Are we really clever than a lab or forest monkey?


If we just look into two fields of human history, I think we are not clever than a lab or forest monkey. These fields are chess and world peace. Let’s look that fields briefly.

Chess: We played SP#518 for centuries, and we ignored other 959 starting positions completely.

World peace: A 2014 report published in the journal Earth’s Future found that even a regional war of 100 nuclear detonations would produce 5 teragrams of black soot (that’s 5,000,000,000 kg!) that would rise up to Earth’s stratosphere and block sunlight. This would produce a sudden drop in global temperatures that could last longer than 25 years and temporarily destroy much of the Earth’s protective ozone layer. This could also cause as much as an 80% increase in UV radiation on Earth’s surface and destroy both land and sea-based ecosystems, potentially leading to global nuclear famine.

Michael Mills, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado and the study’s lead author, summarized it best: “In the 1980s, we learned that global thermonuclear war could render the planet close to uninhabitable. Now, we know that even [regional] nuclear war can cause great suffering worldwide, with potential for a lot of people to die from starvation in regions very far from a conflict.”

So, are we clever than a lab or forest monkey if we count above two fields of human journey: chess and world peace?

In other words, if chess and world peace depends on monkey intelligence instead of human intelligence, would we return back to real chess and would we live in a safer world without nuclear weapons? Just askin’ don’t take it too seriously.

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“Hey Bent, lets play real chess again.” R.J. Fischer


I wrote following message when I play a Fischer chess game in Weekly Chess960 Arena on Lichess. “Now we’re playing real chess again. Thanks Robert James Fischer.” I wrote this message because I really feel I’m playing real chess again and I enjoyed it and almost all players I played against in this week chess960 arena on lichess feel the same thing. This is amazing: finding players who enjoy to play real chess again. And after that I started brainstorming about what if Bent Larsen joined Fischer’s ideas and what if they started a worldwide movement about to play a real chess again without SP#518. I’m 100% sure we would be live in a world better than today. When you play real chess you have no time to make dirty wars! And yes all is connected all. When you start polluting the nature, you start collect more money, more weapons and guess what: start killing each other to get more money and more weapons. And this deadly scenario will repeat itself until Nuclear winter comes and do its job bigger and faster, and most probably deadlier.

So, Fischer failed to start a worldwide movement about to play a real pure chess again. He failed not because he wasn’t a big fighter. He was one of the biggest fighter in total chess history. He failed, because he didn’t try to get Larsen, Keres, or any other real chess professional to his side and increase the powerbase of the movement. The same scenario still exist today. I won’t name the name of today’s Fischer (ok a small hint: He is a Russian GM and he really understand what is Fischer chess and its capability to get back real chess). He is doing the same mistake as Fischer already done: go alone and fight against the stupidity alone. There is a good quote about it: “Never argue with an idiot; they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” So these idiots won against R.J. Fischer. But they won’t win this time. We’re better equipped now: we have the internet and in a matter of clicks we can play real chess again and once we really enjoyed to play real chess, we can connect together and start a worldwide movement to beat chess mafia. We can do it and we’ll do it. Just after the nuclear winter I guess, unfortunately :(

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One dedicated player is enough to play real chess again!


The problem is there is none such player in professional chess world today. Bobby Fischer was such a dedicated player and lived his final years in total desperation about the enigma of dark guys and their evil intentions about blocking the real chess demand from professional chess players. Still nowadays, this blockade exist and very well structured and supported by crude oil-computer oligarchs. I won’t write a very long and detailed blog post about the current terrible situations on world peace and an its amazing connection to the need of real chess demand. Today, I have more and more information about these dark guys who systematically destroyed Fischer’s brilliant idea about returning back to the good old days about the tournament chess play. My recent terrible experience about the ongoing war on Middle East gave me an extraordinary reasoning(or a vision) about why Fischer failed to popularize Fischer Chess (chess960). He failed because he didn’t meet/find a single dedicated chess player like himself. Now he passed away and there is no such dedicated chess player like Fischer to make people to realize they are not playing chess but overplaying a chess variant also called #518. I myself as a very amateur chess player maybe a patzer tried to play real chess with titled chess players by using a very dirty instrument called money. Yes, maybe I succeed better than Fischer about the popularization of real chess also known as Fischer random chess, FRC, chess960. But still I failed to create a Europe-wide chess959 movement due to some unexpected family problems plus the negative change of living conditions because of dirty politics and world peace. But I’m not totally resigned from my job as a keen fighter of fair chess play. One thing I’m so sure from my good and bad experiences on current world politics and chess: People will destroy the bad guys on chess and they will do this with a fashion. Time will verify my optimistic claim. Just watch it: One day some professional chess player in this tiny planet really understand he/she played just a chess variant (#518) and he/she will start to play real chess again. And once this special moment starts, it can’t be stopped by neither oligarchs nor evil-minded dark guys not because of dark guys weakened or failed, because of a desire to play real chess by a chess professional. It is unstoppable and very soon…

