Champions Showdown: Improving the format

by Macauley Peterson
9/18/2018 – Reflecting on the Champions Showdown in St. Louis, Macauley Peterson pulls a few highlight videos from the commentary webcast and breaks down what appeals to fans of the Chess960 variant, for a look at how the next event like this from the Saint Louis Chess Club could be improved. Chess960 may have its problems gaining traction, but as Peter Svidler notes, there's plenty of space on the chess schedule to try new ideas. | ChessBase via Saint Louis Chess Club YouTube

Endgames of the World Champions from Fischer to Carlsen Endgames of the World Champions from Fischer to Carlsen

Let endgame expert Dr Karsten Müller show and explain the finesses of the world champions. Although they had different styles each and every one of them played the endgame exceptionally well, so take the opportunity to enjoy and learn from some of the best endgames in the history of chess.

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Chess960 is here to stay

Personally, I'm a big fan of Chess960 — ever since first playing it online in the late 90s — and especially after experiencing it over the board at the Mainz Chess Classic Chess960 FiNet Open in 2008. What makes Chess960 so much fun? This question was put to the players at the recently completed Champions Showdown in St. Louis.

Clearly, the main draw is the "absolute freshness" (to quote Peter Svidler) of being able to throw out opening theory. Svidler describes the appeal as "dogfights from move one" and notes that you can expect to find yourself in a "Martian landscape" from time to time. Even Garry Kasparov has been won over:

"People enjoy the best players in the world being so creative from move one...It's still the same — the same number of squares, the same number of pieces — just reshuffling the pieces on the first and last rank, so that you become an inventor again." 

Players discuss the draw of Chess960 (a.k.a. Fischer Random Chess)

Not so fast, argue the naysayers (my own colleagues and readers alike)! The unending quest for perfection in the opening is part of the scientific and artistic merit of (classical) chess. Without it, many players — especially beginners and amateurs — will be lost. The balanced nature of the traditional starting position ("position 518" in Chess960 parlance) is part and parcel of the aesthetic harmony to be found. Disconnecting from centuries of history is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. (And probably a dozen other cliches we needn't mention.)

Veselin Topalov echoes the concern for non-expert players in the video above:

"Professional chess players will adapt to Fischer Random but for the normal chess fan, who only plays on the weekends, it will be a big problem."

Chess960 positions used

All five Chess960 positions used throughout the competition | Graphic: Saint Louis Chess Club

Our February article, "the problem with Chess960", delves into these issues and sparked a huge debate which has put it atop the list of most commented articles ever on ChessBase (albeit mainly thanks to a few super-eager readers).

One proposed compromise solution is to have an "official Chess960 position" selected each year by, for instance, FIDE, that would be used in tournaments for the following calendar year. This would allow players and fans alike to get accustomed to rudimentary opening theory to a far greater extent than the 30-minutes to one hour of lead time given in St. Louis.

Of course, this could well undermine one of the other chief motivations behind the format, that Nakamura points out in the video: The increase in the number of decisive games. The average number of draws across the five 20-game matches was just 8.4 or 42% (58 decisive games out of 100), while in classical chess the draw rate is historically around 50% (see also: "Has the number of draws in chess increased?").

Having more decisive games surely appeals to some readers of our earlier Champions Showdown post (although perhaps more so to those predisposed to exaggeration):

Abraxas79 9/13/2018 07:42
Chess960 has to be the future. Way more exciting to watch than classical chess where 90% of the top games now end in draws. 

Of course, it's also partially a matter of taste:

yesenadam 9/14/2018 09:06
I don't get the "Draws=Bad" thing, at all. As if that's all that matters. You could just decrease the time allowed until the draw ratio is down to your preferred amount, but that would be ridiculous. A decisive game decided by a blunder, error, flagfall etc isn't much fun either. What is bad are boring games where there's no fight. Some players almost never play boring games, some players nearly always do.

Sinquefield is sold

The Saint Louis Chess Club founder and patron, Rex Sinquefield, seems to have embraced the format, although as an amateur player he does find it extra challenging, as this exchange with Maurice Ashley highlights:

Sinquefield: As a club player, it's much more difficult than watching regular chess because you're immediately into all tactics. You're solving tactical problems from the first or second move. And there's no repeat formations — every one is de novo. In regular classical chess you can sit back and say OK I know this opening, I know the strategy, I know what's going to happen for the next 15 or 20 moves. Here you don't know anything. The fireworks start on move one.

Ashley: Seems like the amateurs like having the crutch, having the opening theory that they can lean on, saying at least I know the French, or the Caro-Kann — that gives me some measure of comfort. With this, there are no names for the openings that are going to come out of it.

Sinquefield: Yes, fiddle-dee-diddly-dee — no two openings alike. That's true, they might like that crutch, but after a while, they're going to see how exciting this is. I think it's just wild.

Rex Sinquefield and Maurice Ashley

Rex Sinquefield, being debriefed by Maurice Ashley after the Champions Showdown | Saint Louis Chess Club webcast

Room for improvement

There were two big problems with this year's event from a spectator and webcast producer's perspective. One is just the unfortunate reality of having five rapid and blitz games running in parallel. The show necessarily focused on one game each round, for the most part, which meant fans missed quite a lot of the live action.

The flip side, of course, is you have more great players participating in total and you can always go back and review the games independently, for instance by downloading a PGN of the whole event to replay in ChessBase 14 or Fritz 16.

The other problem is that all matches were decided before the final rounds, and most were not even close heading into Day 4. During the last day's webcast, there was a discussion about how to maintain excitement in the face of blowouts that can occur with a match format:

"It's not fun for the players, obviously, who are getting killed, for the fans [or] for the commentators", said Ashley, who suggested alternatives such as mini-matches played between different players each day, or team Scheveningen style matches (e.g. "USA vs the World"). Knockout matches were favoured by Jennifer Shahade:

"We actually don't have a lot of prestigious knockouts, only the World Cup. And KO actually is that beautiful combination of a tournament and a match — it's exactly the solution to [blowouts] — that you have short matches, so it's almost impossible to get totally blown out because it's so short that if you get totally blown out the match is over".

But Ashley worried about players from abroad (or, for instance, Kasparov) being eliminated too early, noting that having a "losers" bracket is undesirable. In a team event (like the 2011 Kings vs Queens Chess960 experiment) even a lopsided individual game has no negative impact on the dynamics of subsequent games in the event.

Commentators on tweaking the format | Saint Louis Chess Club

I think there's a much simpler option: Just to have the matches end when decided, allowing commentary to focus on matches with more sporting drama. None of the players was mathematically eliminated until the last day, but some of the blitz games in matches that were not close seemed a bit perfunctory.

Picking the position

Jennifer Shahade and Roulette chessIn the video above, there's a brief back-and-forth on how the starting position is — or should be — selected. Jennifer mentions that for Kings vs Queens they actually used a "roulette chess" wheel at one point (she co-created one in 2009, pictured), which I remember well (as the producer of the webcast in those days). It was a fun, if gimmicky, solution. 

Other suggestions were to choose two positions and have players vote on which one to play, or increase the lead time for preparation by revealing the starting position 24 hours in advance. This idea would have the benefit of allowing fans to play the position and conduct crowd-sourced opening research in advance of the professionals' games, while being less extreme than the year-long position approach, which honestly strikes me as a bit antithetical to the Chess960 concept.

But there's also an opportunity to tap into the scholastic mission of the club by having the starting position chosen by school kids, perhaps in the various home countries of the players. This way the position for the next day could become known at approximately the same time each day (say 9:00 AM in the USA or 15:00 in Europe), and video recordings made on-site could document the event for use in the webcast, adding a little more global flavour to the mix.

