Tuesday, July 19, 2005


The game of chess has a long history that might date back as far as the 6th century. It is currently played around the world by aficionados and novices alike, everywhere from parks to tournaments to your home computer. The game is studied so thoroughly that there are a host of books that detail every possible opening tactic with the appropriate counter move - essentially scripting out at least the first 20 or so moves of the game for anyone capable of memorizing these variations. Memorization and analysis of these texts will help make a dedicated player capable of knowing the time-tested response to essentially any move their opponent makes.

Well the game of chess is about to be revolutionized thanks to a new variant of the game pioneered by the aloof and controversial chess star Bobby Fischer. He has developed a version of chess that randomizes the starting position of the back row pieces - essentially eliminating the possibility of memorizing possible opening scenarios. Here's how it works:

"Pawns begin where they always do. However, the pieces behind them on the white side are arranged at random, with the proviso that bishops must end up on opposite colors, and the king dwell somewhere between the two rooks. The black pieces are lined up to mirror the white." - Wired

With 960 starting possibilities, Fischer's version forces players to rely on creativity and skill rather than rote memorization. Essentially, this enables casual players to challenge experienced players competitively without the preparation time previously needed to memorize strategies and openings.

One of the 960 possibly starting positions of Chess960

Introduced in 1996, Fischer Random Chess (aka Chess960) is gaining popularity among the grandmasters of the world and might soon become the standard format for testing the skill of the world's best players.

Well, the computer programmers are also taking notice - with the Chess960 Computer World Championship set to take place in Mainz, Germany in August. With Chess960, programmers will no longer be able to rely on pulling data from expansive tables of the opening scenarios featured in chess books. Instead, it will be a true test of their logic algorithms and processing power.

This might be the nerdiest post I've ever written, but I like to think of chess geeks as the modern intellectual gladiators. Plus, I can't really make fun, considering I used to play mental Connect Four on the bus trip to math competitions in high school. Did I really just type that?

Via Wired.

3 comment(s):

  • Did you play that game with your mental girlfriend nerd boy?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:47 PM  

  • Ok Andrew "ponytail" Kemp-"shiny shirt" Gerstel.

    By Blogger PFC, at 9:59 AM  

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    By Blogger Sam, at 8:26 AM  

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