An interview with James Plaskett (GM)

chess959: I would like start with a very tricky question: Which one is a chess variant: Chess960 or SP#518 (RNBQKBNR)?

plaskettJames Plaskett: Oh my… Both I’d say! The latter…maybe not. I understand what prompted Fischer to seek a variant of the game.Seirawan has even invented SeirawanChess. But… Maybe It’s some kind of lost cause.







chess959: Bobby Fischer was a genius and so often he used language in a way that we are not familiar with. We think we understood him but actually we were not listening, we were just operating off our own assumptions of what we think he meant. One of the biggest controversies is what Bobby meant when he talked about “pre-arranged” chess games…..

It sounds like match fixing……..I used to get confused about what Bobby was talking about. But Bobby was talking about “pre-arrangement” in the sense that both players have organised what they are going to play on the board before they get there (independently from each other).

The idea of “pre-arrangement” is that as Bobby noted, it should be stated up front (acknowledged rather than blindly accepted). What is the difference between playing from an opening book in your mind, compared to if both players actually used a physical opening book as they were playing through the opening?

James Plaskett: You ask players openly using opening books… well something akin to that happened in Kasparov´s Active Chess idea i.e players openly consulting computers during play.

chess959: Advanced chess.

James Plaskett: Yes. Sounds a bit daft to me. Fischer was a chess genius yes but his celebration of the 9/11 atrocities was vile.

chess959: If there was a physical book, everybody would be clear about what is happening. As it is now, the book is in human memory. But what is the difference?

James Plaskett: Theory is updating all of the time. That could be the difference…

(Off the record) me: James what kind of response is this? Are you serious?

chess959: We now know that some people intentionally misdescribe chess960 as a chess variant. What could be the main reason for this?

(Off the record) me thinking: He won’t answer this question and will try to say something else. And here it is…

James Plaskett: It is a chess variant.

(Off the record) me thinking: He started to defend SP518. But no chance. The truth cannot be hidden anymore!

James Plaskett: Random starting positions. A few yrs ago I even played a FischerRandom event in Murcia, near my home. I finished 2nd.

chess959: James,,, please! (Note: Finally I lost my patience.)

James Plaskett: eh?

chess959: Ok, here is another try.

James Plaskett: Yes sir!

chess959: Carry out this simple thought experiment that questions our Chess centric way of thinking: “In an alternative reality, hundreds of years ago the game of Chess960 was invented. Then late in the 21st century, a small movement began to only play SP518 (Chess). But players all around the world asked the simple question, why would you want to dumb down Chess960 like that?”

AND Chess (SP518) is a variant of Chess960 and so are the other 959 positions. There is no difference that I can tell. Chess960 is not a variant. It is a generalised set of rules that determine all the possible positions of pieces on the back rank without violating any past rule. Not a single rule of chess is violated in the process, not one.

James Plaskett: NO INDEED not… except the position of the pieces at the start… but; so what? Tactics, strategy, ending technique affected? Not at all.

chess959: Indeed.

James Plaskett: I’m quite enjoying it, even.

chess959: Most chess960 games after 10-15 moves, will look like a classical chess position. You won’t be able to easily determine how the game originated.

James Plaskett: Quite.

chess959: And last one: If the purists are so insistent that chess 960 is not “real chess”, why did we let computers rule the analysis of classic chess?

James Plaskett: Rule it? They are engines for perfecting commentary AFTER the games, Señor.

chess959: Don’t you know supercomputers for opening preparation?

James Plaskett: They are used there, too.

(Off the record): I think James is a good guy, but lack of knowledge about computers invasion to human chess. Here Ian Rogers, reported from Sofia, Bulgaria, 2010:

“World Championship games are expected to last four, perhaps even six hours. This one was over in little more than two. The Indian World Champion was destroyed; nay, humiliated. On Bulgarian television that night, Topalov explained that the entire game had been prepared by him and his team at home; he didn’t need to find a single original move to score a simple first game victory.”

chess959: James, Chess960 is not a variant of chess. Chess960 is a generalization of chess. Do you agree?