Kasparov's final thoughts on the Champions Showdown

After getting over the shock of having the wrong initial position at the start of Day 4, Kasparov finished the blitz session of his match with Topalov on a high note by scoring back-to-back wins, which tightened the final score to 10½:9½. Of course, everyone wants to know, will we see Kasparov back at the board again in the future? When asked, he demurred:

"It's not the greatest moment to make any promises, but look it's fun, so again, I'm not here to win I'm here just to have fun...I'm quite happy that we did something I believe historic because it's the beginning of a new era. Innovations and exploration come from St. Louis." 

Kasparov suggests that the URS™ rating (Universal Rating System) should incorporate professional Chess960 games. Will that help drive adoption of the variant outside of these rare exhibition events? Hard to say, but I'd bet the odds are greater than 1/960.

"Classical chess is position number 518 in Chess960"


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Macauley is Editor in Chief of ChessBase News in Hamburg, Germany, and producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast. He was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.
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celeje celeje 2 hours ago
@ Petrarlsen & lajosarpad:

Petrarlsen: "It is Chess960 who is descended from traditional chess and not the opposite!"

lajosarpad: "This is an important point."


It is a historical point. (And an admission that history matters.) No one claimed the history is opposite. Just making an obvious mathematical point that chess960 is a generalization of traditional chess. This is not a competition to be the oldest. I don't know what the oldest board game is, but it isn't traditional chess.

I'm not saying chess as mathematical problem is the only thing that matters. It is one thing that matters. Chess as sport is another. Chess history matters too.

Petrarlsen already said before that we don't need to follow history (when we discussed the history of castling, where lots of "strange" castling can be found and there is no evidence his K safety ideas mattered to chess players on castling). I agree we are not forced to follow history, but I do not think you should ignore it either.

Focusing so much on a simple castling "explanation", which to me is like a folktale, means not focusing enough on these other factors.
celeje celeje 2 hours ago
@ lajosarpad:

@celeje : "It's plain wrong to think you can sit like a Greek philosopher without caring about real experimental evidence and decide truths about the game. Greek philosophers thought they could ignore the real world, and they came up with crap like: "The world consists entirely of triangles" or "Only neat numbers exist"."

lajosarpad: "As a mathematician I can defend the case of the world consists entirely of triangles. "Neat" is subjective though. Nevertheless, I find your statements above to be disrespectful both to Greek philosophers and Petrarlsen. If the Greek philosophers were caring only for the real world, then they would not have invented such impractical things, which became very practical and useful after thousands of years."


The Greek philosophers do not look good (on scientific matters) from the modern perspective. If fans of Greek philosophers find that disrespectful to them, they can comment on why the philosophers should be more respected on that sort of thing. When I wrote "neat", I was really thinking of the Pythagoreans, who were real weirdos and insisted that only rational numbers existed. According to legend, their member who pointed out that cannot be true was taken on a boat and murdered, or something like that. That's a false statement they just wanted to believe that had nothing to do with the "real world" and was still totally wrong.
celeje celeje 3 hours ago
@ lajosarpad:

lajosarpad: "These reasons are political. I am viewing this from a purely scientifical and philosophical perspective."


I wouldn't call it "political". I would call it "practical".
The purely scientific and philosophical discussion I'll call "theoretical".
They are definitely separate. I haven't wanted to mix up the discussion of each, but I think both are important & worth discussing.

There is a (maybe) practical way to have lots of "experiments". It's to convince Chessbase, etc. to make them all available on playchess.com, etc. We discussed the programming required for Chess960 before. It should not be difficult to offer Chess480, Chess480bg, as well. These games would mostly be low quality, just like traditional chess games on internet chess servers, but it's a start.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 8 hours ago
@celeje

"If there's a way to get organizers and players to start another experiment without stopping the existing experiment, then great! In practice, I don't think that's going to happen. There's a pretty much fixed (for the moment) total interest from organizers & sponsors in going beyond traditional chess. Any efforts would just dilute the Chess960 effort, so in the end there is nothing. It'd be like the vote in the FIDE election being split between two similar candidates, instead of them getting together & coming to an agreement so Short withdraws and supports the similar candidate. "

These reasons are political. I am viewing this from a purely scientifical and philosophical perspective. I am searching for the answer to the question of how would chess960 be the best. The answer could be that it is the best in its current form. Or it could be that we need improvements here, there and there as well. If we reach a scientific conclusion of how chess960 could be improved, then it does not necessarily mean that all the improvements need to be implemented right away. There will be a transition while the theoretical discoveries are implemented in practice in forms of changes of rules. So at this point I would avoid getting political or financial and would like to focus on the actual value of the game. Your concerns are valid but they should be the next step. When we realize what needs to be changed according to a thorough, but not necessarily perfect investigation, a separate plan will be needed to make it into the political reality of the chess960 world. So, again, while your concerns are valid, these are invalid reasons in the context of a purely scientific debate.

I find our debate similar to the debate about energy. There, as well, people due to valid political and financial concerns think that we should stick to traditional (petrol & co) energy. The reason is that there is not enough scientific knowledge to switch to a better approach. And the reason there is not enough scientific knowledge is that we stick to traditional energy. So, how could we resolve this deadlock? I say we could resolve it by sticking to traditional energy and research green energy at the same time. In our case, the possible improvements are like the introduction of green energy. There are problems, but they will not be solved if we stick to what we have in a very traditionalist way. And in the case of chess960 traditionalism has a twist, since chess960 was invented to battle the tradition of chess (with opening repertoires) in the first place. Chess960 is in fact a very progressive thing. It is interesting to see traditionalism appearing in chess960, but that's not a problem, just interesting.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 8 hours ago
@Petrarlsen

The idea of improving chess480 seems to be interesting. I think it would improve the game. Also, we might consider adding that the whole process could be a single move, but the opponent could pass as many times as many additional moves were needed for castling by the incriminated rook and king. I'm not saying this would improve your idea further, but I think it is worth to think about. I am interested about your opinion and I am interested about celeje's opinion as well.

Links can be broken over time and then your statement would lose its meaning to new commenters, so I am pasting the definition you pointed to:

"An amount or section which, when combined with others, makes up the whole of something."

And indeed, this is a good definition. However, while a piece of cake is a physical thing and can be at a single place at a given time (now let's put quantum mechanics for this thought), thoughts and ideas are not physical and they can be present at several points in a nonmetric topology at the same time. While a chess board, which is part of a room will not be part of another room at the same time, ideas can be part of several more complex ideas at the same time. 1. e4 is part of the Petrov defense and the Sicilian defense at the same time. Zugzwang is part of many different combinations at the same time. Chess can be part of several ideas and in this respect celeje is right. However, I agree with you that chess is no longer 100% chess if it is part of chess960. If the starting position of chess is used at a game, the game is chessy. I use the word "chessy" to note that it is theoretically the same, but only if we forget of the human and competitive element of the game.

@celeje

"I think I just wanted to say: traditional chess is a subset of chess960, or chess960 is a generalization of traditional chess, both meaning in the mathematical sense. (Think of the stereotypical Venn diagram.) "

If you take only the rules into account, then yes. But if you take into account the human and competitive elements, precisely those which were meant to be fixed by chess960, then not necessarily. I agree that this can be viewed in the way you view it and there are strong arguments for it, but I think the counter arguments are stronger.

"We did not choose which experiment to start."

The experiment of chess started earlier than the experiment of chess960. Let's wait until we have enough knowledge :) Just joking.

