Sunday, May 15, 2016

Chess960: How to see the power of the chivalry knights

The chivalry knights in Chess960 are amazingly strong attackers that can leap forward and pounce on the opponent if they are unaware. They tend to tread on each other toes since they compete for the same color squares, but that can also work in their advantage. Here is an example position:

SP110: White creates a weak d3 square on the third rank
that either one or both chivalry knight's can leap into

If black could exchange off white's light square bishop, white would have almost no hope of preventing the chivalry knights coming forward and sitting on the d3 square. The square is so weak it can virtually be considered an outpost square for a knight already. Notice that neither of white's chivalry knights can do anything about the d3 square. So the chivalry knights on the white side are powerless against the enemies equivalent knights! White's idea of playing c3 with the plan of breaking with d4 and opening up the c-file for the rook, is completely flawed because white has failed to grasp the power of black's chivalry knights.

So I thought it would be a good idea, to help players visualize the outpost squares that exist for the chivalry knights, without needing to do any calculation.

The threatened outposts squares of the chivalry knights
exist on the the enemies third rank

Compare the two diagrams above. You will see that the green squares are threatening to become outpost squares for the chivalry knights if the enemy were to leave them weakened. No calculation is needed, just remember the pattern above (it is very simple) and be open to the possibility that you or your opponent can fall for the trap of letting the chivalry knights come forward and rule the position. The most likely squares they will try to jump too are the two squares five ranks directly in front of the chivalry knights as they sit on their original squares.

Good luck
Enjoy 960.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Chess960: Transcript of Showdown in Saint Louis 2015 - SP436 Caruana v Nakamura (with a comment by me)

Here is a transcript of the second fischer random game between Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana at the Showdown in Saint Louis competition 2015.

Rumours have it that the organizers experienced technical difficulties during the event, so there are no PGN records for the games available in the public domain. I have had to reconstruct the games from the video recordings on Youtube and Chess24. In order to save time and effort, I have transcribed only the opening phases of each of the games, since that is what interests us in Chess960 - the rest is just chess!

To save space in the comment text, the three commentators are initialed as Yasser Seirawan (YS), Jennifer Shahade (JS) and Maurice Ashley (MA).

Game 1 SP436: Fabiano Caruana verses Hikaru Nakamura



NOTE: Some browsers may not display the game properly

Transcriptions of the other other games will follow over coming days......

My commentary:
Move 13 Caruana to play - how beautiful is that!

Nakamura playing black, deliberately drops a pawn and then offers a queen trade!?! That breaks all the conventions of normal chess (don't simplify when down in material). But like the commentators said, Nakamura is bluffing and Caruana doesn't fall for it. If white exchanges queens, black gets a really good game with a knight biff on b4 and an attacking rook and the bishop pair. Check out the beautiful X-RAY defense by Naka here. His queen is indirectly defending both his undefended bishops without a direct line to them. Naka is even prepared to expose his weak back rank and increase the risk.

Cool stuff. C'mon people, where is the excitement for Chess960 Fischer Random Style. You would never get a position like this is old chess. It is only move 12 and so much has happened already!

Enjoy 960

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Chess960 puzzle no.18

One of the most amazing queen entrapment tactical scenarios I've seen in Chess960 yet. Enjoy the puzzle.

SP598 White to play: Can white catch the queen
and get back to material equality?

Solution below



Solution: NO! Black's queen cannot be captured without significant losses. Best is to sacrifice the exchange to keep black's queen out of play.

Wrong solution:
6.Be3...cxd4 7.cxd4...Ng6! 8.f3...Bb4+ 9.Ke2...Nf4+ 
now follows the amazing line:
10.Bxf4 b6 11. Ndf2 Ba6+ 12. Ke3 Bxf1 13. Rd1 Nc6 14. Ng3 Bxg2 15. Rxg1 Bxh3

Correct solution:
6.Ng3...e5!! 7.Ne2...d6! 8.Qh5...Bg4!! 9.Qxg4...Qh2 
white is down an exchange but black's queen is out of play

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Chess960: Transcript of Showdown in Saint Louis 2015 - SP112 Negi v Yifan

Here is a transcript of the first fischer random game between Hou Yifan and Parimarjan Negi at the Showdown in Saint Louis competition 2015.

Rumours have it that the organizers experienced technical difficulties during the event, so there are no PGN records for the games available in the public domain. I have had to reconstruct the games from the video recordings on Youtube and Chess24. In order to save time and effort, I have transcribed only the opening phases of each of the games since that is what interests us in Chess960 - the rest is just chess!

