The PGN database for these trials is here.
Here is the second opening played according to the Non-Random Chess960 rules invented by Mark Weeks. As black I decided to see if slowing down the activity in the opening would help my chances to reach complete equality by the mid-game phase, by going for the titular bishops in the middle of the board, an easy king side castling option and a queen in the corner. According to Mark's system of non-random placement, this actually gives black a bit more control over the setup (4 choices) verses white's two choices.
The sequence we used to arrive at SP393 was:
- Mark put down a bishop on d1
- I put down a bishop on e8
- Mark put down two knights on c1 and f1 instead of using his queen placement option
- I put a queen on a8
- The position was filled in with rooks and king
SP393 Bishops in the middle (Titular bishops)
Here are my comments on the opening:
The titular bishop start positions are more likely to be high-level positional studies. The tactical opportunities are less significant relative to making the right moves in order not to create long term positional problems. I really like them, but the titular bishops starts do feel quite awkward!
Basically after 1.d4 b5 I simply missed 2.a4! The move just didn't occur to me because I'm still conditioned to see traditional opening pawn moves. The move a4 is a really important move for Chess960, because the idea doesn't occur in the traditional opening. I thought that Mark's reasoning for playing a4 was because it requires black to respond either immediately or soon after. Any response slightly worsens black's position while at the same time there is no possibility of white's position being worsened. At the same time, black's response whatever it is, provides white with more information about how to proceed....In fact, it turned out that Marks reasoning was simpler and more concise (see below).
Unfortunately, 1....b5 set forth a chain of events where white simply contests the a-file and always remains ahead on tempo, initiative and position. Although black's drawing chances are still reasonable, It became a very compromised situation for black and quite unpleasant.
So to liven it up and break out from being a slave of white's intentions, I decided on the idea of O-O/Ng5/f5!? The idea is really nice from the point of view that black get's a temporary initiative, but it doesn't work all that well as Mark showed in the game.
Here are Marks comments:
At first I rejected 2.a4, because I preferred to develop my minor pieces. Then I realized that both of the obvious plans -- playing for a quick e2-e4 -or- playing to develop the Bishop on the a8-h1 diagonal -- allow Black adequate counterplay. Then I returned to 2.a4, because it interferes with Black's counterplay. Tactically, it addresses the variation that you played...
After 10. Be2 f5 I would probably continue 11.Bd2. Black is falling behind in development and any Knight exchange on e4 gives White the f2-f3 lever. In my opinion, White is now playing for a win and Black is playing for a draw. The move 1...b5 was perhaps not the best....