The problem with Chess960

by Frederic Friedel
2/28/2018 – Two weeks ago there was a World Championship — in Chess960, a variant that symmetrically shuffles the position of the pieces behind the row of pawns. The game has gained some popularity since it eliminates the staggering amount of preparation that is required in regular chess. But Chess960 has a few problems that probably prevent it from really taking off. We discuss some possible solutions to these problems.

Master Class Vol.1: Bobby Fischer Master Class Vol.1: Bobby Fischer

No other World Champion was more infamous both inside and outside the chess world than Bobby Fischer. On this DVD, a team of experts shows you the winning techniques and strategies employed by the 11th World Champion.

Grandmaster Dorian Rogozenco delves into Fischer’s openings, and retraces the development of his repertoire. What variations did Fischer play, and what sources did he use to arm himself against the best Soviet players? Mihail Marin explains Fischer’s particular style and his special strategic talent in annotated games against Spassky, Taimanov and other greats. Karsten Müller is not just a leading international endgame expert, but also a true Fischer connoisseur.

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What is Chess960?

There is a comprehensive article on Chess960 on Wikipedia, which you can consult on all the details of this variant. Here I will only summarize some of the main points.

In 1996 former world chess champion Bobby Fischer announced, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a new variant of chess that became known as Fischer Random Chess. It employed the normal chess board and pieces, but the starting position of the pieces on the first rank was randomized, with the pawns being placed on the second ranks as in standard chess. The position of the pieces was reflected for both sides.

Fischer's proposal was itself a variant of Shuffle Chess, which was first played in the late 18th century. But it had some additional rules and restrictions: the bishops must be placed on opposite-colour squares, and the king must be placed on a square between the rooks. The game has some fairly complex castling rules, which you can study in the Wiki article.

The name Fischer Random Chess soon turned into Fischerrandom, and after he had introduced this variant into the Mainz Chess Classic in 1991 organiser Hans-Walter Schmitt changed it to Chess960, which reflects the number of different starting positions that are possible in the game. A few years before he died Bobby Fischer consulted me on a possible match against World Champion Viswanathan Anand. In our phone conversations, he referred to the game as "Fischer Random" or, more often, "New Chess".

The typical start of a Chess960 game — note that the h-pawns are undefended

Why does anyone need this new chess variant?

Fischer's intention in introducing the new rules was to eliminate the incredible level of openings preparation that prevails in contemporary chess. In my conversations with him, I admitted that this was a real problem: imagine a world championship in a few years from now, where the two players reel off 28 moves of a known variation, in just a few minutes — and then one of them plays a novelty. His opponent thinks for an hour and resigns the game! Bobby enjoyed this somewhat facetious scenario that justified his introduction of New Chess, where players must devise original moves from the start. Memorizing thousands of home prepared opening lines would be eliminated, and the playing field would be levelled.

I undertook a few public and private 960 experiments with strong players. In the ill-thought-out expectation that human grandmasters would be able to score better than computers, we arranged matches against Alexei Shirov and Vishy Anand, against GM Artur Yusupov, and then Pocket Fritz against Peter Leko and Michael Adams. The results were disappointing, especially for me, rooting for the players and hoping for a reprieve in the man-machine circuit.

But the reality was that as computers grew stronger they had an ever greater dominance against humans. The only chance a strong GM had was to come out of the opening with very good ideas and a concrete plan on how to proceed. Computers, on the other hand, see the position for the first time. But in Chess960 this applies to both sides, and that is far more disconcerting for the human than for the computer.

The disadvantage of Chess960

In human vs human Chess960 games, the players are much more evenly matched. In recent tournaments and matches, e.g. the one a fortnight ago between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura, the strongest players tend to win, using only playing skill and general understanding of the game — as opposed to openings preparation and tricks.

In 2008 FIDE accepted the inevitable and added Chess960 as Guidelines II — Chess960 Rules of its Laws of Chess. Slowly the game gained popularity, though it did not take off the way its devotees hoped. There are some grave disadvantages, which I noticed all too clearly when I attended the Mainz Chess Classic over a decade ago.

Take a look at the above picture, from a rapid chess event played in 2006. In a traditional game Anand and Radjabov have a familiar, very promising position on the board. Aronian vs Svidler, a Chess960 rapid game, has a weird position the players still pondering on move four.

Here's another example: Svidler is still wondering, on move five, if he can move a pawn and not lose instantly, while Anand is pondering his 22nd move in a very interesting position. In the commentary booths, the GMs were discussing Anand's options with great excitement – he seemed to be struggling to equalize with white in a Sveshnikov! They were completely silent on the Aronian-Svidler game, as nobody had the faintest idea of what was going on. I think it was Tim Krabbé who compared commenting on a Fischer Random game to conducting a guided tour of an art gallery that you are visiting for the first time. Very apt.

Another problem is that the Chess960 positions, regarding their winning probabilities, are often asymmetric. We know this for example from a very large number of computer games — over 200,000 played by the Computer Chess Ratings List team in 2005–2008.

There are a few other disadvantages. Traditional chess offers continuity: you see a very nice game in a certain opening or a disaster with it, and you wait for someone else to play it, to see how they fare. That is impossible in Chess960. The same applies to learning from your mistakes: if something went wrong in a game there is no incentive to look for an improvement. You are never going to get the position again.

Starting positions most/least advantageous for White

 
 
 
 

You can move the pieces on the above boards to think about how to start the games. Full data for all 960 positions can be found on this special CCRL statistics page. Some give White substantial advantage, some are simply bizarre, causing players to cringe, and some invite blunders and result in very short games. But many are interesting and exciting.

So what to do about Chess960?

There have been many attempts to improve on Fischer Random and Chess960. For instance, there are suggestions to modify the castling rules, which are not easy to comprehend and quite off-putting. John Kipling Lewis proposed a simplification that results in Chess480 — half the Chess960 positions are mirrors but different due to the complex castling rules, which Lewis avoids. Others have suggested that kings and rooks should start in their usual places, and only the other pieces are placed randomly.

To remedy the problem of biased positions (in which one side has a clear advantage) the suggestion is that Chess960 tournaments should have two games with swapped colours per encounter. But this means you have to halve the time per game or halve the number of games per tournament. Also in the second game players have learned from the first one: the g-pawn is vulnerable and can be easily blundered, as my opponent just did. I must be very careful about that. Or they learn from the clever ideas of the other player and can use them in the second game.

But the main problem of Chess960, in my opinion, is that you start with absolutely no prior information or practice. Preparation has, for more than a thousand years, been an integral part of chess — and greatly appreciated by its adherents. Chess fans swooned over new openings ideas the masters have come up with in-home preparation, and the ideas and strategies that are born of this kind of research have improved our understanding of the game.

The main problem arose in the second half of the 20th century, and especially since the advent of computers and chess databases: openings preparation started to completely dominate chess. Chess960 eliminates this problem, but it does so at the cost of turning off an important aspect of human creativity. Must we do away with all preparation in order to compensate for the exaggerated degree to which it had grown? Or is there a compromise?