To save space in the comment text, the three commentators are initialed as Yasser Seirawan (YS), Jennifer Shahade (JS) and Maurice Ashley (MA).

Game 1 SP112: Parimarjan Negi vs Hou Yifan



NOTE: Some browsers may not display the game properly

Transcriptions of the other other games will follow over coming days......

Monday, December 21, 2015

Chess960: Transcript of Showdown in Saint Louis 2015 - SP112 Nakamura v Caruana

Here is a transcript of the first fischer random game between Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana at the Showdown in Saint Louis competition 2015.

Rumours have it that the organizers experienced technical difficulties during the event, so there are no PGN records for the games available in the public domain. I have had to reconstruct the games from the video recordings on Youtube and Chess24. In order to save time and effort, I have transcribed only the opening phases of each of the games, since that is what interests us in Chess960 - the rest is just chess!

To save space in the comment text, the three commentators are initialed as Yasser Seirawan (YS), Jennifer Shahade (JS) and Maurice Ashley (MA).

Game 1 SP112: Hikaru Nakamura verses Fabiano Caruana


NOTE: Some browsers may not display the game properly

Transcriptions of the other other games will follow over coming days......

Monday, November 23, 2015

Chess960: The more the better? part 3

This is a continuation of the discussion of Basque Chess960 that was had *here* and *here*. In Basque Chess960 each player simultaneously plays one board as white and the other as black. I've played it a few times and think that it is a wonderful way to play Chess960 and really makes sense because it eliminates any differences in advantage that the white player has.

I found that it is even possible to play Blitz Basque Chess960 because two games are not that difficult to keep a track of - our brains seem to be pretty good at seeing in double! If anything, I found that Basque Chess960 actually maintained or improved the quality of my blitz play because I could not stop to think - it forced me to play instinctively. Stopping to think in Blitz can often make your play worse not better.

With that in mind, I was surprised that the two commentators at the Showdown in Saint Louis 2015 exhibition match between Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana were intrigued by the Basque Chess960 idea too. Here is a transcript of their thoughts as they were commenting game one of the Chess960 competition:

Jennifer Shahade: "I really wish that we had Basque Chess for Fischer Random don't you? So that we could see how Fabi would tackle playing white (in contrast to Hikaru)"

Yasser Seirawan: "Oh that would be intriguing for sure"

Jennifer Shahade: "I think in Fischer Random it really makes a lot of sense, because you get to show....cause it's to easy to say after the game 'hey white just has an edge in this particular Fischer random'. But if you play Basque Chess960 you have to show it from both sides"

Basque Chess960 is a lot of fun, equalises fairness 100% and you get twice the game for each start position. You can also play it against the computer if you set up two Winboards side by side on your screen.

Enjoy 960



Saturday, November 21, 2015

Chess960: Showdown in St. Louis - Fischer Random Style

I'm in the middle of transcribing the Chess960 portion of the video recording of Hikaru Nakamura playing Fabiano Caruana in Chess960 (Fischer Random) at the recently concluded Showdown in St. Louis 2015.

Here is an interesting idea that the commentators mentioned during game one of the Fischer Random portion of the event, as to why Chess960 has been slow on the uptake.

Jennifer Shahade:  "Obviously Fischer random is just perfect for somebody like Nakamura he really loves the game. I really like it too. Why do you think it hasn't begun to be even more popular Yasser?"

Yasser Seirawan: "You know one of the things, I've spoken to a lot of my colleagues on this very question. One of the things is a lot of my colleagues feel it has to do with amateur players. That is to say amateur players are so vested in their openings, they want to see players playing the French defenses and their Sicilian dragons and they know those openings so very well, they want the players to play their favourite openings and favourite defenses. Instead, when the players are playing a game of Fischer random, then a lot of the amateur players say "gee I don't know this position, I don't know what's going on". A lot of the professional players like Fischer Random and would like to see more Fischer random events. Its sort of like the organizers are hearing from the amateurs "no don't do it we want them to play OUR openings, OUR defenses". Its kind of an intriguing idea right?"

Jennifer Shahade: "It is strange because normally you hear amatuers complaining about how much opening analysis there is but when push comes to shove they like it in a sick way."

Yasser Seirawan: {laughs}

If that is the case that amateurs are actually the ones holding up the progress of Chess960, we just have to wait for critical mass to occur when finally the amateurs make the switch to 960. According to the Chess960 popularity counter *here*, we have probably got another 20-30 years to go until the tipping point occurs. Popularity is steadily rising, but there is still a long way to go.

In the mean time, remember that Chess960 is not here to replace Chess, just be a viable loved alternative to chess and be its equal.

Enjoy 960.