Free Programme Chess

by George Jelliss

From Variant Chess, Volume 3, Issue 26, Winter 1997-8, pages 115-116,
Issue 28 Summer 1998, pages 171-172

Back to: Home Page      Part 2

This article is based on a small booklet which John Beasley found in Tel-Aviv recently, with the title Free Programme of Chess, containing the results of a tournament held at the Tbilisi Chess Palace, Georgia, from 30 May to 5 June 1995, and involving a group of very strong players of the orthodox game in a form of Free Chess devised by Gela Guraspashvili.

There were 12 players, all from Georgia, including 2 grandmasters, 3 international masters, 2 FIDE masters and 5 national masters, with Elo ratings from 2000 to 2500.

Play was in two 6-player groups, each pair playing one game, the two top scorers in each group going through to the final, where each pair played two games.

The booklet, contains 40 of the 42 games, and is surprisingly written in English, though it would have benefited from the attentions of a better translator. The statement of the rules is confused. The following is my interpretation, deduced from the evidence of the actual play:

  1. The game commences with an empty board. The players alternate in putting pieces on the board, each in their own half of the board. One bishop on each colour. Kings first.
  2. Pawns cannot be placed on the back rank, and only have the double move from the second rank.
  3. When all the pieces are in place movement proceeds, but White may not capture on the first move (i.e.17th turn.) in this phase.
For ideas concerning alternative rules see below

There is an unclearly formulated rule that appears to permit a player to move a piece within his half of the board or even perhaps to transfer it to any other square before all his pieces are placed. But pieces placed after the 16th turn can then only be entered on the back rank. This option is not used in any of the games, and seems an unnecessary complication.

There is no rule prohibiting a piece being placed where it would check the opposing king, though this seems to be observed, perhaps as a matter of courtesy, in the games, in all of which the kings are always placed on the back rank.

If kings were placed on the third or fourth ranks and checks were allowed this could result in positions with K in multiple check from pawns or knights. On the other hand if checks were prohibited, placing the king in an advanced position would restrict the placement of the opponents pieces, but probably any advantage in this is heavily out- weighed by the danger to the king from his advanced position.

Almost all the games in the booklet regrettably contain misprints, some of which make the final stages of the games incomprehensible. My guess is that they have been produced direct from the players hand-written score sheets, and that moves were not properly recorded when the players were caught in time trouble.

On the other hand, the games were played at a rate of 90 minutes for each player to complete all his moves, which one would have thought plenty of time to allow most games to reach a conclusion, yet the longest last only 39 to 42 moves (including the 16 placement moves) and none concludes with mate.

It is not made clear whether the final results were agreed, determined by the fall of the flag, or adjudicated. It may be that the final stages of the games were played at speed and that the moves were not recorded.

However this may be, here are some games from the Final. The four finalists were: Lasha Dzhandzhgava (alternatively spelt Janjgava) GM 2500, Tamaz Tabatadze IM 2450, Giorgi Bagaturov IM2460 and Alexandre Dgebuadze IM 2425.

In many cases I have used some guesswork in correcting misprints so cannot guarantee that the moves are exactly those played. Expert orthodox players may be able to deduce more likely lines of play.

Game 31: Bagaturov Tabatadze.

The pieces were placed in the sequence: Ke1, Kb8; Ra1, g5; Rh1, f5; Nd2, Bb7; Bb2, e5; c4, c5; e3, Rg8; Qc2, d5; d3, b6; f2, Rh7; g3, Bh8; Bg2, Nd6; f3, Qf7; b3, b5; a3, Na5; Nc3, c7; to give the position:

Play then continued: 17. b4 Rh1 18.Bh1 bc4 19. bNa5 cd3 20. Qd3 c4 21. Qc2 d4 22. ab6 cb6 23. a4 d3 24. Qc1 e4 25. Ba3 Rd8 26. Rb1 Qh5 27. Bg2 ef3 28. Bf1 f4 29. gf4 gf4 30. Rb6 fe3 31. Qb2 eNd2 32. Kd1 Qh1 33. BNd6 Ka8 34. Kd2 Qf1 35. Ra6 BRa6 36. Qb6 RBd6 37. QRd6 (01)

Game 34: TapatadzeDzhandzhgava.

Placement: Kg1, Kg8; g3 d5; f2, e5; d3, Rf8; e3, c6; Rc1, Bg7; Bg2, Be6; Bb2, Rf7; Nd2, b7; c4, Ne7; Rb1, d6; f3, c5; Ne2, Ng5; Qc2, g5; g4, f5; h3, Qd7.

Play: 17.Rf1 b5 18. e4 f4 19. Nc3 d4 20. Ne2 Nc8 21. Rs1 Nb6 22. Rfb1 Ra8 23. Ra8 Na8 24. Bf1 Nb6 25. Kg2 Rf8 26. Ra1 Qb7 27. Nc1 Ra8 28. Ra8 Qa8 29. Be2 Bf6 30. Qb3 Nf8 31. Bd1 Qa6 32. Be2 Bd8 33. Kf1 Kf7 34. Qa2 Qa2 35. Na2 bc4 36. dc4 d5 37. cd5 cd5 38. ed5 Bd5 39. Nc1 c4 40. Ne4 Ne6 41. Nd6 Kf6. (01).

Game 35: BagaturovDzhandzhgava.

Placement: Ke1, Kb8; Ra1 d5; Bg2, e5; Bb2, c7; g3, Rf8; b3, b7; c4, a7; d3, Bc8; e3, Nf6; Nf2, a6; a3, Rf7; d2, d6; Rh1, Qg6; Qc2, g5; f3, Bh6; Nb4, Nc5. (The diagram in the booklet has WPe2, but WPd2 seems to be needed to support 20. Be3.)


Play: 17. Bf1 d4 18. ed4 ed4 19. Bd4 Re8 20. Be3 a5 21. d4 Bf5 22. Rh6 Bc2 23. Rg6 Bg6 24. dc5 ab4 25. cd6 ba3 26. dc7 Kc7 27. Ra3 g4 28. Bg2 a6 29. b4 gf3 30. Bf3 Bh5 31. Bh5 Nh5 32. b5 ab5 33. cb5 Nf6 34. b6 Kc6 35. Rc3 Kb5 36. Rc5 Kb4 (Kb6? 37. Re4). Draw. (). (The final moves are given as 37. Rc4 Kb5 38 Rc5 Kb4, i.e. draw by repetition of moves, but Rc4 is unguarded so there is some error in the record.)

Game 36: Tapatadze Dgebuadze.

Placement: Kb1, Kg8; Rg1, d5; b3, Bg7; a2, g6; Rh2, Rb7; e3, c5; f4, f5; d3, e6; Bb2 Bf7; Bf1, Ra8; Nf3, d6; c4, h5; h3, h7; Qa1, Ne8; b4, Qh8; Nd2, Nb5 (taking advantage of the rule that White cannot capture on the first move).

Play: 17. a4 Nc3 18. Kc2 cb4 19. d4 dc4 20. Bc3 cb3 21. Nb3 bc3 22. Ng5 Nc7 23. Bc4 h6 24. Nf7 Kf7. (10) (The move 21. Nb3 is missing from the text, and other moves are misprinted, so this reconstruction is conjectural.)

Game 37: Tapatadze Bagaturov.

Placement: Kg1, Kg8; c4, e5; e3, f5; d3, Bg7; Rc1, g5; Bb2, Nf6; g3, Re8; Bg2, c6; Rf1 d6; h3, Bd7; Nd2, Ng6; Ne2, d5; f2, c5; Qc2, Rh7; h2, b5; f3, Qh8.