Kasparov's proposal

In 2005 (I believe it was) I discussed Fischer Random and Chess960 with Garry Kasparov. He came up with the following suggestion: we select ten interesting and exciting positions to be used in tournaments and allow players to prepare in advance. Immediately before the start of each round, the audience in the hall (or on the Internet) selects one of these ten positions for all games. This provides spectator participation, which is never a bad thing. Players have some basic preparation for all ten positions — they do not have to start the game with a long think about "can I move the c-pawn?" And commentators can come prepared as well.

At the time I was, as mentioned above, talking to Bobby Fischer about his plans for a comeback with a Fischer Random match, and I discussed the ten-position idea with him. He was quite interested in it and we spoke for maybe half an hour, discussing all kinds of details. But then he said: "It is quite a good idea, Frederic. When did you come up with it?" I confessed it was not me but Kasparov, and the tide immediately turned. "No, there's a trick. He has preparation for special positions or something." And that was the end of discussion of "Kasparov10" chess with Fischer.

I also discussed the proposal with GMs playing Chess960 in the Mainz Classic, with essentially the same reaction: interesting, maybe... But when I revealed the proposal came from Kasparov they became very defensive — must be a trick." I must mention that the idea was rejected by some players explicitly because it involved some kind of prior preparation. Clearly they were enjoying the new form of chess where absolutely no homework was involved: you just appeared for the round and used your general chess skills and understanding to outplay your opponent.

One last thing I need to mention: when discussing Kasparov's proposal with FIDE officials, to lukewarm reception, I suggested a more radical approach: the International Chess Federation announces a single Chess960 position, on November 1st of each year. This position is the one that is used during the entire coming year, and on November 1st of that year, a new position is announced. The intention is to allow industrious players to do some fairly profound preparation and produce deep, creative ideas, while not letting them go too far. They know that after the end of the coming year they can dump their entire preparation and start afresh. The best of both worlds? Of course, my proposal was not adopted, and the same applied to Kasparov's ten positions variant. So we are stuck with Chess960 in its current form.

So what do our readers think? We would be very interested to hear your opinions: do you like this chess variant, do you think it is necessary, do you think it cures the problem of over-preparation? And what do you think about restricting the starting positions to 360, or ten, or just one per year? Please tell us in the comment section below.

All photos by Frederic Friedel

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Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.

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Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/7/2018 12:06
@ celeje (2/2) :

- "I think Chess960 is way more valuable than just being great fun."

I completely agree. It is not because I think that it has some defects that I don't agree on the fact that it is per se completely a "serious game" !...

- "I don't think the specifics of the castling or exactly how many or which positions there are makes a difference at this stage in the numbers or some people's perceptions." "No one in the comments agreed with the main supposed problems Frederic wrote about in the article (...)"

Frederic Friedel's FIRST proposal was about castling ("For instance, there are suggestions to modify the castling rules, which are not easy to comprehend and quite off-putting. John Kipling Lewis proposed a simplification that results in Chess480 — half the Chess960 positions are mirrors but different due to the complex castling rules, which Lewis avoids. Others have suggested that kings and rooks should start in their usual places, and only the other pieces are placed randomly."). In this passage, he maked it quite clear that he thought that there are some problems with the Chess960 castling. And he was followed on this point by several commentators (...I will come back to this question in a few moments...), so, in fact, it isn't possible to say as you did that "No one in the comments agreed with the main supposed problems Frederic wrote about in the article (...)".

And the commentaries don't really show (as you thought) that the commentators who don't approve fully Chess960 haven't a precise vision of what bothers them : I've counted the commentators having proposed concrete solutions to improve Chess960 : they were 16 of them ; 7 of them favored a solution with pieces placement by the players ; 4 of them an improvement of castling ; 3 a solution with 1 position for a certain time (one tournament or one year) ; 1 a solution with 6 position instead of 960 ; 1 a solution with a different time settings for each of the 2 players (one of them choosing the times and the other choosing which color he will play). So many people don't like some precise aspects of Chess960 and propose concrete solutions to suppress these problems. And the castling being in 2nd place in this ranking, it does seem that I am not the only person not to be satisfied by the Chess960's castling system. (In fact, I think that it is possible to consider that an improvement of the castling is the first real proposal for an improvement of Chess960, because, in my opinion, the "pieces placement by the players" solution constitue rather another distinct chess variant rather than an improvement of Chess960.)

One more time, I think that it would be very useful to organize a poll on this subject ; it would be the only means to know more precisely the opinion of Chess960's potential players or spectators on this subject.

- "Having no castling (4.) seems undesirable because it changes nature of the game too much."

I fully agree...

- "For others who might read this comment who think the castling is "complex" or "not easy to comprehend", clearly that's not true for any of the castling options listed above or else it would not have been easy to describe each castling rule with only two words and have it immediately obvious what was meant."

I fully agree with this also. Per se, the castling's rules for Chess960 (or the other possible rules that you described) aren't more complicated than the traditional chess' castling rules. I disagree with some aspects of them, but I don't find them too complicated at all...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/7/2018 11:56
@ celeje (1/2) :

- "Being closer to the side of the board is not necessarily less safe." I suppose that you meant in fact the opposite : "Being farther to the side of the board is not necessarily less safe.".

I think that if the King's safety is better after a "King toward center castling", it is - in general - due not to the King's displacement, but the Rook's displacement - the King's improved safety is simply due to the fact that (thanks to the Rook's displacement) the pieces' development is better after the castling. I don't think that - in general, one more time - the King's improved safety is due to the fact that it would have been moved toward a safer place ; only that - logically - if the placing of the pieces is improved, it entails multiple positive consequences on many aspects of the position - including the King's safety. I think that, in a large majority of positions, per se, the side of the board is a safer haven for the King than the center. So I still don't find conceptually satisfying a castling which puts the King in a less safe place, even if the Rook's displacement in itself has a positive effect on the King's safety.

- About TRM1361's sentence "The opening position doesn't determine your castle.", I think that the only problem is that, as this sentence is badly written, we simply don't understand it in the same way. Obviously, grammatically, after "your" in TRM1361's sentence, there must be a noun. Several English language dictionaries mention "Castle" as being in chess a synonym of Rook (Seirawan also mentions the term "Castle" in his book for beginners "Play Winning Chess" as an incorrect synonym for Rook). But, on the one hand, TRM1361 is certainly a serious chess player who wouldn't use "Castle" in lieu of "Rook", and, on the other hand, to retain this sense of the word "Castle" would give something utterly meaningless ("The opening position doesn't determine your rook."). So I considered that TRM1361 must have used the wrong noun in his sentence, and as the only noun, in chess, beginning with "castl" is "castling", I also considered that what he really intented to express was : "The opening position doesn't determine your castling." And I wouldn't agree with that ; yes, the respective positions of the King and Rook are always the same after castling for every starting position, yes, the rules governing the castling are also the same, but the castling itself isn't very obviously the same following different starting positions : for example, an a-side castling with the King and the Rook initially placed on g1 for the King and e1 for the Rook or on b1 for the King and a1 for the Rook are both a-side castlings, but aren't the same castling, in the same way as a Queen move between a1 and h8 and a Queen move between d1 and e1 are both Queen moves, but aren't the same Queen moves.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/6/2018 02:48
@ celeje : Thanks !!!
celeje celeje 3/6/2018 02:34
@ Petrarlsen: Yes, me too!
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/6/2018 02:08
@ celeje : I haven't enough time to answer you for the moment, but I will do it later !
Nordlandia Nordlandia 3/6/2018 12:13
"One-square K-move" castling can be exploited, i.e. intentionally moving the king and hesitantly with the rook.
celeje celeje 3/6/2018 07:20
@ Petrarlsen 3/5/2018 04:10:

