Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chess960: A Novice SP699 Game

Here is a Chess960 opening played informally that highlights how careful the opening attacker must be not to over-stretch during the opening. In the following opening, black exploits white's poor initial opening by aggressively claiming space in the center with the center pawns. However the center closes up and the flanks become weak. The assumption black makes is that:

Moving lots of pawns = space and lots of room to position pieces?!@#?

The idea is to move first and think later! That might work in blitz, but if there is time for the players to think, then black's rapid space gain turns into a disaster. The game below highlights these problems black get's into:
  1. Over extended pawns that absorb a lot of tempo moves
  2. A pawn structure that closes in the center, but neglects the flanks
  3. A pawn structure that blocks the pieces from being useful
  4. A pawn structure that creates serious holes in the position that cannot be filled
  5. The wasted tempo gives white the time to reorganize to exploit these things

SP699: Black over-extends and builds structural weaknesses into the position 

1. Nc3?! ...         This cannot be good because it blocks the queen.
1.       ... c6      Black develops the queen but this is questionable because in this case it is better to claim the center and develop other pieces before the queen.
2. d3?!  ...         Very conservative and after e4, white's light bishop will be blocked.
2.       ... d5      A center gaining move but it does not encourage an active path for the light bishop.
3. g3    ... e5?!    Black is now extending with a reflex pawn move, but without any consideration to the development of the pieces still on the back rank particularly the knights.
4. e4    ... d4      The center has closed up, but what about the flanks? White has played three pawn moves and black four. White has played out one piece and black none. Both white's bishops can develop but only one of black's bishops can. White's queens is blocked while black's is not. Doing the maths, you could frame an argument that white is actually up two tempo despite the locked in queen!
5. Ne2   ...         Black thinks that white's development is hampered, but in fact white does have a knight outpost already at c4!
5.       ... g5?!    This forces black into only one castling option on the c-side. The bizarre thing about this move, is that black has already condemned his dark bishop to passiveness, only made worse by this last move, because now the dark bishop cannot redeploy to the h6-c1 diagonal either! Black wanted to develop Ng6 but a knight would be passive on that square and would need to redeploy again.
6. Nd2   ...         White has already won the debate on how to make use of the knights!
6.       ... Bd7     Black is in a bind. The knights do not know where to go and the bishops are passive. White on the other hand has extra tempo to reorganize into a solid configuration with attacking chances later.
7. Bg2   ... Ng6
8. b3?!  ...         This move seriously weakens the c-side and gives black a development path for Nd8/Nc7/Nb5/Nc3 and a development path Bh8/Bg7/Bf8.
8.       ... Qc7?!   Black must develop the minor pieces. Anything is better than nothing at this stage.
9. Nc4   ... Ne6     The position is really showing signs of closing up.
10.Bd2   ...         Better was Bb4 perhaps.
10.      ... O-O-O?! Black plays into a long term trap. White will castle g-side and begin a serious c-side flank attack on the castled king. Much better was Bf6, developing the bishop finally.
11.a4    ... Bg7?!   Right idea but wrong execution. Bf6 because it does more work and is more flexible.
12.Ra2?! ...         Way to early to be thinking about doubling up rooks. Better is to complete development.
12.      ... Bf8?!   Wastes a move. Better was to begin a flank attack on the g-side with h5.
13.b4    ... f6?!    Black has no luxury to waste any more moves! It is a case of attack or die with ...h5.
14.c3?!  ...         White wastes initiative in an attack that is already underway. After the recapture, white can develop a minor piece to c3, but in all cases the development is fruitless. Better was b5! continuing the flank attack.
14.      ... dxc3
15. Bxc3 ... b5??    Black wastes yet another move and falls into the c-side flank attack trap more deeply by weakening the king's defenses. Black had total equality by counter attacking on the opposite flank with g4. By counter attacking, white's own king safety might have come into question. Black has forgotten that white can castle g-side into safety!

The rest of the game is undocumented because white's win is clear.


  1. How do you determine that it is SP699? Do you have a chart or a formula?

  2. Eh Biff. Check this post out for more info on your good question: