by Peter Wood
From Variant Chess, Volume 3, Issue 25, Autumn 1997, page 94
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Rochade Europa reported a Shuffle chess tournament in Leipzig which attracted 26 players. The tournament was labelled as Fischer chess, but his reported castling rule (see VC 18, p.174) was not adopted.

The pieces were separately randomised for each of the 5 rounds, the only restriction on this being that Bishops were on different coloured squares. Black`s randomisation was the same as White`s (mirror image), and there was no castling.

The winner of the tournament was U. Voigt of Leipzig with 5 out of 5; second was R. Schone of Potsdam (ELO rated 2355), third equal were A. Peters of Leipzig and R. Voigt of Bohlen, all with 4 points. Out of the 65 games only 8 were drawn.

Here are two games. Unfortunately, presumably because of time pressure, the full scores are not available. The notes are from Rochade Europa .

K. Damering — K. Hauer
Randomised a/h: BNKBQNRR

1. e4 e6 2. b3 f6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. Qe3 Be7 5. Nb5 b6 6. Qg3 e5 7. Ne3 a6 8. Nc3 Nd4 9. Ncd5 Nfe6 10. Re1 Nc5

11. B:d4? (11. d3 ) 11.... N:e4 12. Qf3 e:d4 13. N:e7+ Q:e7 14. Nc4 d5 15. Nb2 Qa3 16. R:e4 d:e4 17. Qf5+ Kb8 18. Kb1 Qc5 (Exchanging Queens leads to the destruction of Black`s pawn structure, giving White more counterchances. 18.... Qb4 is better.) 19. Q:c5 b:c5 20. Na4 c4 21. b:c4 Ka7 22. c3 e3 23. f:e3 d:e3 24. d:e3 B:g2 25. Rg1 Rb8+ 26. Bb3 Be4+ 27. Kc1 g5 28. Nc5 Bg6 29. Nd7 Rbe8 30. N:f6 R:e3 31. Nd5 Re5 32. N:c7 Rf8 33. Rg2 The game was eventually drawn.

U. Voigt — R. Schone
Randomised a/h: NRRBBKNQ

1. d4 b5 2. Nf3 Nb6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Be2 c6 5. b3 d5 6. Ne5 Ne4 7. f3 Nd6 8. c3 c5 9. Nc2 c4 10. Nb4 f6 11. Ng4 h5 12. Nf2 Bg6 13. Rb2 Rb7 14. Na6 Nd7 15. b4 Nf5 16. e4 Ne3+ 17. Kg1 d:e4 18. N:e4 Rb6 19. Nac5 N:c5 20. N:c5 Rbc6 21. Bd2 Nd5 22. a4 a6 23. g3 e6 24. f4 h4 25. Bf3 h:g3 26. h:g3 Q:h1+ 27. K:h1 Bf7 28. Ra1 g5 29. a:b5 a:b5 30. f:g5 f:g5 31. Nd7+ Kg7 32. Ne5 R6c7 33. Ra6 Bf6 34. Ng4 Be7 35. Rb1 Rc6, and W won some moves later.

Despite these interesting games that resulted with no castling, I believe that the option to castle (often taken for granted) enhances the game. The Fischer rule is too complicated in my opinion; I would keep the K and Rs on their original squares, just randomising the other pieces (making sure that Bishops are on different coloured squares).

Fischer castling rule : ‘the King must stand between the Rooks. Castling either side is permitted, but the final castled position must be identical to an orthodox castled position, e.g. Ra1, Kb1; castle 000: Kc1, Rd1'.

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Progressive Fischer Random

by Malcolm Horne
From Variant Chess, Volume 3, Issue 27, Spring 1998, pages 136-137.

The first World Wide Web Championship of Progressive Fischer Random Chess, organised by Hans Bodlaender of the Netherlands, took place via the Internet between December 1996 and October 1997. Twenty-one players entered from eleven different countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia, Finland, Canada, the USA, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary and Brazil).

The players were split into three preliminary groups, then the top two from each group went through to a six-player final:

The victor, Alfred Pfeiffer from Germany, won all his games in the tournament bar one; in the preliminary round he set up the position incorrectly in one game and as a result was promptly mated! Alessandro Castelli had to withdraw shortly after the final started, and his results were in fact one loss (to Pfeiffer) and four defaults.

Three different randomised starting positions were used in the preliminaries, and a further three in the final, so that each player faced (at most) the same starting position once with White and once with Black. Black's starting line-up mirrored White's, and Scottish (rather than Italian) progressive rules were used — see the Cassano v Honkela game below. Moves were sent by e-mail and players were asked to respond within one week.

Fischer's version of Randomised Chess places the king between the rooks in the starting position. Castling either side is then possible, but the final castled position must be identical to an orthodox castled position, e.g. if Ra1/Kb1/Re1 then 000 (Kc1/Rd1) or 00 (Kg1/Rf1). Randomised Chess has often been played in the past without castling but, as Peter Wood has stated, the castling option adds uncertainty and tension in the opening, and enhances the game. The Fischer rule is a little peculiar however, and I think there's much to be said for Peter's suggestion that kings and rooks remain on their original squares, enabling normal castling, with only the other pieces being randomised. (In all versions it is of course appropriate to have bishops running on different colours.)

However, the above remarks apply to the randomisation of orthodox chess. In the progressive game castling is so rarely desirable that whether you have it or not really doesn't make much difference. For Progressive one might, I think, prefer a completely free no-castling randomisation (save for the bishop proviso, and that Black mirrors White for fairness). On the other hand, the Fischer name does add a certain weight. But what a pity that Fischer himself has publicised (and played?) Fischer Random Chess so little since its launch in 1996!

Why play Progressive with a randomised starting position? I think there are two good reasons. Firstly all opening theory — and there is a lot of it about these days — is dispensed with. For me that's a plus, but of course it's a matter of taste. Secondly opening play is quite a bit different, and there are new tactical motifs and unusual mating threats. The randomisation of Progressive Chess has a greater effect than the randomisation of the orthodox game.

Here are some games from the tournament (three from the preliminaries, three from the final). The standard of play in the preliminaries was rather low (60% of games did not get beyond move six), but the games in the final were harder fought.

(1) Preliminary Round
Fabio Santoni (Italy) v Jouni Tolonen (Finland)


1. g3 2. c6, Ncb6 3. g4, Qg3, Q×b8† 4. Resigns (1-0)

I don't think I've ever seen such an early resignation in Progressive! Black's problem is that if, after ... Nc8, he uses his other three moves to grab the queen (with the Na8 or with the Bh8) he will get mated (5. f3, Bg3 and either N to b7). But if he just leaves the queen there his position looks hopeless.

(2) Final
Roberto Cassano (Italy) v Timo Honkela (Finland)


1. f4 2. e5, f5 3. e4, b3, Ba3† 4. Kf7, e×f4, R×e4, R×e1†

5. Kf2, Kf3, K×f4, K×f5, Bh5†!! A beautiful solution. Under Italian rules this would be ‘mate' (Black is unable to play a full set of moves), but under Scottish rules the check merely ends the turn early. The rule makes little difference in practice as the result is almost always the same. 6. g6† 7. Kf4, Kf3, Kf2, Be7, B×d8, Q×e1, Qe7‡ (1-0) The two extra king moves were not strictly necessary.

In the remaining four games readers may like to work out the mate (or the moves that forced mate next time around) for themselves. Answers— not necessarily unique — are given on the Solutions page

(3) Final
Fabio Santoni (Italy) v Alfred Pfeiffer (Germany)


1. c4 In the three other games with this set-up 1. e4 was preferred. 2. b5, e5 Black threatens mate with the queen on f2 (supported by Bh4) or g2. 3. c×b5, e4, Nh3 4. c6, c×b5, Q×c1, Nf6 The knight move gives the king just enough air — it will no longer be mate if White's rook, supported by the bishop, lands on f7. 5. Be2, R×c1, Rc8, R×b8, R×a8? (Diagram) 6.Black to win:

(4) Preliminary Round
Timo Honkela (Finland) v Bent Hansen (USA)


1. Nc3 This was by far the most popular first move with this line-up. All the Black players now pushed their g-pawn (six to g5, one to g6), and B×c3 was the common follow-up. 2. g5, f5 3. d4, e4, Ke2 4. f×e4, e3, e×f2, f×e1Q†? 5.White to win:

(5) Final
Zoltan Blazsik (Hungary) v Roberto Cassano (Italy)


1. Nb3 2. e5, f5 3. c4, e4, g3? 4.Black to win :

(6) Preliminary Round
Robert Sasata (Canada) v Alessandro Castelli (Italy)


1. Ne3 1. e4 was the most popular move here, followed by 1. b4. 2. Nbc6 e5 3. Nc4, Nb6, N×a8 4. Nd4, Nb3, N×a1, f6 5. Nc3, Nb5, N×a7, N×c8, N×c7† 6. Kf7, Bd6, B×c7, Nb3, N×c1, g5 7. Nb6, N×d7, b4, Kd1, K×c1, Kb2, g3? 8. Black to win:

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