28 July 2018

GM Hort and Chess960

This post is a carryover from my main blog -- A Chess Board Is a Stage -- first, because a heat wave has reduced my capacity for any sort of real effort, and second, because it builds on a small ongoing project:-
Last month, in 'An NN for Chess Images' (June 2018), I started to analyze my archive of chess images. One of the by-products of that analysis was to catalog series of related images.

I found the following image in a series of Russian post cards. It shows GM Vlastimil Hort playing RQKNBNRB (SP699).

The timestamp on the image file is January 2004, which means the game must have been played in 2003 or earlier. The badge on GM Hort's jacket is not clear enough to read, but it might have been issued for one of the Mainz tournaments. My post on the demise of the Mainz tournaments, No Place for Chess960 (February 2011), mentions,

Chess960 Senior Rapid Chess World Championship: 2006 Vlastimil Hort

I found on file 13 games by GM Hort, the first of which was played in the 2003 Chess Classic Mainz (CCM) Chess960 Open. That game, against Igor Glek, is the only game on file for Hort in 2003; the other games are from CCMs 2005, 2006, and 2008. Hort appears to have been a keen chess960 player.

Earlier this year, in Vlastimil Hort: Memories of Bobby Fischer - Part 3 (chessbase.com; April 2018), the one time candidate for the World Championship in traditional chess (1977) recalled meeting Fischer in 1993.

I believe I am one of the first to whom Bobby showed his invention -- the new form of chess he had created! On the first rank, the pieces were placed randomly -- but with identical set-ups for Black and White. The pawns on the second or seventh rank stayed as they are -- just as in traditional chess.

This would have been the same time that Fischer was working out his castling rules. The last time I touched on this topic was Early Chess960 in Hungary (April 2018). It's ironic that more people seem to have played this early form of random chess with Fischer than to have played with the chess960 rules announced in 1996.

21 July 2018

Chess960 at the Open Library

While preparing a recent post on my main blog Chess-books and Chess-players, which described how to embed links to the Open Library, I found a book which I've always wanted to read.

Play Stronger Chess by Examining Chess960
by Gene Milener

I've known about the book for years and the title has popped up in several posts, e.g. Ducking Chess960 (June 2012):-

Next on the list, a review of Gene Milener's 'Play Stronger Chess by Examining Chess 960' wasn't new to me. I had already mentioned it a couple of years ago in 'Chess960 @ Chessville.com'.

That post pointed to a review that has long since disappeared from the web, but which is still available through the magic of the Wayback Machine: Chessville Reviews - Play Stronger Chess by Examining Chess 960 - Reviewed by Michael Jeffreys (archive.org -> chessville.com). That review is itself reviewed by Milener on his own page about the book, 960 CLP.com (castlelong.com), from which I copied the book's table of contents.

The book is not an easy read. It introduces new terminology, new notation, and many new ideas that challenge traditional chess thinking. It is testimony to the depth of chess960 that a book written in 2006 -- only ten years after Fischer introduced his version of random chess -- contains many ideas that remain to be explored. I'll cover some of them in future posts on this blog.