Friday, March 25, 2005

Chess960

Sorry I haven't been updating The Brain for awhile. I've been busy with other things, one of which is our school's chess tournament (I earned three wins and two losses, but the tournament ain't done yet).

Speaking of chess, I was studying the games of former World Champion Bobby Fischer (here's an amazing one), when I stumbled across one of his inventions: a chess variant he called Fischer Random Chess (later renamed "Chess960"). The game is exactly like orthodox chess, except the initial positions of the non-pawn officials are random.

In Chess960, the king is still between two rooks, the two bishops are still on different-colored squares, and the black pieces still mirror the white ones. You could even castle. Yet this variant is much more interesting than the original because, as Fischer said, you don't have to rely on memorizing superior openings to win the game; all you need is pure talent. That's probably why when I played Chess 960 with people who tend to memorize moves, I found it much easier to defeat them--because the absence of their comfortable opening positions rendered them slightly confused.

What's amazing about the game is that, if you are lucky enough with your dice (which is the conventional way of determining the opening position), you could actually end up playing orthodox chess! Meaning, Fischer's game is a superset that includes chess. And this is quite unique in the popular chess variants, most of which could only claim to be "better" than chess. In Fischer's case, he not only made a better game, he made sure the fans of the original won't be left out. Fischer Random is not just Chess Improved, it is Chess Extended.