Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chess960: The territory of the Military Knights

Now that I have got some name for the knight pairs in Insider information on the Knight pairs, it's really useful to look at them in detail. First up are the Military Knights. Together with the Chivalry Knights, they make up almost 50% of all Ches960 games so better watch out for them! The military knights have a decent probability of moving beyond their start squares to sit on the third rank and then from there they may stay together for a long time. They occur in 25% of all Chess960 games and hardly ever in standard Chess SP518. Once they are on the third rank, they cover this territory:

The Military Knights (~25% all games): Territory Diagram

The green squares show where the knights can go and the red squares show where they cannot. If you have this diagram hardwired into your head, you are a lucky Chess960 player because you will win all of the 216 Military Knight starting positions. Notice the blind spots of the pairing? Imagine the diagram as if two real knights were charging along at a quick gallop. Where would their weaknesses be?

The Military knights are:
  1. Good forward and backward two squares out
  2. Good diagonally one square out
  3. Form a hat shaped shield forward and rearward
  4. Totally blind sideways even two squares out
  5. Weak diagonally two or more squares out (like a single knight)
  6. Weak immediately adjacent one square out in a cross pattern
  7. Two moves to cover the distant diagonals but they do so from an undefended square (hint hint)
  8. Two moves to cover each other (hint hint)
  9. One move to cover all the other weaknesses (hint hint)
  10. Only cover one extra file relative to their single knight form
  11. Weak to an enemy knight that can sit inside their undefended territory and attack two of their undefended squares (relevant to the Chess960 opening hint hint)
  12. Strong to enemy knights that can sit inside their undefended territory but never attack them
  13. Weak to all long range attacks unless protected by pawns
  14. Can partially defend their pawn protectors
  15. Totally impenetrable by a king if they are protected by pawns because the only access path is laterally and that is blocked by their pawn protectors. A king cannot even get access to their pawn protectors ever
And so if military knights can move out into position on the third (fifth rank) and hang in there until all the long range attackers are dead, they could hypothetically move forward to the fifth rank and guard a tremendous amount of territory (but always weak to their opposite knights).

A single knight is:
  1. Weak immediately adjacent in all directions
  2. Weak diagonally in all directions and all distances
  3. Three moves to cover the distant diagonals
  4. Two moves to cover the adjacent line squares
  5. One move to cover the adjacent diagonals
  6. One move to cover the distant line squares
  7. A single knight need not go beyond two squares out to cover all it's weak squares
  8. Weak to all long range attacks unless protected by a pawn
  9. Cannot defend it's own pawn protector.

How The Military Knights split apart or wall defend
The combination in the corner can be really tricky for beginners! Normally you would think that the corner knight is out of play, but it is not about the corner knight, it is about the pair of knights together. This corner combination of military knights are keenly active. They can move vertically up the wing. They can strongly defend a king that castles c-side and the b1 knight can split away and reach the traditional f3 position in two moves that is normally only accessible by the Hereditary Knight positions on e1/g1.

SP 095: A Sample Military Knight Game

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