Unfair starting position in chess960

loafes

I was looking into chess960 starting positions and came across QNRBKNBR After 1.b3 doesn't white already have a clear advantage? black is basically forced between 1...Ne6?! which must be bad since it blocks the e pawn and makes developing both black bishops very difficult. 1...f6 which is probably best but still weakens blacks king side and takes away a diagonal from the DSB which may have been quite useful. There might also be 1...e5 intending 2.Qxe5+ Ne6 followed by attacking the queen for rapid development and ...b6 somewhere to cause white some problems. This gambit is most likely unsound but is worth looking into because it might be playable between two club strength players in a boots game. What do people think? isn't the starting position unfair since it favors white so much?

MrEdCollins

I let Houdini look at the position after 1.b3 for a little more than five minutes.  According to Houdini, White has no advantage at all, let alone "a clear advantage."

28 [+0.00]  1.... f6 2.h3 b5 3.Ne3 c5 4.Bh2 Nc6 5.O-O Bf7 6.Nc3 Nd4 7.f3 Qc6 8.Ne4 Ng6 9.c3 Ne6 10.a4 a6 11.c4 bxc4 12.bxc4 O-O 13.Nd5 Nc7 14.Ne3 Ne6 15.Nd5  (351.62)

Apparently Black's position is not compromised after 1...f6 (or White can't take advantage of it) and Black's d8 bishop will find activity via the a4-d8 diagonal.

Doggy_Style

Nice work MrEdCollins... tell me, does White have a better first move than 1. b3 (which appears to throw away the first move advantage)?

pbeckett

using this opening

white scores 48.8%,with 15.8% of games drawn

according to the database of computer-played games CCRL

so it's not that advantageous for the 1st player!! It's unfair to White!

MrEdCollins

I suppose 1.c4 is as good as anything else.

26 [+0.16]  1.c4 b5 2.f3 bxc4 3.Rxc4 f6 4.Ra4 c5 5.Nc3 Ne6 6.Ng3 Nc6 7.Qb1 Qb8 8.Bb3 Ncd4 9.Bc4 h6 10.e3 Bh7 11.Bd3 Bxd3 12.Qxd3 Nc6 13.Qg6+ Kf8 14.b3 Ne5 15.Qc2 c4 16.f4 Nd3+ 17.Ke2  (344.93)

However, the differences between many opening moves in this position (as it is in most all other postions, including regular chess) are almost irrelevant.  The game won't be won or lost by the opening move.

loafes

having looked things over I have to admit 1...f6 is not as much of a concession as I first thought, although it is kind of forcing. though I'm usually a little weary of trusting computer analysis too much in 960 opening positions, for 1 they don't have opening books which cuts their strength in that phase and 2 the opening has so many variations and so many subtleties that I think the more human approach of planning and using intuition would be more useful than the computers brute force calculation approach.

loafes

Also I actually had the position as black in a game and opted to try my gambit idea with 1...e5!? where white fell into a "trap" and was lost on move three. 1.b3 e5!? 2.Qxe5+ Ne6 3.e3?? Bf6! 4.Qg3 Bb2 5.c3 Bxc1 6.Bg4 f5! (neat little finesse to win a tempo) 7.Bxf5 b6 8.f3?! Qd5 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.Kd2 Bb2 11.Kc2 Ba1 12.Na3 Qa5 13.Kb1 Qxa3 0-1

loafes

loafes wrote:

Also I actually had the position as black in a game and opted to try my gambit idea with 1...e5!? where white fell into a "trap" and was lost on move three. 1.b3 e5!? 2.Qxe5+ Ne6 3.e3?? Bf6! 4.Qg3 Bb2 5.c3 Bxc1 6.Bg4 f5! (neat little finesse to win a tempo) 7.Bxf5 b6 8.f3?! Qd5 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.Kd2 Bb2 11.Kc2 Ba1 12.Na3 Qa5 13.Kb1 Qxa3 0-1

oops, wrote the move order wrong. it went. 8.Kd1 Bb2 9.Kc2 Ba1 10.Na3 Qd5 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.f3?! Qa5 13.Kb1 Qxa3 0-1