Chess Variants/Fischer Random Chess

a b c d e f g h
8a8 black rookb8 black kingc8 black knightd8 black bishope8 black queenf8 black rookg8 black bishoph8 black knight8
7a7 black pawnb7 black pawnc7 black pawnd7 black pawne7 black pawnf7 black pawng7 black pawnh7 black pawn7
6a6 black kingb6 black kingc6 black kingd6 black kinge6 black kingf6 black kingg6 black kingh6 black king6
5a5 black kingb5 black kingc5 black kingd5 black kinge5 black kingf5 black kingg5 black kingh5 black king5
4a4 black kingb4 black kingc4 black kingd4 black kinge4 black kingf4 black kingg4 black kingh4 black king4
3a3 black kingb3 black kingc3 black kingd3 black kinge3 black kingf3 black kingg3 black kingh3 black king3
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawne2 white pawnf2 white pawng2 white pawnh2 white pawn2
1a1 white rookb1 white kingc1 white knightd1 white bishope1 white queenf1 white rookg1 white bishoph1 white knight1
a b c d e f g h
One of Fischer Random Chess's 960 possible starting positions. Specifically, position number 243.

IntroductionEdit

Fischer Random Chess (also known as Chess960) is probably one of the best-known chess variants out there. Randomising the starting positions of the home-rank pieces eliminates the usage of opening theory and forces players to use skill and creativity to gain an advantage over their opponent.

Fischer Random Chess also had its rules implemented into the FIDE Laws of Chess in 2008, the only chess variant with this honour.

HistoryEdit

Although chess variants with randomised opening setups had been suggested as early as 1792, Fischer Random itself was created by its namesake, former Chess Champion Bobby Fischer, who began developing the rules after his 1992 match with Boris Spassky. The rules were formulated in 1993 and unveiled formally to the chess world on June 19, 1996, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The first Fischer Random tournament was held in Vojvodina, Yugoslavia in 1996.

Fischer's goal was to eliminate the usage of opening theory, forcing the players to use new and original strategies to gain the upper hand in the battle.

As you might guess, the name "Fischer Random Chess" is derived from Fischer's name. The alternate name "Chess960" was proposed by German chess player Hans-Walter Schmitt and is derived from the number of starting positions.

RulesEdit

Fischer Random Chess is played in the same manner as the standard game, with the exception of the starting setup and castling.

Before a game of Fischer Random Chess begins, the starting position is determined and set up on the board. To begin, White's pieces (except his pawns) are placed in a random manner on the first rank, subject to two restrictions:

  • The two bishops must be on opposite colour squares.
  • The king must start somewhere in between the two rooks.

After the white pieces have been set up, the black pieces are placed equal-and-opposite to the white pieces (For example, if the white king is randomly determined to start on f1, the black king starts on f8).

Then, the pawns are set up as normal on the second and seventh ranks, and the game begins.

A modification is also made to the rules concerning castling, in order to accommodate the random setup. Like in standard chess a player may castle one per game, moving both their king and rook in one move. Castling in Fischer Random works as follows:

 a b c d e f g h  
8        8
7        7
6        6
5        5
4        4
3        3
2        2
1        1
 a b c d e f g h  
Both sides are ready to castle.


A player may either castle a-side (the equivalent of queenside castling in standard chess) or h-side (the equivalent of kingside castling in standard chess).

  • When a player castles a-side, the king and rook are moved to the positions they would end on when castling queenside in standard chess (so, the king moves to c1 and the rook to d1).
  • When a player castles h-side, the king and rook are moved to the positions they would end on when castling kingside in standard chess (so, the king moves to g1 and the rook to f1).
 a b c d e f g h  
8        8
7        7
6        6
5        5
4        4
3        3
2        2
1        1
 a b c d e f g h  
White has castled h-side and Black has castled a-side


Like in standard chess, in Fischer Random Chess there are a few restrictions concerning castling:

  • Neither the king nor the rook taking part in castling may have been previously moved in the game.
  • None of the squares in between the king's starting square and destination square may be under attack by an enemy piece.
  • The king may not be in check.
  • All of the squares in between the king's starting and destination squares must be clear of pieces, with the exception of the rook taking part in castling.

Sometimes these castling rules can create interesting situations. For example, in the example diagrams shown here, the white rook on f1 does not move when White castles h-side. Also, if the black king started on c8 rather than b8, it would not move when castling.

Sub-variantsEdit

  • Chess480 uses a different castling rule - the king moves two squares towards the rook, and then the rook jumps to the other side of the king. As a result, castling cannot be done in a certain direction if the king does not have enough room to move (e.g. it starts on b1 or g1).
  • Shuffle chess does not use the starting setup restrictions, so bishops can be on the same colour squares and the king can be outside the two rooks. Castling cannot be done unless the king and rook are on their traditional starting squares
  • Chess256 (also known as Randompawns chess) applies the randomisation of Fischer Random Chess to the pawns, so each pawn will start on either the second or third rank. Like in Fischer Random, Black's setup mirrors White's.
  a b c d e f g h  
8                 8
7                 7
6                 6
5                 5
4                 4
3                 3
2                 2
1                 1
  a b c d e f g h  
An example of a Chess256 starting position.