The 2022 FIDE World Fischer Random Championship is taking place in Reykjavik, Iceland over the current week October 24 to 30, 2022.
Fischer Random (“FR” or sometimes “Chess 960”) is a chess variant in which the starting position of the chess pieces (i.e. excluding pawns) is randomly determined. There are 960 possible starting positions, one of which is the classical chess setting. This chess variant was developed by the famous player, Bobby Fischer, as an alternative to classical chess. He was concerned at the time, about the potential for fixing games (especially by the Russians) and thought that FR was the answer.
Of late, there is also concern about the excessive use of computer engines in preparing for and analyzing classical chess games at the highest level. Then there is the recent issue of possible cheating in chess. Accordingly, there is increasing support for FR chess (as an alternative to classical chess) due to the added opening complexities associated with this chess variant.
The current Fischer Random World Champion is Wesley So and he is again a favourite in this year’s event. (FYI, Wesley won the 2012 Toronto International at Annex Chess Club, approximately 10 years ago.) Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura are also playing in the FR Championship and are expected to do well. (Hikaru recently visited ACC.)
The time control being used is 30 moves in 25 minutes, plus 5 minutes for the rest of the game, plus a 5-second increment per move starting from move 31. This time control is also known as “slow rapid chess.” This event is a double round-robin and the two games in each mini-match both use the same randomly-selected starting position. Players are not obligated to write down their moves, but need to keep track of the number of moves they make in the first 25 minutes in order to satisfy the 30-move game requirement. Players also get a 15-minute period in which to study the random opening position drawn, before play starts. (As we understand it, each player may discuss the opening position with their “second” but may not use a computer chess engine during the 15-minute period.)
Below is a game played on October 25 by Hikaru Nakamura and Magnus Carlsen at the Championship. You can replay the game and also watch a video analyzing it. This will give you a feel for how FR chess works. In this particular game’s starting position, 3 of the 8 pieces for each colour started in their normal spots. That left 5 random spots, of which the queen placement is probably the most interesting. The pawns automatically start in their normal spots in all FR games. The first few moves in this game are quite interesting. (In the second game with Nakamura playing the white pieces and the same starting position, he defeated Carlsen in 46 moves. You can see the game moves here.)
Game #1 Analysis Video
The games for this event are all available for review and study on Chess.com.
Here is a FIDE news post about the event.
Here is a link to the 960 possible starting positions and also some related random generators.
Here is a link to the FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship website. You can watch the games live, check pairings and results, and do a lot more there. (Note: Some browsers may not be compatible with the site.)
At ACC, we’d consider adding a one-night Fischer Random fun event in 2023 for both ACC Members (free) and non-members (small fee), if there is support for it. We’ll likely do a poll on ACC’s Facebook page to determine support for this possibility.
One of our current ACC Board Members, Michael Sutton is a huge proponent of FR/Chess960 and he wrote about it for ACC back in 2010. Maybe back then, he was just a little ahead of his time.