To play 960, or not to play 960; that is the question.
While classical chess rightfully remains most popular, players may also enjoy and benefit from the chess960 challenge . . . an exercise in creativity . . . useful for improving play in general?
The advantage of chess960 is maintaining the principles of classical chess while providing varying starting positions to thwart memorization and rote play. Still, classical chess, with its great history and literature, will likely always be the dominant standard . . . and, indeed, the best way to learn strategies and tactics for chess960 variations.
GM Anatoly Karpov: I would love to play Chess960 with Fischer. It is not necessary to spend ages preparing some opening variations, because there is just no theory. It is important to be in good shape and to have a clear mind. Than you can play a match with Fischer and you can even beat him.
GM Hikaru Nakamura: “What I learned is that in certain positions you can play more for diagonals, play on the flanks a little bit more, as opposed to having to play strictly in the center,” said Nakamura. “But really the main principle to follow is that you have to play in the center most of the time.”
Women’s GM Jennifer Shahade: “. . . I realized how much energy you must put into developing your pieces harmoniously in 960. One of the things that fascinates me about 960 is that some positions are a lot easier to play for Black, while others require creativity and brute force calculation to avoid disaster.
. . . think of a 30 minute game more as a 15 or 20 minute game, because unlike the regular starting position in chess, you have to come up with opening strategies and concepts of development from scratch, not relying on well-ingrained patterns.
. . . it’s important to remember to follow basic opening principles such as development and centralization. . . . In 960 you often find pieces fighting for air.
. . . In particular, I think the knights are weaker pieces in 960, since unlike in chess where they easily can hop to f3 or c3, it’s often hard for them to find stable squares.”