What is Chess960? | Fischer Random Chess Explained
Chess960 is a fun variant of chess!

What is Chess960? | Fischer Random Chess Explained

CHESScom
CHESScom
Jan 1, 2018, 12:00 AM |
2 | For Beginners

Tired of regular chess and all the loads of opening theory? Then try Chess960 or the variant also known as Fischer Random Chess. The 11th World Champion Robert James Fischer was the most famous advocate of the idea of shuffling the back-rank pieces in 1996 to deal with the emphasis on opening theory. 960 is the number of possible starting positions.

Chess960 starting position

A possible Chess960 starting position.

The starting position in Chess960 is random, but there are a few requirements.

  1. Bishops MUST be on opposite-colored squares.
  2. The king MUST be placed on a square between the two rooks.
  3. Black's pieces are placed opposite White's pieces.

Aside from the starting position, the only other difference between Chess960 and chess is the rules for castling. Castling is slightly different since the rooks can start the game on several squares. 

Here are the guidelines:

1. After you castle in Chess960, the castled position will look the same as in regular chess.  

castling in chess960

A position before castling.

castling in chess960 game

A position after castling.

2. Just as in regular chess, the king and rook must not have moved.

3. The squares between the king and the rook that is castling MUST be vacant, and the squares the king crosses must not be in check.

Let's take a look at top players Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian playing Chess960

Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura

GM Hikaru Nakamura. Photo: Maria Emelinova, Chess.com.

Grandmaster Levon Aronian

GM Levon Aronian. Photo:  Maria Emelinova, Chess.com.

 The best way to understand this fun variant is to play Chess960 on Chess.com! The steps are super simple:

  1. Go to the play area.
  2. Select the chess board icon.
  3. Click Live960 from the dropdown.

Chess960 at Chess.com

Do you want even more action? Check out the Chess960 Championship that we organized! 

Are you ready for the challenge? Make sure to post your best games in the comments section!

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