Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Second Super GM Chess960 advocate shows em all!

Congratulations Levon Aronian for winning Amber! That means this year there has been two victories for super GM's that have played Chess960 and advocated it at one stage or another. Aronian at Amber 2011 and Nakamura at Tata Steel 2011. Great stuff.

Here is an example of one of their Chess960 encounters (scroll to bottom of page):

Aronian quote from the Misha interviews care of
MS: You are one of the best Chess-960 players in the world...

LA: It is difficult to measure, as there aren’t many tournaments nor many people playing it. However, I like Chess-960. There are fresh positions, not so overloaded with tactics in the opening. I enjoy it.

MS: What specific skills are required to succeed at it?

LA: The most important is that one has to seriously think about the very first moves. It is also important to sense positions, to “intuit,” as they say in Moscow. A well-developed imagination is crucial as well.

MS: How do you decide on the first moves?

LA: Gabrielian told me that the best opening approach is similar to normal chess – the first move must free one of the bishops. But I am not so sure. First I just look at the initial position, deciding where to bring my pieces and how to seize the center. Of course, controlling the center is paramount. However, it is not always possible, and then you have to think about restricting the opponent’s play.

MS: Did you master its complicated method of castling quickly? (blog comment: complicated?? C'mon castling in Chess960 should be understandable by anyone who is keen enough to play chess at all)

LA: Usually I postpone it for as long as I can! In the beginning I try to
develop my pieces harmoniously. (blog comment: Aronian delays castling not because he doesn't understand the rules, but that he likes to play as actively as possible)

MS: Is there already an established elite in Chess-960?

LA: No. There are too few people playing. You know, sometimes I compare regular chess and Chess-960 with two forms of jazz, swing and bop. Swing is casual, everybody listens to it. Bop is different: you don’t know what you play in the beginning. You just play and see what happens. A free-style jazz. Naturally, bop doesn’t have as many supporters, and mastering bop is more difficult. One must have so many melodies in one’s head to play bop. This is similar to Chess-960 – one needs to learn many more positional patterns to


  1. Aronian: 'I like Chess-960. There are fresh positions, not so overloaded with tactics in the opening.'

    The comment about tactics contradicts the usual opinion. What does Aronian know that the rest of us don't? I can't find the article; do you have a link? - Mark

  2. Yeah I was bit surprised about that comment as well! What an amazing player. Here is the link to the PDF document that the interview came from: