Saturday, November 21, 2015

Chess960: Showdown in St. Louis - Fischer Random Style

I'm in the middle of transcribing the Chess960 portion of the video recording of Hikaru Nakamura playing Fabiano Caruana in Chess960 (Fischer Random) at the recently concluded Showdown in St. Louis 2015.

Here is an interesting idea that the commentators mentioned during game one of the Fischer Random portion of the event, as to why Chess960 has been slow on the uptake.

Jennifer Shahade:  "Obviously Fischer random is just perfect for somebody like Nakamura he really loves the game. I really like it too. Why do you think it hasn't begun to be even more popular Yasser?"

Yasser Seirawan: "You know one of the things, I've spoken to a lot of my colleagues on this very question. One of the things is a lot of my colleagues feel it has to do with amateur players. That is to say amateur players are so vested in their openings, they want to see players playing the French defenses and their Sicilian dragons and they know those openings so very well, they want the players to play their favourite openings and favourite defenses. Instead, when the players are playing a game of Fischer random, then a lot of the amateur players say "gee I don't know this position, I don't know what's going on". A lot of the professional players like Fischer Random and would like to see more Fischer random events. Its sort of like the organizers are hearing from the amateurs "no don't do it we want them to play OUR openings, OUR defenses". Its kind of an intriguing idea right?"

Jennifer Shahade: "It is strange because normally you hear amatuers complaining about how much opening analysis there is but when push comes to shove they like it in a sick way."

Yasser Seirawan: {laughs}

If that is the case that amateurs are actually the ones holding up the progress of Chess960, we just have to wait for critical mass to occur when finally the amateurs make the switch to 960. According to the Chess960 popularity counter *here*, we have probably got another 20-30 years to go until the tipping point occurs. Popularity is steadily rising, but there is still a long way to go.

In the mean time, remember that Chess960 is not here to replace Chess, just be a viable loved alternative to chess and be its equal.

Enjoy 960.


  1. Good post, Harry. The chess publishing sector is happy catering to amateurs who buy opening books. I think the typical run is only a few thousand copies, so they keep cranking them out. - Mark

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.