James Plaskett: And, over the last 25 years people are less and less happy about that. I’ll go along with your definition of Chess960.

(Off the record) me: See? He is a good guy, when vital information given to them (GM), they will understand it. Most of them spend entire life to chess. I have full respect to them even to Kasparov (number 1 enemy of pure human play a.k.a chess960)

chess959: James, thanks for your time.

James Plaskett: Pleasure. Adios.



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#67, 68 Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132 vs Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438

#67 Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132 vs Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438

Chess960 start position: 823 (RKBNQRNB)

Time control: 15+5



1. Nf3 b6 2. g3 Bb7 3. d3 g6 4. Bd2 e5 5. Bc3 f5 6. b3 d5 7. Bb2 Nc6 8. a4 Nf6 9. h3 Qe6 10. Ng5 Qd7 11. f4 e4 12. dxe4 fxe4 13. Ne3 h6 14. O-O-O hxg5 15. fxg5 Qe6 16. gxf6 Bxf6 17. Bxf6 Rxf6 18. Nxd5 Qe5 { Draw } 1/2-1/2


#67 Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438 vs Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132

Chess960 start position: 733 (RKNBQNBR)

Time control: 15+5



1. h3 e5 2. Bh2 f6 3. e3 Bd5 4. Rg1 b6 5. d3 Bb7 6. Nd2 d5 7. Ne2 Nd6 8. Nc3 c5 9. f4 exf4 10. Bxf4 Bc7 11. Bf3 Qe6 12. O-O-O O-O-O 13. Kb1 Kb8 14. e4 d4 15. Nd5 Bxd5 16. exd5 Qxe1 17. Rgxe1 Ng6 18. Bg3 Rhe8 19. c4 Nf5 20. Bxc7+ Kxc7 21. Ne4 Nd6 22. g3 Ne5 23. Bg2 Re7 24. Nxd6 Kxd6 25. Rf1 a6 26. Kc2 { Draw } 1/2-1/2

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#18, 19 Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438 vs Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132

#18 Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438 vs Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132

Chess960 start position: 285 (NRKBNRBQ)

Time control: 15+5



1. f3 Nb6 2. Bf2 f5 3. Nb3 Nf6 4. h3 e5 5. e3 Be7 6. g4 Be6 7. Qg2 g6 8. Be2 O-O 9. Nd3 d6 10. gxf5 Bxf5 11. f4 Be4 12. Qg1 Nfd7 13. fxe5 Nxe5 14. Nf4 Nf3 15. Qg4 Ng5 16. Bh4 Bf5 17. Qg2 h6 18. Nd4 Be4 19. Qg4 Kh7 20. Rg1 c5 21. Bxg5 cxd4 22. Bxe7 Bf5 23. Nxg6 Bxg4 24. Nxf8+ Rxf8 25. Rxg4 { Black resigns } 1-0



#19 Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132 vs Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438

Chess960 start position: 285 (NRKBNRBQ)

Time control: 15+5



1. f4 Nb6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bd4 f6 4. e4 d6 5. Nb3 Be6 6. Be2 Bd7 7. Qg1 e5 8. Be3 Qg7 9. d4 exf4 10. Bxf4 Qe7 11. Bd3 Ng7 12. O-O-O c6 13. Rfe1 Bc7 14. Kb1 Bg4 15. h3 Bxf3 16. gxf3 Nd7 17. Qh2 Ne6 18. Be3 a6 19. Qd2 Ng5 20. Bxg5 fxg5 21. Qe2 Qf6 22. Bxa6 Qxf3 23. Qxf3 Rxf3 24. Bf1 Kd8 25. Rd3 Rf4 26. Nd2 Ke7 27. Rf3 Rbf8 28. Rxf4 Rxf4 29. c3 h5 30. Kc2 g4 31. hxg4 Rxg4 32. Bd3 Rg3 33. Re2 Nf6 34. Nf1 Rg1 35. Ne3 h4 36. Rg2 Rxg2+ 37. Nxg2 h3 { White resigns } 0-1

