Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chess960: The search for improvements to chess have been doing a series of posts on variants to chess, but as yet continue to post very little on Chess960. Why? Chess960 is played and enjoyed by people around the world as a great complement to standard chess. The very software Chessbase sells supports Chess960 fundamentally. Just yesterday there was Chess960 competition in Russia featuring Russia's top players and had online coverage yet there was no comment from Chessbase? Chessbase-12 software recognises Chess960 starts and correctly sorts them by number. It can also do database searches of Chess960 games by number as well. Fritz-12 can even build an opening Chess960 library!
So why do Chessbase post so little on 960 then? ** (see below for my own speculation)
Well, at least their readers speak louder than they do....
In this Chessbase article "Computer resistant chess variants" the author makes this claim:
Thankfully, this was challenged by one of Chessbase's own readers!
Thank you hpaul, I could not have said it better myself.
**(WARNING-speculation only): The reason I think that Chessbase is quiet on 960, is that they are building support behind the scenes for adding just one or two extra 960 start positions annually or bi-annually to the FIDE regulations, rather than randomising all 960 starts. The official claim would be that this allows players to study a new start position and give them scope to pre-arrange their strategies off the board with creative study, freshen Chess and increase interest in the sport.
But actually,
this FIDE change suits the business model of Chessbase much better than Fischer Random Chess960 does. Their LIVEBOOK technology plays a critical role here. They effectively have a monopoly control of Livebook technology and would make a lot of money as FIDE players driven by competitiveness, would need to subscribe to Livebook and pay DUCATS for computer resources, to analyse the hand picked FIDE Chess960 annual or bi-annual starts. The question I ask is why do we want technology and memorised openings to dominate our sport more than it already does?

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