Yes, that's probably the reason. I guess there are 3 (or 4) simple castling rule options (that don't need special extra clauses, etc.) These are:
1. "c/g-file" castling
2. "two-square K-move" castling
3. "b/g-file" castling
(4. No castling allowed)

1. is the current Chess960 rule, 2. is Chess480.
Having no castling (4.) seems undesirable because it changes nature of the game too much. Yeah, 3. does not reproduce the traditional game's rule for the traditional game's starting position. We think that's unfortunate, but Petrarlsen (& whoever agrees with him) thinks it's not unfortunate at all.

For others who might read this comment who think the castling is "complex" or "not easy to comprehend", clearly that's not true for any of the castling options listed above or else it would not have been easy to describe each castling rule with only two words and have it immediately obvious what was meant.
celeje celeje 3/6/2018 07:04
@ Petrarlsen, @ TRM1361:

Petrarlsen: "...Even when castling displaces the King toward the centre of the board ???"

Being closer to the side of the board is not necessarily less safe. It depends where all the pieces are. If you think of it as simply evacuating the king with the rook covering him as he flees, then maybe in which direction he goes does not matter. It certainly always gives the king defensive possibilities that would not exist otherwise. It would always be much easier to attack the king with no castling allowed (which is why I think some sort of castling definitely should be allowed in Chess960). I know you (Petrarlsen) wanted a "safety logic" to apply in general. I'd say, in general, the option or threat of evacuation like Chess960 (or Chess480) castling does meet that.


TRM1361: "The opening position doesn't determine your castle."
Petrarlsen: "One more time, yes it DOES."

Surely, it only does if you can show that that is the forced best move. I don't think that's known for any Chess960 position at the moment.


TRM1361: "(...) just leave Chess960 alone. It is great fun for a lot of us."
Petrarlsen: "I'm sorry, but, for the moment, not so great a lot as that !!!"

TRM1361, I think Chess960 is way more valuable than just being great fun. Though of course there's nothing wrong with something being great fun. If it were just great fun, I don't think the Carlsen-Nakamura match would have been able to be put on. And, sadly, I don't think Fischer cared too much about fun.
Petrarlsen, I don't think the specifics of the castling or exactly how many or which positions there are make a difference at this stage in the numbers or some people's perceptions. It's clear from the article and comment that that hopefully small number of people would say the same things whatever the specifics. It's just a gut reaction discomfort from them, which conscious thought chases later with those arguments. It's simply a matter of it being early days. I don't know why the Mainz tournament stopped, but many regular and irregular tournaments, even famous ones, stop. No one in the comments agreed with the main supposed problems Frederic wrote about in the article, even the commenters who were negative about the game, so it's a matter of explaining to everyone why they are not problems.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/6/2018 12:50
@ TRM1361 :

- What I said : "(...) Chess960's proponents, including you, don't succeed in studying Chess960 as an independant game (...)" ; you "answered" : "I study the Encyclopedia of Midgame Combinations instead of opening books. To say it isn't studied is just wrong. The study is on midgame & endings.". But your "answer" isn't in fact at all an answer to what I said...

- "The opening position doesn't determine your castle."

One more time, yes it DOES. And, furthermore, "castle" is a verb, so "your castle" doesn't in fact mean anything in English (even if what you mean seems to me to be more or less understandable).

- You : "The idea is always to protect the king (...)". Me : "...Even when castling displaces the King toward the centre of the board ???". You : "Yes. In Chess960 when you castle late you quite often get an advantage by having the king in the centre."

I don't know sufficently well all the subtleties of castling in Chess960 (...and I am not by the way really interested in them in their present not quite satisfying form...), but I really doubt, at first view, that to castle towards the center can be considered to be IN GENERAL an improvement, AS FOR the King's safety. In some positions, yes, obviously ; even in traditional chess, there are some positions in which the King's safety is better in the centre than on a flank... But I highly doubt that it could be said that, in general, the King's safety will be improved by castling towards the center (in the positions in which one of the possible castlings can displace the King towards the center, obviously)...

- "(...) just leave Chess960 alone. It is great fun for a lot of us."

I'm sorry, but, for the moment, not so great a lot as that !!! But, apparently, your "small lot" suits you quite well, as you don't want to change anything in Chess960, so "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds", seemingly...

- (About Chess960 in general) "Leave it the way it is for those who love it." Including its defects... But, sorry, I forgot : Chess960 CANNOT have any defect ; so stupid of me !...

- "Call Chess960 castling whatever names you want. It is way more tactical and dynamic than castling in Chess which is done by rote. When was the last time a player castled to the opposite side that the opening book called for in Chess?" But you said just before : "Think about Chess960 being to Chess what futsal is to soccer or rugby 7s is to rugby 15s. Some prefer one, some prefer the other. Enjoy the one you prefer. Leave the other alone." ; it seems that you didn't quite succeeded in "leaving alone" traditional chess, as you criticized it in the next sentence !!! "Do what I say and not what I do" !!
TRM1361 TRM1361 3/5/2018 11:24
This is my last post on this thread.

All I ask is that people quit talking about the "problem" with Chess960 and trying to fix it. It is NOT broken. It was meant to be this way. If you don't like it then don't play it. Leave it the way it is for those who love it. Simple.

Think about Chess960 being to Chess what futsal is to soccer or rugby 7s is to rugby 15s. Some prefer one, some prefer the other. Enjoy the one you prefer. Leave the other alone.

Call Chess960 castling whatever names you want. It is way more tactical and dynamic than castling in Chess which is done by rote. When was the last time a player castled to the opposite side that the opening book called for in Chess?

In Chess960 you can get an advantage or disadvantage by castling early, late, short side, long side or not at all. Until you make the move you need to reevaluate the castling TACTIC every turn.
TRM1361 TRM1361 3/5/2018 11:14
Reply to Petrarlsen: "My opinion is precisely that Chess960's proponents, including you, don't succeed in studying Chess960 as an independant game ; they tend to simply transpose, without any assessment about the correctness of the technique, different aspects of traditional chess into Chess960, as the castling. "

I study the Encyclopedia of Midgame Combinations instead of opening books. To say it isn't studied is just wrong. The study is on midgame & endings.

- "The opening position doesn't determine your castle."
Petrarlsen: "Yes it does ; castling will not be the same depending on the respective positions of the King and the Rooks. "

No it doesn't. You are wrong. Full stop.


