How to play Chess960

Chess960 is also known as Fischer-Random-Chess or Fischerchess. World champion (1972-75) Bobby Fischer developed this creative variant with 960 different starting positions. In 2009 the rules of Chess960 were adopted by the World Chess Federation FIDE.

Start positions – The King’s table

Chess960 Koenigstabelle 0-336
Chess960 Koenigstabelle 352-688
Chess960 Koenigstabelle 352-688

Start positions – The bishop’s table

Chess960 Läufertabelle 0-15

The two tables serve to quickly assign any Chess960 starting position (sp) on the white base row to a drawn number between 1 and 960 (or 0 and 959).

Find the same or next smaller number in the king’s table. Now determine the difference (0 … 15) to the drawn number and look for the matching bishop lineup in the bishop’s table. First place the two bishops on the basic row, then the six pieces in the order from the row found in the king’s table on the remaining six free places.

For example:

We are looking at SP 518. In the King’s Table we find No. 512:

Chess960 Königstabelle 512

For the residual value we find in the bishop’s table at no.6

Chess960 Laeufertabelle 6

All in all, the SP 518 = 512+6 is the well-known white lineup from traditional chess:

Chess960 SP 518

Rules of Chess960

Before the game begins, the pawns on both sides are placed on the 2nd and 7th rows as in traditional chess.

While all pieces move as usual and the pawns remain on the second row, the positions of the officers are drawn. There are some rules that guarantee that each player gets one white and one black bishop. In order to maintain equal opportunities for both sides, black is given the mirror-image basic position.

It is also important that one tower is to the left of the king and the other tower is to the right of the king.

How to play chess960

E.g.: SP 960

There are 960 different possible arrangements for the draw of the starting positions.

All rules of the game except for the special castling rules (explained below) are the same as in traditional chess.

Special castling rules

An important nuance that distinguishes Chess960 from Shuffle Chess are the castling rules. Since no less than 960 start positions are possible, the right of castling has been adapted and extended.

Please note: In Chess960 there are four different castling possibilities, depending on where the king and the towers are located in the SP:
  • “Castling in two moves”: a move with the king, a move with the tower.
  • “Castling with change of place”: King and tower change places.
  • „King’s castling“: only the king moves.
  • „Rook castling“: only the rook moves.

Important: In Chess960, the king and rook rotate together, no matter which of the above castling rules is applied.

Tip: Before you take any of the castling options mentioned above, it is advisable to announce castling in order to avoid misunderstandings.

The Chess960 does not speak of long and short castling, but of „c“- castling (is equal to 0-0-0 ) and „g“-castling (is equal to 0-0).

No matter where the king and the rooks begin, when a party decides to castling, the two pieces find their familiar place: In c castling, the king stands on c1 (c8) and the rook on d1 (d8), in g castling, the king stands on g1 (g8) and the rook on f1 (f8). Otherwise, however, the usual castling rules must be observed.

Important: Castling is only allowed if the maximum rook involved is from the king to his target square (incl.), and if the maximum king involved is from the rook to his target square (incl.) (this means in particular that the squares between both pieces must be free).

Remark: With Chess960 it may happen that after the c castling (0-0-0) on the squares a1, b1 and e1 there is a piece, or after the g castling there are pieces on e1 and h1. This is not possible in traditional chess.

Source (translated from german): Chess Tigers Training Center GmbH / Scharnagl,  Eric van Reem

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