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I previously posted this elsewhere but there wasn't much response so I've posted it here where I think it is more appropriate.
I am now playing my first 960 and contrary to what I first thought I am enjoying it.
This is the post:-
"I have never played a game of chess 960, but I was wondering if this variant can really teach us anything about strategy and tactics to be useful in normal chess games, or is just a distraction for serious chess players?"
I think the more interesting question would be can it teach us something more easily than normal chess. My experience with 960 is quite limited (I've played probably <100 games) but I could certainly see it improve your tactical alertness for unusual possibilities and also probably your alertness for unusual strategic ideas. I think that for beginning players it might be good idea to stick with normal chess to get repeated practice with same patterns but for players with plenty of experience the problem is that they can often play first 20 moves of a regular chess game from their memorey without even thinking and even after that the arising structure strongly resembles something they have seen before. Chess 960 forces you to think from the move one and thus you get to train some instincts that you rarely get to practice in regular chess but that are still occasionaly also very important in normal chess.