Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chess960: two move ideas no.11

The unusual idea here by black is that it is fine to drop not just one development tempo, but two! The ultimate reason why is that white's opening is active, but focused too greatly on the king-side wing where the advanced pawns are not restricting black. This allows black to recover the lost tempo.

SP463 white top play: trace back the moves and try to see black's ideas

Enjoy 960
Hint: black shuts down the long diagonal
black is free to play f5 because of gxf5...g6
black intends ...d5/Nd7/Nd6 plan

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chess960: two move ideas no.10 - the pawn walk!

To celebrate reaching the 10th Chess960 opening idea, here is an original idea that I don't think is seen in traditional chess. It features two pawns that walk by each other on the e-f street like two pedestrians on a foot path that walk past each other!

The idea originates because of the limitation of idea no.9 in the same starting position, that seems to lead nowhere. So white instead tries something more radical:

SP463 white to play: trace back the moves and try to see black's idea!

Enjoy 960
Hint: black plays a bold development (1.e4...f5!)
White is not worried by (...Qh5+/Ne2)
white refuses the pawn capture to try and restrict black
Black then walks the f-pawn 2....f4!
exposing white's e-pawn with initiative!

It is black who now restricts white's development

Chess960: two move ideas no. 9

In this starting position featuring the primary patriarch bishops, white decides to develop them instantly. The idea is that the bishop combination is so powerful, that they do not need to move to be already developed!

SP463 black to play: try to see white's ideas

Enjoy 960
Hint: white thinks the opening is dynamic,
but black continues ...Nc6/gxf5/g6 without problems

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Chess960: two move ideas no. 8

Here is another great idea courtesy of game I found on this time between two super GM's Aronian and Nakamura. The amazing idea is to actually block the bishops in the corner with your own pawns in a cat and mouse attempt to delay exchanging off the bishops in the corner until just the right time:

SP451 white to play: try to see black's ideas

Enjoy 960
Hint: black has managed to discourage white from moving either c4, d4 or e4.
If 3. d4!? white blocks the a1 bishop on the long diagonal allowing black to play 3 ... f5!
If white instead plays 3.e4?! the light bishop on h1 is trapped for a very long time.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chess960: two move ideas no. 7

Thanks to I came across a really interesting bishops in the corner game played between Sergei Movsesian (2771) vs Viktor Bologan (2702). White has played out the queen early and black's response was 2....Ne6 preventing any problems later if Nxc7#. However black had another idea that Viktor did not choose:

SP451 white to play: try to see black's ideas

In the actual GM game, white's idea was to continue the long lasting stress on black's weak kingside and simultaneously push for control of the center to make it difficult for black to develop the knights. Black doesn't want to exchange off the bishops because this would prevent castling later. Black decided to develop the knight to e6, but this invites white to start a center pawn push via e3/d4 threatening to biff the centrally developed knight. So what can black do? There are various options but there is one very interesting idea that needs a bit of analysis!

Enjoy 960
Hint: ...Rh6 attacks the queen and the h2 pawn and the rook is developed and safe.
Note: the concept is that if white has wasted a developing move with Qh3, black is entitled to waste one as well!

Chess960: online chess lessons and the irony of Mr Botvinnik

Discovered some good quality discussion on Chess960 theory over at My favorite article is control the center or not? because it contains two wonderful grandmaster quality games with all bishops in the corner. Who knows, this site might be a good place to learn how to play Chess960!

I realise that apparently Vlad Kramnik has been quoted somewhere that he doesn't think that bishops in the corner is very good (but I doubt that he actually played many bishop in the corner games). It should be said that Kramnik was the last and most successful product of the Botvinnik school which focused on an opening analysis system that is completely useless for Chess960. Ironically, Botvinnik was known for his use of the bishops on the long diagonals and in Chess960 you get plenty of that fun!

It is interesting how Bobby Fischer the inventor of Chess960, ended his chess career and went underground right during the era of Botvinnik chess education in Russia....

The only player from the old Botvinnik school that I know of that has ever shown any interest in Chess960 is Anatoly Karpov but Karpov was not really a complete product of the Botvinnik school as were Kramnik and Kasparov. Here is a interesting clue:

"Curiously, Mr. Karpov, whose style, many believe, resembles Mr. Botvinnik's, has suggested that Mr. Botvinnik never understood him and once questioned Mr. Karpov's underlying ability with the comment, "The boy doesn't have a clue about chess, and there's no future at all for him in this profession."
(courtesy NY Times 1995)

The Russian GM's that really enjoy Chess960 are usually not from the Botvinnik camp. What about Peter Svidler? He's really interesting to compare to Vlad. Why does Svidler like Chess960 and Vlad not? I think it's possible that Svidler was not totally exposed to the Botvinnik school while Kramnik was.

I do wonder how our appreciation of Chess960 depends on our past and what ideas we were exposed to as children.

Enjoy Chess960

Friday, June 1, 2012

Chess960: two move ideas no. 6

Here black equalises by realising that the e5 square is completely safe for the queen. The idea even accelerates kingside castling. Black's idea is very similar to idea no.3 in this blog:

SP37 white to play: try to see black's ideas

Enjoy 960
Hint: dxe5, Qxe5, f4?! Black also sees that a1/b2 are weak squares
Note: there is a big difference between 1.d4...e5 and 1.f4...e5. This is because after 1.f4 and a pawn exchange, black's queen on e5 is no longer safe from white's threat Nb3/d4.