The first trial with this position is recorded on HarryO's Chess960 Jungle blog in Non-Random Chess960 Trial Game 9: SP864. I had White, HarryO Black. He defended the mate threat in the most direct way -- giving up the castles O-O option. After the initial moves, 1.Ng3 Nf6 2.Nf5 Rg8 3.Nf3 Ng6 4.O-O, we reached the position shown in the top diagram below. Harry played his next move, 4...b6, and commented,
Preparing to attack the g2 square and hopefully open access to the h3 square as well. Black is reluctant to play anything other than rock solid moves that try not to induce a second weakness into Black's army.
The next sequence in the game was 4...b6 5.c4 d5 6.cxd5 Bxd5 7.b4 c5 8.bxc5 Nf4. After 8...Nf4, Black wrote,
I'm struggling to see the light for Black. This is really tough. It will only be a few more moves and I will be beyond my skill level to save the game.
Indeed, over the next few moves Black sacrificed a Pawn to escape the pressure, leaving him in a disadvantageous endgame that we abandoned as a probable win for White. Here we discussed other attempts to save Black after White's first move. I suggested,
As for improvements, your move 1...g6 is worth a try. I also think 4...e6, forcing the Knight back immediately, is better than the move you played. The last word has yet to be said for this SP.
HarryO agreed that, after 4...e6, even though 'the f6 square is weakened', we had to show that the start position could be saved.
We rolled the position back to White's fourth move and switched sides, so I had the Black pieces. The trial can again be found on HarryO's blog, this time in Non-Random Chess960 Trial Game 9: SP864 after 4)...e6. The game continued 4...e6 5.Ng3 c5 6.c4 d5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.b3 b6 9.Rfe1 f6 10.e3 Nde7. After 10...Nde7, Black commented,
Threatening ...Bxf3, when the weak square on f3 will give Black plenty of counterplay.
We played another move pair, 11.Qc4 Bxf3, and I gave a conditional move move: 'if 12.gxf3 f5', with the comment
Secures the e4-square against use by the White pieces.
The position is shown above in the bottom diagram. White wrote,
If I trace back what happened, when you played 10...Nde7 at that moment the question of lost start positions in chess960 was over in my mind. There are none. [Fischer] was simply a genius who saw this much sooner than anyone that has walked the planet since chess was invented. [...] I am totally shocked, amazed, in disbelief, inspired, confused, intrigued and simply glad to have witnessed the sight of the position that is now on the board.
We had saved a most 'Difficult SP for Black'. Around the end of our first game, HarryO suggested that we 'post the position 4...e6 on Chess.com and see what responses we get'. I agreed the idea was worth pursuing and was happy to find a suitable post, Do you find chess960 challenging or fun? A few comments into the thread, SaharanKnight had posted the challenge,
I CHALLENGE ANYONE TO SHOW ME AN OPENING POSITION WHERE EITHER SIDE HAS AN ADVANTAGE OTHER THAN TEMPO!
That statement sums up perfectly the all-too-obvious challenge posed by SP864 BBQRKRNN 1.Ng3. I'll look at the ensuing exchange in my next post.