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Old 05-30-2019, 06:17 PM
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How Much (If At All) Does Fisher Random Chess/Chess960 Level The Playing Field?


Could a random patzer such as myself stand a chance against, say, Magnus Carlsson, at Chess960?

Here's what I think:

On the one hand, Chess960 completely throws all of the openings, variations thereof, and related gambits out the window; things that, unlike me, Magnus has been studying for decades.

On the other hand, unlike me, Magnus can see six, ten, twenty moves ahead, and he'd chew me up and spit me out even with Queen odds.

What's the Straight Dope on how well regular GMs perform at Chess960?
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Old 05-31-2019, 06:30 AM
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Memorizing openings is relevant at the lowest levels of competitive play. But a grandmaster (or even just a master) doesn't just memorize the openings; he understands them: why does this opening work, based on what general principles? And those principles (things like "control the center") will apply just as much in random chess as in standard.
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Old 05-31-2019, 05:57 PM
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Well, here are the Lichess Chess960 leaderboards: https://lichess.org/player/top/200/chess960

You will notice that it is full of titled players (GM, IM, etc). They also have Chess960 titled tournaments (that can only be entered by players with FIDE/USCF titles). I believe Magnus has won almost (if not) all of them he has entered.

Here is Magnus's account at Lichess: https://lichess.org/@/DrNykterstein. His 960 rating is 2747. That would be number 1 on the ladder if he played enough there to qualify. So yes, he would destroy you.

Specifically, he will know the appropriate opening setups regardless of the starting configuration and his overwhelming advantages in tactics and endgame technique will be more than enough.

ETA: To answer the thread title question: If anything Chess960 actually makes the playing field less level. That was Fishers point - remove the boring memorization part to reward strategic and tactical skill.

Last edited by Jas09; 05-31-2019 at 05:58 PM.
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