Player Help-960 or Random chess intro

Player Help-960 or Random chess intro

Mar 11, 2013, 6:30 PM |

Dear teammates, I have noticed there are some good Chess960 players in our group. I think it would be very useful and interesting to talk about Chess960. So, please take the below as an opening low-quality post that will be hopefully followed by better strategy tips. 

What is Chess960?

Chess960 (also called FischerRandom) is just like regular chess... except that the starting position is shuffled to include 960 different possible positions! So you can throw out your opening book, but keep your opening principles. You play the same, but you just have different placement of pieces on the starting row.The only change in rules is that castling is funky - when you castle, the king/rook end up in the same position as when they castle in regular chess (king on g-file and rook on f-file for kingside, king on c-file and rook on d-file for queenside).

The 960 comes from the number of different possible starting positions where there is a rook on each side of the king and where there are bishops of opposite color.

When I play Chess960 I usually follow a couple of general "rules".

1. Develop your Knights first
Opening is a very important part of every chess game. It is not easy to play it when it comes to 960. As far as I know there`s no "opening book" and we have to really think of every single move from the beginning. I found out that the best thing I can do is to develop my Knights first. They seem to be more powerful in 960 openings and they can usually prevent some awkward opponents` moves (traps) that can lose the game in first 3 or 4 moves.
2. Watch your opponet`s Queen and Bishops
Either Queens or Bishop(s) are often placed on squares like a1, b1, etc. which means they can attack our (often unprotected) pieces as early as on move 2. I`ve seen and played quite a few games where a player didn`t notice such a threat and their opponent gained decisive advantage during first few moves just by capturing pieces that couldn`t be protected.
3. Castling
When I play standard chess I usually try to castle by move 8. I think castling is the most complicated thing to get used to in 960. It is too easy to forget my opponent can still castle when their King and Rooks are not where they "should be". 
Castling often changes the course of the 960 game completely. Since I am always happy when my opponent castles early in the game (I don`t have to keep in mind they can literally move their King under attack many squares away) I don`t castle unless I have to to protect my King or such a move supports my attack considerably. I would say castling is like my secret weapon I use to "surprise" my opponent who sometimes forgets as the game goes on.
4. Get to a standard-chess-like position as soon as possible
It is much easier to say such a thing than to achieve it. I simply do my best to move my Knights and Bishops to the center of the board for the center allows more mobility for the pieces, as well as easy access to all parts of the board. Although it is something we all try to do when we play standard chess I am surprised to see many players neglect it in Chess960.