Play: 17. Rfe1 f4 18. d4 Bh3 19. Qg6 Bg2 20. h4 gh4 21. gf4 ef4 22. Qg2 Rh6 23. ef4 Qh7 24. Kh1 Qd3 25. Rg1 Nh5 26. Qg7 Ng7 27. dc5 Rf7 28. cd6 Rd6 29. cb5 cb5 30. Be5 Rde6 31. Nb3 Qf3 32. Kh2 Re5 33. Nbd4 Qf2 Rg2. (01)

Game 38: DgebuadzeDzhandzhgava

Placement: Ke1, Kg8; Bg2 d5; c4, c6; d3, Nf6; e3, Bg7; Rh1 h7; Bb2, Rf8; g3, Bd7; f2 e5, f4, g5; b3, Qe8; Qa1, d6; Ne2, f5; Ra3, Ng6; f3, Rc7; Nh3, c5.

Play: 17. Ra4 gf4 18. gf4 d4 19. fe5 de5 20. Ba3 Qb8 21. Nc1 de3 22. Qe5 ef2 23. Nf2 Re8 (01) The diagram in the booklet has three White knights and no Black rook; so a lot of reconstruction here which may not be correct.

Game 39: BagaturovDgebuadze

Placement: Ke1, Kg8; Bb2, Bg7; c4, d5; b3, c6; e3, e5; Qc2, Rf8; f2, Rf7; Nd2, g5; g3, Bg6; f3, h5; Be2, d6; d3, Qh7; Rh1, b5; Nc1, Nc5; a3, Nf6; Rh2, h6

Play: 17. g4 hg4 18. fg4 bc4 19. bc4 e4 20. d4 Nd3 21. Bd3 ed3 22. Qd1 Ne4 23. 00 Nd2 24. Qd2 dc4 25. f4 gf4 26. ef4 Be4 27. f5 d5 28. Na2 Qg6 29. Rg2 Qg5 30. Qg5 hg5 31. Rd2 c5 32. dc5 d4 33. Rc1 c3 34. Nc3 dc3 35. Bc3 Bc3 36. Rc3 Rh7 37. Rcd3 Bd3 38. Rd3 Rc7 39. Rd6 Rc5 40. Kf2 Rc3 (01)

Game 40: DzhandzhgavaTapatadze

Placement: Kg1, Kg8; Bg2 e5; d3, f5; g3, g5; f2, d5; e3, c6; Nd2, Nf6; Rc1, Bd7; Bb2, Re8; d4, Ba7; Qa1, c5; Nc2, Ne6; b4, Ra8; a3, d6; c4, b5; Ra2, Qh7.

Play: 17. a4 bc4 18. dc4 cd4 19. b5 Kg7 20. bc6 Bc6 21. Nb4 Bb7 22. Ra3 Rac8 23. Rb3 Ba8 24. cd5 Nd5 25. Rc8 Rc8 26. Nd5 Bd5 27. Rc3 Rb8 28. Rc1 de3 (01)

Alternative Rules

At the end of the booklet on Free Programme Chess (described on pages 115-6) there is a comment from the winner, Lasha Dzhandzhgava, suggesting that doubled pawns should not be permitted and that a longer time limit is needed. The former point is certainly valid and a rule that one pawn be placed in each file can easily be incorporated.

I would also question the placing of the kings as the first move. The evidence from the games is that this results in the line pieces being set up in massive batteries directed towards the kings field, with a consequent tendency to rather unsubtle direct attacks and rapid exchange of major pieces. It seems to me that placing the kings last could be more entertaining, keeping the opponent guessing where it might go, and encouraging a freer deployment of the line pieces.

It also occurrred to me that if the pieces were required to be placed in a definite sequence, there would be no need to give the placement moves as well as a diagram of the position reached: the moves could all be deduced from the position.

The obvious sequence is: Ps Ns Bs Rs Q K. The pawns being placed from each player`s left to right (i.e. a to h for White, h to a for Black) and the first N, B and R being placed on white, the second on black.

Another alternative would be a rule that no man may be placed where it attacks or is attacked by an opposing man. This would ensure that there are not multiple choices of pawn-captures on the first move and that the line-pieces tend to be placed behind the pawns. GPJ

Back to: Home Page    Top of page

Free Programme Chess

by Davit Gurgenidze Vice President, Georgian Chess Federation

From Variant Chess, Volume 3, Issue 28, Summer 1998, pages 171-172.

