27 April 2024

What Goes Around...

In a recent post on my main blog, Candidate Yahoos (April 2024), I noted,
Of the 99 chess stories returned by Google News for the month of April, 27 were about the just concluded Candidates tournament (CT).

One of the non-CT stories related to a report from the previous post on this chess960 blog, Chessbase and Its 180 on 960 (March 2024). Specifically,

2024-03-16: Carlsen, Buettner Unveil Extravagant Chess960 Grand Slam Tour Across 5 Continents (chess.com; TarjeiJS; comments)

The latest report informed,

  • 2024-04-26: Carlsen-led Freestyle Chess event in India on hold (hindustantimes.com; Susan Ninan) • 'The Chess960 event that was originally scheduled to take place in India in November hasn’t found takers yet, forcing Jan Buettner to shelve plans for now.'

For more about possible reasons behind the lack of investors, see:-

For example, one comment said,

There is no way any popular chess venues are going to commit to a freestyle chess tournament in November. They are busy bidding for the World Championship match.

So the victory of Indian GM Gukesh in the CT interfered with hopes for a chess960 tournament in India. Why am I not surprised?

30 March 2024

Chessbase and Its 180 on 960

The previous post, Freestyle Goats Might Return (February 2024), ended on a highly optimistic note:-
We can look forward to much top-level chess960.

In the intervening month we've had a couple of equally optimistic follow-ups from Chessbase:-

The news was confirmed by a (former?) Carlsen confidant, now writing for Chess.com:-

Chessbase.com has come a long way in the six years since the site posted an article that I panned in Purported Problems with Chess960 (April 2018). My post started,

That title is taken from a recent article by Frederic Friedel of Chessbase: The problem with Chess960 (chessbase.com; February 2018). Let's cut to the chase. The problem with chess960 is that there is no problem with chess960.

So why did Chessbase make a 180-degree turn? Maybe it's a case of:-

If you can't beat them, join them!

I suspect it's more a case of:-

Money talks and nobody walks!

Whatever the reason, the world's leading chess database company has also started running articles on chess960 opening theory:-

I don't agree with all five 'Opening Tips'. For example, the first of the five is

Introduce the queen into the game early

That's much too categorical for me. I once wrote a post about a game of mine titled Activating the Corner Queen (September 2013). I reached the conclusion, 'Black was always in command and eventually won. The early activation of Black's Queen was the deciding factor.'

I could give plenty of counter-examples where a Queen came out too early and was harrassed by the opponent's minor pieces, just like beginners are warned against after the traditional start position. A more nuanced tip would be something like, 'The decision when and where to develop the Queen is even more consequential than similar decisions for the other pieces'. Chess960base, anyone?

24 February 2024

Freestyle Goats Might Return

Continuing with last week's post, Carlsen Wins First Major Chess960 Event of 2024 (February 2024), here's a Youtube stream showing the games from the final day.

Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge - Final (3:09:15) • 'Streamed live on Feb 16, 2024'

For streams from the previous days, see @freestyle_chess/streams (youtube.com). The 'About' page informs,

The primary focus of the competition is on showcasing the personalities and extraordinary skills of Super Grandmasters, with Magnus Carlsen himself handpicking seven world-class challengers.

Handpicked challengers? Is that why two of Carlsen's most dangerous opponents -- GM Nakamura and GM Wesley So -- weren't playing? Whatever the reason, in Jan Henric Buettner: "My dream is a Grand Slam of Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenges on five continents" (chessbase.com; 'Press release'), we learn,

It was also revealed that Hikaru Nakamura, the reigning World Fischer Random Chess Champion, has an "extended invitation," so the American top GM and streamer will likely join the field in 2025. He had to decline for the first event because he wanted to prepare differently for the upcoming Candidates Tournament.

If this comes to fruition, we can look forward to much top-level chess960. Thanks, Weissenhaus people, for a great show!

17 February 2024

Carlsen Wins First Major Chess960 Event of 2024

In last month's only post on this blog, Freestyle Goats Challenge (January 2024), I closed it saying,
The official site is Weissenhaus - Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge (freestyle-chess.com). I know that I'll be coming out of hibernation to spectate.

I didn't find the opportunity to spectate, so I'll make up for that lapse by documenting the event: Carlsen Beats Caruana To Win Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge (chess.com; Colin_McGourty; 'Day 8'). For his final article on the same event, the same Chess.com journalist produced the following list.

2024-02-17: Nine Things We Learned - Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge 2024 (chess.com; Colin_McGourty; links to previous articles: 'Day 1-8')

Every one of those nine points is worth further discussion, but I'm not the right person to discuss them, at least for now. Also worth a mention is Tag: Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge (chessbase.com), with links to 14 Chessbase articles by various writers. A few of those articles are of considerable background interest, but they will have to wait for another time.

20 January 2024

Freestyle Goats Challenge

I admit it; I just can't stop. In my previous post, Sayonara? (December 2023), I wrote,
Now I'm going back into hibernation, although I won't rule out an occasional post if I have something to say about a subject.

The hibernation can wait for now, because an upcoming event deserves to be promoted. From two of the top chess news sources:-

  • 2023-12-01: Freestyle Super Tournament in Germany - Seven top players challenge Magnus Carlsen (chessbase.com; Press Release) • 'From 9 to 16 February 2024, the Weissenhaus Private Nature Luxury Resort on the Baltic Sea in Germany will be the venue for a super tournament in "Freestyle Chess", also known as Chess960. Seven world-class players, including world champion Ding Liren and Vincent Keymer, will challenge the G.O.A.T (Greatest of all Times), Magnus Carlsen, in a Chess960 tournament with classical time control.'

  • 2023-12-04: Carlsen, Ding, Caruana In New $200,000 Classical Fischer-Random Event (chess.com; TarjeiJS) • 'Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T Challenge will take place February 9-16 and marks Carlsen's first battle with his successor, World Champion GM Ding Liren, since the Chinese grandmaster took over the throne.'

Freestyle? It's becoming a rite of passage for a new chess960 sponsor : invent a new C960/FRC name for a new tournament. I'll add it to the names at the top of the blog. The more the merrier! From the 'Press Release':-

In addition to Magnus Carlsen (33) and Ding Liren (31), the following six players will compete: Fabiano Caruana (31, USA/Italy, #2 in the world), Levon Aronian (41, USA/Armenia, #4 of all times), Alireza Firouzja (20, France/Iran, #5 in the world), Dommaraju Gukesh (17, India, top world rank #9), Nodirbek Abdusattorov (19, Uzbekistan, world rank #25), and Germany's number one, Vincent Keymer (19, top world rank #18).

Where are GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So? I imagine it's a coincidence that both were threats to Carlsen in high-visibility chess960 matches. But enough nitpicking -- the show must go on!

The official site is Weissenhaus - Freestyle Chess G.O.A.T. Challenge (freestyle-chess.com). I know that I'll be coming out of hibernation to spectate.