Wednesday, June 6, 2012

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

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