I do not have any problem with having experiments in chess960. However, having experiments does not mean that we should not do any change. And we might realize that some changes are needed even without experiments. Petrarlsen proposes such changes and we can agree or disagree with them. I think those should be debated and see the pros and the cons. Up until now I did not see any strong counter-arguments. The lack of knowledge is not an argument. It is the nirvana fallacy. If a change looks like it is needed and there is higher probability that the game will not be as good without the change, then, if the case which actually has higher probability happens to be true, then the years of experimenting and avoiding changes will result in an inferior result. And these years are passing from my life, your life and Petrarlsen's life without improvements. I'm not saying his concerns or proposals are all valid. I say that they all deserve a fair trial.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 9 hours ago
@Petrarlsen

"For me, it is obvious that the only possible good solution is to compare Chess960 and Chess480 (and other possible similar variants), and to decide which is the best. The fact that one has been invented sooner isn't at all an argument to eliminate it... "

Not to mention the tiny fact that chess was invented a little earlier than chess960. If invention time is a factor and oldness is preferred, then chess wins the race against chess960. And Chaturanga wins against chess :)

"As for me, I obviously agree that something CAN be a subset of different larger sets (as in the examples you gave). But not for each case.

For example, a slice of cake is a part of a given cake. But it rather seems to stand to reason that it cannot be at the same time a part of another cake..."

The case of a slice of cake has the dynamics which can be used to exclude the possibility of it being the slice of different cakes. However let's replace the "slice of cake" with "number" and "cake" with number sets. 2 is a number. Pair numbers is a number set. Prime numbers is another number set. 2 is an element of both. {2} is a subset of both. So, in order to prove your point that chess cannot be a part of multiple generalizations you would need to prove why those generalizations are conceptual partitions, because that's the case with the cases. You know that each subset of a cake is part of the given cake, but not part of any other cake. Here we did not see a proof of why chess being part of a game excludes the game being a part of another game. We can view chess as a part of those games. I certainly would not agree, because sitting down to play chess960 and I have a 1/960 chance that the starting position of the game will be the starting position of chess changes my mindset and my a priori plans. However, if the players would play chess exactly as it is, for some reason (like tournament rules guaranteeing they will play chess as well), then chess is certainly part of the game, as players will earn valuable points by preparing for the game and playing the best chess they can.

"(And, by the way, your vision about the links between Chess960 and traditional chess is rather strange, when you think that, for example, it would be as if you would consider a slice of cake as being a part of a cake prepared much later than the slice!"

I disagree. One may build a new house and buy some very old furniture. The furniture will be part of the house, yet, much older than the house.

"yes, in a way, it is true, but if Chess960 would cease to be a generalization of traditional chess, it would be something quite positive; it would suppress one of its defects. "

This is debatable. I do not see why the starting position of chess being possible is a defect. I know that playing that position would bring back all of chess theory in case the players are aware of it and I agree that it can be viewed as a defect, since in that case the purpose of the existence of chess960 would not be fulfilled, but I do not see how is this factually a defect of the game. It's a defect of the reasoning behind the game, but the reasoning can be faulty. One can reach a wonderful conclusion with faulty reasoning. See Columbus's ship set on journey towards India and reaching America instead. Columbus was wrong, but people were going to the new world nevertheless.

@celeje

"You can generalize, or you can specialize. Both directions are fine and don't imply judgements."

Agreed.

"It uses the same rules and rewards the same skills."

Castling can be said to have similar rules. Not same, but similar. However in terms of skills, chess960 was specifically invented to not reward the same skills as chess. If it was rewarding the same skills, then it would reward the skill of creating a very good opening repertoire. But that would defeat the purpose of chess960.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10 hours ago
@celeje

"That is not at all true. Of course something can be a SUBSET of different larger SETS, just as Carlsen is a subset of World Champions, and also a subset of Chess Players, and also a subset of famous Norwegians, etc., etc., etc. "

True. Question is: how chess is a subset of chess960? If we think of the starting position of chess being a subset of the set of possible starting positions of chess960, then you are absolutely right. If we think of chess, as a game being a subset of chess960, then this is no longer so obvious. Theoretical preparation is an important part of professional chess and opening theory is a widely research field in the area. Now, chess players of today are playing chess960 the best way they can and, since they are chess players, they adapt chess960 to their chess knowledge. On the other hand, if we had a completely new generation of chess960 players, who will not be keen chess players, then they will adapt their chess960 knowledge to chess. My personal opinion is that the starting position of chess is part of chess960, but the game of chess has some differences. Riding is part of the pentathlon, precisely because whoever participates in a pentathlon contest will surely ride. But chess will not necessarily be part of a chess960 tournament. If the players do not know in advance whether they will have the starting position of chess, then they will not really invest time into preparing opening lines of that position, especially if the chance of they having any games with such a position is low. If they know in advance that they will play the starting position of chess in a tournament, then the chess960 tournament will contain partly chess. We can view chess to be a part of chess960, but I do not really agree, because when we play chess960 we play differently. When we play table tennis, the game is very similar to tennis, but it is not identical. I do not use this as an analogy, this is a metaphor. If one plays chess960, the person will play differently in comparison to chess and vice versa. So, I would say that we can view chess as being part of chess960 or not being part and there are arguments for both positions. Chess960 is played differently according to the proponents of the game, which leads us to the precise conclusion that even if we think that chess is part of chess960, the game will be played differently in a chess960 tournament, in comparison to a chess tournament.

In my view, the most precise statement is that chess960 is a generalization of chess and includes the starting position of chess.

Linguistically you seem to agree with us when you use the term "traditional chess" to denote chess. If chess was part of chess960, then it would be unnecessary to differentiate it with the attribute of "traditional". The name of the game is chess. Whenever we add the attribute of "traditional" we acknowledge that we broke away with the tradition and have started something new.

@Petrarlsen

"If you consider it isn't at all possible to say if a rule, at set of rules, etc., is good or bad without having many games played, I don't see why you should consider that Chess960 is better than, for example, Monster Chess."

Good point! We need to be consistent to our approach. I agree with celeje that playing a lot of chess960 games would give us a lot of useful information, but I disagree to use this as an argument to postpone any change. We can propose some changes in comparison to chess960 and to find out whether those modifications would be feasible, we would need a lot of years of playing according to the reasoning used by celeje. However, this means that we can pose many possible proposals and we will not be able to find out factually which is the best and chess960 will be just one of the cases. It is reasonable to adapt changes if they seem to be better according to our current knowledge.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 11 hours ago
@Petrarlsen

The two us are on consensus that chess960 and chess480 are variants of chess.

I understand now your point about chess960 and chess480. Your argument is that if we say that chess is part of chess960, then chess will cease to be an independent game and will be metamorphosed into chess960, or more precisely, a part of chess960. But your argument is only valid if we consider chess to no longer exist independently from chess960. There are some proponents of having chess960 replace chess, but you, celeje and me are on consensus that the two games should coexist. So, I think your argument addresses a view which does not have proponents in this debate. Nonetheless, your point is perfectly valid. However, starting our thought process from the axiom we have consensus upon, namely that chess is an independent game and chess960 is one of the many possible generalizations, I believe we all agree that chess can be viewed as a part of chess960. I am not saying that we agree with this view, I am only stating my assumption that we are on consensus that this view exists and we understand the reasons of its existence. We can view riding as a part of pentathlon, even though riding is far more different from the other four disciplines in the pentathlon than chess from the other starting positions in chess960. Nonetheless, the pentathlon is very different from riding and chess960 is very different from chess. If chess960 would not differ from chess, then the statement of the proponents of chess960 would not hold any water. People can view chess as part of chess960 and still consider chess to be an independently playable game, but I think this noble game deserves more respect. So, here we are not entirely in agreement, nevertheless I understand your view.

"It is Chess960 who is descended from traditional chess and not the opposite!"

This is an important point.

