Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chess960: Naming the Bishops Pairs

There are a number of structural elements to a Chess960 position and a number of different ways of looking at it:
  1. The King with respect to the Rooks
  2. The Independent Queen
  3. How many times each pawn is defended (SP518: 11144111)
  4. The Bishop Pairs (Insider info on the Bishops)
  5. The Knights Pairs (Insider info on the Knights)
For me personally, the last two regarding the minor pairs are pretty important. They hold up the character of the starting position simply because they are the most numerous. Check out the insider info links above as well as the respective naming entries in Wikipedia:
Wiki on the Bishop

Each name has a historical analog to their chess960 character. Do please excuse me if you find the "male oriented" namings of the bishops offensive but I must mention that to be fair, the most powerful piece on the board is a female and so I think the namings balance out :-)

Note that if you want to win at Chess960, better brush up on the theory behind the Patriarch variants below. They account for roughly 50% of all games....

The Bishop Pair Configurations and their Naming:

The Primary Patriarchs (AB-GH files)

  • Autocratic dual color long range controllers
  • Work together powerfully in one direction
  • Often remain on their original squares
  • Dangerous and intimidating
  • Can morph into dynamic king protectors
  • Weak against rank and file attack
  • Have two blind squares in front of them
    displaced by one rank
  • Found in 120 SP's (13%)

The Patriarch Bishops (BC-FG files)

  • Autocratic control of two diagonal colors
    with more versatility than primaries
  • Sometimes remain on their original squares
  • Work together but can split
  • Can morph their influence onto two wings
  • Have two blind squares in front of them
    displaced by one rank
  • Found in 120 SP's (13%)

The Minor Patriarch Bishops (CD-EF files)
  • Subtler autocratic control than the other forms
  • Can work together but also likely to split
  • Can adopt the roles of the other patriarch's
  • Can be deployed ambiguously like the Titulars
  • Deployable in creative king protection ideas
  • Found in 120 SP's (13%)

The Archbishops

  • Historical positions
  • Flexible and versatile in a number of ways
  • Shifted forms blend patriarch properties
  • Found in 300 SP's (31% with shifted forms)

The Metropolitan Bishops

  • Independent operators
  • Cannot work the long diagonals easily
  • Versatile but tricky to coordinate
  • Somewhat restricted lines of control
  • Shifted forms blend patriarch properties
  • Found in 180 SP's (19% with shifted forms)

The Suffragan Bishops

  • Independent operators
  • Powerful when controlling their own color
  • Influential when combined with other pieces
  • Neutralized by their opposite equivalent
  • Very limited versatility
  • Found in 60 SP's (6%)

The Titular Bishops

  • The philosophical bishops :-)
  • Very subtle
  • Ambiguous in how they operate
  • Tricky to coordinate with the other pieces
  • Found in only 60 SP's (6%)

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