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Pre-Chess. Place your first rank as you choose before the game begins.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Charles Daniel wrote on 2009-07-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Another possibility, closely resembling Fischerandom chess, was advanced by GMs Pal Benko and Arthur Bisguier in two articles in the November 1978 issue of Chess Life & Review, and by me in a two-part article for in 1997

The positions of the pieces are decided entirely by the players, not by a computer program. Strategic chess thinking therefore begins with the first piece placement. The two players place their pieces alternately, one at a time.
White does not necessarily have any advantage here; in fact, Black may have the advantage because Black gets the first look at the opponent’s placements.

  • The pieces may occupy any squares as long as the bishops are on opposite colors. The kings do not have to be placed between the rooks.
  • Castling is permitted only if the unmoved king is on e1/e8 and an unmoved rook is on a1/a8 or h1/h8; orthodox castling rules apply. The possibility of castling is up to the players, who may or may not place their kings and rooks appropriately.
  • There are 8,294,400 possible opening positions.
Both variants obviate all opening analysis (but not opening principles) and make all opening manuals superfluous. Imagine a world without the Sicilian Defense! Should either variant become prevalent, chess-book publishers would have to take up gardening. But surely publishers will be resourceful enough eventually to put out strategy guides on choosing the optimum piece placements in Pre-chess (but not in Fischerandom chess, of course, because there the computer does the choosing).

- Burt Hochberg from Copyright 2004 CyberCafes, LLC.

Does someone have the original text of this article from Chess Life & Review by Benko? It seems quite important for historical purposes.