I understand your reasoning about castling and it seems to be logical. I think we need further analysis to find out whether the king will be safer as a result. Reality is stranger than fiction sometimes, so it might be that in some positions getting the king towards the corner might be safer and in other positions, getting the king towards the center might be safer. We need some further analysis about the matter to find out what is the specific case in each of the chess960, however, we need to start the thought process somewhere and I think your philosophical reasoning might be a good starting point. Intuitively it seems to be valid, but we need scientific confirmation or denial. However, further scientific checking is impossible without being aware of the concerns. So, I think it would be great if you would write an article about your concerns and Chessbase would publish it. In the resulting debate I'm sure a much larger audience will be present and maybe even the top people of the game will observe the issue.

@celeje

"It's plain wrong to think you can sit like a Greek philosopher without caring about real experimental evidence and decide truths about the game. Greek philosophers thought they could ignore the real world, and they came up with crap like: "The world consists entirely of triangles" or "Only neat numbers exist"."

As a mathematician I can defend the case of the world consists entirely of triangles. "Neat" is subjective though. Nevertheless, I find your statements above to be disrespectful both to Greek philosophers and Petrarlsen. If the Greek philosophers were caring only for the real world, then they would not have invented such impractical things, which became very practical and useful after thousands of years. As about Petrarlsen, he did not say practical experience would be unnecessary, his point was that some problems are observable even with our current knowledge.
celeje celeje 10/20/2018 04:17
@ Petrarlsen:

A comment on your K safety argument #3. If you think this is no longer very relevant and interesting, there's no need to reply.


Petrarlsen: "3) In quite a number of opening's lines featuring queenside castling, the player who castles queenside puts (just after castling or later in the opening) his King on b1 or b8: what I deduce from this is that, very probably, the safest square for a King is the b1/b8 square. And - generally - when kingside castling is used, the King nearly never moves until the end of the opening; I think this shows that there is quite a difference between b1/b8 and c1/c8: the safest square is b1/b8 - the square which is nearer to the flank. "


Yes, there may be some truth in that... BUT:

1) Maybe sometimes Kb1 is needed not because the K is unsafe on c1 but because the P on h2 needs protecting. It was protected by Rh1 and now maybe is not (or needs twice protection from N on c3 and K on b1).

2) You need to remember tempo too. Castling is one move. With Kb1 that's two moves. At the end, K is on b1, R on d1.
King-side castling is also one move. Maybe just as often the player who castles king-side puts (just after castling or later in the opening) his R on e1 or e8. That's two moves. At the end, K is on g1, R on e1.

Meaning this: maybe players just subconsciously feel two moves is okay overall for K & R. If lots of Re1 moves follow 0-0, that doesn't mean king-side castling "under-develops the Rook".

Now, I'd like to know how often 0-0 is followed soon by Re1, compared with how often 0-0-0 is followed by Kg1. Is this easy to find out from database searches?
celeje celeje 10/20/2018 07:55
@ Petrarlsen:

celeje: "That's completely different from saying you should not just cut short a well-motivated experiment that's already begun. What is the excuse for cancelling an experiment in progress?"

Petrarlsen: "Following you, the fact that Chess480 (to take the example of Chess480) appeared nine years after Chess960 is a sufficient motive to determine that it is Chess960 that must be played, and not Chess480. "

We did not choose which experiment to start. History says that the experiment that started and is still in progress is Chess960. By experiment, I mean top chess pros (and non-top chess pros) are playing matches and tournaments in Chess960. It's senseless to stop that experiment. We can't go back in history and change that.

If there's a way to get organizers and players to start another experiment without stopping the existing experiment, then great! In practice, I don't think that's going to happen. There's a pretty much fixed (for the moment) total interest from organizers & sponsors in going beyond traditional chess. Any efforts would just dilute the Chess960 effort, so in the end there is nothing. It'd be like the vote in the FIDE election being split between two similar candidates, instead of them getting together & coming to an agreement so Short withdraws and supports the similar candidate.

It's got nothing to do with when the games first appeared.
celeje celeje 10/20/2018 05:43
@ Petrarlsen:

I haven't yet read comments properly, so I will reply properly later. But I see your question.

Petrarlsen: "When you say: "(...) traditional chess is a part of chess960", to which definition of the term: "part" do you refer to? "

I think I just wanted to say: traditional chess is a subset of chess960, or chess960 is a generalization of traditional chess, both meaning in the mathematical sense. (Think of the stereotypical Venn diagram.)


Now it also has a part of chess history i.e. top players playing tournaments & matches (which is not true of "just variants" or of other ancient games like xiangqi), but that was not what I was thinking of when I wrote "part", I think.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/20/2018 01:38
@ celeje:

Sometimes, it necessary to come back to the definitions of the words.

When you say: "(...) traditional chess is a part of chess960", to which definition of the term: "part" do you refer to?

I think a good starting point could be the diverse definitions of the word "part" in the Oxford Dictionary from the University of Oxford: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/part. In particular, in this dictionary, it is possible to click on a "More example sentences" button for each definition; this permits to obtain a great number of examples; I think that the best would be for you to point out one or two examples containing the word "part" which would correspond to what you mean when you say that "traditional chess is a part of chess960".

This will probably permit us to define more precisely if traditional chess can really be at the same time a part of Chess960 and of Chess480.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/19/2018 11:37
@ celeje:

"(Not important, but it'd probably be "Chess480BG", not "Chess960BG", because b/g-file castling cuts the number of initial positions in half.)"

Yes, true! I simply took the original name, then adding BG to distinguish it from the original version, but it is indeed true that, as the number of starting positions would be halved, it would be more logical to call it "Chess480BG" than "Chess960BG"...
celeje celeje 10/19/2018 03:07
@Petrarlsen:

Petrarlsen: "You would necessarily agree that a version of Chess960 with a "b/g files castling" (that I will call here Chess960BG) wouldn't anymore be a generalization of Chess960 (Position 518 wouldn't be played exactly in the same way as in traditional chess). "

Yes, that's correct. b/g-file castling makes it not a generalization of traditional chess in the mathematical sense.

(Not important, but it'd probably be "Chess480BG", not "Chess960BG", because b/g-file castling cuts the number of initial positions in half.)

Of course nothing has to be a generalization of anything else. Chess is not a generalization of poker. Poker is not a generalization of chess. That does not necessarily mean poker is "bad".

That's the only sentence of your new comments that I've read so far. I'll read your new comments fully & reply soon. I hope lajosarpad starts reading comments since his last one soon.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/18/2018 10:24
@ lajosarpad:

Thinking more about it, I think that there is a modification that could improve Chess480: to replace the current condition (about castling) following which both the King and the relevant Rook musn't have moved since the beginning of the game by a formulation resembling this:

"Castling will only be allowed: 1) If the King is on the first (for the White King) or the eighth (for the Black King) rank. 2) If, on the same rank, there is at least one Rook between the King and the side of the board in the direction in which the player wants to castle. 3) If the King's arrival square isn't occupied by a piece, apart possibly from the Rook involved in the castling. 4) If no pieces separate the King from the Rook involved in the castling."

(The other conditions for castling would be the same as in traditional chess - a King in check cannot castle, etc..)

(The main idea of this modification is to allow the King to move - under some conditions - before castling; I have added the possibility to move for the Rooks because, in some positions - as, for example, a King on b1 with the Rooks on a1 and c1 -, if the Rooks cannot move, then the King must in practice more or less necessarily be on its original square when it castles.)

What are the reasons for which I would advocate this change?

1) Because I think that Chess480 in its present form "doesn't perform quite well" in the test consisting in treating each starting position as if it was the only starting position of the game: for example, as, in Chess480, the King musn't have moved in its current state, when the King's starting square is the b-square, the a-side castling would be some sort of a "reduced castling" (as the King will necessarily only move to the next square), and the h-side castling would probably more or less never been used in practice, as this would bring the King full into the middle of the board (on the d-square). In my opinion, such characteristics couldn't be considered as fully satisfying if this position was the only starting position of the game. But if my modification was implemented, as the King's starting square at the moment of castling could vary, this criticism couldn't be possible anymore.

2) Because castling would be less effective in Chess480 than in traditional chess: it wouldn't necessarily (depending on the starting positions) permit to choose to bring the King to one or the other side of the board; for example, once more, with the present Chess480's rules, a King starting the game on the b-square or the g-square couldn't go to the other side of the board by castling. And to permit (within certain limits) the King to move before castling would tend to make castling more effective which I rather think would have a positive effect on the game.

Would you think this would be an improvement, for Chess480?
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/18/2018 07:46
@ celeje (2/2):

- "The practical evidence also makes it obvious that chess960 is not "just a variant". After the opening it's hard to tell what it came from and it looks just like a "normal" game. It uses the same rules and rewards the same skills. The best chess960 players are the best traditional chess players. Carlsen-Nakamura & the other chess960 matches & tournaments showed that."

Wrong. If the castling rules where modified, in Chess960, by simply deciding that the King and Rook's arrival squares, for a-side castling, would be the b-square for the King and the c-square for the Rook instead of - as in the present version - the c-square for the King and the d-square for the Rook, Chess960 wouldn't be anymore a generalization of traditional chess, but all the elements you gave here ("After the opening it's hard to tell what it came from and it looks just like a "normal" game. It uses the same rules and rewards the same skills. The best chess960 players are the best traditional chess players. Carlsen-Nakamura & the other chess960 matches & tournaments showed that.") would still be quite true, apart from "It uses the same rules", but, as we have seen, the rules for castling in Chess960 aren't already the same as in traditional chess, so it wouldn't in fact change anything at all.

- "That just doesn't happen in Chess960. Carlsen shows up. Carlsen wins. Just like in traditional chess."

Would you really think that, by replacing the present "c/g files castling" by a "b/g files castling", Carlsen would cease to be the King of Chess960 ????

And yet, Chess960BG wouldn't be anymore a generalization of traditional chess; it would be, in your words, "just a variant"...

- "About your 4 arguments on K moving towards center supposedly being less safe. I last commented on 10/8/2018 01:42 & 10/8/2018 01:55. You wanted to respond. I was waiting for that before commenting on arguments 3 & 4."

I will not come back to this because I don't think now that this is such an important element. My positions already evolved to show it in my posts: in my opinion, as castling corresponds to the idea of a "safety move" for the King, if castling's defining element as a move is its arrival squares (as in Chess960: what is defined is the squares occupied by the King and Rook after castling, while in traditional chess or in Chess480, the defining element is the fact that the King makes a two-squares move), it is necessary for the King's arrival square to be in general a safer square, compared to its original square. (It wouldn't be possible to say that castling would be a well-devised safety move if its main element, the King's displacement, would be in some cases, per se, something negative for the King's safety.)

And as, in Chess960, the King's arrival squares are sometimes nearer to the center and sometimes nearer to a corner of the board, be it that the center or the corners are safer, it isn't possible that the King's arrival square are always safer in Chess960 - it is necessary to decide if it is the center or the corners which are safer, and Chess960 doesn't decide; it puts the King haphazardly on a central square or on a corner square (central square or corner square: in comparison with the King's original square), from one starting position to another.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/18/2018 07:45
@ celeje (1/2):

- Your opinion is that the fact that Chess960 is a generalization of traditional chess is something quite important.

You would necessarily agree that a version of Chess960 with a "b/g files castling" (that I will call here Chess960BG) wouldn't anymore be a generalization of Chess960 (Position 518 wouldn't be played exactly in the same way as in traditional chess).

So, the sole element which would make that Chess960 would be a generalization and not Chess960BG would be the fact that Position 518 would or wouldn't correspond with traditional chess.

But, an important question is: "Is the fact that Position 518 corresponds with traditional chess in Chess960 something positive or negative?"

Step 1: What is Chess960's defining element? What is it exactly that makes Chess960 an interesting game? What does have Chess960 that traditional chess hasn't?

My answer is that Chess960 either suppresses or diminishes greatly the part of opening preparation in the games played, in this game, compared to traditional chess.

Step 2: When the starting position for a game of Chess960 is Position 518, is it possible to say that, in this game, the part of opening preparation is either suppressed or greatly diminished, compared to traditional chess?

The answer is obviously "No", because it IS in fact a game of traditional chess.

It is then possible to conclude that when the only element which makes Chess960 a generalization of traditional chess materializes, then the Chess960 games which are played in this situation don't correspond at all to Chess960's defining element: Chess960 wouldn't be a generalization without Position 518, but when a game is played with Position 518, it cease in fact to be a real game of Chess960, because Chess960's defining element, the drastic reduction of opening preparation, disappears completely.

So I don't see how it could be considered as something positive that Chess960 is a generalization of traditional chess, when the only thing that this brings concretely to the players in this game is that, in one of the starting positions of the game, Chess960 doesn't correspond anymore AT ALL to the main idea of the game, which is the very reason for which this game has been created...

If Position 518 didn't exist (or was eliminated from the game), Chess960 wouldn't anymore be a generalization of traditional chess, but would correspond to its main idea for absolutely all its starting positions.

I conclude from this that if Chess960 would cease to be a generalization of traditional chess, it would be something positive, and not something negative.

So, when you say: "Maybe some of these games that are "just variants" and not generalizations are good games, but they are not in the same category as Chess960, Chess480, etc.", yes, in a way, it is true, but if Chess960 would cease to be a generalization of traditional chess, it would be something quite positive; it would suppress one of its defects.

So it isn't possible to say that it is a bad comparison to compare Chess960 to, for example, Monster Chess, as an optimized Chess960 which would correspond to Chess960's main ideas in all its starting positions wouldn't be anymore a generalization of traditional chess.
celeje celeje 10/18/2018 01:29
@ Petrarlsen:

About your 4 arguments on K moving towards center supposedly being less safe. I last commented on 10/8/2018 01:42 & 10/8/2018 01:55. You wanted to respond. I was waiting for that before commenting on arguments 3 & 4.

If you comment about those things, it may give lajosarpad time to catch up on all the most recent dozen+ comments.
celeje celeje 10/18/2018 10:21
@ Petrarlsen: (2)

Apart from the undeniable mathematical facts...

The practical evidence also makes it obvious that chess960 is not "just a variant". After the opening it's hard to tell what it came from and it looks just like a "normal" game. It uses the same rules and rewards the same skills. The best chess960 players are the best traditional chess players. Carlsen-Nakamura & the other chess960 matches & tournaments showed that.


Comments to the first article tried the bad "it's just a variant" argument. They compared it with Bughouse. Bughouse is for 4 players. The variant for 2 players is Crazyhouse. When they made those comments, I had a look at the Crazyhouse world. There was one guy who dominates Crazyhouse. He was a good junior chess player, but he's now a regular guy with a regular job and a family to look after. Some chess GMs show up in those Crazyhouse competitions, but they are nowhere near him.

That just doesn't happen in Chess960. Carlsen shows up. Carlsen wins. Just like in traditional chess. Do you think any regular guy with work & life duties who plays a lot of chess960 will be able to compete with Carlsen at chess960, let alone dominate everyone?
celeje celeje 10/18/2018 02:05
@ Petrarlsen:

Petrarlsen: "We will see what lajosarpad has to say about this (in particular as he precisely is a mathematician...). "

TBH, I was/am waiting for & relying on lajosarpad to share the load by explaining this to you the best way he sees fit. It's really the crucial point about this stuff.

