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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fischer Random Chess

     Chess960 (or Fischer Random Chess) was invented and advocated by former world champion Bobby Fischer who publicly introduced it in 1996 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The idea is that it renders the prospect of obtaining an advantage through the memorization of opening lines impracticable and compels players to rely on their talent and creativity.
     Randomizing the main pieces had long been known as Shuffle Chess; however, Chess960 introduces restrictions that preserve the game’s nature by retaining bishops of opposite colors and the right to castle for both sides. Shuffle Chess wasn’t new; it was suggested as early as 1792.     
     Fischer started work on his new version of chess after his 1992 return match with Boris Spassky with the goal of eliminating the importance of opening preparation. This was, in part, the result of his belief that the Russians (to be politically correct these days, “Soviets”) fixed all international games. Actually, the Russians (Soviets) were not the only ones who fixed games; there are plenty of examples by players from every other country. Anyway, in games where the starting position is random it would be impossible to fix every move because it would be too difficult to memorize. These days even an average player can have a lot of opening knowledge but it comes to naught once they are out of theory but that’s not the case in GM chess which is the circle Fischer moved in.     
     Another reason for Fischer’s desire to implement RFC was his desire to eliminate prearranged games. Of course, being Fischer, he also had other reasons why FRC was better than conventional chess. He thought it was healthier! He pointed out that due to such long hours in front of the computer screen many top players today, such as Anand and Kramnik, wear thick glasses. Who wants to look like a bespectacled nerd when you can look like this?
     Yet another reason to play FRC: all of the study necessary to play conventional chess made it hard work, and he had gotten into chess in order to avoid work.     
     I know you are all dying to know my opinion of FRC, so it is:  When I get to the place where I am a walking encyclopedia of openings, can recall hundreds, if not thousands of master games, have in memory thousands of “chunks” of positions, have a knowledge of endings that will enable me, like Fine, to bash out a book on them in 6 months and my rating is up around 2700, or maybe 2800, I might be interested in FRC. Until then conventional chess suits me just fine.     

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