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#10, 11 Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132 vs Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438

#10 Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132 vs Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438

Chess960 start position: 444 (RBNNQKBR)

Time control: 15+5



1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. Ne3 e6 5. Nd3 Nc6 6. c3 Bd6 7. Bc2 Qe7 8. f4 Nb6 9. Bf2 Rc8 10. O-O f6 11. Qe2 Bf7 12. Rae1 Kg8 13. Kh1 Bg6 14. Bg3 Be4 15. Nf2 Bxc2 16. Qxc2 Nxd4 17. Qd3 Nc6 18. Nf5 Qd7 19. Nxd6 Qxd6 20. f5 e5 21. Ne4 Qe7 22. Nd2 Rd8 23. Bf2 Nc8 24. Nb3 b6 25. Rd1 Kf7 26. Rfe1 Rhe8 27. Qb5 Qd7 28. g4 Kg8 29. a4 N6e7 30. Qxd7 Rxd7 31. a5 Kf7 32. Kg2 h5 33. h3 Red8 34. Rd2 Rc7 35. Red1 Rc4 36. Kg3 Nd6 37. Kf3 Ne4 38. Re2 hxg4+ 39. hxg4 Ng5+ 40. Kg3 Rh8 { White resigns } 0-1


#11 Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132 vs Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438

Chess960 start position: 479 (RNNKRQBB)

Time control: 15+5



1. f4 c6 2. g3 f5 3. e4 g6 4. exf5 gxf5 5. Nc3 Kc7 6. N1e2 Nb6 7. Bd4 Bxd4 8. Nxd4 Qf6 9. Nf3 Na6 10. Qe2 d6 11. Bg2 Rad8 12. O-O Kb8 13. d3 Nc7 14. a4 e5 15. fxe5 dxe5 16. Nh4 f4 17. a5 Nbd5 18. Ne4 Qf8 19. Kh1 Ne3 20. gxf4 Nxf1 21. Rxf1 exf4 22. Qf3 Nd5 23. Rf2 Qe7 24. Nf5 Qe5 25. c4 Qxf5 26. cxd5 Bxd5 27. a6 b6 { White resigns } 0-1

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#8, 9 Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132 vs Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438

#8 Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132 vs Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438

Chess960 start position: 918 (RKBRQBNN)

Time control: 15+5



1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. h3 h6 5. Ng3 c6 6. Bd2 e6 7. Bd3 Ne7 8. Ba5 b6 9. Bc3 Bb7 10. Qe2 Qg8 11. Re1 a6 12. a4 Ka7 13. O-O-O Rac8 14. Kb1 f6 15. b3 Nf7 16. Bb2 Bf8 17. c4 g5 18. Nd2 Ng6 19. Qf1 Nf4 20. Bc2 Be7 21. Ne2 c5 22. g3 Nxe2 23. Qxe2 Rd7 24. d5 Nh8 25. f4 Re8 26. Qg4 Bd8 27. f5 e5 28. Qe2 Rh7 29. Nf1 h5 30. Bc1 Bc7 31. Qd3 Rb8 32. Ka2 Bc8 33. Bd2 Bd7 34. Qc3 Qd8 35. Rb1 b5 36. Rb2 Be8 37. Ra1 bxa4 38. bxa4 Rxb2+ 39. Qxb2 Ba5 40. Bxa5 Qxa5 41. Rb1 Qc7 42. Ne3 Nf7 43. Qa3 Qa5 44. Qb2 Qc7 45. Qa3 Nd8 46. Bd3 Nb7 47. Nd1 Na5 48. Nc3 Qd8 49. Be2 Bd7 50. Bd3 Bc8 51. Be2 Qf8 52. Rb2 Qh6 53. Rb1 g4 54. h4 Rb7 55. Rxb7+ Bxb7 56. Qb2 Qe3 57. Bd1 Nxc4 58. Qb3 Qd2+ 59. Ka1 Na5 60. Qc2 Qe3 { White resigns } 0-1