We would like to thank you for your interest in our experimental tournament in Free Programme Chess (Variant Chess 26). A further match was played at the Tbilisi Chess Palace, 25 February to 4 March 1998 between the two young Georgian Grandmasters Giorgi Kacheishvili (2520) and Lasha Janjgava (2495). The moves of the games follow.

The rules were as before: the game begins on an empty chess- board and the opponents put the pieces by turns on the first four ranks. The first piece to be placed is the king. In this match doubled pawns were not allowed, and White was not allowed to capture a piece on the 17th move. (Italic notes are by the editor.)

Game 1. KacheishviliJanjgava

Ke1, Kb8; Ra1 e5; Bb2 d5; h3, g5; b3, h5; g3, f5; a2, b7; Rf1 a7; f4 c5; d3, Bg7; c4, Re8; e3, Rd8; Ne2, Nc6; Bc2, Bg8; Ng2, Qh8; Qa3, Nb5:

17.Qa4 Nb4 18.000 dc4 19.Qb5 cd3 20.Bd3 e4 21.Bg7 Qg7 22.Bb1 Nd3 23.Rd3 ed3 24.Bd3 Qa1 25.Bb1 Bd5 26.Ne1 Be4 27.Nc2 Bc2 28.Kc2 Re3 29.Rf2 Red3 30.Qa5 b6 31.Qe1 Rd1 32.Qd1 Rd1 33.Kd1 Qb1 34.Nc1 h4 35.gh4 gh4 36.Rc2 Qa1 37.Rd2 Qg7 38.Ne2 Qa1 39.Nc1 Qg7 40.Ne2 Qg2 (draw by repetition not accepted) 41.Rd3 b5 42.Kd2 Kc7 43.Re3 Kb6 44.Rc3 a6 45.Re3 Ka5 46.a3 Qf1 47.Rc3 Kb6 48.a4 ba4 49.ba4 Qa1 50.Rb3 Kc6 51.Nc3 Qh1 52.Ne2 Qd5 53.Kc2 Qe4 (0-1) (Times: 1.45, 1.37)

Game 2. JanjgavaKacheishvili

Kg1, Kb8; h2, b7; g2, f5; c4, e5; f2,a7; b4, g5; Nf1, h5; e2, c7; d3, d6; a4, Bd8; Rb2, Rf8; Ra3, Rh7; Qb1, Qg7; Be1, Bc8; Nc2, Ne6; Bd1, Nd7

17.b5 g4; 18.Nb4 f4 19.a5 Ndc5 20.e3 Ng5 21.ef4 ef4 22.d4 Bf6 23.Na6 Ka8 24.dc5 Bb2 25.Nc7 Qc7 26.Qb2 dc5 27.b6 Qd6 28.Bc2 Re7 29.Bd2 Ne4 30.Rd3 Qc6 31.Bc1 f3 32.g3 Nf2 (01) (Times 1.45, 1.45)

Game 3. KacheishviliJanjgava

Kb1, Ka8; a2, e5; b2, d5; c2, c5; d3, f5; Re1, Bg7; Bh1, g6; h3, h5; e4, a7; f4, b7; Rf1, Nc6; Qg1, Bg8; g3, Nb5; Nb3, Rb6; Nc1, Ra6; Bf2, Qh8

17.a4 Ra4 18.Bc5 ef4 19.e5 Be5 20.Re5 Qe5 21.Bb6 ab6 22.gf4 Qd6 23.Qb6 Rb4 24.Qe3 Bf7 25.Qd2 d4 26.Re1 Nc7 27.Bc6 bc6 28.Na5 Nd5 29.Ncb3 Nb6 30.Nc6 Rb3 31.Re7 Qc6 32.Qa5 Kb8 33.Rf7 Qh1 34.Ka2 Ra3 35.ba3 Qd5 36.Qd5 Nd5 37.Rg7 Nf4 38.h4 (10) (Times 1.16, 1.55)

