13- Random variations
Chess 99 can also be played in a random variation to prevent openings memorization. The starting position of the pieces is partially randomized forcing players to rely mostly on their talent and ingenuity. For the purpose of randomization, the nine main pieces are divided into three groups, namely rook/knight/bishop on the left, queen/king/paladin in the middle, and bishop/knight/rook on the right. Within each group, the three pieces will be distributed randomly.
Since each group will have six possible arrangements, an ordinary dice will suffice for the purpose of randomization but three rolls – one per group – will be needed to define the entire setup. The table below may be used to set white’s pieces. Black’s pieces are set so that the board appears exactly the same to each player. (The initial setup board must always show a central symmetry with respect to the e5 square.)
This randomization process gives 216 different starting positions (6x6x6) although half of the positions are actually mirror-images of the other half. Note that a roll of (111) will result in the standard initial setup. The game is then played the same as standard Chess 99 in all respects.
Note: Using a random setup, 44% of the games will have the bishops on squares of opposite colors, and 11% will have all bishops on light squares. (For the remaining games, all bishops will be on dark squares as in the standard setup.)
Example of random setup:
This is the initial setup obtained using the table above after rolling (633). Do note that the board has a central symmetry around the e5 square. In this particular instance, the queens – rather than the kings – are facing each other, and the bishops are on squares of opposite colors.