Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chess960: The Great King's Pawns Opening Research Project part 2

Just thought I'd run this finding past anyone out there who is interested in Chess960 research. There are not many of us, but those of us who are should stick together and talk!

Here is part two of the great king's pawn research project. You know the old traditional move 1. e4.

Part one is here

Here is an amazing contrast between two adjacent SP's that switch two minor pieces. In one SP, the kings pawn opening is totally benign and quiet, while in the other it is dynamic and exciting. The two SP's are SP444 and SP445:

SP444 is draw?

SP445 is alive!

Here are some points on SP444 and SP445 that you might find interesting. You really have to play with them and experiment with them so see how totally different these SP's are in terms of their degree of volatility. 
  1. The only difference between them is that Nb1 and Bd1 are swapped
  2. The really standout feature is that in SP445, the Nd1 that stays the same in both SP's suddenly has a really surprising developing move Nd3!? that actually is good sitting out in front of the d2 pawn because none of the other pieces are blocked and white still has powerful pawn initiatives even without the d-pawn taking part. There is an excellent parallel with this developing move and Aronian's discovery of Nd3 in SP941. In SP445 there is an underlying theme of a pawn gambit line with e4/Nd3/f4!?
  3. In SP444 however, Nd3 does not work nearly as well simply because the b1 bishop is blocked which is not the case in SP445.
  4. Because of the surprisingly good developing move of Nd3 in SP445, white has a whole bunch of extra choices that are all good. They can push the g-side pawns and castle c-side for example.
  5. For some strange reason that I do not understand fully, in SP444, almost all opening lines are totally evaluated at less than 0.1 going to huge depths of over 16 ply in many many variations. However in SP445, with the simple switch of the knight and bishop, the game is much sharper earlier on.
  6. SP444 is a draw question, should not underestimate that it is still a very interesting SP. If you play through it, you find that black has perfect counter play for almost everything white does, but that all of the sharpness in the SP is not in tactics, but in the very deep positions that emerge later on, in the late midgame.
This contrast between SP444 is a draw? and SP445 is alive! is an excellent example of how different SP's distribute the sharpness of tactics verses position over time. SP444 only becomes sharp very late in the game, while SP445 is sharper earlier.

Enjoy researching Chess960 (for the very few of us that are out there)

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