We need 1 dark square bishop and 1 light square bishop. We have 4 dark squares and 4 light squares on the rank.
4 x 4 = 16 way to put them on the board.
So we have 6 squares left. To castle long (a-side) and short (h-side), one rook must be on the left-hand side; the other on the right-hand side. So, the king must not be on the edges of remaining squares. 4 possible king positions:
RK---- 4 different way
--K--- 2 x 3 = 6
---K-- 3 x 2 =6
Total 20 different rook-king-rook arrangement.
We have 3 squares, 2 knights and a queen left. When we place the queen in one of 3 squares, knights will automatically jump the remaining ones. So 3 way to place the remaining pieces.
16 x 20 x 3 = 960
(To randomly create a starting position, roll a die or touch the die on your app for
- dark square bishop [1=a1, 2=c1, 3=e1, 4=g1, 5,6=roll again]
- light square bishop [1=b1, 2=d1, 3=f1, 4=h1, 5,6=roll again]
- king [1=2nd of 6 empty squares, 2=3rd, 3=4th, 4=5th, 5,6=roll again]
- a-side rook [if there is more than 1 square on the king's a-side, e.g. 2 empty squares, 1,2,3=1st, 4,5,6=2nd]
- h-side rook
- queen [1,2=1st, 3,4=2nd, 5,6=3rd])
Now, real answers to "Why 960?":
- without an opening theory, undiscovered
- more tactical, have to calculate trickiness before playing move #1
- requires more imagination rather than memory
- for some starting positions you can castle in the first move!! (my favorite)
- superduper fun!!!
Since you came all the way here, a little tip for you: The legends played 1.e4 and 1.d4 and occupied the center where the mortals tend to play like 1.b4 or 1.c4 to immediately open the bishops on the long diagonals (e.g.B@a1, B@b1). GM Yasser Seriawan also mentioned in the broadcast that claiming the center is very helpful especially in chess960 games. So, if your game is serious, don't go fancy, go for the center!
Let me tell you the real purpose of this blog post: A little complaint and much thanks :)
SGM Nakamura and SGM Caruana played 4 games of Chess960 in the second round of the Showdown in St. Louis. I wanted to watch these games mostly. However technical difficulties ruined the broadcast. There was no digital board and computer (chess GUI) coordination. A camera was shooting the board from the side. Black pieces were absolutely impossible to follow in the opening even with the highest definition available.
Naka and Caru match is like world#2 vs. world#2. St. Louis commentary team: Yasser, Jeniffer and Maurice is the absolutely best team in the world.
The event is a huge organization. But Dear Sinquefields, please instead of giving 150k to the players, give them 149k. Give 1k to a computer expert, or to a man of DGT boards, to setup the initial position for the GUI, to set the rules to fisher random. So we can see moves properly and enjoy. Ok, GMs are smart guys, but this arrangement requires computer expertise. I really hope you fix that for next 960 showdowns. So much thanks to you for awesome matches and tourneys.