The Chess Variant Pages

email articles from August 1999

Allon Mureinik

Fischer Random Chess Positions


In your web page about Fischer Random I encountered the following text:

Terumi Kaneyasu (Sam Sloan?) writes: As a result, there are 960 legal starting positions. The calculation of this is as follows: First, put down the two bishops. There are 16 different ways for one bishop to be on a white square and the other bishop to be on a black square. That leaves six empty squares. Now, put down the king in between the two rooks. There are 20 different ways for a king and two rooks to occupy six possible squares with the king in between. That leaves three squares for the two knights and the queen. There are three possible ways to put those pieces down. Thus, there are 16 x 20 x 3 or 960 possible legal starting positions in Fischer Random Chess.

Although I completely agree with the calculations, I beg to differ the final result. Technically there really are 960 opening positions, so far no argument. However, since the chess board is symmetrical, exactly half of those opening positions are mirror images of the other half, so actually you have only 480 different opening positions.

To illustrate what I'm trying to say (if you'll exude the bad English in the previous paragraph: Take, for instance, the regular chess setting and switch the King's position with the Queen's position. Technically, this is a different opening position, but actually you could play a perfectly normal game of chess.

Mike Asher

Origins of Chess

I was looking at the notes in the post-box for July and saw a very interesting article on the origins of chess. This sent me looking around for awhile and I came across an article which gives an excellent argument for the invention of chess in china, and not in India as normally claimed.

I'm not entirely convinced by the article, but what is clear is that the origins of chess are not as clear as I originally thought All the best

Céline Roos

Concerning bughouse or tandem

Hello,I just wanted to tell you that, when we play this game in France, we sometimes call it "Alimentation" . So that when some player asks his partner to feed him some piece, he calls "Alimente!" = Feed me!

Best regards,

Céline Roos WIM and wife of Alan Cowderoy from Chess Graphics.

Doug Hyatt

WIPCC 1998 Semifinal Games


An announcement:

Games from the semifinal round of WIPCC98 are now available at the web site! Come see some of the finest progressive chess games ever played at


From Anders Johnson


Cool site!

It's missing a couple of my favorite variants, though. One is called Smess. I owned this as a child, but I don't know what happened to the board. Here's a link I found:


Editor's note: Fergus Duniho has created a Zillions of Games implementation of Smess (also called Ninny Chess). The other variant referred to was actually Ultima, which already appears on this site.

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WWW page created: September 2, 1999.