Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chess960: SP120

Here's another one of those starting positions that needs a bit of eye training to find the inherent structural weak spot. It's not hard to find but is good instructional material for playing the Chess960 opening. If no-one ever reads this blog, at least it will help to remind myself!
SP120 - Find the main weak spots
  1. Look for the undefended squares (e2, e7, a1, a8)
  2. Find quick paths to the undefended squares - first the knights then the bishops (because one of the rules of good opening play even in standard chess is to consider playing the knights before the bishops)
SP120 - What the eye must see - The KNIGHTS
The key focus is on the e2, e7 square because if a knight get's there it's game over. But it's not just the square itself, but the intermediate squares that attackers will use to get to it! So here are the main features:
  1. The opening focuses on the knights quick attack paths
  2. The intermediate squares for white are f5 and d5. The structure of the starting position suggests that those squares may become outposts. Why? Because black is unlikely to play pawn e6 (blocking and undeveloping) and unlikely to play g6 (weakening/blocking/undeveloping)
  3. Knowing that f5+d5+e7 are weak points for black, both players proceed with their plans. One to attack the weakpoints, the other to neutralise them.
  4. From those weak points it quickly becomes clear what moves are bad. For the black player, a particularly bad move is ...c5. This is because it only strengthens d5 for white. This is because black playing ...e6 is not one of his preferred plays (it might be necessary but that is life for being black and down a tempo!)
Ok let's move onto the bishops:
What the eye must see - THE BISHOPS
  1. In terms of the bishops, the key focus is on the b4 (b5) square which fires again at the e7(e2) square.
This post does not try to suggest a good opening idea, just to highlight how the Chess960 eye must be trained. Once a player has played a few thousand Chess960 openings, these structural elements are visualized in fractions of a second. If kids were alive today that had grown up playing only Chess960, their ability to quickly pick up these structural elements in any of the 960 positions would astound mortal players of standard chess.


  1. "If no-one ever reads this blog"

    I read your blog.

  2. Hi Biffmeatstick
    Thanks! Good to know that all the work in this blog is not wasted. Keep playing and enjoying Chess960!