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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