- "The idea is always to protect the king (...)"
Petrarlsen: "...Even when castling displaces the King toward the centre of the board ??? "

Yes. In Chess960 when you castle late you quite often get an advantage by having the king in the centre.

Petrarlsen: "an opening novelty from a 2800+ player is always something very interesting to analyze,"

Then go ahead and enjoy it. Just leave Chess960 alone.

Petrarlsen: "You obviously don't like opening debates ; this is your opinion, but it isn't because you think so that everyone will think like you on this subject."

If you like opening debates then enjoy your traditional chess with the first 20 moves done by rote and already preordained except for the occasional "novelty". Just leave Chess960 alone.

Petrarlsen: "Yes ; Chess960 is perfect by principle, and anyone who criticize it is an heretic..."

I'm glad you've seen the light :)
If you don't like it then don't play it. Start your own Chess variant or continue on with traditional chess but just leave Chess960 alone. It is great fun for a lot of us.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/5/2018 04:11
@ celeje (2/2) :

And, in my opinion, the idea that the traditional starting position, in Chess960, must be played in exactly the same way as it would be played in traditional chess hasn't any real interest ; this is only due, in my opinion, to a desire to show in a tangible way the link between the two games. But I think this is in fact only a fiction ; the two games are different (even if played with nearly the same rules), and traditional chess' rules musn't be forced in such a way upon Chess960 when there aren't well-fitted to it.

And, furthermore, my opinion is quite the opposite, about this : I find rather inadequate that, be it for 1 game out of 960 (in average), the games' results will suddenly become as dependent as ever upon opening preparation. For this is necessarily the consequence : with the traditional chess' starting position, if the rules are exactly kept the same in the smallest details, all the traditional chess' body of theory is applicable. And, in fact, taking into account Chess960's main idea (to take away the importance of opening preparation), this game wouldn't really anymore be a real Chess960 game, but rather a completely normal traditional chess' game. So, my opinion is indeed that it would be DESIRABLE, and not the opposite, that, when a Chess960 game begins with the usual traditional chess' starting position, some change would be included, to ensure that the enormous body of traditional chess' opening preparation couldn't be used for this game.

I always wondered until now why on earth the traditional chess' castling rules had been kept nearly completely intact in Chess960 ; I found this rather unexplainable, because it is rather obvious that chess players can't have problem assimilating new rules, and I didn't understand "why Chess960 had been given clothes that weren't made for it". And, now, I understand indeed : it was to create a fiction that, in a way, traditional chess and Chess960 are the same game. But they aren't ! And the only real consequence is that Chess960's castling rules are inadequate and unsatisfying, in my opinion...

- "Where are the K & Rs in the position you mention? Is it the one with the K originally on b1?"

Yes it is...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/5/2018 04:10
@ celeje (1/2) :

- "I discounted "b/g-file" castling i.e. symmetric final position for K because if by chance you get the traditional starting position I think it's hugely important for that to be exactly the same as the traditional game. So that the traditional game is naturally a part of Chess960."

This is enlightening indeed ! Now, I understand why both Chess960 and Chess480 chose rules which, in my opinion, appear as very clumsy transpositions of the tradional chess' castling ! Indeed, I think that the Chess960 and Chess480's castling rules are the only possible ones which can give as a result that the traditional starting position will be played in exactly the same way in traditional chess and in Chess960 (or equivalent)...

And this explains why both Chess960 and Chess480 contented themselves with such very weird castling rules ; because they wanted to be "traditional chess-compatible"...

But I think this is a serious error : by imposing to themselves to keep intact the traditional chess' castling rules, they force upon Chess960 - which is, taking everything into account, a new game - castling rules which are in my opinion really inadequate for it.

Personally, I think that, for Chess960 to really grow into a fully satisfying and harmonious game, it really must "become an adult", and "stop to be so dependent on its parent", traditional chess. Blind application of rules designed for another game (traditional chess) on what is really in essence a new game (Chess960) - even if the other game has many common points with it - has logically for a consequence that the transposed rules don't really fit correctly to the new game.

My opinion is that this idea that traditional chess is a part of Chess960 must really be discarded ; this is a completely unnecessary constraint - and two such different games cannot be forced in such a way to keep the same rules without significant adverse consequences, in my opinion.
celeje celeje 3/5/2018 12:57
@ Petrarlsen:

I discounted "b/g-file" castling i.e. symmetric final position for K because if by chance you get the traditional starting position I think it's hugely important for that to be exactly the same as the traditional game. So that the traditional game is naturally a part of Chess960.

Where are the K & Rs in the position you mention? Is it the one with the K originally on b1?
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/5/2018 12:48
@ celeje :

- "I guess that would be the explanation for both the "c/g-file" castling and the "two-square-move" castling."

For the a-side castling with the King going on the c-file, I don't see how your reasoning could apply, for example, to the Wikipedia position about Chess960's castling (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess960#Castling_rules) ?

- "I thought your chess96 idea had the same castling and it was just that starting positions you didn't like were scrapped."

No. As I also consider that the difference between a-side and h-side castling in Chess960 is only motivated by a pure imitation of traditional chess, I suppressed it also. (Or, if there is a reason for this difference between castling on one or the other side, indepentantly of the traditional chess' rules about castling, I didn't found it...) This is how I described my system in a previous post under this same article : "(...) a possible solution could be to decide that for a-side castling, the King would be placed on the b-file and the Rook on the c-file (and not on the c and d files as presently), this while adding two more rules : that 1) in the initial position, the King can only be placed on the c, d, e, and f files and the Rooks on the a or b files, for the first Rook, and on the g or h files, for the second Rook and that 2) the King and Rook can never be placed on contiguous files in the initial position (to avoid first-move castlings)."

My general guideline was to try to devise a system who would seem coherent even for someone who wouldn't know traditional chess. (As I don't think this would be the case with Chess960 in its current form, due to the castling.)

But perhaps it would be better to change the rules of castling much more deeply, for a better adaptation to the specificities of Chess960 ??

- "I'd say that "give the king a one-off opportunity to escape to the other side of his rook, so that with sensible play he won't be mated right in the opening by a caveman attack" is the pragmatic explanation and also the "idea"."

I am not entirely sure about what you precisely mean by that. What I understand is a very short-term idea - the context of a direct and rather primitive attack on the King, the castling allowing the King to escape an immediate attack. The difference with the ideas justifying traditional chess'castling being that the "Safety of the King" goal seems to me to be "wider and deeper" : its objective isn't only to permit the King to escape an immediate attack, but to acquire a globally safer position (generally). For example, in Chess480, when the King castles right into the middle of the board, I can imagine that this can (at least sometimes) permit the King to escape an immediate attack, but I think that it would be quite unlikely that, in general, the King would have a safer position after castling than before... And, as the traditional chess' idea seems to me better than the Chess480 idea, I would prefer the first idea being used rather than the Chess480 idea...
celeje celeje 3/5/2018 11:13
@ Petrarlsen:

I guess that would be the explanation for both the "c/g-file" castling and the "two-square-move" castling. In both cases, the king is evacuating faster than usually possible, with the rook covering for him.

