Weary of regular chess and all the loads of opening theory? Then try Chess960 or the variant also referred to as Fischer Random Chess. The 11th World Champion Robert James Fischer was a well-known advocate of the concept of shuffling the back-rank pieces to deal with the importance of opening theory. 960 is the number of probable starting positions.

The starting position in Chess960 is unsystematic, but there are a couple of requirements.

  • Bishops have to be on opposite-colored squares.
  • The king has to be placed on a square between the two rooks.
  • Black’s pieces are put opposite White’s pieces.

Aside from the beginning position, the only other difference between chess and Chess960 is the rules for castling. Castling is somewhat different since the rooks can begin the game on several squares. 

Guidelines:

  • After your castle in Chess960, the castled position will look the same as in standard chess.  
  • Like in regular chess, the king and rook must not have moved.
  • The squares between the king and the rook that is castling have to be vacant, and the squares the king crosses must not be in check.

How is the Chess960 starting board position determined?

The starting board position is created randomly. There are 960 probable board positions. Beginning with the white pieces, the eight pawns are put on the eight squares of the second rank just like in standard chess. The pieces on the first rank are put randomly, according to these criteria:

In chess960 you place the king between the two rooks. 

  • The king must be placed on a square between the two rooks.
  • The bishops must be placed on opposite-colored squares.

Once the white pieces are set, the black pieces are set up to emulate the white pieces. For instance, if the white king is on d1, the black king will be on d8. The king can never be on the a or h files since there would be no way to place it between two rooks.

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