Monday, February 24, 2014

Chess960: I played SP518 for the first time in years

Today, I finally reached SP518 (the standard chess position) after three and a half years of working through the Chess960 positions starting at position 001. Still have got a long way to go to reach SP960! I play Houdini or Stockfish twice for each SP, once as white and once as black, with no time controls, and vary the depth according to how much trouble I feel I am in and always start at depth 24 because it only takes the computer a couple of minutes. I also complement this with Chess960 blitz, Chess-tempo online tactics training and studying human Chess960 games.
 
Playing the good old classical chess position SP518 for the first time in years, by accident, I played the French Defence Exchange Variation as black, and the Scotch Game as white. So to celebrate the arrival at SP518, I got one of the most enjoyable positions I have ever seen:
 
SP518 white to play: find the only move that equalises
 
First question is, what is this knight fork called? It is more than a relative fork, it is not an absolute fork, it is not a royal fork and it is not a special absolute fork! So what is this fork called when the knight forks both rooks and queen all at the same time?
 
To cut straight to the chase, the equalising move is......h6! Black needs to guard the back rank and watch for the queening pawn and there is never enough time for black to capitalise on the triple fork. Black cannot play Qf7?? or Qh7?? they are both total disasters. If ...Qf6, Ne4 counter attacks the queen. So the queen puts up a fight with ...Qe7, h7+...Kh8, Bd4+...Nxd4, Qxd4+...Qf6 0.00
 
What a great way for white to un-fork himself from a three way relative special fork attack!
 
I'll probably not play SP518 again for many years, and so will have a game to remember fondly as I move on through the delight of Chess960, starting next with SP519.

Note that in the compilation database I have made available to the Chess960 community here, I decided to include the SP518 games because even though they were all cancelled when the players realised that by random chance they had rolled the standard chess position, remarkably, in over just one thousand high quality human games, it appears to have happened four times! So I have left them in the database. I suspect that the reason SP518 rolled itself that often in what is only a 1-in-960 chance, is that there must have been a bureaucratic stuff up during the tournament.
 
Enjoy 960

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