Are there other castling rules that have been proposed? I haven't noticed any in the article or comments. I thought your chess96 idea had the same castling and it was just that starting positions you didn't like were scrapped.

I'd say that "give the king a one-off opportunity to escape to the other side of his rook, so that with sensible play he won't be mated right in the opening by a caveman attack" is the pragmatic explanation and also the "idea".
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/5/2018 10:52
@ celeje :

- "Okay, but why isn't something equally simple as the en passant "logic" okay for castling too e.g. "give the king a one-off opportunity to escape to the other side of his rook, so that with sensible play he won't be mated right in the opening by a caveman attack".

I suppose that this explanation is for Chess480 ? I agree that it holds, but, in my opinion, in comparison with the ideas behind castling in traditional chess (King's safety + Rook development), I find this quite crude and inferior. So why would we choose the inferior version over the superior one ? For me, it would seem better to devise a set of castling rules corresponding to the traditional chess' castling ideas... Or to invent completely new ideas, and new castling rules which would implement these new ideas.

In fact, I think that the problem is that, for Chess960, traditional chess' castling rules have been more or less transposed without significant change, but NOT the ideas behind them. I would find much more interesting to keep traditional chess' castling IDEAS and to create NEW RULES to follow those ideas. It is what I tried to do with my Chess96 concept, but there could certainly be many other ways to implement these ideas into Chess960 - perhaps castling rules should even be completely transformed to be better suited to Chess960. (Or, as I said before, it would also even be possible to invent new ideas and new rules to implement these new ideas.)

- "Re the 960 positions, I think all are worthy of investigation. (...) beyond that restriction (note : about the colors of the bishops), I think all back-rank setups are interesting until shown otherwise."

I think that our approaches differ on that point : you wish to explore the largest possible number of starting positions ; as for me, I have a purely pragmatic approach : I simply want to have a sufficient number of starting positions to ensure that opening preparation will not take a significant part in the game. The only nuance : I wouldn't find optimal to have positions chosen by GMs, for example, because the choice could be biased one way or another ; I much prefer the use of objective criteria for the choice of positions...
celeje celeje 3/5/2018 09:49
@ Petrarlsen:

Okay, but why isn't something equally simple as the en passant "logic" okay for castling too e.g. "give the king a one-off opportunity to escape to the other side of his rook, so that with sensible play he won't be mated right in the opening by a caveman attack".

Re the 960 positions, I think all are worthy of investigation. I understand why one would want to restrict bishops to be of opposite color. But beyond that restriction (ignoring the castle situation, since we're discussing that in depth already), I think all back-rank setups are interesting until shown otherwise.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/5/2018 08:33
@ celeje :

- "I'm totally happy with the en passant rule because I've been indoctrinated with it from the start.
But I don't think in itself it has some sort of "internal logic" or strategic sense, which is what you demand for Chess960 castling.
Why must a piece have the right to capture another just because that other piece passes its field of vision?"

One more time, I don't demand profound philosophical ideas to justify a special move like castling ; I only expect such a move to be justified by a convincing logic.

In my opinion, for example, your reasoning about the two-squares pawn move and the en passant rule is completely satisfying :

"It seems the only "logic and ideas" behind the two-square pawn move is "it's too damn slow for the sides to engage with one another". And the only logic and ideas behind the en passant rule is "now we've got this weird two-square move, but we don't want the pawns to be able to pass each other without attack""

Yes, these aren't profound philosophical ideas, but it holds together perfectly well in my opinion ; it is pragmatic and logical... Why would I ask for more ???

- "Anyway, even if one thinks the castling is in some way 'not nice' for a certain starting position, I don't think that's strong enough reason to forbid that starting position and reduce it from 960 (or 480)."

Why ?? I don't think that it is necessary for Chess960 to achieve its goal (to permit the players to play "on their own" from the beginning of the game, schematically) to keep 960 different starting positions. It isn't already so easy a task as that (...and far from it...) to memorize all the current chess theory in traditional chess ; if you replace the traditional chess' single starting position by, for example, 96 different starting positions, the task will become much too difficult for even the best chess players on the planet, and the players will necessarily play "on their own" very quickly in their games.

So I would rather take this problem by the other end : Why would it be necessary to keep all 960 starting positions, if certain of these positions aren't really satisfying ?

And, as for my Chess96 proposal, I propose precise rules for the selecting of the starting positions ; it isn't as if it was an arbitrary selection of a certain number of "interesting" starting positions : my proposal is based on objective criteria...
celeje celeje 3/5/2018 08:23
@ Jacob woge 3/4/2018 02:27

I think there are many flaws in what you say.

One of the worst was the conclusion you make from experiments on memory of real vs. random positions by chess players and non-players.

You say: "A chess player scores massively better than a non-chess player.
Then they were given random positions. Now the scores are almost equal.
I think a large part of the chess appeal is pattern recognition. One may ask what shuffle chess adds in that respect. "

Chess960 does not produce random positions. It produces positions that may be fresh but are clearly chess positions that make chess sense. The pattern recognition is there. That's why Carlsen is still superior in Chess960. That's why strong GMs like Naka and Aronian are still strong in Chess960. It rewards the same skills.

The random positions in the experiments were really random. They generated random numbers and pieces got placed randomly on squares according to that. So you might have totally illegal positions like having white and black pawns scattered on the first and eighth ranks, the two kings next to each other, etc. Completely irrelevant to traditional chess and completely irrelevant to Chess960.
celeje celeje 3/5/2018 07:54
@ Petrarlsen:

I'm totally happy with the en passant rule because I've been indoctrinated with it from the start.
But I don't think in itself it has some sort of "internal logic" or strategic sense, which is what you demand for Chess960 castling.
Why must a piece have the right to capture another just because that other piece passes its field of vision?

Anyway, even if one thinks the castling is in some way 'not nice' for a certain starting position, I don't think that's strong enough reason to forbid that starting position and reduce it from 960 (or 480).
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/5/2018 06:55
@ celeje :

In your two examples, the two-squares pawn move followed by the en passant pawn move and the king leap followed by its combination with the displacement of the rook, it is quite obvious that the second rule, in each case, tried to create something logical in combination with the previous rule (and, in my opinion, in both cases, quite succeeded in obtaining this).

The difference with castling in Chess960 is that, in my opinion, the Chess960's castling rules are a bad adaptation of traditional chess' castling rules. Yes, the Chess960's castling rules are a follow-up of the previous castling rules, but my opinion is that, in this case, this adaptation didn't succed at all in creating something logical. And this is the reason why I consider that these rules must be modified. It isn't because you build something on the basis of something older that your new creation will necessarily be a full success ! It is quite insufficient !
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/5/2018 06:34
@ TRM1361 :

- "Stop looking at Chess960 castling like traditional chess."

My opinion is precisely that Chess960's proponents, including you, don't succeed in studying Chess960 as an independant game ; they tend to simply transpose, without any assessment about the correctness of the technique, different aspects of traditional chess into Chess960, as the castling.

