Monday, May 2, 2011

Chess960: Statistics and insider information on knights

OK with a way to calculate SP stats via: Chess960: Start position searching, I've done a quick collection of statistics of the quantity of various knight related setups. Also see Naming the Knight Pairs and Insider information on the Bishop Pairs

Knights Together:
  1. Knights adjacent except on DE = 216 "The Military Knights"
  2. Knights 1 or 3 squares apart  = 320 "The Chivalry Knights"
  3. Knights 2 squares apart       = 180 "The Monastic Knights"
  4. Knights 4 squares apart       = 144 "The Hereditary Knights"
  5. Knights 5 or 6 squares apart  = 100 "The Ceremonial Knights"
These are the statistics I'm most interested in at the moment for particular reasons of being able to judge the "weight" of how certain chess technical skills will count in Chess960. The suspicion is that positions that contain knights next to each other or one square apart that are on the files ABC or FGH tend to focus skills on recognizing knight tactics at a very thorough level. This is because the knights work together in complicated ways that us humans have difficulty appreciating. If you check out the statistics on the different arrangements, you get the striking result that the military knight and chivalry knight combinations count for over half of all Chess960 start positions.

Why these weird names for the knight combinations then??? It's quite simple really! Wikipedia defines each of them (Wiki Knights). If you read the definitions, you will see why I called them what I have. I wanted to combine their Chess960 flavor with the characteristics of their historical Wiki counterparts :
  • The Military Order: "Crusaders; Secular-Holy". In terms of Chess960, these knight pairs can work together or rapidly split apart. They may deploy early on one wing or go into attack later in the game. Their interaction is complicated and confuse the enemy. They can also form a wall like defense of the king.  When deployed immediately ahead of a line of pawns, they form an imposing structure that is very like their heavily armored equivalents on the medieval battle field.
  • The Chivalry Knights: "Idealized; Romanticized". In terms of Chess960 these rider's have a variety of abilities. In their N.N form they are attack prioritized working together in very cooperative ways because they play out on the same colors. In their N...N form they are still on the same colors and can morph into N.N or remain more flexible both cooperating in attack and working to a lesser degree on general defense. 
  • The Monastic Order: "Holy Land Crusaders". In terms of Chess960, these horsemen fight on both colors like the bishops and can morph into Chivalry or Military roles. They can deploy on the wings, assist the center and form a strong defensive wall to protect the king.
  • The Hereditary Knights: "Part of the Nobility System"In Chess960, these are the horse-masters that we are most familiar with because of their historical equivalence with Chess. They deploy to traditional squares but in Chess960 they are joined by the knight pair directly in the center on the D and E files. They are balanced attackers and defenders and can cover the wings and the center.
  • The Ceremonial Knights: "Symbolic; Purely Honorific; Prestige"In Chess960 these knights might end up being ineffective, deploy ceremonially later in the game but can also be critical home territory defenders. They can rapidly deploy up one wing if necessary. They rarely exist in their pure ceremonial role and infrequently team up together.

Ok so here is a bit of insider information then!:
Because of the phenomenon of the knights in the Chess960 SP's, if you want to win at Chess960, practice your knight skills particularly the start positions with the Chivalry and Military Orders. In roughly fifty percent of all Chess960 games the tactics centered around them will dominate and you will have the edge!

To carry this thought a bit further, here are some predictions:
  1. Since we know that Judit Polgar is most fond of the knights in Chess, I'll take a bet that if super GM's played Chess960, Judit would do better at Chess960 than she would at Chess. Now because she is a woman, this will be another reason why the super GM's are not mass defecting to Chess960 (kidding) :-)
  2. Another reason why your average chess player is not playing Chess960 is because they have touched it and gotten burnt and then make excuses why they think Chess960 is bad. But the real reason is that most of us average patzer level players are weakest when it comes to visualizing the movement of the knights, particularly in retrograde movements of the knights. We are weak at visualizing the forks that the knights can threaten as well.
  3. In another Millennia when mass-consumerism has run it's course and we have stopped rushing around buying things and finally have time to contemplate once more, people will discover that within the entire set of 960 positions, that there are many series of smaller Chess960 positional sets with commonalities, flavors and characteristics. For example the positions from roughly 70-95 are studies in knight tactics. Chess960 will become a huge integrated set of themes and variations like a song with 960 verses.

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