That's why Monster Chess is irrelevant to this discussion. Maybe some of these games that are "just variants" and not generalizations are good games, but they are not in the same category as Chess960, Chess480, etc. They are not indistinguishable from Chess960, Chess480, etc. They are different. Just as poker is different. Or backgammon. That's just a mathematical statement. Being in a non-overlapping set does not immediately mean it's bad, of course. It just means that the argument you are putting, "reduction to absurdity" -> "reduction to the oddest variant", is not valid.

Being a generalization does not mean it must be "better" than the thing it generalizes, either. You can generalize, or you can specialize. Both directions are fine and don't imply judgements. Again, just mathematics. And if you consciously generalize or specialize, you're just doing what is done in mathematics, computer science, etc. It's not some sort of sleight-of-hand.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/17/2018 06:44
@ celeje:

- "Bad analogy in many ways. One way is again the same thing we don't agree on: variant vs. generalization. Traditional chess is contained inside chess960. I don't even need to look to know that that's not true of Monster Chess or Seirawan Chess. They are "just variants". Chess960 is not "just a variant".

As the basis for your reasoning in this post is the "variant vs. generalization" question (...you consider that Chess960 isn't a variant; I consider that it is indeed a variant...) and that, in this post, you say nothing new on that question, there is nothing to add, apart from : "cf. the "variant vs. generalization" discussion.".

- "No, that's not true at all. Your "play thousands of games will all the chess variants" is like saying every single experiment anyone can think of must be carried out exhaustively."

If you consider it isn't at all possible to say if a rule, at set of rules, etc., is good or bad without having many games played, I don't see why you should consider that Chess960 is better than, for example, Monster Chess. So, I don't understand why, following you, Chess960 should be played for years and years, and not Monster Chess.

- "That's completely different from saying you should not just cut short a well-motivated experiment that's already begun. What is the excuse for cancelling an experiment in progress?"

Following you, the fact that Chess480 (to take the example of Chess480) appeared nine years after Chess960 is a sufficient motive to determine that it is Chess960 that must be played, and not Chess480.

As you say that it isn't possible to know the value of a game such as Chess960 without having a great number of games played, necessarily, following your reasoning, you cannot have any idea about the value of Chess480.

And the only reason for which you say that it is Chess960 and not Chess480 which must be experimented resides in these tiny nine years that separate the invention of these two variants.

One more time, as, following your reasoning, you cannot have any idea about the value of Chess480, this means that you cannot either exclude that Chess480 is much better than Chess960.

And, if Chess480 (for example; or another similar chess variant) WAS indeed much better than Chess960, you would have excluded it just for these tiny nine years difference between them.

I don't understand quite well how such a conclusion could be defended...

For me, it is obvious that the only possible good solution is to compare Chess960 and Chess480 (and other possible similar variants), and to decide which is the best. The fact that one has been invented sooner isn't at all an argument to eliminate it...

- "Of course something can be a SUBSET of different larger SETS, just as Carlsen is a subset of World Champions, and also a subset of Chess Players, and also a subset of famous Norwegians, etc., etc., etc."

We will see what lajosarpad has to say about this (in particular as he precisely is a mathematician...).

As for me, I obviously agree that something CAN be a subset of different larger sets (as in the examples you gave). But not for each case.

For example, a slice of cake is a part of a given cake. But it rather seems to stand to reason that it cannot be at the same time a part of another cake... And, in my opinion, the situation is the same for traditional chess, Chess960, and Chess480: if traditional chess is a part of Chess960, in cannot be at the same time a part of Chess480.

(And, by the way, your vision about the links between Chess960 and traditional chess is rather strange, when you think that, for example, it would be as if you would consider a slice of cake as being a part of a cake prepared much later than the slice! In general (!), the slice is cut from the cake; you are inventing a cake which is made after the slice!)
celeje celeje 10/17/2018 08:23
@Petrarlsen: (3)

Petrarlsen (@ lajosarpad): "I think that if a game is, per se and in general, a PART of another game, it cannot at the same time be a PART of a third game; traditional chess cannot be at the same time in this perspective a part of Chess960 and of Chess480."


That is not at all true. Of course something can be a SUBSET of different larger SETS, just as Carlsen is a subset of World Champions, and also a subset of Chess Players, and also a subset of famous Norwegians, etc., etc., etc.


If traditional chess is a subset of Chess960 and also a subset of Chess480, that means neither Chess960 nor Chess480 are "just variants", unlike all those other "bizarre and strange variants" that form straw man arguments. This is an obviously true mathematical statement. It has nothing to do with history or mythology or that stuff. We are just talking sets, subsets, supersets. Just plain mathematics.
celeje celeje 10/17/2018 03:55
@ Petrarlsen: (2)

Petrarlsen: "Following your logic, it should be necessary to play thousands of games with all the chess variants on this page: ... "


No, that's not true at all. Your "play thousands of games will all the chess variants" is like saying every single experiment anyone can think of must be carried out exhaustively.

That's completely different from saying you should not just cut short a well-motivated experiment that's already begun. What is the excuse for cancelling an experiment in progress?
celeje celeje 10/17/2018 03:49
@ Petrarlsen:

Petrarlsen: "By the way, I hope you will let us know when you will have played thousand of games of Monster Chess."


Bad analogy in many ways. One way is again the same thing we don't agree on: variant vs. generalization. Traditional chess is contained inside chess960. I don't even need to look to know that that's not true of Monster Chess or Seirawan Chess. They are "just variants". Chess960 is not "just a variant".
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/17/2018 02:52
@ celeje:

By the way, I hope you will let us know when you will have played thousand of games of Monster Chess (cf.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_chess). Otherwise, obviously, it will be completely impossible for us all to form any opinion on it (which would certainly be a pity)...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/17/2018 02:31
@ celeje:

- "Wanting proper data is not making something "sacred"."

Following your logic, it should be necessary to play thousands of games with all the chess variants on this page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_chess_variants; Chess960 is only one of them, and if it isn't possible to reason without having "proper data" (i.e., following you, having heaps of games), then, there is no reason to consider that any of these chess variants are inferior.

When the result of a reasoning is absurd (to play thousands of games with all the bizarre and strange variants that have been invented through the centuries is obviously completely absurd), then the reasoning is absurd.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/17/2018 01:40
One thing is clear: Chess960 has REALLY the potential to trigger off enormous debates!

This article is already n° 4 on the list of the most commentated articles ever on ChessBase (https://en.chessbase.com/mostcomments), behind the previous article about Chess960 (!) and two of the articles written two years ago by GM Seirawan about the World Championship match format!
celeje celeje 10/17/2018 01:37
@ Petrarlsen:

Petrarlsen: "I find very revealing your passage: "without prematurely thinking we are clever enough to make good changes": you talk of Chess960 as if it was something sacred! No, it isn't; it is a new (...a quarter of a century is nothing...) chess variant, and the best service we can do to Chess960 is to take it without preconceptions, to try to make it better. "


That is just plain wrong. Wanting proper data is not making something "sacred". Not having preconceptions means wanting as much experimental data as possible i.e. games. That takes time, unfortunately. The person with preconceptions is the one who thinks no data is required. It's plain wrong to think you can sit like a Greek philosopher without caring about real experimental evidence and decide truths about the game. Greek philosophers thought they could ignore the real world, and they came up with crap like: "The world consists entirely of triangles" or "Only neat numbers exist".
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/17/2018 01:29
@ celeje:

Understood!

But I don't endorse such assertions!
celeje celeje 10/17/2018 01:19
@ Petrarlsen:

celeje: "You fail to acknowledge that there's a whole range of different attitudes. That includes completely irrelevant (and impolite) Fischer-bashing too. "Lazy". "Crazy". etc."

Petrarlsen: "I don't know at all to what you are refering in this passage."

e.g.
Ajeeb007 9/3/2018 12:28: "Fischer introduced this variant due to his half-hearted desire to make a comeback without having to do any work (ie. laziness)."
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/16/2018 10:15
@ lajosarpad:

About Chess480, I thought before that it wasn't really satisfying (...as Chess480 became more present these last days in this discussion, I reflected on it one more time...), but, now, I don't say that it is optimal, but, at least, I think that it is in fact quite correct.

The main element that didn't appear logical to me was that, as in Chess960, frequently, in Chess480, the King can castle toward the middle of the board.

But I think that the situation isn't at all the same as in Chess960: in Chess960, the defining element of the castling is the arrival squares of the King and the Rook. In this context, it is in my opinion just absurd to define an arrival square which can be sometimes nearer to the center and nearer to the corner; if an arrival square is defined for the King in castling, it must necessarily be a square who is considered as safer than the square from which the King comes. So, either it would be considered that the King would be safer in a corner, and castling should bring the King towards the corner, or it would be considered that the King would be safer in the center of the board, and then, castling should bring the King towards the center. But if the King's arrival square brings the King one time towards the center and one time towards a corner, the result is thoroughly illogical.

In Chess480, castling is - as in traditional chess - mainly defined as a two-squares move by the King. The idea is that, as some sort of an "emergency measure", instead of its usual one-square move, the King can make (with the usual conditions, more or less) one time in the game a two-squares move, with the additional element that the Rook comes on the other side of the King to "shut the door".

In this context, I don't find illogical that the King can castle towards the center: in Chess480, castling is simply an "extended King's move", with the addition of the Rook's displacement; in many cases, castling towards the center will not be a good move, but this is a normal situation: when a piece can move in many directions, most of the time, some directions will be good, other less, and some quite bad, so it isn't because the King can make a two-squares move towards two opposite directions that both these two-squares moves will be good moves; it is the responsability of the player to determine which move is good and which is bad. This is not the same situation as in Chess960: when an arrival square is defined, it is supposed to be generally a "safe square", and it must be determined if a "safe square" is in general more a central square or a corner square...

I think that, globally, the difference with the possibilities revolving around the "b/g files castling" is that Chess480's two-squares castling will be in most cases globally less useful than the "b/g files castling" (even if I think that, in most games, castling would nonetheless be used by at least one of the two players). Which doesn't necessarily mean that "b/g files castling" is necessarily better; it is only a different vision of castling.

What do you think about this?

In one or two days, I will also post a new proposal, based on the idea of the "b/g files castling", but featuring much more starting positions that my last proposal.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/16/2018 09:40
@ lajosarpad:

To elaborate a little what I said in my last post, I think that if a game is, per se and in general, a PART of another game, it cannot at the same time be a PART of a third game; traditional chess cannot be at the same time in this perspective a part of Chess960 and of Chess480.

It would be quite true to say that a part of Chess960 is Position 518, and that Position 518 corresponds to traditional chess. But it would not be true to say that, per se and in general, traditional chess is a part of Chess960. It is Chess960 who is descended from traditional chess and not the opposite!

And I think that, if the "Chess960 world" attaches such a lot of importance to the idea that traditional chess is a part of Chess960, it is because it is in a way the "Founding Myth" of Chess960, that would give it a far greater legitimity than if it was only a variant of traditional chess.

To develop this a little more, I think that this "Founding Myth" is that Chess960 hasn't be really invented by anyone; it has always been present implicitly; even if no-one was conscious of this, it has always been the "root" from which traditional chess comes. So it gives it an enormous legitimity; greater, in a way, that the legitimity of traditional chess itself, because, in this perspective, Chess960 would have always been the REAL game of which traditional chess is only one element between many others.

But Chess480 shows clearly that this "Founding Myth" is only a construct; there would be no reason to think that Chess960 would be more the "root" from which traditional chess comes than Chess480...

So we come back to the "stark reality": Chess960 is not more than a variant of traditional chess.

But this doesn't prevent it to be a particularly interesting variant, which would - provided its problems would be solved - really deserve to know success...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/16/2018 08:43
@ lajosarpad:

About the question whether traditional chess can be considered to be a part of two sets at the same time, I think that what I expressed was (quite) badly formulated, but that my main idea was nonetheless right.

I will now try to explain it better!

(Reminder - because, on this question, I find it rather easy to "lose track", and to forget the starting point: what was discussed at the start was the fact that celeje affirmed that: "(...) traditional chess is a part of chess960".)

What I meant was that, if traditional chess was to be considered as a part of Chess960, it would mean in fact that the "root game" would be Chess960, traditional chess being only one of the ways Chess960 could be played. But if Chess960 is the "root game" of traditional chess, Chess480 (which is completely different as for castling) cannot be also the "root game" of traditional chess! And I think that this shows that to consider traditional chess as a part of Chess960 is only a fiction; objectively, Chess960 is a VARIANT of traditional chess, based on the idea of a generalization of traditional chess. (And Chess480 is another variant, based on the same idea.) But it is Chess960 who comes from traditional chess, and not the opposite!

- "If I point to a bias which seems to be present, then the debate might be diverted from the topic, even though that is not my intention."

True. It is indeed something that must be taken into account...
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/16/2018 06:07
@celeje

"lajosarpad did not ever accuse proponents of that. "

Someone being a proponent does not make the person biased. But it might happen that a person is biased and a proponent at the same time. Both Petrarlsen and myself observed a large amount of people who happened to be proponents and biased at the same time. I even emphasized that it is refreshing to speak with you, because you are willing to give us arguments for the opinions which were given like divine revelations by other people. I did not have a chance to debate this with them, but you are open to arguments and capable to put your own arguments on the table. The very fact that others give their opinion with religious fervor does not mean that their opinion is wrong. They just made a poor case for the opinion. You, on the other hand gave us some arguments and I think we have a nice debate, if everyone keeps their calmness. I have seen you have assumed a few things about Petrarlsen, but I do not think they were deliberate. We are all misunderstanding each-other from time to time. And I do not consider you to have any religious fervor. The very fact that you are calmly discussing your opinion with us disproves it. As about biases, I do not know who has what bias. I can only tell you all that I try to avoid any biases on my part.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/16/2018 05:57
@celeje

I was referring to this:

"But that's not what you want. You want b/g-file castling with a very restricted set of initial starting positions. That means you don't really care about castling having the K move two squares. "

If someone gives a proposal to something, the person not necessarily wants or prefers it. The person might just contribute with the idea. If X gives a proposal, X finds it acceptable, but not necessarily wants the given proposal to be accepted.

No one claimed that all proponents of chess960 are religious or biased. However, I agree with Petrarlsen that there are many proponents of chess960, who use a lot of excuses just to avoid any changes to the variant. And I found your argument that we have not "enough" knowledge to find out the answers we are looking for. This argument tells me that we should avoid doing any changes until we have "enough" knowledge, but the catch is that there will never be "enough" knowledge. I was quite amused to see once a web developer, who had to guarantee security for a system and there were two security problems. The person used each security hole as an excuse not to fix the other. Even though your argument about we not having "enough" knowledge quite fits into the pattern, but you might genuinely be on the given opinion.

