Fischer’s vision alive in Reykjavik: Abdusattorov, Carlsen at the top

On June 19, 1996, GM Bobby Fisherhoping to enhance the creative potential of chess, announced a variant he saw as the future of the game, Fischer Random. Twenty-six years later, on the 50th anniversary of his world championship victory in Reykjavik, the city where he won the title, Fischer’s vision is alive and well.

The 2022 Fischer Random World Championship was loaded with creativity, dynamic gameplay, and lively competition. On one side of the dashboard is GM Nodirbek Abdusattorovan 18-year-old who has so far dominated some of the best players in the world in this imaginative variant, finishing top of Group A. On the other side is GM Magnus Carlsenthe classical chess world champion, finishing first in Group B.

These two incredible competitors with GM Ian Nepomniachtchi and GM Hikaru NakamuraThe “second in their respective groups” will now meet for the knockout final, starting on Saturday.

The knockout stage begins on October 29, from 8:00 a.m. PT / 5:00 p.m. CEST.

Surprisingly, the first Fischer Random the starting position of the day was almost identical to the day before:

Starting position for yesterday’s round three

Starting position for today’s fifth round

This gives players a rare opportunity to build on their understanding of similarities while creatively addressing slight differences.

Here are the main features:

  • Each side has an undefended piece on the a column.
  • The king and d-rook start in a queenside castle-side position. If the d8 rook moves, the b8-a can jump over the king as queenside castling to replace him.
  • Bishops start near the center, which means they aim for the edges.
  • The differences from yesterday’s position are that the queen is in the corner, ready to aim for the longest diagonal, and the g8 knight starts on his usual square.
  • These changes bring the computer rating to +0.16, slightly closer to equal.

Queens starting on the long diagonal seemed to accelerate the tactical nature of position in many games. Abdusattorov beat Nepomniachtchi in just 31 moves in a very dynamic game.

This victory against his nearest competitor ensured the first place in Group A for Abdusattorovguaranteeing they will qualify for the knockout stage―with three games remaining.

Abdusattorov finished the highest score between the two groups and swept world number three Nepomniachtchi twice. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The tactical game also dictated the finish to GM Vladimir Fedoseev against Carlsen. As the world champion pressed for a winning queen and rook finish, Fedoseev came up with a nifty trick.

Even more shocking, GM so wesley against GM Hjorvar Gretarsson finished with mate on the board.

With Abdusattorov’s own hand on the white pieces in the same position, we see an absolutely magical use of the rules of Fischer Random to reverse the situation.

The starting position of the sixth round, the last for this stage, evoked similarities to the position of the fourth round with only the c-rook and the f-knight switched:

Starting position for yesterday’s fourth round

Starting position for today’s round six

This change alone makes a big difference to the computer’s rating, which is +0.05the closest to equality we have seen in this phase. Here are the other main features:

  • There are no undefended pawns.
  • The king starts in a castle position next to the king. Will players castle kingside to jump the h-rook to the center or will they play h4/h5 to activate it?
  • Bishop a aims for the longest diagonal, signaling pawn b to move and open the bishop’s gaze to the enemy king on the other side of the board.
  • Commentators strongly favored 1.b4 or 1.b3 as possible first moves.

How did these elite players choose to open the game? Try to guess Carlsen’s first move and Nakamura’s response:

Check out the full game, from the wild opening to the incredible mid-game and late-game chess battles of our game of the day, Carlsen vs. Nakamura.

I’m glad to have the chance to review Fischer Random games, a variant of chess that I love and would like to see become more popular. I already had the chance to play in two of these tournaments and I must say that I had a lot of fun in both cases. The first time was at the traditional Open tournament in Mainz, Germany, in 2006. The second time was in Reykjavik itself, in 2019, when I was invited to play in the Icelandic championship and that I even won the tournament. To this day, my friends find it hard to understand when I say that I was “Iceland’s Champion in Fischer Random”.

This draw tied the game, securing the top two spots in Group B to Carlsen and Nakamura. The two rivals were tied on nine match points apiece, and Carlsen won on the tiebreaker, individual match points.

Nakamura was the only player from either group to remain undefeated in all of their matches, winning three and drawing three. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Unlike Carlsen and Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi and Gretarsson preferred to run the game in regular chess territory.

With this victory, Nepomniachtchi secured second place in Group A.

Although So narrowly missed out on qualifying for the next stage, finishing a match point behind Nepomniachtchi, the defending champion was the only player to earn a win over Abdusattorov in the entire round-robin.

Final classification of the group stage

Knockout bracket

The Fischer Random World Championship, presented by the Icelandic government and the city of Reykjavik, brings together top players from around the world to compete in a series of classic Fischer Random games for their share of the $400,000 prize and the title of FIDE Fischer Random World Champion. Fischer Random (also known as Chess960) is a chess variant where all the standard chess rules are the same except for the starting position of the pieces, which can be in any of 960 semi-random configurations. Strongly endorsed by the 11th GM World Champion Bobby Fisherthe variant eschews the opening preparation to highlight the players’ true understanding of chess.

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