Friday, January 27, 2012

Chess960: Team Chess and Seconds?

In the latest Wilk aan Zee tournament 2012, we saw Aronion play the masterpiece exchange sacrifice (incidently Levon is a superb Chess960 player and supporter). In the video commentary he notes that his team of analyzers and seconds helped him to find this exchange sacrifice in home preparation.

That got me thinking. Having teams of seconds helping the super grandmasters in world competition is good isn't it? After all it turns Chess into a bit of a team sport. Great!

What about Chess960? If you don't know what the start position is going to be, then there is no point having teams of analyzers working for you in the background is there?

IS there?......

Chess960 is actually better for team chess! Imagine this scenario. In the future when all the old traditional chess players have moved on and Chess960 is being played more regularly, FIDE will create tournaments where the next day's Chess960 position is revealed at the very end of the current day's play (when the last game has concluded).

What will that mean for team Chess960? Basically the top GM's will have one night to prepare their position for the next day's play. It will be the same for all players because the next day's start is revealed to all players and media at the same time. That in itself would be a bit of a spectacle and make the tournament more interesting (note the King's vs Queens tournament roulette wheel idea) and everyone will wait until the last game has been played to find out the next day's start position.

It actually benefits GM's to have seconds and teams of analyzers working for them all through the night looking for the best lines in the next day's start position. The GM simply has dinner after the current day's play, get's involved with the team over the next day's position for an hour or two after dinner then goes to bed and has a restful nights sleep. Next morning he or she gets up, has breakfast and the team explain to him or her the very best opening lines that they have found overnight. The GM commits them to memory and off we go for the day's play!

The media also get the Chess960 position a day before the next day's scheduled play, and so they can also make informed commentary for the next day's play. We get out of this terrible rut of today's play where we play the same traditional start over and over again. The chess will be creative and still have all of the home preparation players want. Even the spectators can go home and think about the next day's start position to make it more enjoyable for them too. There is plenty of scope for chess seconds and team efforts and the GM's still have to have excellent memories because they alone will have to face the Chess960 start.

These kind of Chess960 super tournaments would be a bit like Formula One Racing. The Chess960 start position is for all effective purposes the car that the chess player will drive. The team of analyzers and seconds are his pit crew who work tirelessly through the night making sure that for the next day's start, his or her car is in pristine condition.

Heck, why not call it "Formula-1 Chess"!
Enjoy 960


  1. HarryO wrote:
    "The media also get the Chess960 position a day before the next day's scheduled play, and so they can also make informed commentary for the next day's play."

    Good point.

    Thanks, GeneM.

  2. I've suggested in the past that start positions should be announced in advance. How far in advance is open to discussion, but you raise a few more talking points in favor of this approach. - Mark

  3. I think it ruins the idea behind Chess960. If chess players wish preparations, they can play traditional chess. Chess960 should be perfectly random with the start position randomly determined minutes before each game. Also when changing colors for the second game, the position must be a new one.