FIDE decides: New format for chess

by ChessBase
4/1/2024 – Apart from a few minor modifications, the game has remained unchanged for over a thousand years. However, with the advent of comprehensive, systematic preparation it has become less interesting. FIDE has decided that some radical measures need to be taken to save chess. Here’s what they have decided.

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“The situation is becoming really serious,” said a high ranking FIDE official. “It is especially due to computerised openings preparation. We must imagine a situation, in a few years from today, when grandmasters will play the first 25 moves of their game in less than a minute — after which one player will fall into thought, and after half an hour he will resign the game! He will have recognized that his opponent had a prepared line that is completely winning.”

So what has FIDE decided to do to alleviate the situation? Make use of a trend that organisers have been experimenting with, more and more often, in the past few years: Freestyle Chess – also known as Fischer Random or Chess 960. This form of chess has shown how the game can proceed with both players thinking creatively about every move from the start of the game.

Now FIDE intends to switch chess fully to Freestyle. How will this be implemented? Article 2.3 of the FIDE’s “Laws of chess” shows the “initial position of the pieces on the chessboard as it is currently used.” From 2025, it will be changed to read:

Every year, on the 2nd of January, ten initial positions of the pieces on the chessboard, will be picked by respected experts, from a list of 958 Freestyle positions.

That means we will get ten positions, selected from all possible Freestyle positions, with the exception of the traditional starting position, which is Fischer Random position 518, and its mirror position.

In any tournament or Open, thirty minutes before the start of each round, one of the ten positions will be selected at random and announced to the participants. This means that the players will have half an hour to prepare for their game with the starting position that has been selected.

Why restrict the choice to ten positions, why not select the starting position of each round at random from all 958 Freestyle positions? We asked the FIDE experts in charge of the change to explain. He said:

Well, first of all, a great number of the 960 positions are very strange. They lead to unattractive games. But more importantly, we should remember that preparation has always been part of the game, and we do not want to suddenly eliminate it completely. Players will be able to do a certain amount of preparation for ten positions – knowing full well that in 12 months, in 365 days, that preparation will become obsolete and can be thrown away.

Future World Championship matches

In addition to the revised Article 2.3, FIDE is implementing a special rule for World Championship matches. There, one position, which will be played in all the games, will be selected and revealed to the players one day before the match begins. This gives them a restricted amount of time to prepare, while at the same time avoiding a match that is a pure battle of preparation.

A possible World Championship starting position (not actually selected)

So, starting from January 2nd 2025, no more games with the standard starting position will be sanctioned or rated by FIDE. We are told that the sudden switch to Freestyle was decided in large part due to the great success of the Weissenhaus tournament and the interest it generated among organisers and chess fans.

One important player, the strongest on the planet, was informed by FIDE of the rule change. Here is his reaction:

What about our readers? Do you like this initiative by FIDE? Comment down below.

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Heavygeardiver Heavygeardiver 4/3/2024 04:51
Aprils Fools I hope!

arzi arzi 4/3/2024 06:59
Raymond Labelle:"Some may not like Fischer for various reasons, some of which understandable, but..."

It's not about liking, it's about the word itself, CHESS. If people want to play many different forms of chess...please do play, but don't call them chess and let this old and great game continue its great journey. Yes, changes have been made to the game along the way, but the current changes change the entire content of the game so much that the game is no longer chess but something else. Kramnik's reasoning is just an excuse for the fact that a person gets older and can no longer cope when playing against younger champions. It happens/happened to every grandmaster, even to Carlsen, Kasparov and Fischer.
RossA RossA 4/2/2024 06:57
Very well done! This is the biggest news item since 4/1/2008 (the discovery of Fisher's computer and emails).
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 4/2/2024 06:33
I am not comfortable with all the efforts to not name Fischer Random Chess Fischer Random Chess. It is Fischer who introduced the idea and he was not wrong with the idea that overpreparation and computers became annoying parts of the game. This is probably one of the main reasons for which Magnus is tired of preparation for World Championships. A very important of the work by seconds and computers is on opening preparation. Kramnik also said that one important reason for which he retired, was that he was tired of this.

Some may not like Fischer for various reasons, some of which understandable, but...
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 4/2/2024 06:32
The prankers were nice - the clues that it was a joke were in the article itself. I already mentioned the absence of the hyperlink to X/Tweeter of Magnus' fake message while there is always such a link when there is a reproduction of such messages in non-joke articles.

We could add, more fundamentally, the weirdness of the proposal itself. If FIDE had decided to replace the rules by Fischer Random Chess (FRC), they would have have applied a random position among the 959 possible (the classical one would be excluded) at the beginning of each tournament. Having 10 positions on January 2 is calling an army of seconds and computers to analyse them during the year and defeats the very purpose of FRC, which is, to minimse as much as possible the preparation aspect of it. I think that this inconsistency and weirdness was put on voluntarily by the authors of the article as a clue of its pranky character.
Morrowind Morrowind 4/2/2024 03:48
Yes, it is a April fools joke!
flachspieler flachspieler 4/2/2024 11:33
Hi Frederic, thanks for your comment - and also for the April joke as well. Just one little correction: Garry Kasparov introduced "Advanced Chess" in 1997 - and also the name for it. The name "Freestyle Chess" was introduced by Timo Klaustermeyer - now Timo Haupt - and me back in Summer 2004. I supervised the master thesis of Timo, and we came up with the Freestyle Chess-idea during a working session at Altenbeken railway station. Here is a photo of the location:
We also organized a first Freestyle Blitz tournament on the ChessBase server soon after.
Soon later, Kasparov adopted the name and concept.
Concerning Fischer random or Chess960 I agree that these names are not optimal for marketing. But it is not acceptable that some newcomer enters the scene like an elephant a porcellan store and "introduces" a name that was introduced 20 years ago for something different.
Kind greetings, Ingo.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 4/2/2024 10:07
A good one! Let's read this article while it is still funny. But what is a joke now may be breaking news tomorrow. I like chess, but have limited to no interest in Fischer Random Chess. I don't think there is something to fix in chess. After all, grandmasters are not forced to regurgitate their memorized lines. They have practically infinite ways to deviate from them and they will have to do so if they want to get above 50% against top opposition.
Kaliba Kaliba 4/2/2024 08:42
Hahaha 🤣🤣🤣
Turm_Eric Turm_Eric 4/2/2024 08:08
Good as joke ... (but the systematic Chess bashers, those that introduced the acceleration of play and tiebreakers even in WC matches, takes it seriously...)
arzi arzi 4/2/2024 06:59
Those people who get easily angry about anything useless are usually also easily fooled. May the tradition continue in the coming April Fools' Day as well.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 4/2/2024 03:42
On April 2, 2018, Chessbase announced that they would not publish April Fool's articles anymore. To remove any ambiguity, however, it may have been worth waiting a day.

Here is the April 2, 2018 announcement by Chessbase:

The relevant quote: "We have decided to abandon the twenty-year tradition (this time really!) and stick to straight and truthful news."

What makes this article suspicious however, is that the alleged tweet by Magnus is not hyperlinked to X. Usually, when chessbase quotes a tweet, there is such an hyperlink. I perrsonally boycott social media – but if someone has acces to Magnus’ tweet or X account, they could counterverify whether indeed Magnus left that message there.
karavamudan karavamudan 4/2/2024 02:04
The article dated April 1 is really a cause for concern. I think there is still juice left in the old (fashioned) format. We do not know the full implications of 960 FR chess. Tonnes of chess theory, books, software may be consigned to dustbins. All that may remain are middle and endgame strategic concepts - isolated/doubled/minority/passed pawns. If introduced in world championship cycle, will Carlsen be interested? Is it lack of imagination or fresh ideas that we go to FR960 chess as the only resort to revive classical chess? Why can't a simple rule which states that the first 5 moves in normal chess be done away with and a random position starting from classical chess (of course 0.0 by stockfish 16.1) be given to players ? It is a kind of random chess but originating from a classical situation.
garyroe garyroe 4/2/2024 01:00
Hahaha, happy April Fools!
wurik wurik 4/1/2024 11:44
I hope it's an april's fool joke because I really wasn't planning on completely quitting chess.
GR2 GR2 4/1/2024 11:29
Are you going to do an article on Hans Niemann winning the Grenke Open. A huge win. I believe that earns him a place in the big dance next year.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 4/1/2024 10:57
I heartily applaud this move by FIDE. The forward-thinking will usher in a new era of chess and cement FIDE's place as the premier sports organization in the world.

