Fischer random chess is a variant of chess proposed by former world champion Bobby Fischer. Unlike ordinary chess, where the board is set up exactly the same way at the beginning of every game, a game of Fischer random chess begins with the pieces distributed somewhat randomly. Pawns are still placed on a player's second rank, but the pieces on the back row may be placed in any permutation which fulfils the following requirements:
  • The bishops are on opposite-coloured squares
  • One rook is somewhere to the left of the king, and the other to the right
  • Black's pieces are on the same files as their White counterparts (i.e., a1 and a8 contain the same type of piece, and so on)
There are 960 positions which obey the above rules, and before the game one of these positions is selected at random. The game is then played according to the same rules as chess. Castling is still a legal move, and is accomplished by moving the king and rook to either the g- and f-files respectively, or to the c- and d-files. As in standard chess, the king may not move from, through or into check when castling, neither the king nor rook may previously have moved, and all squares between them must be vacant.

Fischer random chess is an attempt to revive the game of chess, which Fischer considers to have been "played out". The standard setup has been analysed in such detail that memorisation of opening variations now plays a large part in determining a player's success. By increasing the number of possible games a thousand-fold, Fischer random chess makes memorisation near-impossible and puts the emphasis back onto raw calculation and tactical ability. Whether or not the world's top players lend their support to Fischer's cause by adopting the game remains to be seen.