Live 960 implemented in v.3 of web client

Live 960 implemented in v.3 of web client

Aug 14, 2015, 6:17 AM |
Chess960 took a step toward full acceptance when the largest Internet chess server — chess dot com, with 11 million members — implemented real-time chess960 in version 3 of its web and Android clients.

Until v.3, 960 play at was limited to "turn-based" or "correspondence" time controls. Web users can toggle the v.3 beta and v.2 with the URL

Chess960 is the future of chess. Like many things tied to a better tomorrow, chess960 is ahead of its time. Take Apple Inc. — its Newton was a handheld personal productivity device with handwriting recognition, 20 years ahead of the iPhone. The company's iPod, a portable digital audio player, revolutionized the way people consume and carry music in 2001, 14 years after the first device of that kind.

The biggest hurdle for chess960 is that people still consider it a "chess variant". Chess960 is not a variant of chess — chess is a fraction of chess960. Among the 960 possible starting positions in chess960, "chess" is #518 in the Schnargl numbering scheme — it's just another jumping off point. This is most obvious in the middlegame — any reasonably-played 960 game is indistinguishable from #518 or any of the other 959 possible beginnings.

When you think about it, chess960 doesn't change middlegames and endgames at all, not a bit. Everything we know about middlegame and endgame strategy and tactics is still good in Schnargls 1-517 and 519-960 — so the other hurdle for 960's acceptance is that many people will be revealed as conmen and hucksters outside their #518 comfort zone.

If chess960 were the standard, opening books become mostly worthless because they examine one of 960 branches. Publishers and authors won't go for that, unless they publish or write useful books about middlegames and endgames, but it's proven that there's no money in that. The money in chess publishing is in openings literature that goes out of fashion or stale, forcing suckers to keep buying.

There's a large class of players who'll never embrace 960, because it'll expose them as frauds. Every book player is scared as shit of 960 because they'll be out of book at move 1 — there are some international masters whose opening repertoires are extremely limited and focused, whose strength is based partly in their great familiarity with certain types of middlegames (and a few thematic endgames).

There are some weak players who should embrace 960 because their opening play is wretched, and it'll be equally wretched across the board, which will square them up with the book players.