Fischer Random or Mountcastle Random?

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Gerard Killoran
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Fischer Random or Mountcastle Random?

Post by Gerard Killoran » Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:49 pm

The invention of the modern form of random or shuffle chess is attributed to Bobby Fischer, but is it the patent of one Mr. Henry Mountcastle, of Hampstead? As it bears a strong resemblance to the game played below:

From the Rhoda Bowles chess column of Womanhood Magazine v. 11 (Dec. 1903-May 1904 p.172-3)

Random Chess.

A RANDOM CHESS TOURNAMENT played at the Metropolitan Chess Club has done much to promote interest in this unique form of chess, and whereas at the starting of the tourney many who said, "Oh ! chess is difficult enough in its present form for me," are now eager for a game of "Random," so as to get his opponent "out of the books." Strange and weird looks the board when set up, after the drawing for placing of pieces has been done; and

I give a couple of examples, together with the full games, which I believe will be the first of Random Games ever to be published.

In the first round sixteen players entered. These were paired, each pair playing for best out of three games. draws not to count.

FIRST ROUND.
G. L. Chambers 2 - Fred Brown 1
E. R. Taylor 3 - *W. Ramsey 0
W. T. Dickenson 2 - W. Warren 1
Rhoda A. Bowles 2 - T. D. Kenny 1
H. L. Bowles 2 - G. Breese 1
A. Bearnish 2 - H. Marx 0
C. E. C. Tattersall 2 - Dr. Fenton 1
H. Padgett 2 - F. R. Hammond 1
*Lost by default.

PAIRING FOR SECOND ROUND.

C. E. C. Tattersall. - W. T. Dickenson.
Rhoda A. Bowles. - E. R. Taylor.
H. L. Bowles. - G. L. Chambers.
A. Beamish. - H. Padgett.

These winners play each other for the allocation of the three prizes given by the inventor of Random Chess, Mr. Henry Mountcastle, of Hampstead.







Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Fischer Random or Mountcastle Random?

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:19 am

It is generally accepted that Fischer didn't invent it, although he may have come up with the idea independently. That's why it's called Chess 960, (960 being the number of legal positions) to avoid confusion. The version shown is probably not quite the same as I assume white would have played 21 or 31. 0-0-0 in Game 2 if it had been legal then. Black might have considered 0-0 in the first game instead of allowing Bxc7+.

Where there are no intervening pieces and the intervening squares (or the square where the king stands) are not attacked, the king and rook move to the usual castled position. So in game 2, you play Rbd1 over the king. In game 1, 15....0-0, Kg8 and Rgf8.

An interesting article, I wonder who won the event.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Fischer Random or Mountcastle Random?

Post by Michael Farthing » Thu Jul 10, 2014 9:48 am

I believe in 960 aren't there more exacting restrictions on the initial position in that the king must be between the rooks and there must be one intervening square between the king and each rook? This guarantees that in all initial positions castling on both sides is a possibility.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Fischer Random or Mountcastle Random?

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:13 pm

From memory, the king has to be between the rooks, but they can be adjacent. At the Dutch Open a couple of years ago, I think I got a start position where K was on f1 and R on g1, so you could play 1.0-0 if you liked. In another game, the rooks were on a1 and f1, and the king on b1, so after we cleared the back rank, my opponent and I castled kingside in successive moves. Kb1-g1 is a spectacular move if your opponent is preparing a queenside attack.

The only other restriction is that the bishops have to be on opposite coloured squares.

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Fischer Random or Mountcastle Random?

Post by Gerard Killoran » Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:34 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote: An interesting article, I wonder who won the event.
From p360 of the magazine,

The Random Tournament.

The first Random Tournament held has just ended in the Metropolitan Chess Club. The first prize- winner was C. E. C. Tattersall; second, H. L. Bowles; and third, A. Beamish.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Fischer Random or Mountcastle Random?

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Jul 11, 2014 8:02 am

Thanks - a glorious victory for a Civil Service chess player!

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