As the chess world awaits the start of the Candidates this March, a world championship match of sorts was held in Norway: the Fischer Random match between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura (

“Fischer Random” is the creation of Bobby Fischer, who introduced it in 1996. His idea was that chess, at least the openings, was overanalyzed; so Fischer Random has random starting positions, 960 of them to get away from all the theory. Same pieces and rules but different starting squares.

2009 was the last Chess960 championship tournament, with Nakamura the champ. The organizers for this event pulled out all the stops with daily live coverage on Norwegian TV, a wonderful playing location at the beautiful Henie Onsted Art Center, and a prize fund of nearly $200,000. The 16-game match was won easily by Carlsen, 14-10. We will have to see if this chess variant becomes more popular, but for a week, it was the talk of the town.

Regarding the forthcoming Candidates tournament, bad news from FIDE has been making mainstream headlines around the world. It seems that FIDE’s bank, UBS of Switzerland, has frozen its bank account due to the US sanctions placed on FIDE’s president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. In 2015, Ilyumzhinov was placed on a sanctions list by the US Treasury for possible involvement in illegal funding of the Syrian government. This has been an ongoing issue for FIDE. The FIDE treasurer, Dr. Adrian M. Siegel, laid out the issues on the group’s website ( and clearly blamed Ilyumzhinov for the account being frozen. Siegel said he was searching for other banking connections, but given the Ilyumzhinov sanctions, this could be difficult. Now, how does FIDE not only pay its bills but also pay the prize fund for the tournament next month?


Coming events: Feb. 24, 5th Seneca Quads, Garden City Shopping Center, 100 Midway Road, Cranston, R.I.,; Feb. 25, Boylston Masters Sunday, Boylston CC,;


Recent results: 1st Boston Elite Tournament (86 players) Masters, 1st–4th. A. Ivanov, V. Votov, Deny Shmelov, S. Winer, 3/3; U2000, 1st: Peter Pashkov, 3/3, U1600, 1st: Riya Kanury, 3/3.

Answer to today’s problem: 1.Ng6+! hxg6 2.Qh3+ Bh6 3.Qxh6#

Chris Chase can be reached at BostonGlobeChessNotes@