Considering the great depth to which most opening lines have been analyzed by computers now, requiring a voluminous memory to compete successfully at the highest levels, is substituting the variant Chess 960(Fischerandom) for classical chess a desirable option to revitalize the game and restore the creativity that was once its hallmark?

  • 1
    You used two different words and my answer depends on which one you choose. Yes, it is a great alternative. No, it is not a substitute.
    – dfan
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 13:57
  • Dag, No, of course I wouldn't want to eliminate classical chess entirely, so "alternative" is the appropriate word to use. I certainly haven't memorized any openings beyond a few moves myself, so classical chess will always be more than adequate for me. I also realize that memorizing openings is not as important as understanding them anyway. Sorry for the ambiguity.
    – CConero
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 17:12
  • I don't know if the question is appropriate for the site, but I think it is a worthwhile question just the same. I think chess is played out. Chess960 would be a way to inject more life into the game without changing the essence of the game.
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 1:43
  • CConero, it's true that questions which are primarily opinion-based are discouraged on this and other SE sites (though those criteria do not originate from me personally in any way), and as phrased this question is on that fence; the nice answer from BKFM manages to speak to the matter rather objectively though, and I won't be voting to close this unilaterally.
    – ETD
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 15:44
  • (And just to be clear, this site is no more mine than it is any other user's; I'm merely a volunteer pro tem moderator elected near the beginning of the site's public beta, and the community as a whole decides its own guidelines, e.g. via discussion at meta.chess.stackexchange.com/.)
    – ETD
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 15:45

2 Answers 2


I want to put forth a few arguments, why I don't consider it desirable to substitute classical chess with Chess960:

  • The rumours of a draw death of chess have been greatly exaggerated. The idea that chess will one day be played out, is more than a hundred years old, but the draw rate in top level chess is actually growing very slowly. And the rate of short draws has decreased a lot in the last decade because of Sofia rules and similar measures.

  • The idea of the draw death and of Chess960 is that opening theory will become the dominating factor in top level games, but in recent years it has been pretty obvious that the opposite is actually happening. Nowadays you cannot really regularly outprepare your opponents anymore. Players like Carlsen don't even try to get opening advantages, they just go for an unknown position and play chess. In the end, when everything is known about openings, preparation will probably play less of a role, not more!

  • Openings are an integral part of how chess is played. Openings are rather like genres in literature, they have their own character and this adds depth to the games. Many players like "their" openings. I wouldn't be any happier about never playing or replaying a king's gambit game anymore than I would be about never reading an epic fantasy novel again. If you throw opening theory out of the window, you also get rid of a lot of knowledge and history. In the end you have games that are played on a lower level and aren't part of an intricate and well understood history of games in a particular variation.

Conclusion: Chess960 is a fun alternative, but substituting classical chess with Chess960 would probably be more of a loss than a gain.

  • I disagree with your first point. Something like 57% of GM games end in a draw. That's horrible. Clearly the best players are finding the right moves. Contrast to Shogi, where less than 1% of professional games end in a draw. I also disagree with your second point. Are you telling me that the top GMs don't know all the likely openings to a great depth? Sure, they may play for odd positions, once they deplete their massive opening books. Further, I would not use Carlsen as an example - he's an outlier.
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 22:34
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    But it has been like that for 40-50 years. Draws are just a normal part of chess. I don't see how that is horrible. 57% isn't nearly enough to risk the competition within tournaments. Shogi is just a different game, that there is even 1% of draws is more of a glitch in the rules then a normal occurrence. And Carlsen is not an outlier anymore, even Kramnik isn't going for killer novelties these days. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 7:44
  • "Players like Carlsen" Could you name who are you referring to please? Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 18:36
  • amen to this. as much as i subjectively extremely prefer chess960 to chess, i unfortunately can't objectively say chess960 is a superior game to chess (but maybe i can say objectively it's about as good :P). lol in re OP's wording about the alternative vs substitute
    – BCLC
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 1:42

BlindKungFuMaster has offered some interesting points from the perspective of the GM players and those watching it. I would like to offer some from the perspective of the newcomers.

Chess960 (and/or Chess480) is the great alternative to the classical chess, because it makes it impossible (or much more difficult) to win by simple memorisation, and one must actually use original thinking from the very first move.

Currently there are, of course, things like this that take place, but in most cases if a newcomer will play somebody 2000+ then the stronger opponent may actually not need to think at all for the first many moves.

Where Chess960 fails in that regard is when we talk about castling, and Chess480 would be a better alternative, since it doesn't require a person to "intuitively" feel the known castling positions.

  • What are these lines that allow for forced wins using only simple memorization? Also, a 2000+ playing a beginner may not need to think at all for the entire game. Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 14:36

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