- "The opening position doesn't determine your castle."

Yes it does ; castling will not be the same depending on the respective positions of the King and the Rooks.

- "The idea is always to protect the king (...)"

...Even when castling displaces the King toward the centre of the board ???

- "Unsatisfying? That is your take. I find it fascinating to have so many options that I didn't have in traditional chess."

Try "petrarlsening" ; it would perhaps give you many more options still that you didn't have in traditional chess... (Not sure personally that it would be a sufficient reason to implement it, but, following your reasoning, it should very much interest you, normally...)

- ""chess-playing isn't meant to be an automatic application of pre-cooked general solutions !" Then why has it become so rote for the first 15-20 moves?"

It hasn't ; an opening novelty from a 2800+ player is always something very interesting to analyze, in my opinion, and I am not the only person to think in that way. You obviously don't like opening debates ; this is your opinion, but it isn't because you think so that everyone will think like you on this subject.

- "(...) quit trying to "fix" Chess960. (...) Chess960 isn't broken and does NOT need fixing."

Yes ; Chess960 is perfect by principle, and anyone who criticize it is an heretic... With such reasonings, we wouldn't have chess in its present form ; chess is the result of centuries of small changes and improvements, and we would still be at the chaturanga stage if players and theoricians of the past had reasoned in the same way as you. Chess960 is only twenty years old, and you already want to mummify it forever in a immovable state ! Your last post quite confirms what I said in a previous post to celeje : "Globally, my opinion is that many Chess960 practitioners are too rigid in their mindset about their game. They can't even envisage that Chess960 can have defects.".
celeje celeje 3/5/2018 06:20
@ Petrarlsen:

Oh, slightly surprised.

But this is where I and probably TRM1361 and others aren't convinced by your "common logic" line. Rules are historical accidents and have the logic of the study of history. The two-square pawn move and en passant pawn move are like historical events, the first causing the second. The history is logical.

It doesn't matter that the king can with either castling rule end up closer to the central files. We're told the history was from the historical king leap, which then led to the next historical event of the rook being combined, etc. This is another historical event caused in a logical manner by previous historical events.
TRM1361 TRM1361 3/5/2018 05:34
Reply to Petrarlsen: "That it is quite unsatisfying that, with certain initial positions in Chess960, from the start, "from move zero" so to say, the initial position combined with the castling rules gives for a result that castling, in (more or less) every game starting from this initial position, will never answer to any clear general concept or ideas (as "King's safety + Rook development" in traditional chess)."

Stop looking at Chess960 castling like traditional chess. The opening position doesn't determine your castle. You may castle early, late, short, long or not at all. The idea is always to protect the king and develop the rook. The fact that you have to analyse when, how and if you should do it is the great part (IMHO).

Unsatisfying? That is your take. I find it fascinating to have so many options that I didn't have in traditional chess.

"chess-playing isn't meant to be an automatic application of pre-cooked general solutions !"

Then why has it become so rote for the first 15-20 moves?

Look, you guys can have your traditional chess and enjoy but quit trying to "fix" Chess960. It isn't broken. Think of it like soccer & futsal or rugby 15s vs 7s. Same general idea and rules but totally different game. Quit bringing in your traditional chess biases and ideas about limiting the openings or studying just one per year etc. Chess960 isn't broken and does NOT need fixing.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/5/2018 03:11
@ celeje : You will decidedly think that I am quite contrary, but no, I don't find "Chess480" very satisfying either !

The good point about it is that it suppresses the Chess960's "pseudo-kingside or queenside castling" mechanism (with the King ending up on different squares for a-side or h-side castling) that I consider to be an inadequate transposition from traditional chess.

But, in my opinion, the quite bad side of the Chess480's castling system is that, as in Chess960, there is no common logic, applicable for every starting position, the main reason being that a two-squares displacement of the King doesn't give at all the same type of result with different initial positions. For example, in the same Wikipedia article that we discussed previously, at the part about Chess480 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess960#Chess480), the example shown, for castling, gives an a-side castling in which the King, previously on the flank, ends up full in the middle of the board ! And, for this same example, h-side castling puts the King on the h-file, so the consequences of castling on King's safety can be completely different from one position to another, depending on the game's initial position and the castling's side.

For me, this is another example of indiscrimate transposition from traditional chess ; it isn't because, in traditional chess, the King "makes a two-squares jump" that this "two-squares jump" must be transposed in Chess960, Chess480, or any similar variant ! In my opinion, it would be much more logical to try to create something (at least slightly) different, and really well-suited to Chess960 !

This is what I tried to do, in my "Chess96" variant ; it is quite possible that there is in it some problems that I didn't perceive, but, for the moment, I find it more satisfying than Chess960 or Chess480... And yes, there are "only" 96 starting positions, but good luck for anyone, even for a 2800+ GM, to memorize 30+ moves' opening lines with 96 different starting positions ! The human brain has its limits !!
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/5/2018 01:35
@ TRM1361 :

I think that you still didn't get my meaning ! I don't know if it is that what I wrote wasn't clear enough or if you read my posts too quickly, but I really think that you didn't understood what I meant...

What I didn't meant at all : That in absolutely every traditional chess or Chess960 position, castling must answer to general ideas and concepts. This absolutely isn't AT ALL my meaning ! From the starting position, the players create what they want to create, and if this gives a position where castling gives completely atypical effects (positive or negative), this isn't at all a problem for me : the players create what they want, and if it works, then it is all for the better. And there are regularly top-level games, in traditional chess, where at least one of the players doesn't castle without losing the game because of this - but this is the result of the given player's choices from the beginning of the game ; such positions are due to the creative imagination of the players, and this suits me perfectly well !

What I do mean : That it is quite unsatisfying that, with certain initial positions in Chess960, from the start, "from move zero" so to say, the initial position combined with the castling rules gives for a result that castling, in (more or less) every game starting from this initial position, will never answer to any clear general concept or ideas (as "King's safety + Rook development" in traditional chess). For me, there MUST be a general concept or precise ideas behind a "special move", as castling ; and if such a move, as useful it can be in certain positions, is arbitrary, and doesn't answer to such general ideas, it must be discarded. For example, I could easily invent dozens of completely arbitrary "special moves" (as, for example, "petrarlsening" - cf. my previous posts), who could be quite useful in some positions. But if there isn't a general logic that justify these moves, such moves musn't be implemented.

"That is part of the beauty of Chess960. You analyse everything and can't do things by rote. The old "castle early" maxim from traditional chess lost me a lot of games early on in my Chess960 playing. It was only when I realised what a great tactic that castling was and analysed it in detail that I got better results." I don't think that to implement rules (as my "Chess96" concept) to suppress the initial positions in which castling gives too bizarre, weird, and arbitrary results would change anything about this ; you could certainly apply these exact same thoughts to a "cleaned-up" version of Chess960, in my opinion... And it must be said that, even in traditional chess, at IM or GM level, you certainly can't simply decide that you will "castle early" ; nowadays, be it Chess960 or traditional chess, chess is much too subtle to allow such indiscriminate application of general principles ! And this is all for the better : chess-playing isn't meant to be an automatic application of pre-cooked general solutions !
celeje celeje 3/4/2018 09:30
@ Petrarlsen:

It sounds like you'd prefer the castling rule the above article attributes to Lewis, where the king moves two squares in either direction. That or the current Chess960 rule seem the two proposals that make sense. I'm not sure whether one is definitely better than the other. Both seem reasonable proposals, certainly to me better than not having castling at all.
Nordlandia Nordlandia 3/4/2018 06:35
Castling isn't technically finished until clock is pressed. So with wK on d1 white can move Kc1 and debate whether to castle or not since the king has the castling right possibility with the rook. Maybe this can be used to taunt opponent.
TRM1361 TRM1361 3/4/2018 06:19
Reply to Petrarlsen: "As for me, the fact that I can't find any convincing logic about the Chess960's castling with some initial positions"

Then don't castle in those positions! Seriously it is that simple. There are as you say some positions where I have not castled because I couldn't see any benefit long or short side.

That is part of the beauty of Chess960. You analyse everything and can't do things by rote. The old "castle early" maxim from traditional chess lost me a lot of games early on in my Chess960 playing. It was only when I realised what a great tactic that castling was and analysed it in detail that I got better results.

Free your mind and the rest will follow :)
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/4/2018 05:42
@ celeje :

"I don't think the details of castling are what makes Chess960 succeed or fail, though." Difficult to know for sure ; this is why I suggested a poll... As for me, the fact that I can't find any convincing logic about the Chess960's castling with some initial positions has always be the point that put me off Chess960 ; per se, I always found the base concept quite interesting - with exactly the same viewpoint as you : not to replace traditional chess, but as a complementary form of chess -, but the castling system too unsatisfying...

And, the more I reflect of it, and the more I think that the core problem is that the Chess960 castling system is much too much a mere transposition of traditional chess castling (which, in my opinion, doesn't work well at all with an ensemble of - nearly - completely randomly chosen positions).

For example, what is the logic behind the differences between a-side and h-side castling ? Why not put the King and Rook on the same squares on one side and on the other ? In fact, this is very obviously a pure transposition of Kingside and Queenside castling in traditional chess ! But, in traditional chess, this has a justification : in traditional chess castling, the King moves two squares on one side or another, and the Rook is placed alongside the King, on the other side, compared to its original position. So, as the King is always placed on the same square, this has for a consequence that castling will necessarily be assymetrical. It seems to me that the only justification for this same differenciation in Chess960 is something like : "Castling is done like that in traditional chess, so we will also do it like that in Chess960" : as the positions are randomly chosen, there isn't any intrinsic assymetry in Chess960 to justify this differenciation.

And I really don't see at all, if traditional chess hadn't existed at all, how such a bizarre system as Chess960's castling could have been invented in its present form ; it "smells" in all its details the insufficiently thought out transposition from traditional chess, in my opinion...
celeje celeje 3/4/2018 11:29
@ Petrarlsen:

I don't object to the two-square pawn move or en passant, but maybe that's because they've always been that way in our lifetimes. But the practical motivation for Chess960 castling seems perhaps in similar spirit to the practical motivation for these moves.

Perhaps, we should wait and see what @fgkdjlkag and @ TRM1361 think.

I don't think the details of castling are what makes Chess960 succeed or fail, though.
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Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/4/2018 09:31
@ celeje : About the two-square pawn move and the en passant rule, I don't quite understand, because, explained as you explain it, I don't see what isn't logical in it ! Rather the opposite : it seems quite convincing that these rules are good rules ! Yes, "practically motivated" and not "grand-idea motivated" as you put it, but what is the problem with that ??? And these ideas are clear, and simple to understand for anyone !... Quite the opposite of Chess960 castling taken as a whole !

Globally, my opinion is that many Chess960 practitioners are too rigid in their mindset about their game. They can't even envisage that Chess960 can have defects. In my opinion, to add some criteria to eliminate some too weird and outlandish positions wouldn't change the nature of Chess960's main idea, but would permit it to become interesting for much more people. But I rather fear that "Chess960 will be killed by its best friends" - that by refusing any changes, Chess960 practitioners will prevent it to become a really successful chess variant.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/4/2018 09:27
@ fgkdjlkag :

- "(...) many of your points are subjective and do not make sense when it comes to castling and chess960 (...)" Can you demonstrate in which manner my points are subjective ? This is a much too much generalizing comment ; anyone can say about any argument that it is "subjective" without demonstrating it...

- I will not enter more into details, but for any new game, such a system as the castling system in Chess960 would be considered as not more than a draft ; its only justification is that it is closely derived from the castling we know in traditional chess. And, yes, you and others, as regular Chess960 practitioners, don't see anymore its defects in the same way as a driver can compensate and fail to see anymore the defects of his car, or a company's boss can progressively finish not to see anymore some very anormal aspects of the organization of his company. You play regularly Chess960, you adapted yourself to Chess960, and you don't see anymore how weird, outlandish, and arbitrary some aspects of its castling rules can appear to people who aren't regularly immerged in it. Human beings have very great adaptation abilities, for the better and for the worse...

- "However, castling involving the king automatically takes on high significance, even without traditional chess as a reference."

Following this reasoning, it would be perfectly reasonable to create a chess variant in which the King would be placed on one side, with a special move displacing in fully in the middle of the board. But this wouldn't make sense ; this move would be completely counterproductive as for the King's safety : it isn't because a move involves the King that this move "has a right to exist" ; it must also be proved that this move is logical.

- "So to say that there are clear principles that can be applied to ALL positions in chess is silly."

The problem isn't that, in Chess960, there is no clear principles that can be applied to absolutely all positions (you haven't read me well if you understood that, because I made this clear) ; the problem is that, with certain Chess960 initial positions, you know from move 1 that the usual principles about castling will not be applied ; for example, if the initial position imply that a-side castling will have for a consequence that the King will be nearer to the centre AFTER castling, you can't say in general that a-side castling will improve the King's safety in a game beginning with this initial position.

- About castling's history, I knew that it evolved progressively, but this is precisely quite topical : chess theoricians perceived the need to improve castling, ending up with a quite refined system. (And the reasons justifying castling in its final form were those that I stated before.) In the same way, today, I think that it necessary for Chess960 to address the question of some of its defects, otherwise I rather think that it will be difficult for it to survive in the long run.
celeje celeje 3/4/2018 07:37
@fgkdjlkag, @Petralsen, and @ TRM1361:

Yes, I was going to mention the two-square pawn move too. And I'd also add the en passant rule. It seems the only "logic and ideas" behind the two-square pawn move is "it's too damn slow for the sides to engage with one another". And the only logic and ideas behind the en passant rule is "now we've got this weird two-square move, but we don't want the pawns to be able to pass each other without attack". These rules seem more practically motivated than grand-idea motivated.

