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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