Sunday, October 16, 2011

Play Stronger Chess By Examining Chess960

Gene Milener the author of "Play Stronger Chess By Examining Chess960" has kindly left some comments on this blog in various places. Thanks for that Gene, feel free to contiunue and I wish the sale of your book continues to grow!!! Here are links to Gene's thoughts on this blog so far:
I agree that the Chess960 start position numbering scheme is probably not the best, but I do wonder whether it is too late to change it. I don't mind the numbering in the sense that there is still a feeling of unfolding story between start positions as you move through the start numbers one after another. I personally do this and notice a useful thematic movement through the numbers. In other words, it's not all bad. In terms of the Chivalry Knights (starting on the same colour one square apart), I totally agree that they produce some really interesting tensions and problems of penetrating into the enemies camp. If the enemy takes their eye off the critical squares, the Chivalry Knights can become hyper-aggressive and mobilize very quickly. It's a lot of fun! 

The only minor disagreement is regarding the Suffragan Bishops (bishops in the corners). There's not that many start positions with them in roughly only six percent! They still they are enjoyable from my perspective, once players change the way they think about it. I know Kramnik is against them, but even if the bishops exchange off, the remaining position becomes a true study in pawn structures in the difficult skeleton like remains of the board that must accommodate some very fascinating move sequences that the remaining knights are capable of weaving between the pawns, without the bishops present! It makes for fascinating study of only a very small number of positions. Perhaps fascinating not so much at Kramnik's level, but I suspect there is even interest in it for him. In Chess960, players have to be across so many unusual themes and ideas! They are not exhaustively studying just the one start position over and over. Variety is the spice of life even for Kramnik I think! (however with his incredible memory, why would he bother with 960 when he can beat people with his comparative advantage in traditional chess - this possibly explains his reluctance to move to 960).

Finally, a Chessville review of Gene's book led me on the trail to this other interesting read on Chess960 opening theory:



  1. His book is the one I bought a few years ago because it was the only one; I think it still is. He calls old chess "chess1".

  2. Chess1 is a actually a clever idea. Have you seen what Nikon marketing are doing with Nikon camera's? Calling their camera's Nikon's is not good enough any more. They have tried to reinvent themselves as "I am a Nikon1".

    The thing is that you could just as easily make the claim that Chess960 be called Chess0! This is because the traditional start position is derived from Chess960 rules and is one of the 960 positions. It is as if players plucked out the traditional chess position from Chess960 and decided to play only that.