@Petrarlsen

"BUT, obviously, either there are several possible generalizations for the traditional chess' castling rule, or there is only one; if there is only one, it could be conceivable to take traditional chess as a part of Chess960 (even if I wouldn't find this very convincing, in particular because traditional chess is much older than Chess960), but, in my opinion, it stands to reason that, if they are several possible generalizations for Chess960's castling, it couldn't be possible to consider that traditional chess is a subdivision of Chess960 - it cannot be a subdivision of several sets at the same time! "

It can be. The three of us are part of the set of Chessbase readers and part of the set of debaters at the same time. However, besides this, your argument is very interesting and points out the fact that chess is much older than chess960. I think I can put my problem with considering chess as a particular case of chess960 into words now. I find it disrespectful to the game of chess, to its history to consider it to be a particular case of chess960. I think it is more adequate to claim that chess960 is a generalization of chess, which is historically accurate. Also, I agree with you that the two are different games. The way one prepares is different. We can find similarities between table tennis and tennis, but the two are not identical at all. So, globally I agree with you.

"when you notice that someone has a tendency to have a specific bias, it forms a pattern, and, for the future, it makes it easier to understand the problems in this person's reasonings"

Yes, I recognize these patterns as well, but I avoid pointing to them. If someone is bias, then the person might be right for the wrong reason and if someone is unbiased, the person might be wrong for the right reason. If I point to a bias which seems to be present, then the debate might be diverted from the topic, even though that is not my intention.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/16/2018 05:17
@ celeje:

- "I see no "religious" fervor."

What I see is that for many Chess960's proponents, the fact that Chess960 musn't be modified in the slightest detail is, in practice, taken as a dogma; their opinions about Chess960 work as a system of beliefs - they aren't at all opened to discussion.

- "I see no Fischer-worship."

I remind you that, on this subject, I said: "Perhaps it is because this variant has been devised by Fischer (...)" I didn't say I was sure of it; I said : "perhaps", and it is quite possible that I am wrong (I even rather tend to think that I must be wrong, because I think that, on this type of subjects, you are very probably a quite reliable source).

- "lajosarpad did not ever accuse proponents of that."

Lajosarpad wrote these four passages:

* "There were always powerful belief systems, Katolocisism in medieval Europe, Islam in the Islamic world, Liberalism in the Jacobine era, Communism in the Soviet Union and China, National Socialism in the III. Reich and, for a lot of chess players, the unquestionability of chess960. Without doubt this is unscientific, that is why its proponents have a high chance to be shocked when we even show that we are not convinced that they are right."

* "(...) here I agree with Petrarlsen, we should not make a religion of chess960 (...)"

* "I also observed the dogma that chess960 should be played in an unaltered manner exists, I am not saying celeje is one of the believers of this dogma, but I would not exclude it either."

* "(...) most people I have encountered agreeing with his views were very dogmatic and without arguments."

I think that when lajosarpad wrote these four passages, he meant exactly the same thing that when I used the expression: "religious belief" about some of the Chess960's proponents.

- "Discussion of the game and rules is respectful, but accusations of Fischer-worship etc. are not."

"(...) accusations of Fischer-worship etc. are not." : 1) I didn't "accuse" anyone; it was only a hypothesis; 2) I didn't say that Chess960's proponents were "worshipping" Fischer; this is quite an exaggeration; 3) You consider that what I said on this subject wasn't respectful; this is your opinion, but I don't agree at all with it

- "You fail to acknowledge that there's a whole range of different attitudes. That includes completely irrelevant (and impolite) Fischer-bashing too. "Lazy". "Crazy". etc."

I don't know at all to what you are refering in this passage.
celeje celeje 10/16/2018 04:03
@ Petrarlsen:

Petrarlsen: "If, by reading all the posts by Chess960's proponents under this article and the previous article, you haven't noticed anything special in the way Chess960's proponents react to (respectfully expressed) criticism against some characteristics of Chess960, I really think I have nothing more to add on this subject!... I would just point out that lajosarpad too noticed this, so that I am not alone to have this opinion about this..."

I see no "religious" fervor. I see no Fischer-worship.
lajosarpad did not ever accuse proponents of that.

Discussion of the game and rules is respectful, but accusations of Fischer-worship etc. are not.

You fail to acknowledge that there's a whole range of different attitudes. That includes completely irrelevant (and impolite) Fischer-bashing too. "Lazy". "Crazy". etc.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/16/2018 03:01
@ celeje:

- "I don't think you and jacob woge do agree on castling."

If I remember well, we didn't completely agree, but essentially because, with his type of castling, there were some starting positions for which castling wasn't possible at all, and I didn't consider this as being optimal.

- "But how does it change the arguments if you have more agreement with someone than someone else thought?"

I would just like not to see my thoughts repeatedly distorted by other commentators...

- "Meanwhile, you seem to think it's okay to imply (wrongly in my opinion) that all people who like a form of the rules you don't like (meaning chess960 as it is now) are like some sort of cult. You repeatedly claim they are having "religious" belief, etc. They just disagree with you. It's not religious belief or Fischer worship, etc. and thinking it is suggests strong bias."

If, by reading all the posts by Chess960's proponents under this article and the previous article, you haven't noticed anything special in the way Chess960's proponents react to (respectfully expressed) criticism against some characteristics of Chess960, I really think I have nothing more to add on this subject!... I would just point out that lajosarpad too noticed this, so that I am not alone to have this opinion about this... And neither of us are opponents to Chess960; we would just like to improve it - we are not at all trying to "bash" systematically Chess960...
celeje celeje 10/16/2018 02:49
@ Petrarlsen:

I don't think you and jacob woge do agree on castling. Do you think you agree with him on castling?

We so far have as castling options
1. "c/g-file" castling
2. "two-square K-move" castling
3. "b/g-file" castling
(4. No castling allowed)

If he preferred 2. (I can't remember, but I'm just reading your quote) and you preferred 3., I don't see how you were in agreement.
Not just that... My _memory_ is that he cared more about whether it was 2-fold, 3-fold or 6-fold moves, etc. -- meaning he cared more about how many moves it would take to do the castling without the castling rule.
I already quoted in these comments what he said about K safety. He does not agree with your ideas on K safety.

But how does it change the arguments if you have more agreement with someone than someone else thought?


Meanwhile, you seem to think it's okay to imply (wrongly in my opinion) that all people who like a form of the rules you don't like (meaning chess960 as it is now) are like some sort of cult. You repeatedly claim they are having "religious" belief, etc. They just disagree with you. It's not religious belief or Fischer worship, etc. and thinking it is suggests strong bias.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 10/16/2018 01:39
@ celeje:

- "You misunderstand some things I write. It's not surprising if I do the same."

The first time, it was quite normal. But, this time, it isn't quite the same thing, because 1) I already explained to you quite clearly that I didn't agree with your views about me "wanting" this proposal and because 2) I always insist on this proposal being only an example and nothing more.

I am ready to agree that you didn't do it on purpose, but as it occured two times, it must at least mean that each time you read what I write on this question, you read it with a bias, and don't understand it as I write it.

And your wrong understanding of what I meant was very clear when you said previously: "You and Jacob woge are definitely not in agreement, because you come to different conclusions. You conclude (restricted) b/g-file castling is best. He concludes (restricted) 2-square K-move castling is best." You opposed Jacob woge's and my views as if I was quite a proponent of b/g-file castling, while this is not at all the case.

- "I thought you were perfectly happy with your proposal."

No; I think it is correct, but not more than that. And I will try to propose something better (in my views...) in the following days.

- "Maybe you would be happier if I said "you prefer your proposal & its castling rule to chess960" instead of "you want your proposal etc.""

Yes, this formulation suits me quite well.

- Ideally, I would like to prepare 5 to 10 completely different proposals for the Chess960's castling (so as to permit a real comparison between completely different systems), but to devise all this would be too time-consuming, so I am nearly certain I will never do it...