- Kasparov's Chess960 Proposal GM Kasparov: 'I’m in favor of at least investigating doing one position per year from chess960.'
- Why Not Announce Positions Beforehand? GM Kasparov: 'I have always liked the idea of choosing a few decent positions. And, I don't think you need more than 15 to 20, out of the 960 possible random chess positions, many of which violate our sense for normal chess geometry.'
- Not Everyone Likes Chess960 GM Kasparov: 'As for Fischer Random or similar ideas, I'm very much in favor. Let's be very specific. Fischer Random in its purity is not such a great idea. It creates a mess at the chess board from the very beginning. Out of 960 positions, 95% are quite bad.'
- Kasparov *Did* Play Chess960 GM Shipov: 'I remember we played six games of Fischerandom chess, and there was no battle there at all! In completely unfamiliar positions, Kasparov's advantage over me was far greater than in normal chess.'
Kasparov recently visited the 2014 Tata tournament at Wijk aan Zee, where he conducted a press conference sitting next to Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam of New in Chess. The full session can be viewed on Youtube: Tata Steel Chess 2014 - Press conference - Garry Kasparov. At about 38:35 into the clip, ten Geuzendam asks him a question.
Q: When you became World Champion you created a revolution by the way you approached the game: big emphasis on preparation, you were incredibly well prepared. Now we have Magnus Carlsen and things have become slightly different. Where do you think chess is going at the moment?
A: Magnus' victory was very symbolic, and significantly, because four or five years ago, there was a big talk about chess being a drawish game. Sofia rules are very much a reflection of this fear because nobody believed that you can actually force players to go back to this fighting spirit. Magnus almost singlehandedly changed this perception.
I believe that the short draws are very much a psychological problem. The players feel that they are not obliged to play fighting chess. They have no responsibilities for the public and for the world of chess. The way Magnus played, and he's still playing, pushed them in this direction.
No one is talking any more about tournaments being too dull, too many draws. Look at this tournament [Tata] or look at any other tournament. The leader obviously influences the whole pack. The way he plays, it just offers us hope that -- without drastic reforms, this reshuffling of pieces in the opening position -- we still can go on for quite a few years with the classical chess and people can still enjoy it. I'm really grateful for Magnus for being such an inspiration for many players.
In this context, the mention of chess960, aka shuffling the pieces in the opening position, tells me that Kasparov believes it is intended to tackle the problem of short draws. While that might be a (welcome) side-effect, players are still free to agree a draw on the third move if they are so inclined (*). I really shouldn't be surprised by this. It's consistent with an observation I made in 'Kasparov's Chess960 Proposal'.
The purpose of [Kasparov's] suggestion seems to be letting professional players continue with the working methods they have used for decades -- preparing opening systems in advance, committing them to memory, and playing their ideas in important games against unsuspecting opponents.
The Sofia rules address the problem of short draws. Chess960 addresses the problem that the opening phase in chess is more and more about memorizing computer generated variations. It gives players a choice between studying opening theory (chess) or working things out themselves (chess960). The idea that chess960 is all about short draws is so prevalent that it deserves to be added to my list of Top 10 Myths About Chess960.
While I'm on the subject of GM Carlsen, I'll mention a previous post, Carlsen's First Chess960 Move? Perhaps he'll come back to it again some day.
(*) 'So inclined': Next Short Draw: 2750.