I know that the old good question about engines vs humans has been asked multiple times, e. g. here.

But what about random chess (aka Fischer chess or chess960)? Can humanity feel confortable about struggling machines in this game?

Do you know of plays or championships that throws any light about the question?

  • 2
    This is really no different than asking who is best at chess, humans or engines?
    – Travis J
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 20:50
  • @TravisJ are you sure? youtube.com/watch?v=ePfQOKA9Oe4
    – BCLC
    Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 17:47

4 Answers 4


You have to understand, that a top ten player is superior to an engine in the opening, because he used engines to analyze openings for many years, and because engines usually don't have an opening book on the level of the preparation of a top player.

In chess 960 you basically take away the opening book for both players and at the very top this actually benefits the engine.

So I think there can be no doubt, that engines would be similarly superior in chess960 as in normal chess. But the only Human-Engine match I know of was still won by the human player: Peter Svidler vs Baron, 1,5:0,5 in the year of 2005. Of course the big jump in engine strength only came with Rybka in the very same year 2005.


The machine, hands down.

These days the machine is so incomparably stronger than a player, that even if a player comes up with a better long-term strategy, they will still lose to inevitably missing tactics. Even if they don't outright drop material, they will overlook threats and walk into a situation where they need to concede positional advantage to not lose that material.

It's good to understand the role of Engines in human opening preparation. Players would play through various lines against a computer looking for a good position, and using the engine to spot and avoid tactical problems for themselves, while laying tactical problems for the opponent. Thus when they get to the board, if the line played out matches the studies of one player more than the other, they will instantly know which moves to play and the other is in danger of falling prey to the tactics uncovered by the machine.

This is why Fischer invented Random, to get away from excessive analysis. It is impossible for a player to memorize 960 opening schemes. Yet a computer is capable of memorizing, playing itself thousands of matches AFK. But even if you throw that opening book out (and with the new generation following Alpha Zero, this doesn't even make sense) and elite players win the strategy of the opening, yet machines will crush them in the execution.


The engine.

It’s Chess960 time at the TCEC! (https://tcec-chess.com) The more I watch these games, the more I feel that the gap between humans and engines is even higher in Chess960 than in normal chess. I loved the opening phase of this game between two of the less famous engines on show. I’m not sure I would have thought of any of Black’s moves!

(Emphasis mine)


The basic difference between Chess 960 and Classical Chess is that by switching the pieces around at the start, you've in essence removed the computer's opening book. That would eliminate the potential initial advantage that had afforded, since most humans wouldn't have matched that. However, during the "960" opening and subsequently, the machine would go about business as usual, developing quickly and then searching for all possible tactics. Depending on the depth of search, it should prove superior to the vast majority of humans in that respect.

  • Without any opening pattern, human players would lose one of the most important advantage against a computer. The humans would need to compete with the machine in brutal tactic on move 1. Your answer is totally wrong. Please refer to the other answer by @BlindKungFuMaster, he correctly pointed out the fact about opening book.
    – SmallChess
    Commented Aug 9, 2015 at 14:01
  • I'm certainly no computer expert, but if you re-read my answer it would be hard to categorize it as "just wrong". It's hard to see how "removing opening knowledge benefits the engine considerably". And I did say that, "Depending on the depth of search, it should prove superior to the vast majority of humans in that respect."
    – CConero
    Commented Aug 9, 2015 at 14:33
  • Ok. I think the answer was confusing. First, you stated "eliminate the potential initial advantage that had afforded". That means the opening advantage that the computer had was eliminated. But then, you mentioned that the computer was superior to human after the removal. Clearly, there was a problem in the language.
    – SmallChess
    Commented Aug 9, 2015 at 14:39
  • If there's a last word on this, perhaps it should come from the variant's creator - ".....shuffle the first row of the pieces by computer ... and this way you will get rid of all the theory. One reason that computers are strong in chess is that they have access to enormous theory. I think if you can turn off the computer's book, which I've done when I've played the computer, they are still rather weak, at least at the opening part of the game, so I think this would be a good improvement." - Bobby Fischer, Sept. 1, 1992
    – CConero
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 13:04
  • 1
    @CConero 1992? No one in 1992 should have the final word on how chess engines play in 2015 (or now, 2021...)
    – Edward
    Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 17:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.