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Andy Ansel’s Book Reviews

Shall We Play Fischerandom Chess by Svetozar Gligoric, published by Batsford 2002, 144 pages, paperback, list price $18.95

What is Fischerandom Chess and why write a book about it? One of the questions is answered in the book and I am still left wondering about the second question.

Fischerandom chess is chess where the pieces are randomly placed in the back row (preferably using Fischer’s electronic device) with several caveats—the Bishop’s must be on opposite colors and the rooks must be on either side of the King to allow castling. The logic and method of why there should be random pieces deployment is to help discourage opening preparation and analysis, which many feel have made the game too regimented in this era of strong computers and massive databases.

I wish I could say something positive about this book but I can’t. I feel it is a total PR job on both Fischer and Random chess. There are a fair amount of quotes (I am guessing mostly out of context) saying how Fischerandom chess is the wave of the future. The book also gives games from various Random tournaments and exhibitions (the first one was from 1842.) The hype never stops. There is really no instruction on how to improve one’s play in Fischerandom chess, but there are notes (usually quite light) given to the various games played using Fischerandom chess. There is also a chapter on rules which mostly details castling from the various possible starting positions. I read through this chapter several times and I am still not sure of all the castling implications. In my opinion the rest is fluff hyping the game and its supposedly growing popularity.

I feel sad that Gligoric basically sold out his conscience to write this book which in my opinion adds nothing to the game of chess –of course I may be wrong and eventually Fischrandom chess will be the rage but with one experimental tournament a year I think it is hardly catching on.

All text Copyright Alexander Baburin unless otherwise noted