however, there are a number of ingenious inventions - a clock, for example. Generally, it is in contrast to the current champions, always fighting for the quality of play.

Mark Taimanov:

Perhaps " Fischer Chess " - the panacea for computer dominance in the game, return to the improvisational creativity. With classic chess nothing happens, nothing will happen as with the story. Lovers , as before, will enjoy the works of the great masters , studying the games of past years ... And it will , of course , a little different game. Offer Fischer overcomes monstrous zakompyuterizirovannost debut stage , overcome routine. Do you like to play two famous grandmasters and 26 stroke repeat everything they recorded in the files of your computer? This is - what? Fighting ? Creativity ? Now chess theory develops polushazhkami somewhere between 20 and 25 strokes . No new policies , no new ideas , no new systems ... Innovation will begin the game of chess with the 2nd course , not the 26th. But, as I imagine , somewhere in the course of 12 starts regular chess game chess on ordinary laws. I think Fischer Random Chess - Chess XXI century!.

[End of translation]

I was surprised to see that all of the comments were at least mildly supportive of chess960. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised. The anonymous authors of the Wikipedia page have no incentive to include negative comments.

As for Taimanov's comment about 'monstrous zakompyuterizirovannost debut stage', when I split the long word into two, I got 'zakompyuteriz ation'. That makes a little more sense.

01 March 2014

More from Moscow 2014

Let's have another post on the 'Chess960 Training Tournament', Moscow 2014. At the time I wrote last week's post, Chess960 Live on the Small Screen, I didn't have much information about the event, but it created a small buzz that is well worth noting. One of the main web sources of chess news in Russia is the aptly named Chess-news.ru. The site had two reports in English.

I copied the final crosstable, shown below, from that first report.

The same site had more reports in its primary language, available to non-Russian speakers like me through the magic of translate.google.com. I list all reports because the most interesting remarks are often in the comments.

The site also conducted a follow-up interview with two of the participating GMs.

Of particular interest is a discussion of the poll results that 'Fischer Chess Won't Replace Classical Chess'.

E.SUROV: We have just summed up the survey, which took place at our site. The vast majority - about 70 percent - is skeptical about the future of chess Fischer. Anyway, to the formulation, in which we asked about this, namely: "Replace ever Fischer Chess conventional chess?". Say no. Andrew, how do you comment on these results?

A.DEVYATKIN: I have to say that I - a supporter of the Fischer chess and, therefore, perhaps be a little subjective. First, it seems to me that 70 percent still can not be called by an overwhelming majority, an advantage. And secondly, the question itself is really quite categorical: replace or not?

Actually, why replace chess, why cancel and switch to the classic chess Fischer? Here, rather, we are on a parallel system of competition, about how to organize more and more tournaments chess Fischer. But in any case there will be those who will say that they are for the classics. One can hardly say that they ever completely replace each other, that is on the earth there will be no person who would like to play in classical chess. This is unlikely to happen.

The big news here is that 30% of the respondents believe that 'Fischer Chess *Will* Replace Classical Chess'. I wouldn't have expected more than a single digit number. I do agree, though, that it's not a zero-sum proposition. Traditional chess and chess960 can co-exist side-by-side forever. There are still people who play chaturanga, aren't there?

I contacted GM Deviatkin (that's how he spells his name using the English alphabet) and asked him about the organization of the tournament.

I was also one of the main organizers. The tournament seems to be the first serious Fischer chess event in Moscow ever, although I'm not 100% sure. It could be a Swiss tournament had the regulations been set (and invitations been made) earlier. The time control was 20+10 which sometimes seemed too short, because the very first moves in Fischer chess are of great importance and can take half of one's time!

Anyway, the Moscow event ran very smoothly, it was anything but boring, the participants looked happy, and I hope this is just the beginning. Most likely, in 2014 we'll have more events like this one in Moscow.

The start position was chosen by the arbiter before each round using Fritz (New game -> Chess960). Maybe it would be an improvement to give the players a few minutes to think over a new position after the drawing of lots. White's clock was started before the 1st move.

I'm sure that 20 min per game isn't really much, even if we give additional minites, start clocks after White's first move, etc. My initial idea was to give players at least 30 min per game (with increment), but then the tournament would be too long, and we could use the venue only for two days.

There were also a few reports on the main chess news sites;

Fide.com? Maybe I was wrong a few weeks ago when I asked Who Needs FIDE? To be continued...