20 May 2023

When Chess960 Reduces to Chess

Let's talk turkey. Once in a while I like to document my recent experience playing chess960 online. Earlier this year I posted The Fascinating World of Chess960 (January 2023), where I wrote,
Last month's post was also about switching to a different online service for playing chess960. [...] I continued playing on LSS until last year. I was playing chess960 in a couple of multi-stage events, where success in one stage promotes a player to the next stage. I decided to skip the next stages, essentially taking a year off from serious play. [...] I switched to Chess.com in May 2022, playing one or (maximum) two games of correspondence chess at a time.

A month later I wrote a post about a Chess.com service, Chess.com Reviews a Chess960 Opening (February 2023). Since then I've stopped playing Chess.com for reasons that I won't discuss in this post. I went back to LSS, partly with the intention of evaluating Chessify for chess960.

This is the first time I've mentioned Chessify on this chess960 blog, although I've discussed the service several times on my main blog. In Chessify Resources (March 2023), I wrote,

The main problem with chess960 in a traditional chess environment stems from the castling rules. Since chess960 games tend to become extremely tactical after a few moves have been played, there is nevertheless some value in trying to confirm the tactics with a traditional, non-chess960 engine. [...] I'll continue using Chessify to look at chess960 positions.

There are three phases of a chess960 opening (often overlapping with the early middle game):-

  • Both sides can castle.
  • One side loses the castling privilege.
  • The other side loses the castling privilege.

I say 'loses the castling privilege', because it can arise when castling, when the King moves, or when both Rooks move. The point where castling is no longer an option is exactly where chess960 starts to look and feel like chess starting from the traditional position (SP518 RNBQKBNR). This is the point where a chess service like Chessify becomes fully viable.

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