Morphy

Summary
Screenshots
What is Chess960?
Why play Chess960?
Why the name “Morphy”?

Summary

Morphy is a Chess960 position generator. You can get it from iTunes here.

It has three main features:

  • Hit the random button, or shake the iPhone, to generate a random Chess960 Start Position (SP).
  • Choose an SP by number to generate the corresponding piece arrangement.
  • Move the pieces around to show the corresponding SP number.

Screenshots

Morphy supports both portrait and landscape mode.


  

What is Chess960?

Chess960 is an evolution of chess. Rather than the traditional start position, the pieces are shuffled on the back rank to a random position, with certain constraints (king must be between the rooks, and bishops must be on opposite colors), giving 959 possible start positions in addition to the one from traditional chess. Because each start position is different, memorizing an opening book is useless.

It was invented by the mad genius Bobby Fischer, and is sometimes called Fischer Random Chess.

Why play Chess960?

The beauty of chess is not in memorization.

Chess is a beautiful game, played in its current form since at least the Renaissance. However, with the advent of computer databases to catalog games between grandmasters, and computer engines to analyze positions, it suffers from an over-abundance of analysis on the opening moves.

When you sit down to play a game of traditional chess, you’re not really playing your opponent across from you until you are “out of book”, meaning the position is no longer in the series of potential opening moves that you and your opponent have memorized. This means you’re effectively playing against hundreds of grandmasters that played this opening before you, and the moves you make are based on rote memorization rather than creative thought.

It has been said that there are more books written about chess than any other sport or pastime. And of those books on chess, more than half are written about the openings alone, and encourage even beginning players to memorize huge amounts of information in order to have a leg up on their opponents.

Chess960 does away with this. Because each time you play, you start from a new position (among 960 possibilities), rote memorization does not help you. From the first move, you must use your own skills and general principles to guide you.

It is the essence of chess, the beauty of chess, without the tragic result of hundreds of years of analysis of opening positions.

In my opinion, it is the future of chess.

Why the name “Morphy”?

The app is named in honor Paul Morphy, the first great American chess master, and the first (unofficial) world chess champion.