Game 4. JanjgavaKacheishvili

Kg1, Kh8; h2, h7; g2, g7; f2, e5; a2, d5; b3, c5; d3, b5; e3 Rd8; Nf1,a6; Rc1, f6; Be2, Bg8; c4, Rb8; Nd2, Ne6; Rd1, Nb6; Be1, Qe8; Qc2 Bh6

17.Ng3 g6 18.cd5 Nd5 19.Ndf1 (the first of much futile manoeuvring, White's position is cramped from the start) Bg7 20.Ne4 Bf8 21.Nc3 Nb4 22.Qb2 Nc6 23.Ne4 Qe7 24.Ned2 Bg7 25.Nf3 f5 26.Qb1 a5 27.Bc3 a4 28.Bb2 ab3 29.ab3 Nc7 30.N1d2 Na6 31.Qc2 Rb7 32.Qc3 Rbd7 33.Ne1 Qf8 34.Qc2 Ncb4 35.Qb1 Qe7 36.h3 Nb8 37.Ba1 N8c6 38.Bb2 h6 39.Ba1 Ra7 40.Nf1 Rda8 41.Nc2 Nc2 42.Qc2 Nb4 43.Qc5 Qc5 44.Rc5 Ra1 45.Ra1 Ra1 46.Rb5 Nd5 47.Bf3 Nc3 (trapping the WB) 48.Rb8 e4 49.de4 fe4 50.Bg4 h5 (51.Be6? Ne2 52.Kh2 Be5) 51.Bh5 gh5 52.g4 h4 53.Kg2 Ra2 54.Rd8 Nd5 55.Re8 Bc3 56.Re4 Be1 57.g5 Rf2 58.Kg1 Rf5 59.Rg4 Ne7 60.b4 Ng6 (01) (Times 2.30, 2.15)

Game 5. KacheishviliJanjgava

Kg1, Kh8; h2, a7; a3, h7; g2, g7; f2, e5; e3, c5; c4, d5; d3, f5; Nf1, b6; Ba1 Nf6; Be2 Rf8; Rc1, Ba8; b4, Bb8; Qc2 Re8; Rb1, Nd7; Ne1 Qg6

17.Nf3 e4 18.Nh4 Qg5 19.g3 f4 20.de4 fg3 21.hg3 Ne4 22.f4 Qe7 23.Ng2 dc4 24.Qc4 Ndf6 25.Rd1 Nd6 26.Bf6 Rf6 27.Qc2 c4 28.Rd6 Rd6 29.Qc4 Be4 30.Rb2 Rc6 31.Qb5 Rc3 32.Rd2 Bc6 (problem-like transposition of R and B functions) 33.Qa6 Rd8 34.Rd8 Qd8 35.Bg4 Be4 36.Ne1 Qd5 37.Qe2 Ra3 38.Bf3 Bd6 39.Be4 Qe4 40.Nf3 h6 41.N3d2 Qb4 42.Qg4 Bf8 43.Nf3 Ra2 44.Qf5 Ra5 45.Ne5 Re5 46.fe5 a5 47.Nh2 a4 48.Nf3 a3 49.Nh4 a2 50.Ng6 Kg8 51.Qe6 Kh7 52.Nf8 Qf8 53.Qa2 () (Times: 1.30, 2.20)

Game 6. JanjgavaKacheishvili

Kg1, Kh8; h2, h7; a3, d5; c4, e5; f2, g7; b3, c5; d3, b6; Rd1, a7; Re1, f5; Bc1, Rf8; Bg2, Re8; g3, Nf6; e2, Qd7; Nc2, Bh5; Nd2, Bb8; Qf1, Ne6

17.Ne3 Nd4 18.Bh3 dc4 19.dc4 Qf7 20.Bf5 Nf5 21.Nf5 Ng4 22.h3 Qf5 23.hg4 Qg4 24.Qg2 e4 25.Nf1 Be5 26.Ne3 Qc8 () (Times: 1.20, 1.45)

The games were played at one per day, 25, 26 and 28th February and 2, 3, 4 March. Three wins by Black, one by White, and two draws. Final result: Kacheishvili 4, Janjgava 2.

Back to: Home Page :  Top of Page