What Is Chess 960?

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Chess is no doubt one of the most popular board games. However, with the grown popularity of the game, many variants of chess were invented. Chess 960 is among the variants, which is a bit different from the classic chess game.

Well, you might be curious to know more about Chess 960. So, in this article, I will go over everything about the game so that you develop a complete understanding of the game by the end of the article.

What Is Chess 960?

Bobby Fischer invented Chess 960, a popular variant of the chess game. People also know this game by the name Fischer Random Chess.

After the rematch of 1992 against Boris Spassky, Fischer began to build his own style of chess. He formulated the principles of Chess 960 in 1993. And, he unveiled these to the world in 1996.

The board, as well as pieces, are the same in Chess 960 as in traditional chess. However, the beginning positioning of the pieces on the home ranking of players is random as per specified rules.

So, due to the obvious random structure, memorizing openings is impossible. Therefore, individuals will have to depend on their talent and inventiveness to achieve a lead across the board.

Both players will have to design unique strategies from the start and cannot rely on well-established trends. Fischer argued that by removing memorized standard moves, the competition would be even.

Another distinction between the classical chess game and Chess 960, apart from the starting position, is the rules players can use for castling. Because the rooks might start the match on multiple squares, castling is also a little different.

Why Is It Called Chess 960?

By maintaining the bishops in the opposing unit color for every player, one can keep the game’s dynamic aspect. The option to use “castle” as a movement is still present, giving you 960 starting points to choose from. That’s why the game is also known as Chess 960.

Bobby Fischer was one of the most talented chess players in history. Rather than repetitive recall of chess starting positions and processes, the ingenuity and insight that inspired his chess playing were the result of his unique knowledge of the norms of chess.

So, Fischer proposed to create a system for generating random starting positions in chess games. His response, in particular, generated 960 opening possibilities. However, the name of this chess version was Fischer Random Chess initially according to the name of the inventor.

But then, Hans-Walter Schmitt, a proponent of the chess variety, began thinking of a different title that would suit the demands of prominent grandmasters. While choosing the name he kept in mind the following things:

  • The name should not include any portion of a grandmaster’s name;
  • It should not contain elements that are negatively spongy or biased, for example, freestyle or random.
  • Everyone should recognize the term.

Finally, he came up with the name “Chess 960”, which referred to the 960 different starting positioning ways.

You might also be interested in checking out my article: Why Is Chess Called Chess?

What Are The Rules Of Chess 960?

All the rules of Chess 960 are almost the same as traditional chess except for the starting position and castling rules. One can choose the first board randomly, but it is bound by certain rules. Castling differs from other games in that the rooks may be on any of the squares at the match’s starting.

Fischer has altered the conditions for castling in Chess 960 to account for the fact that the fundamental positions of the king and the rook will differ depending on the starting board position.

Well, one will have to put both sides’ pawns on the second and seventh rows, like in classical chess, before the match starts. The officers’ placement is indicated while movements of other pieces are typical. Furthermore, certain restrictions ensure that every player receives a black and a white bishop.

The rules for castling are a major distinction in Chess 960. The castling right has been modified and expanded to include 960 different beginning positions. Starting with the pieces of white, the eight pawns are placed on the second position’s eight squares, much like in traditional chess.

However, players will have to arrange the parts in the principal position randomly per the following criteria:

  • Place the rooks on two sides of the king.
  • Use inverse tinted squares for the bishops.

After placing the white pieces, you must place the black pieces to reflect the white ones. For instance, if you have placed the king of white on d1, place the king of black on d8. Well, the tournament authority might determine the starting board position for you, or you can choose one based on a Beginning Position Identifier.

The beginning position identification is a number from 0-959 that corresponds to every possible starting point on the game board. It’s worth noting that the 518 starting board position is accidentally similar to traditional chess. Chess960 will proceed as a normal chess game if it started with this position on the board.

A few most important rules of Chess 960 are:

  • In Chess 960, after the players’ castle, the castled situation will resemble a standard chess position.
  • The king, as well as the rook, must not move before castling.
  • The squares between the casting rook and the king have to be empty, as well as the squares that the king passes must not be checked.

Also See: Basic Chess Rules Every Chess Player Should Know

Can You Castle In Chess960?

Every player can castle once every match in Chess 960, moving a rook and the king both in one single move. However, in every case, the uneven placement of a rook and the king in the game necessitates some changes to the traditional castling rules.

The final placements of the rook and king in Chess 960 following castling are identical to those in traditional chess. Besides, the conditions for castling are also the exact same as they are for traditional chess.

Well, for example, you can only move the rook and the king after castling. Moreover, an opposing piece may not attack any square between the king’s beginning square and its last square.

Also, excluding the castling rook and the king, you have to keep any square within their starting and ending squares vacant.

Is Chess960 Better Than Chess?

Chess 960 is better than traditional chess in terms of developing creativity and skills. Besides, this variety is also fairer than chess since the match won’t depend on how much someone can memorize certain patterns.

Well, as I have already mentioned, Chess 960 has 960 different starting positions. Memorizing all these positions will be completely absurd for human beings. Moreover, for a chess computer, it is also extremely difficult.

Thus, it would push the players to develop unique plays and strategies based on chess norms rather than making moves based on a large number of already documented opening concepts. So, the game will be a lot fairer.

You May Also Like To Read: Chess Vs Go: Difference Between Them Explained

Does Chess960 Help You Improve?

Chess 960 requires more thinking skills and less memorizing skills. So, playing and practicing it will no doubt help you improve your chess skills.

Many players of traditional chess memorize the different openings and positions of the game. Thus, the game was starting to get more about memorizing and less about skills and strategies. Even Fischer invented the Chess 960 variety mainly because of this reason.

Since remembering 960 different starting points is not practically possible, the game will be more about how well someone understands the game strategies rather than simply memorizing. So, your chess skills will improve and you will get to know new techniques of the game.

Also Read: Best Marble Chess Sets For Chess Lovers

Who Is the Best Chess 960 Player?

The first FIDE-recognized world championship in Chess 960 was held from 20th April 2019 to 2nd November 2019. In the final round, Wesley So beat Magnus Carlsen 13.5-2.5 to be the first world champion in Chess 960.

Considering the World championships, Wesley So is currently the best Chess 960 player. However, Peter Leko was the first winner of the Chess 960 tournament in 1996. Peter Svidler is also one of the best Chess 960 players who won the champion title of the Mainz Championship back to back three times from 2003 to 2005.

You Might Be Interested In Reading: How Many Chess Grandmasters Are There?

How Do I Get Good at Chess960?

You can get good at chess 960 by solving different tactics daily, as well as by learning from your mistakes. You have to analyze the losses and the consequences of your every move carefully if you want to get good at the game just like classical chess.

Chess 960 is not much different from traditional chess except the thing that you cannot use the memorizing method here. Since the game is solely based on skills and strategies, you will have to practice and analyze your moves to get better at the game.

Besides, rather than focusing on pawn movements, you should focus on developing the knights first. It will help you avoid traps, which can finish the game in three moves.

Furthermore, another thing to keep in mind while playing Chess 960 is to reach the standard position of chess as quickly as possible. Since you are familiar with the placements of classical chess, getting to the position will make the game way easier for you.

Also Read: Chess Vs Shogi


In short, Chess 960 is a variety of the traditional chess game, which Fischer mainly invented for reducing the opening theory impact. A player will require pure chess skills and strategies for winning the game since memorizing starting position won’t work.

I hope this article has given you an idea about everything you need to know about chess 960. Don’t forget that practicing and learning from your mistakes can help you in mastering any skill. So, practice the game regularly and be sure to analyze your every move.