"Two dozen programmers from around the world have signed up to compete in Germany next month in the first computer chess tournament devoted to Chess960, a game variant invented by fugitive chess genius Bobby Fischer that's slowly gaining rank among grandmasters.
The rules of Chess960 are mostly the same as orthodox chess -- but the setup incorporates something once considered anathema to the game: chance. Pawns begin where they always do. However, the pieces behind them on the white side are arranged at random, with the proviso that bishops must end up on opposite colors, and the king dwell somewhere between the two rooks. The black pieces are lined up to mirror the white.
That makes for 960 different starting positions in the game, instead of just one. The point of Chess960 is to free chess from the yoke of memorization.
The opening phase of a chess game as currently played has been subject to a hundred years of scholarship and play, and today players are hard pressed to find so much as a viable pawn push within the first 20 moves that hasn't been thoroughly analyzed."
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