#9 Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132 vs Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438

Chess960 start position: 875 (QRKRBNNB)

Time control: 15+5



1. g3 Nf6 2. f4 g6 3. e4 d5 4. e5 Ne4 5. d3 Nf2 6. Bxf2 Ne6 7. Ne2 f5 8. exf6 exf6 9. Nd2 c6 10. O-O Kc7 11. Rbe1 Bd7 12. c4 dxc4 13. Nxc4 Re8 14. Nc3 Rbd8 15. Bg2 Bg7 16. Qc1 Kb8 17. Ne4 f5 18. Ng5 Nd4 19. Bxd4 Bxd4+ 20. Kh1 Kc7 21. Nf3 Bf6 22. Nfe5 Be6 23. Qc3 Qc8 24. d4 Kb8 25. b3 Qc7 26. Rd1 g5 27. fxg5 Bxg5 28. Nf3 Bf6 29. Nce5 f4 30. gxf4 Rg8 31. Ng5 Bf5 32. Be4 Rxg5 33. fxg5 Bxe4+ 34. Kg1 Bxe5 35. dxe5 Qb6+ { White resigns } 0-1

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Searching for high level chess959 player (Part I)

When Zoran asked me how to castle in this game, I did realize again how chess960 known in master level chess: A variant. No it is not! (quite opposite). Chess960 is chess itself. #518 (RNBQKBNR) is called chess by everyone. It is not correct. It’s just a variant of chess. A variant almost solved by quantum computers. And yes these computers will also solve entire chess (I mean all other 959 starting positions). But there is a trick here: Human brain can’t handle to memorize all 959 starting positions. Good news. Chess won’t die! Now please stop worrying about survival of chess. You should worry about the #518.

Tomorrow I’ll play against James Plaskett again. He is not only a strong #518 player, but also a very strong chess player.


Plaskett (1986)

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#4, 5 Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132 vs Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438

#4 Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132 vs Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438

Chess960 start position: 1 (BQNBNRKR)

Time control: 15+5



1. b3 e5 2. c4 d6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bxd4 Bf6 5. e3 b6 6. Bf3 Ne7 7. Ne2 h5 8. Bxa8 Qxa8 9. Nc3 g6 10. Qe4 Qxe4 11. Nxe4 Bxd4 12. exd4 Kg7 13. Nf3 Nf5 14. Ng3 Nxg3 15. hxg3 Nf6 16. Re1 Re8 17. O-O Ne4 18. Re3 Nf6 19. Rfe1 Rxe3 20. Rxe3 Rc8 21. Kf1 Kf8 22. Ne1 a6 23. f3 c5 24. dxc5 dxc5 25. a4 { Draw } 1/2-1/2


#5 Yuce, Aytac ICCF: 2132 vs Plaskett, H James (GM) FIDE: 2438

Chess960 start position: 100 (QBBNRNKR)

Time control: 15+5



1. b3 c5 2. c4 Nc6 3. e3 b6 4. Ng3 d6 5. Bb2 e5 6. Be4 Bb7 7. f3 Nd7 8. Nc3 Nf6 9. Nd5 Nxd5 10. Bxd5 Nb4 11. Bxb7 Qxb7 12. Qb1 d5 13. a3 Na6 14. d3 Qd7 15. O-O-O d4 16. e4 Nc7 17. Ne2 Ne6 18. g3 Rf8 19. g4 h5 20. h3 Ng5 21. Rdf1 hxg4 22. hxg4 Rxh1 23. Rxh1 Nxf3 24. Kc2 Qxg4 25. Qf1 f5 { White resigns } 0-1

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