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We need clean air, oops sorry clean chess!


Nowadays super-duper computer-invaded chess#518 world represents old cars make air pollution worse. Lets dig car industry a bit and compare it with current active chess community and its profiteers. Well, in car industry the biggest profiteers are oil producers, because in order to start a car engine you need fuel. So, more and more cars built with the support of oil producing countries and its allies for the last 100 years if not more. In late 1960’s and early 1970’s when someone talk about the possibility of an electric cars they either killed or bribed and join the community. Very similar situation is currently going on in chess world even nowadays. With the support of the computer industry (read it oil producers in car industry), new players join this ugly super-duper computerized/memorized chess community with their fancy databases and silicons. 20 years passed after Bobby Fischer introduced chess960 to the world chess community. After that time just like in car industry, chess960 supporters either killed (of course I don’t have any proof, call me conspiracy theorist or sort of) or bribed and became silent until death. When did you last time hear Valery Salov?

Just like fossil-fuel based cars have no future, chess#518 have no future at all. We need clean chess just like clean air! Let me tell you something serious: You can’t/won’t breathe clean air with all the oil oligarchs alive and well-motivated for more profits. Just like Greenpeace, chess world needs NGO’s to resist against chess tyranny and oligarchy. Without resistance and well-prepared plan, players will continue to play chess518 until the declaration of chess is totally solved. Even after this late-declaration, I suspect majority of players will still continue to play it. What a beautiful world we currently live in?!

Another false argument about non-popularity of chess960 even after 20 years of public announcement by Fischer himself, is about the non-existence of a tournament organizers and sponsors. Let me repeat again: “They won’t come and start to organize a big chess960 tournament unless computer industry allow them. And chess software and databases are still very profitable business together with the coaching stuff (read it opening preparation)”. And more important, just like oil producers can’t support electric cars manufacturers, so the computer industry won’t support real chess (a.k.a chess960, a better word would be chess959). It is a miracle that when all the fossil-fuel based cars removed from the streets, and more and more clean cars seen on the street, it will be the time that we also see more and more chess959 players will play this wonderful game called chess. Future is bright. Take your position now! Tomorrow will be too late for you.

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Can computers give an idea to humans?

In a recent article written by Sagar Shah titled (Garry Kasparov still has the magic! ) had an interesting claim: Computers (in this case supercomputers) can give an idea to humans in a chess game. Really?


11…f5!? A very interesting idea suggested by the computer.

This is what exactly written in chessbase article above. Ok. Let me give you some brief information about what is a mind and what is an idea exactly.

The essence or nature of a mind, Descartes says, is to think. If a thing does not think, it is not a mind. In terms of his ontology, the mind is a (finite) substance, and thought or thinking is its attribute. Insofar as the essence or nature of a mind is to think, where thought is the mind’s defining feature, Descartes calls it the mind’s principal attribute. An idea is a mode of thought.

In light of the way that Descartes employed the concept of mode, to say that something is a mode of X is to say that it is a way of being X. Thus, in being a mode of thought, an idea is understood as a way of being thought (or a way in which an instance of thought or thinking is manifested). This is similar to what he says about a body, its principal attribute, and its modes.

The essence or nature of a body is to be extended (in length, breadth, and depth). A body is a (finite) substance, and extension is its attribute. Since extension is the defining feature of a body, Descartes refers to it as a body’s principal attribute. Shape, for example, is a mode of extension. What this means is that shape is a way of being extended (or a way in which an instance of extension is manifested). Thus, shape is to extension as idea is to thought.

Insofar as ideas are modes, they occupy the lowest rung on Descartes’ ontological ladder. This can be contrasted to Plato’s theory, for example, which casts ideas as substances, occupying the upper-most rung of the ontological ladder. So, whereas for Plato ideas are the most real things in the cosmos, for Descartes ideas are among the least real.

Ideas are not the only modes of thought. For example, doubting and judging are modes of thought. Even so, according to at least one analysis Descartes provides, ideas are understood as being elements or constituents of these other modes of thought. Early in the Third Meditation, for instance, Descartes works out a basic division of the modes of thought. He sorts them into two basic kinds: ideas and the other modes of thought, which are more complex since they include an idea and some “additional” mental feature. He writes:

First, however, considerations of order appear to dictate that I now classify my thoughts into definite kinds, and ask which of them can properly be said to be the bearers of truth and falsity. Some of my thoughts are as it were the images of things, and it is only in these cases that the term ‘idea’ is strictly appropriate — for example, when I think of a man, or a chimera, or the sky, or an angel, or God. Other thoughts have various additional forms: thus when I will, or am afraid, or affirm, or deny, there is always a particular thing which I take as the object of my thought, but my thought includes something more than the likeness of that thing. Some thoughts in this category are called volitions or emotions, while others are called judgements.

In this passage, ideas are cast as modes of thought that represent (or present or exhibit — Descartes uses such terms interchangeably) “objects” to the mind. Strictly speaking, it is the only kind of mode that does this. For, even though an instance of one of the more complex modes of thought presents an “object” to the mind, as in the case of one’s fearing a lion or affirming the Pythagorean Theorem (where the lion and the theorem are the “objects” presented), it is the ideational element (the idea) that does the presenting. Even so, Descartes is careful to not identify ideas as pictures or as visual images, but instead says that they are as it were [tanquam] images of things.

So, Mr. Shah please be more careful next time you connect the word idea with supercomputers or whatever giant metal pieces and silicons. Instead of using the word idea I would use the following: A supercomputer suggested a move calculated by brute force. And one final note: How can a computer suggest an idea to humans even they(it) don’t know if they are existed or not?

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An interview with Aaron Grabinsky (NM)

chess959: I would like start with a very tricky question:


Aaron Grabinsky: Sure.







chess959: Which one is a chess variant: Chess960 or SP#518 (RNBQKBNR)?

Aaron Grabinsky: SP#518? though not exactly sure. What exactly is SP#518?

chess959: The chess we already knew: Rooks at the corner…

Aaron Grabinsky: oh, lol, then no, chess960 right? yea, chess960 would be the variant

chess959: Just think about it for a moment.

Aaron Grabinsky: Okay :) I guess in a funny way, SP#518 would actually be the variant.. huh, never thought about it that way.

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

Aaron Grabinsky: Maybe because chess960 isn’t as popular as SP#518? that would be my guess, so people assume it’s the variant.

chess959: That’s the point. People assume it a chess variant. But it is not. Chess960 is a generalization of chess. If Chess960 were a variant of chess, then chess could not be a position within the variant. But it is! Chess960 encompasses chess. We have a chess centric point of view I think.

Aaron Grabinsky: yes :) chess 959 doesn’t include normal right?

chess959: Yes, chess959 means no more SP518

Aaron Grabinsky: yea, well that makes sense, about the variants, I mean,,, which is which

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.

Aaron Grabinsky: hmm, I didn’t know about that! I’ve always played chess, lol.. Pretty new to 960

chess959: But you’re playing so creative…

Aaron Grabinsky: But it sounds cool! Yes, thank you! I actually like chess 960 better!,,, in a way

chess959: I can only compare your games with Sergey Volkov (GM) or very strong FM Jan Gombac: my main training partners currently.

Aaron Grabinsky: How did they compare?

chess959: I mean the quality of your playing very close to GM level.

Aaron Grabinsky: Cool :) that’s nice, minus the theory advantage in normal chess. I’m much closer to GM level then… well, that’s interesting.

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?

Aaron Grabinsky: Well, I suppose it would be more beneficial to use the one in your mind,,, as your memory would be stimulated. But, I’m a little confused, lol. Physical opening book?

chess959: It means the books you can open in your OTB games.

Aaron Grabinsky: Oh, I’d say the difference is sight vs memory.

chess959: In Chess960, memorization is laterally spread rather than longitudinally deep.

Because there are small subsets of critical start positions that need to be memorized in Chess960, players will memorize variations laterally across a subset of positions rather than longitudinally deep in one position as we do in traditional chess. Therefore the overall memory burden is no greater than traditional chess. In fact I can predict already that in future generations of Chess960 players, the total quantity of memorization that we now see in traditional Chess (SP518) will be exactly mirrored in Chess960. There will be great benefits in memorizing certain start positions. However, this practice of memorizing openings will never be at the expense of general creative over-the-board opening play as we see today in traditional chess, because the memory task in Chess960 is so monumental that conceptual thinking in the opening will always be the dominant mode of thinking.

Aaron Grabinsky: This sounds like an improved form of chess, it could be the future! Very interesting.

chess959: Exactly. It is the future.

Aaron Grabinsky: It might just replace chess.

chess959: You are a smart guy.

Aaron Grabinsky: In fact, I think it will! cool :)

chess959: But there is one problem: and a big one.

Aaron Grabinsky: What?

chess959: Very very big one: MONEY

Aaron Grabinsky: How so?

chess959: Sponsors and current chess oligarchy.

Aaron Grabinsky: Oh, well it will have to be advertised and promoted and I hope it will come through though.

chess959: Ok Aaron. Thanks for talking to us.

Aaron Grabinsky: Well, I really like 960! Thanks for being interested in it and introducing me to it more :) Good talking with you too, and see you Tuesday for more 960! :)

chess959: yeah,,, have a good day!

Aaron Grabinsky: okay, cya later! you too.

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An interview with Jan Gombac (FM) Part 2

chess959: Hello Jan, thanks again for accepting us for the second part of the interview we already made the first part.

jangombacJan Gombac: Yes, you are welcome.




chess959: Today we’ll touch some sensible topics and most probably someone will manipulate that information into some other, first things first: we don’t have any intention to attack someone’s religious beliefs or something else.

Chess is a “waste of time” and causes enmity between players, according to the grand mufti of S. Arabia. This is not the first time that a spiritual leader has denounced chess as a distraction from religious devotions. An Italian sage of the 11th century, Saint Peter Damian, scolded the bishop of Florence for his weakness for the game. Chess was initially outlawed by Iranian Revolution which prevailed in 1979; however in 1988, Ayatollah Khomeini said it was permissible as long as it is not combined with gambling. However a contemporary Shia leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani of Iraq, has emphatically forbidden all forms of chess, whether played online or with physical pieces, and regardless of whether betting is involved. Why do fundamentalist religious leaders feel threatened by chess?

Jan Gombac: Well, there are several options here. Firstly I would like to say that I don’t agree with the statement that chess is a waste of time-chess (despite the fact that nowadays needs an improvement in terms of its randomization) is a highly educative tool for people and it develops capability of critical thinking. The first possibility is that those leaders who prohibit it simply aren’t aware of it, but it is also possible that they are aware of it, but don’t want their nation to be capable of critical thinking. Than there is of course also the fact that every religion has it’s restrictions. Here we need to distinguish between faith/belief and religion-faith is always ok, it’s a personal belief in God, while religion is actually just a political movement. On this planet-above all-we need to be afraid of egoism, racism and chauvinism, in my opinion.

chess959: Did you know that there are 64 squares on the chessboard and 64 codons in human DNA?

Jan Gombac: No, I didn’t know. I did know about the first part, of course.

chess959: Here is my connection possibly labeled as absurd, but anyway here it is:

There is a secret code located on chessboard that allows humanity to achieve immortality. The most dramatic discontinuity (of religious traditions) will surely be when we achieve effective human immortality, which, whether it’s achieved by biology or digitally is not clear, but that is something that inevitably will be achieved.

Jan Gombac: Well, I do know that there is already a practice of freezing people when they die. In order to bring them back to life after some medical progress will be made. Anita Ryskin is such an example, but not the only one. And yes, I agree, this will be the most dramatic discontinuity of religious traditions.

chess959: Ok, lets continue with Kasparov.

Jan Gombac: Aha, here we go.

chess959: “I remember in the late seventies Tigran Petrosian was complaining, he was annoyed about the Chess Informant and all these new magazines, telling us younger players that chess is losing its beauty because there is too much preparation being done, there is so much information you should look for. It was really a different game he used to play twenty years before. And he called my generation the “Chess Informator generation”. And when I look today at the top one hundred list, of the best players, I guess that more than half of the players from that list – the top one hundred list from FIDE rating – they were some of them born, and most of them learned how to play chess after the creation of ChessBase. So I think this generation can be called the “ChessBase generation”.” ~ Kasparov

It really is hard to believe that Kasparov can so fundamentally misunderstand what Tigran Petrosian was saying:

Kasparov goes on to say how chess databases have helped chess to become more “sophisticated” and advanced. Can he be serious? I shake my head sometimes but also respect how beautifully asleep the chess world is. Tiger Petrosian was not talking about the beauty of Chess being destroyed, but that the beauty of how Chess used to be played is being destroyed. In the early days of Chess, players had to be creative and think through the moves from the start as they played. They also had to be very disciplined and creative in their study as well, because many judgement errors could be made simply in the analysis. But modern readily available database information is washing that “beautiful” way of playing and studying clean away. That was Petrosian’s point. That was Bobby Fischer’s point as well. When will Kasparov understand that?

Jan Gombac: Haha. Well, the point is that Kasparov already understands that. I don’t want to discredit his creativity as a chess player, but he is well-known for his deep opening preparation. Also, it would be interesting to know on which side is he politically-on Israeli/U.S.A. or on the Arab? And it would also be interesting to know who is taking away the oil from Arabic people? And there is of course the connection: oil-electricity-computer​s-chess engines/databases-chess opening preparation. I would also like to say that we, promoters of the random chess, aren’t anti-chess propaganda, but pro-chess propaganda. I would like to invite readers to watch Fischer’s videos about Fischer-random chess, they are on youtube, the title of videos is “Bobby Fischer is travelling from Japan to Iceland”. And, please, don’t pay any attention to his long beard or so, but instead just close your eyes and listen to his deep words. And Petrosian was also correct with his judgement, of course.

chess959: Wow Jan, you prepared well.

Jan Gombac: Well, I consider it to be my duty, but also my pleasure.

chess959: Kasparov goes on in a wishy washy fashion about the benefits of “Advanced Chess” which he has been pushing for the last fifteen years. He probably has some idea that teams of kids can play Advanced Chess together and use databases in open competition. I think that is a consistent idea, but what message is it teaching kids? That we have almost complete information to solve the problems of the future world that these kids will inherit?

The problems that these kids will have to face, cannot be solved with databases alone, because they are going to have to deal with many unresolved questions of perception. When we stare into a database we tend to see only what is familiar to us conceptually, no matter how big the information store is. Problems we will have to face right now and in the future will have to be resolved by creative and skeptical thinking, where kids should be taught not to be afraid of the genuine unknown and the complex, but in fact to actually embrace it and be challenged by it. Do Kasparov’s ideas to have kids looking up a chess database actually help that?

It is a bit like saying that giving a pocket calculator to a team of children will help them think better. He then concludes with a warning to, which will be perfectly obvious to them already, that if they do not innovate they will go under…. Kasparov simply states the obvious but offers no real ideas. He has been doing this for years. He did it with Chess960 when he offered a solution to play a few Chess960 positions but never followed it through despite that he knows that it has much to offer (just as a very simple example, SP534 is just as deep as SP518). His other idea was to create another chess superstar as he himself was by promoting Magnus Carlsen very openly. But how good an idea was that when you actually think about it?

Jan Gombac: I don’t think that Kasparov’s ideas are actually helping kids. First of all, we need to be aware that Kasparov is a very political person. He supports this so called neo-liberalism very much. He is very much pro-capitalist. It is, of course, another question how liberal the capitalism really is. I don’t think it is. But Kasparov has, of course, always his economic calculation on his mind. And then there is a problem of selection of the nature, or-maybe better to say-law of the evil: people are very open when some comfort is offered to them, but very conservative when some discomfort is offered to them. And, unfortunately, they consider chess databases/analysis to be the comfort, while they consider chess960 to be the discomfort. In reallity is of course, the other way around. After all-chess should be mostly about critical thinking. And if chess is mainly just about following computer analysis (and it goes into this direction) then I would prohibit it myself. And about Carlsen-yes, he is also mainly Garry Kasparov’s product. As we can see, he also doesn’t play/promote chess960. Anyway-the main rule for big majority of people in capitalism is the following: don’t think, just obey and everything will be alright.

In chess960 computers could be used as well, but their usage wouldn’t be essential (like in chess) and that bothers people like Kasparov, because it would ruin their economical calculation.

chess959: Interesting analysis Jan. It seems to be you’re not a regular chess player but have deep knowledge on economics and current politics. You’re very correct on capitalism and liberal ideals misconnection. And you’re totally correct on the connections of oil, electricity, computer systems and here it is ICCF. Did you know engine usage is allowed there?

Jan Gombac: You mean in correspondence chess? Yes, I knew it. It is totally ridiculous in my opinion.

chess959: Yes human correspondence chess is dead already. Only centaurs compete each other in correspondence chess.

And actually we’re talking about same things over and over: More money!

It won’t be a surprise to see a next world correspondence chess champion will be an oil-rich Arabian Sheikh or a South American drug lord or a Russian oil oligarch. The last one at least culturally chess-rich.

Jan Gombac: Yes, it’s dead already because it doesn’t really represent anything but the strenght of engines. Some will argue, of course, that it is important how a human directs a chess engine, but consider this-give a thousand times stronger processor to a non-chess player and he/she will win against anybody in correspondence chess. Of course it won’t be a surprise, since this world is all about money (power). No room for fairness, honesty and really constructive creations, when you think about it. Haha, Russia is really culturally chess rich. However, it is also true that chess comes from Arabic world-just look at the above mentioned connection from oil to chess opening preparation.

chess959: Jan thanks for your time. We know how busy you’re, hopefully we can make the third part of this interview not too distant future.

Jan Gombac: You are very much welcome and I look forward to the third part.

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An interview with Jan Gombac (FM)

We recently made a short interview with Jan Gombac (FM) about chess960 and current chess politics. He is not only a strong SP518 player, but also a strong chess player.

chess959: Thanks for accepting an interview with chess959.

jangombacJan Gombac: You are very much welcome.





chess959: I would like start with a very tricky question:

Jan Gombac: Sure.

chess959: Which one is a chess variant: Chess960 or SP#518 (RNBQKBNR)?

Jan Gombac: Well, actually I would say that SP#518 is more of a chess variant, while chess960 is generally chess.

chess959: Chess960 discourages addictive game play. In chess lets face it what do we do these days? We play one game online. If we win we play another straight away because we are already familiar with the opening that worked for us and little energy is required to replay that opening . So we dive right back in again and again repeating the same opening book looking to gratify ourselves with another win. If we have lost a game, do we actually try a new idea or just play the same opening plans hoping that we will get lucky next time? Because the Chess environment starts predictably, it encourages us to treat the game like a poker machine. This phenomenon of Chess was not a problem before the internet when we used to play chess in a physical club in our town! But these days we are all online at any moment of the day or night ready to dive onto the chess poker machine pulling the same levers expecting to get a different result. But Chess960 just does not work like that. You have to be disciplined at move one and it takes a lot of energy to play the opening phase without rote memorization to fall-back on. So if you have lost a couple of games, Chess960 encourages you to go and take a break, because there will be no getting lucky unless you are fresh and thinking creatively. What do you think?

Jan Gombac: Well, partly I agree-a player certainly needs to be more fresh in chess960 than in traditional chess. And as for trying to introduce an improvement after a loss (or even after a win out of unsuccessful opening) it depends on a player/person who plays the game. Another matter is, of course, at what point does this improvement comes. Sometimes it comes-believe it or not-even after the move 30.

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

Jan Gombac: Very good question. I’ll explain it. Who benefits from not promoting chess960? Players? Not really. After all-the main reason why they started to play chess was-at least in big majority of cases-an opportunity to be original, plus who really wants to make long lasting and exhausting, computer-based opening preparations before literally every game? Spectators? No. Who wants to watch same movie over and over again? (Watching same opening moves over and over again.) Arbiters? They couldn’t care less whether chess or chess960 is played. So-logically it’s the organisers, who benefit from organising chess tournaments and publishers of chess databases and books. They are afraid that they will lose all that. However, they obviously don’t know that we could have all that in chess960 too. So, players and spectators are the servants of tournament organisers. It should be the other way around, of course. I think chess players should really stand up for their rights.

chess959: The group of “960” could be: Levon Aronian, Alexander Grischuk, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Peter Leko, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Hikaru Nakamura, David Navara, Judit Polgar, Peter Svidler. Any others?

Jan Gombac: Sure, why not? They all enjoy chess960 very much and play it very well. However, I do believe that sooner or later everybody would play (at least some!) chess960.