The only other thing I'll add in this comment is that some sort of castling rule in Chess960 seems definitely better than no castling.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 3/4/2018 07:33
To further clarify give an example how castling does not apply to ALL positions in chess: take a position when black has a number of pieces amassed on the kingside. The white king will be castling into a storm, a lost position. There are many times when this happens in chess. Also the case on the queenside. So to say that there are clear principles that can be applied to ALL positions in chess is silly.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 3/4/2018 07:25
@Petrarlsen, many of your points are subjective and do not make sense when it comes to castling and chess960 (although you have made many fine points on a number of subjects in chessbase comments).

Regarding shifting knights and rooks, I would be open to any proposals. But it is unlikely that this move would have signficance, you are right. However, castling involving the king automatically takes on high significance, even without traditional chess as a reference. The king is the most important piece. There is the possibility of the king escaping to one side of the board or the other in many positions. It is important to connect the rooks, as it is in traditional chess. These are 2 very clear ideas. And I submit that in ALL starting positions, king safety and connecting the rooks are important possible ideas in chess960. Of course in 100% of games it will not be the case, but that is the case in regular chess. Should all pawns be moved forward 2 squares in its first move? Why should it sometimes be moved forward 1 square and sometimes it is better to move forward 2? Should we eliminate this move also? All chess principles to not apply to every situation. I cite again the interview with Carlsen at google when he says that we have discovered through computers that ALL principles/ideas in chess actually are subservient to concrete variations. Peter Thiel asks him, "so we learn that maybe doubled pawns are not bad in all positions as we thought before", and Carlsen contradicts him - says that we cannot consider doubled pawns as being bad at all, it all depends on the specifics of the position.

being "too used to Chess960, and don't see anymore its defects" is a very bizarre argument. Typically the more one engages in an activity, the easier it becomes to see defects. The only place I have seen this argument used is in politics, when there is "psychosclerosis", a hardening of the mind, but which is really only applied to older persons who have been doing something for many years and gotten complacent, but chess960 has not been around for very long. I do not think you can talk about complacency in any of my opinions.

"if these clear and logical reasons could be applied to any Chess960 position". I gave 2 clear and logical reasons above. But as I pointed out, there are no clear and logical reasons that can be applied to any chess idea in traditional chess in ALL positions. There are games without castling. So should we eliminate castling in traditional chess also? On what basis are the 2 clear and logical reasons (ability to shield/escape with the king and connecting the rooks) not clear and logical reasons, other than your opinion? As @TRM1361 points out, castling in chess960 seems superior to traditional chess, because on the basis of these 2 ideas (for chess960, not the 2 you give for traditional chess), there is more flexibility in chess960; you cannot escape as far with the king in regular chess as in chess960, eg if the King starts on b1 and castles kingside.

Since you talk about why castling was invented, I looked it up to see what I could find, and it looks like your 2 reasons of king safety and rook development were not the reasons. In fact, although no one knows for sure, it seems that these developed later. http://history.chess.free.fr/mediaeval-chess.htm Initially the king's movement was different to today, and could move 2 squares initially to speed up the game (this was the beginning of castling). Later on, the queen and bishop became more powerful and the king weaker, and so it became more useful for the king's "special ability" to be for defense, and then the idea of combining it with the rook was developed. So if we look at the original reason, to speed up the game, one can see that chess960 is more true to this, because it certainly speeds up the game more that in regular chess, eg being able to do it on the first move sometimes, as you pointed out, immediately bringing the rook into the game.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/4/2018 03:50
@ TRM1361 :

- "Castling is perfectly logical in both traditional and 960. You move your king out of harms way." How do you "move your king out of harms way" in positions such as the position given in the Wikipedia article on Chess960 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess960#Castling_rules), when the King moves TOWARD the center, when castling ??

- "Reply to: Petrarlsen 3/3/2018 02:11: "How would you explain the logic and the ideas behind castling, in the position given as an example on the Wikipedia page on Chess960 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess960#Castling_rules) ?"

If white castles "H" side he loses a pawn. Castling "A" side preserves the pawn. If white wants to stop black from castling A1-A8 and preserve a potential later "H" side castle for himself (white) if desired. It seems rather obvious to me."

You didn't get my meaning at all. I developed this much further in my later posts to fgkdjlkag : when I say "the logic and ideas behind castling", I mean the general "logic and ideas behind castling", and not the reasons for which the players could castle in this given position. In traditional chess, in a very large majority of positions, it is possible to explain castling by the two ideas of the safety of the King and the development of one of the Rooks. I don't think that in Chess960 it is possible to find such clear and general ideas who could be applied more or less everywhere, for castling.

As I said to fgkdjlkag, the problem with castling in Chess960 is, in my opinion, that its only justification is in reality : "castling exists in traditional chess, and we keep it in Chess960" ; if traditional chess didn't exist, everyone would find that castling as it is implemented in Chess960 is really an extremely weird and illogical move, and everyone would wonder why on earth this strange move has been implemented in this game...

- "(Chess960's castling) is a strategic tool of much greater importance than traditional chess castling."

In a previous post to fgkdjlkag, I gave this example : "I could invent a variant with a new move, "petrarlsening", which would consist of exchanging the positions of Rooks with the positions of Knights (you put the Rooks on the squares previously occupied by Knights, and the Knights on the squares previously occupied by Rooks)." Perhaps, as castling in Chess960, "petrarlsening" could also be "a strategic tool of much greater importance than traditional chess castling" ; nonetheless, I would be strongly opposed to the introduction of such a move, because it is completely arbitrary and meaningless. And the same is more or less true of castling in several Chess960 initial positions. For me, it isn't sufficient for a "special move", as castling (or "petrarlsening"...), to be potentially useful ; it must also answer to a general logic and to general ideas ; its concept must be easily understandable for any practictioner or follower of the game, and such isn't the case, in my opinion, with Chess960's castling in its present form.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 3/4/2018 03:11
"(...) imagine a world championship in a few years from now, where the two players reel off 28 moves of a known variation, in just a few minutes — and then one of them plays a novelty. His opponent thinks for an hour and resigns the game!" (Frederic Friedel)

I must say that, as for me, this scenario doesn't bother me at all !... On the one hand, this would happen very rarely. And, on the other hand, such a scenario in a World Championship game would mean that this game's winner would necessarily (in view of the level of his opponent - either World Champion or Challenger) have found a really extraordinary gem of an opening novelty - we could call it the "Cullinan of the opening novelties", at such a level !! Perhaps, for example, Kramnik could pull out such a novelty against Carlsen (even if, in such a match, I would think that, for the World Title itself, Carlsen would clearly have the best chances...). I must say that, if I hadn't followed this (hypothetical) game live, I would "jump" open it as fast as I could and on all the available GM commentaries to see this extraordinary opening novelty !

As for me, I think that Chess960 or an improved version of it can perfectly well coexist with traditional chess ; for this, I completely rally to celeje's opinion on this theme :

"No one who likes Chess960 wants to abandon traditional chess. The people who suggest abandoning traditional chess seem to be those who don't like Chess960 either. Those who like Chess960 want both to exist.

One of the main points of Chess960 is that it can exist alongside the game with the traditional starting position, played by the same people, with the same skills rewarded. There's no replacement going on."