Consider a chess variant which plays exactly (*) as chess except that the players have a special option for first move.

White can, instead of moving a pawn/knight as its first move, sacrifice any of its pawns (removing it from the board) to reorder its pieces (within the first rank).

Then, Black has almost the same option: it can reorder the pieces instead of moving a pawn/knight, but a sacrifice of a pawn is optional.

Would it be advantageous for White/Black to pursue this option instead of a regular opening move?

Which would be the best options for sacrificed pawn and permutations of pieces?

(*) For castling: if the king is between the rooks, castling follows the rules of Chess960/Fischer Random Chess. If it isn't, castling is forbidden.

  • 2
    There are lots of ways to reorder pieces and AFAIK nobody has run anything like engine-engine matches for such situations. I don't see how this can be answered in any objective way. That being said, if I had to sacrifice a pawn, I'd pick a pawn in front of one of the rooks. Commented Feb 17, 2018 at 20:51
  • I would be more than satisfied with an imperfect human analysis of the trade-offs involved, or with creative and original ideas. If I were to guess, bishop at h1 with short castle (preparing to play g3) could potentially be useful even with the sacrifice of the a2 pawn, but I would like to hear more and better opinions.
    – user15832
    Commented Feb 18, 2018 at 1:31
  • If White doesn't re-order his pieces by sacking a pawn, is Black allowed to reorder for free anyway or not ?
    – Evargalo
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 9:53

1 Answer 1


A few thoughts, but as I expressed in the comment, I don't think this question will have a single good answer.

Based on general opening principles in regular chess, I would not sacrifice a central pawn, because that might reduce control on the center.

Secondly, in order to speed up development, I would sacrifice a pawn that already opens lines or diagonals for the development of rooks/bishop/queen.

Based on my experience playing Fischer random/chess960, I found positions quite convenient where the bishops are on a1, b1, g1 or h1, so that they immediately attack something once the pawns moved away.

Combining all this, one possible position could be

8/8/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPP1/BBKRQNNR w - - 1 1

Here I go for an atack on h7, g7, and also all pieces could support any operations in the center of the board.

  • But wouldn't I put a rook on c8 and sacrifice the pawn on c7 in return?
    – Jens
    Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 21:54
  • @Jens And then what? Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 9:55
  • With Black, if I reshuffle with smg like (a8 to h8) KBBNNQRR I feel like my king is save for very long and my Ph7 as a great future... I don't think White has any compensation for the missing pawn.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 13:35

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