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?

Jan Gombac: Well, it is certainly true that many games in chess are nowadays pre-arranged literally move by move. So that there is no play whatsoever. And another bad thing about it-these games then go into chess databases and people use them as a “study material”. That is another thing that wouldn’t be possible in chess960. Players can, of course, always pre-arrange the result of the game, but I’m totally sure that in chess960 we would have considerably less of that. If players in chess are allowed to use opening book during the game, I somehow consider the game to be pointless in it’s bigger part. If they only use opening book in their mind (memory), it’s what we have in chess nowadays. Somewhat less pointless as the previous option, but still pretty pointless. Because of the high speed of the development of chess openings it is impossible to compare, for example, Carlsen and Kasparov. In chess960 that would be totally possible.

chess959: You correctly pointed out that players and spectators are the servants of tournament organisers. And these organisers are the servants of the sponsors. There is a closed door there. How can players open it? I mean how can they break this?

Jan Gombac: Well, to openly speak out about their true game-preferences, plus-if necessary-by boycotting chess tournaments in the sense that they simply wouldn’t participate in them. Also, believe me, top chess players have more than enough money, so they could easily organise chess960 tournaments themselves and participate in them as well. All at the same time. They are therefore not even depending on chess money anymore.

chess959: Jan thanks for your open and brave answers. Looking forward to play an interesting training games with you in chess959.

Jan Gombac: Well, as I said, you’re more than welcome. I also look forward to these games. So, thank you too.

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Some hard questions for chess philosophers and the elite

Which one is a chess variant: Chess960 or SP#518 (RNBQKBNR)?

Chess960 is not a variant of chess. Chess960 is a generalization of chess. If Chess960 were a variant of chess, then chess could not be a position within the variant. But it is! Chess960 encompasses chess. ~ Harry


When will SP#518 become an ancient variant of chess960?

Fischer is a man ahead of his time and his ideas are road markings for the 21st century. Fischer’s proposal of changing the starting positions of the pieces, making more room for creativity, is the only way that the human race can retain its vitality in the face of inevitable technological progress. Like his chess clock, which is used more and more, his idea of a chess game will be accepted – whether in twenty or fifty years is immaterial. ~ GM Ljubomir Ljubojevic, 1999


If the purists are so insistent that chess 960 is not “real chess”, why did we let computers rule the analysis of classic chess? When did that become acceptable? (question borrowed from Michael Sutton)

This is all about money. Database developers, chess engines, opening book publishers (and authors), chess coaches using fancy word opening repertoire, they all created the new trend and the market. ~ mirlife



Chess 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.

We are making a basic mistake in our thinking about Chess960. Nothing has been created and nothing has been destroyed in the process please understand that. We had a specific starting position SP518. Within that specific form, there is an undeniable inference that a general form is possible. That general form was there all along within the specific form, buried within it. In other words the specific has implied the general and the general implies the specific, but both entities were always existent from the moment the specific form was created. It is just a chicken and egg problem in our mind.

When Chess was invented, so too was Chess960. All that has happened is that today we have reached a moment in causality where we acknowledge that Chess960 is necessary in an age where every single chess player on the planet can analyse SP518 to death with their pocket computer. ~ Harry


Chess960 incorporates traditional chess 100%. When you play traditional chess, you are in fact playing chess960, restricted to one of the 960 different start positions (RNBQKBNR). I could say that the just-finished Olympiad was really a chess960 tournament restricted to RNBQKBNR, and I would not be wrong. (I would raise a storm of controversy, but I would not be wrong).

Chess960 is an evolution of traditional chess. To use an analogy, imagine I build a house on a lot that was previously empty. I call the road it is on ‘Chess Street’. The house might be in use for centuries before someone (a certain Mr. Fischer) gets the idea to build more houses on the same lot. He builds 959 similar houses and, to make it easier to identify the houses, assigns them numbers. My original house turns out to be no.518 on Chess Street. Note that I haven’t altered the function of the original house nor have I destroyed it. It is still available to everyone who used it before. But for those who are tired of the same house and want something a little different, they have many choices.

I could carry the analogy further, but I’m not sure it would help clarify the difference between traditional chess and chess960. People who want to continue living at no.518 on Chess St. can do so. They do, however, have choices that were not available 20 years ago. ~ Mark Weeks


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

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