25 April 2020

FIDE FRC Minutes

In yesterday's post on my main blog, Minutes of the 90th FIDE Congress, I predicted,
The following chart extracts the table of contents (TOC) from the two documents. [CHART] That chart will serve as a reference for a couple of posts on my other chess-related blogs.

It might be a surprise to many that chess960 played a non-trivial role in the minutes, giving me plenty of material for this Chess960 (FRC) blog. A few months ago I reported on the FWFRCC Manifesto (February 2020; 'FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship'):-

The announcement for the 2020 FIDE Extraordinary General Assembly Agenda and Executive Board Agenda (fide.com; January 2020) listed Annex 8.3, title: 'Fischer Random Chess'.

Now we have the minutes of that 'extraordinary' event. First, the General Assembly:-

90th FIDE Congress; FIDE Extraordinary General Assembly; Abu Dhabi, UAE; 28th February 2020; MINUTES • 1. FIDE President address [...] Mr. Dvorkovich said we also had the pilot project for the Fisher [ugh!] Random Championship, which last year was a mixed experience. We tried to show that we want to use new formats. The first stage of this championship was completely open to everyone in the world, even to amateur players. Now we are learning from the experience of this pilot project. It is important that we should start rating the Fisher [double ugh!] Random Championship.

Ignoring the two references to 'Fisher' -- while at the same time providing another reason why 'chess960' is a better name than 'Fischerrandom' etc. -- that is an 'extraordinary' vote of confidence from the world's top chess official. The discussion continued the next day at a more selective meeting.

90th FIDE Congress; FIDE Executive Board; Abu Dhabi, UAE; 29th February 2020; MINUTES • 8. Miscellaneous [...] 'Mr. Dvorkovich focused on the Fischer Random Chess Tournaments, which consisted of two phases: online (where everyone was eligible to participate) and in presence (with top players). He said that actually more players were expected to participate to the online phase, which means that there was not enough promotional activity for the event. He expressed his optimism about the possibility to learn from this experience and improve the work related to the organization of this event.

It is also necessary to identify the form for the rating system of this competitions, both online and in presence. In this context several suggestions were received. Another issue to deal with is represented by the anti-cheating measures that should be applied to these championships. Mr. Dvorkovich added that the next Fischer Random Chess Tournaments will be held in 2021.

FIDE activities regarding the organization of Fischer Random Chess Tournaments were approved.

Mr. [Nigel] Short said that the rating for the Fischer Random Chess Tournaments was discussed also during the Congress in Batumi. He believed it is an urgent issue, since ratings are a very important part in motivating the players.'

I covered the initial discussion about ratings last year in FIDE Chess960 Ratings (January 2019). As for the statement that 'the next [FIDE] Fischer Random Chess tournaments will be held in 2021', the year 2022 will see a new FIDE election. Will FIDE's support for FRC continue if Dvorkovich is not re-elected?

18 April 2020

Spectating Chess960

After the previous post on Problem Pieces (March 2020), I went back to the same video for Day 1 of the 2019 Champions Showdown Live (October 2019), and continued watching. I was hoping to find more nuggets of general advice similar to 'Problem Pieces', but the commentators were instead focused on the tactics specific to the game they were following.

The format of round one (Day 1) through round three (Day 3) was two rapid games followed by two blitz games, all games in each round having the same start position (SP). Even though I've been playing chess960 since 2008, I was impressed by how entertaining the Showdown games were. There was no explanation of the subtleties of the Najdorf Variation through move 15, no referring to a database of previous games to discover where the first original move was played. There were just some of the top chess players on the planet slugging it out from the first move in positions that have never been explored.

After watching Day 1, I skipped ahead to Day 4 where a different format was used. One SP was selected for four blitz games, followed by another SP for four more games, making eight games total for the day.

The results of the four matches for the first three rounds are shown in the following chart. The rapid games counted for two points, while the blitz games counted for one point. That meant each round had been worth a total of six points. The eight blitz games in Day 4 would be worth eight more points.

The chart shows that two of the matches were effectively decided, one was close to decided, and the fourth was a real tussle. GM Nakamura had come back from a 5-1 drubbing on the first day to trail GM Aronian by a single point. The commentators naturally focused on the Aronian - Nakamura match. The Caruana - Kasparov match had been the focus of attention in the previous rounds.

Day 4 started with a curiosity. The first start position (SP784 BBRQKNRN) was the twin of the position on Day 3 (SP175 NRNKQRBB). This meant that the initial piece development for SP784 repeated the considerations for SP175. The SPs would differentiate at the time of castling. • NB: After choosing the Day 4 position, TD Tony Rich called it 'SP779'. He was using the Chessgames.com Random Position Generator, which does not follow the standard numbering.

Before writing this post I hoped to gain additional insight into chess960 opening strategy, aka meta-theory. Instead I gained an appreciation for chess960 as a spectator. In Commentating the Opening in London (March 2013), I surmised,

This is exactly the attraction of Fischer's greatest invention. Everyone -- whether player or commentator or spectator -- is looking at the position for the first time ever, applying their own knowledge of chess to tackle a completely new chess position. Chess might not be a great spectator sport, but chess960 might well be.

Looks I got it right that time.