Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chess960: What do you say about Ceremony?

Been looking for something to post on a particular arrangement of the knights in Chess960 called "The Ceremonial Knights". The idea by calling them "ceremonial" is that in real history there was a similar type of knight that did not show itself in battle except as a ceremonial gesture. In Chess960 the Ceremonial Knights are so far apart from each other (5-6 squares), that they are either both in the corners, or at least one of them is. In that configuration they often do not start contributing to the battle until later in the game. However that is not always the case! Sometimes the ceremonial knights will operate independently and harass the 7th rank of the enemy on the side of the board that they live.

Here is a nice example of how to quickly stop the less extreme version of the Ceremonial Knights from ever moving forward with purpose, with one simple move:

SP337: How to put the Ceremonial Knights on Ceremony!
The suggestion I am making here, is that in this case, I think e3 is a very good move. If you can see how the knights play out towards the centre, that one little pawn on e3 completely stops the ceremonial knights from moving forward quickly. It also happens that the move 1.e3 also releases the bishop and queen, but that is not the only motive. I would say that if white would have played 1.e4 by automatic reflex as we do in traditional chess, it would not have been nearly as good a move.

The point to remember about the knights in Chess960 is that I personally believe and have experienced it many times, that the knights can move forward very aggressively in Chess960 much more than they can in traditional chess. This is because there are often many more holes and weaknesses inherent in the position that the knights can use as an outpost much sooner in the game.

Note that in the example above, the other possible configuration of knights that might cause the move 1.e3 to be as effective, is if instead of Ceremonial Knights, you had the "Chivalry Knights". But if you think about the Chivalry Knights that are either in the form N.N or N...N (transforms to the same configuration once developed), one of the chivalry knights would have to develop away from the centre in order to reach the same configuration that the ceremonial knights are naturally in once they develop. But in reality, it is very rare that players will develop a knight in a direction away from the center!

Thus this is more confirmation of the goodness of the naming of the knights pairs. The Ceremonial Knights are often truly ceremonial, and the Chivalry Knights are never ceremonial, but truly active and forward moving dangerous knights that get into the thick of it sooner rather than later.

Enjoy 960.

1 comment:

  1. I have called this topic "knight opposition". The traditional setup has maximum k.o., but your FRC-chess960 position has far less --- because the two white knights start on the same shade of square.
    This is a type of example that led me to conclude that although FRC-chess960 "feels" exactly like traditional chess in the middlegame phase (and probably a bit earlier too), middlegames of FRC-chess960 are different than in traditional chess. Through the first half of the middlegame you can often correctly label which game started from the traditional vs nontraditional setup. Thus...
    There is a lot we can learn from FRC-chess960 that the traditional setup is never going to teach us.

    Gene Milener, 2011/Oct/16

    My FRC-chess960 book is available on