It will also be a financial boon to Chessbase, which will make 958 times the content.
Mr Toad Mr Toad 4/1/2024 10:42
Maybe it's just me but why has the opportunity to comment been removed (with the exception of the current article)?
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 4/1/2024 09:55
Now I think of it, it's a tradition in the Netherlands as well, but I have lived in France for the last six years - as I thought, the only country I know where they don't understand irony...
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 4/1/2024 09:50
Well, Frederic, in the about 15 years I've been visiting this site, I somehow managed never to read the april 1st articles. Quite a coincidence, don't you think?
Frederic Frederic 4/1/2024 09:46
@Frits Fritschy: I described the historical and international April Fool tradition in two decades of indulgence here:

Wiki gives a more extensive background:

You can see some of the pranks we played here:

And here are a Google News list of today's pranks:
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 4/1/2024 09:34
Ah, I see.
amckenny amckenny 4/1/2024 09:28
@Frits April 1st = April fool's day in the United States - a day when pranks/jokes are prevalent
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 4/1/2024 09:22
Can anybody explain me what this april 1st thing is about? A lot of people mentioning it here, but I haven't got a clue.
brian8871 brian8871 4/1/2024 07:07
Today, advanced chess would just be computer vs computer chess, which would result in nothing but completely lifeless draws. So that format can be counted dead
Mamack1 Mamack1 4/1/2024 06:49
Thing is, you really could imagine Carlsen tweeting exactly that :)
DontKnowChess DontKnowChess 4/1/2024 06:42
Remember the date guys it's April 1st !!!
PhishMaster PhishMaster 4/1/2024 04:08
Boy, I cannot wait to get my new rating!

(Sarcasm: I know it is a "joke", but I cannot believe that some of the posters, clearly, fell for it.)
Jacob woge Jacob woge 4/1/2024 03:55
“April fools jokes are stupid.”

For this exact reason, they have been abolished as of this year.
geeker geeker 4/1/2024 03:38
Thanks, I always enjoyed your April 1 stories.
But FIDE isn't the greatest target: not only is it too easy to satirize, but after decades of Campo, Kirsan, etc. it's become surreal and even beyond satire in some sense.
xargon xargon 4/1/2024 02:51
thing50 thing50 4/1/2024 02:40
I see a few people fell for it, some of them even getting rather angry!!
Frederic Frederic 4/1/2024 02:13
@flachspieler: You're right, Ingo. Garry Kasparov came up with the idea of human+computer vs human+computer in 1997 and called it "Advanced Chess". We staged a number of Advanced Chess matches in Spain. Then Computerschach & Spiele staged some major Advanced Chess events Freestyle events on Playchess. But since players could use any assistance -- even human player during the game -- we changed the name to "Freestyle". And you staged a number of Freestyle events yourself.

I think the name Fischer Random and 960 were not considered attractive enough, so that is now being called Freestyle. The system described in my April Fool's prank was actually devised by Garry and me, decades ago. But nobody picked it up. Maybe if the Weissenhaus Freestyle gains popularity people will modify the rules to allow a modicum of planning and preparation to the games.
Ajeeb007 Ajeeb007 4/1/2024 02:11
April fools jokes are stupid.
saftor saftor 4/1/2024 02:05
The sad thing about FIDE and April Fool's jokes is it might give FIDE ideas about actually making them reality.
zatopek zatopek 4/1/2024 02:04
Puerile as usual. Please report the truth.
Nomich Nomich 4/1/2024 02:00
Many will be affected with this abusive plan like Chessbase, books, magazine, teaching and coaching and even movies.People will no longer buy these products and no longer interested to play and most players will stop playing unless there would be a new organization to replace FIDE to continue the classical chess.
Nomich Nomich 4/1/2024 01:54
If FIDE will force to establish 960 and abolish standard Chess, is the worst decision ever made by FIDE. Those officials who were planning this ugly plan are stupid people who only looking for ugly games rather than beautiful games. FIDE is worst organization !!!! There must be another organization to establish to replace FIDE that those who remain loyal to the game we love (Classical Chess) can still enjoy the beauty of the game. There's no beauty in 960 especially in the opening , it only creates ugliness and confusion.
hvanwesterhuis hvanwesterhuis 4/1/2024 01:52
Het zal 1 april zijn. Maar dat daargelaten. Vanuit welke positie gaan we kinderen leren schaken?
psamant psamant 4/1/2024 01:46
I am happy that Chessbase has restarted its 1st April articles :-) But, genuinely, FischerRandom began with this reasoning and most of the points, proposals and quotes present in the above article have actually been discussed in serious news before. The only real "prank" may be the article mentioning the FIDE has decided and then giving the date of 2nd Jan 2025.