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?