Saturday, November 22, 2014

Chess960: Compilation Database Update for the Frankfurt City Championships

Right at the climax of the Chess World Championship at Sochi, there is also a Chess960 tournament unfolding!

The Frankfurt City Chess960 Championships have become an annual event which I only just realised has been going since 2010. Here is the link. The good news is that it looks like it is scheduled to continue until 2020! Perhaps it is the spiritual successor for the Mainz Chess960 event that ended in 2009?

The 2014 Frankfurt City competition is still unfolding with a few rounds to go.......

In the mean time, I have updated the compilation database for Chess960 that I host on this blog for another 216 games! The additional games are from the Frankfurt Championships 2010-2013 for games where at least one of the players is 2000+ rating.

Once the dust has settled on 2014 championships, I'll add them to the database as well.

Thank you to the organizers for uploading the PGNs for all the Chess960 games!

Chess960: Two steps forward one step back at Saint Louis

Disappointing news today that the two Chess960 greats Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian are back for another Chess showdown at Saint Louis Chess Club but there will be no Chess960.

The questions I ask are:
  • Why is this exhibition being hosted right at the climax of the 2014 Chess world championship at Sochi?
  • Perhaps it is because the promoters hope that the internet exposure will be larger?
  • Perhaps this exhibition is trying to display an alternative more innovative format for a future chess world championship?
  • Why no Chess960 between the two great 960 players? 

A few months ago the Saint Louis Chess hosted a Chess960 match between Nakamura and Aronian at the Sinquefield cup 2014 called "Ultimate Moves" but it was botched. There was no live stream, no commentary of the match and it was tacked onto the end of the tournament when most commentators and journalists had left the venue.

So this new Chess showdown could have fixed all that damage and promoted Chess960 with a properly organised Chess960 showdown.

But no! Really disappointing. Such an opportunity wasted.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Chess960: Puzzle no.14

Black has played a sloppy opening and seems to be dropping a pawn. It would be nice to quickly regain it, but how?

SP571 Black to play castling legal:
How can black regain the pawn?

(Solution bottom left corner)

Black can regain the pawn with:
4...Qg7! Inserting a mate threat, guarding the queen, preventing rook deflection off the f-file
5.c3 ... gxf5 and the pawn is saved

Friday, September 12, 2014

Chess960: Puzzle no.13 from the Sinquefield Cup 2014 - Game 4

Here is a beautiful Chess960 puzzle from the fourth game of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup between Chess960 world champions Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian. Levon was faced with an interesting puzzle as early as move 4:

SP896 black to play (O-O-O possible) move 4:
Can Levon (black) take Hikaru's h2 pawn
without loosing material?

The answer is very funny, so enjoy it!
(solution: bottom left corner)

Answer, yes!:
Aronian decided against it, possibly because of the Rf2/g3 trap,

and so he played 4...Nh6 instead.
4.     ... Nxh2!?
5. Rf2 ... b6!
6. g3  ... Ng4!! and the knight flees with attack! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chess960: Sinquefield Cup 2014 Corner bishops stay on the board!

The pgn games of the Sinquefield Cup 2014 are available for us fans to enjoy ->here<- Thanks for that! I've updated the Chess960 database on this blog with the six games to bring the total number of Chess960 games up to 1676.

Critics of Chess960 say that the bishops in the corner are just plain bad, because they get exchanged off early resulting in dull games....

Well I think Hikaru and Levon think otherwise! In the first two games of the match between Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian, both bishops were in the corner. The bishops did not get exchanged off for a long time and they produced very interesting games!

SP579 Nakamura v Aronian move 6 white to play

SP579 Aronian v Nakamura move 9 white to play

Look at the different approaches to the opening
taken by both players, excellent stuff!

In game two Aronian had white and tried the idea to damage blacks kingside pawn structure with 3.Bxf6 leaving Nakamura's bishop entombed in the corner by two pawns. What did Nakamura do? He just spent the tempo playing g6 and f5 to free his bishop in the corner and went on to win the game!

Big picture question for this SP. Is queenside castling a possibility, even though we did not see it in these two games?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chess960: Seeing the strategy from the first move

I played SP121 today and could see a clear strategy from the first move. I looked up the Chess960 database and any other database of human players I could find, to see if others could also see this strategy that seems to me to be very obvious (but I have played more than two thousand Chess960 games already).

SP121: Can you see the obvious strategy here?

 Here are the central features of the strategy that either side can play:
  1. Kingside castling is very likely since it will take too long and the queen will be too restricted, to make queenside castling plausible.
  2. With two heavy pieces on the queenside (Q+R), pushing the b-c pawns seems very likely.
  3. The titular bishop pair in the center of the board will have very clear roles on this occasion, they will work in tandem to sit on the queenside and take aim at the kingside, working in cooperation with the queen to form powerful diagonal batteries.
  4. The side that first makes this strategy a serious threat, will create more weaknesses anywhere on the board, even if all the bishops are neutralised.
The titular bishop pair  can be quite difficult to assign roles to since neither bishop can efficiently be fianchettoed. However, when the king and queen are sitting on the extreme ends of the back rank opposed to each other, the strategy I have described here becomes much more obvious. See also my analysis of SP505 by clicking on the label (titular bishops).

Incredibly, no player in the database even up to 2000 rating, has seen this very obvious strategy. I wonder why? .....Hint.

Enjoy 960!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Chess960: Anand's dubious opening in the Chess960 World Championship 2007

In the last moments of the 2014 candidates tournament featuring Anand and Aronian, I thought I would look at a game played by these two greats in the 2007 Mainz world Chess960 championship.

What I found slightly shocked me I have to be honest!

In a rapid game of Chess960 where there is still plenty of time to play a reasonable opening, Anand started out in a dubious fashion, giving a lot of hope to all us Chess960 patzers out there!!

SP535: Anand (white) first move - Wch. Mainz Rapid 2007
1.c4 ... g6. A dubious first move by white, since it slightly weakens king safety, and black can apply pressure immediately with 1...g6 (with d5 to come). White probably didn't want to play d4 or e4, since the former comes under fire after g6, and the latter blocks white's own bishop on h1. However, d4 and e4 still seem like better moves, since they are centralizing and allow a more rapid development (develop more pieces at once), without compromising king safety at all.

SP535: Anand (white) second move - Wch. Mainz Rapid 2007
2. d3 ... d5. A dubious second move by white, since it is passive, giving black the chance to play aggressively with d5/Qa4+. A better move would have been 2.Nc3 which takes control of d5 and prevents what black now tries...

SP535: Anand (white) third move - Wch. Mainz Rapid 2007
3. cxd5... Qa4+. White seems to accept that Qa4+ is coming, but there were alternatives. One energetic but dubious alternative was 3.Qa5...dxc4, 4.Qd5+...Nbd7, 5.Qxc4 ... Nb6.

SP535: Anand (white) fourth move - Wch. Mainz Rapid 2007
4.Kd2 (forced). White will never castle, will have to move his king again to free the c1 bishop and the only compensation is that black cannot easily develop his knights to c6 and e6

If one of the greatest players of all time can play a Chess960 opening like this, there is still hope for all us patzers out there! 

I do have to say in Anand's defense, he actually won the game despite this opening! 

Another point in Anand's favour is that incredibly, Houdini-4 evaluates this position at 0.00 even at depth 22!

Enjoy 960
PS) if you want the PGN for this game, download the database of all Chess960 games here.