Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chess960: Bishops in the corner do not have to exchange off!

Unlike some, I actually like all four bishops in the corner. Mark Weeks has also talked about this in the Myth of the Corner Bishop. To quote Mark from his own post:
"The only real disadvantage of the B:a/h setup is when both Bishops start in the corner. When this happens, all four Bishops are facing each other on their long diagonals. The order in which the Bishops are developed becomes a subtle tactical dance where a player's fast grab of one diagonal cedes the other diagonal to the opponent. Furthermore, a premature development of the Bishops can lead to them all being swapped off in the opening for a Bishopless middlegame. A player who wants to avoid this must block the diagonal before developing the Bishop, but this gives the opponent the opportunity to develop first on the same diagonal. And so the dance continues"

The reason I like bishops in the corner, is that both sides can play can and mouse, which I think of more as a subtle strategic dance as they hide their castling intentions from each other. If either side can provoke evidence of castling intention prematurely, the other side can castle to the opposite wing and launch an attack.....well at least in theory!

Here is a classic example. Note how both sides play all their moves to deliberately hide castling intentions, until one side cracks. In this example it is white that cracks, and is then promptly punished for it when black offers a sacrificial pawn.

SP515: Who will reveal their castling plans first?
So don't believe the gossip out there spread by some anti-Chess960 people, that bishops in the corner produce boring games. There are ways to prevent bishop simplification from happening and to even create opposite wing castling scenarios. However computers usually can't see that deep into the game to appreciate the cat and mouse that is going on, so computer examples of bishops in the corner games are not valid.

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