I am watching the Fischer Random World Championship with Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So, and I am wondering how they determine the starting position?

Is it software that picks, or do they start left to right, and pull pieces out of a bag? Or is it some other way?

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    Anyone: I brain-farted, and created a chess-360 tag. How can I delete that erroneous tag? Nov 1, 2019 at 20:33

2 Answers 2


8.4.3. Drawing of positions

● Set up of the pieces will be decided by a drawing made by Fischer Random Generator software with all players present 15 minutes before the start of the first game of each time control. This setup then will be used for both games. The players will attend this drawing, and will then be given time before the start of play to confer with a second.

Found in the download here: https://www.frchess.com/regulations

Interestingly, if the classical position is picked then they pick again.

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    Thank you. I looked, but I missed that little link within the link. It was almost invisible. This is what I was looking for. Nov 1, 2019 at 21:02
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    I am a bit surprised that classical position allowed to be picked in the first place, since it is what FR chess is attempting to avoid. I got classical position in FR on lichess.org once; it was very strange.
    – Akavall
    Nov 1, 2019 at 21:54
  • The classical starting position - and its mirror - are indeed among the 960 valid starting positions. In such cases the Chess960 rules play out identically to standard chess, including castling rules. Excluding these positions from the system would actually have complicated it.
    – Chromatix
    Nov 1, 2019 at 22:05
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    The mirror position is little different, because of castling rules, even though king is on d1 the castling to queenside puts King on c1 and rook on d1, and kingside King on g1 and rook on f1, so it is not exactly like standard chess. I got this position on lichess.org as well. But why would excluding classical position complicate anything? It seems that organizers of FR chess championship have to take an extra step to do it.
    – Akavall
    Nov 1, 2019 at 22:22
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    I guess to me it really is chess959, since one position is classical chess. I see how implementation gets more complicated if want to avoid the classical position, but it is still, very, very easy to implement. I would be surprised if extra complexity is the main reason for including classical position as one of the 960.
    – Akavall
    Nov 2, 2019 at 3:06

Many professional-grade chess clocks are capable of randomly choosing a valid Chess960 starting position and describing it to the players. I suspect that in many tournaments, this is how it's done.

It is also possible to choose the position using other sources of randomness, such as rolling dice. Standard gaming dice sets include not only 6-sided cube dice (known as d6), but 8-sided, 10-sided, 12-sided, 20-sided, and 4-sided types as well.

A Chess960 position can be fairly chosen using 2d4 of contrasting colours (to choose the positions of the bishops), a d6 (to place the Queen on the remaining squares), and a d10 (to place the knights). The rooks and king are placed on the three remaining squares, with the king in the middle. This procedure also corresponds to the method of deriving a position from a position ID outlined here.

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    I have a DGT 3000, which is a FIDE-approved clock, and the one you see at all the major events, but it does not have the generator function. I did not know that that existed, and a lot of their other clocks do have it. Thank you. Nov 1, 2019 at 21:02
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    Right. It's also not difficult to write software to do it on a normal computer, such as a Raspberry Pi or a typical laptop.
    – Chromatix
    Nov 1, 2019 at 21:14
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    Of course, it should be easy if you are a programmer, but I was more curious about the rules specific to the current world championship in progress. I could not find the link that ZachMann posted. Otherwise, I also liked your answer. Nov 1, 2019 at 21:16
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    The only DGT clock I know of that has a Chess960 starting position generator is the DGT Travel Timer. I'm surprised they put it in that one, but not any of their other products.
    – patbarron
    Nov 1, 2019 at 21:29
  • @patbarron It is in that one, and its predecessor the Pocket Timer...they look about the same, so it is not a surprise. I wonder if it is not in the others because of something in FIDE's requirements to make them "FIDE approved". Nov 1, 2019 at 21:34

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