Transposition (chess)

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A transposition in chess is a sequence of moves that results in a position which may also be reached by another, more common sequence of moves. Transpositions are particularly common in opening, where a given position may be reached by different sequences of moves. Players sometimes use transpositions deliberately in order to avoid variations they dislike, lure opponents into unfamiliar or uncomfortable territory or simply to worry opponents.[1][2]

In chess the verb "transpose" means shifting the game on to a different opening track from that on which it started.

Transposition tables are an essential part of a computer chess program.

Examples[edit]

Positions reached by different routes[edit]

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
e6 black pawn
f6 black knight
d5 black pawn
c4 white pawn
d4 white pawn
c3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position can arise from Queen's Gambit or English Opening.

For instance, the first position can be obtained from the Queen's Gambit:

  • 1. d4 d5
  • 2. c4 e6
  • 3. Nc3 Nf6

But this position can also be reached from the English Opening:

  • 1. c4 Nf6
  • 2. Nc3 e6
  • 3. d4 d5

so the English Opening has transposed into the Queen's Gambit.

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
f6 black knight
d5 black pawn
d4 white pawn
f3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position can arise from French Defense or Petrov Defense.

The second position shows another example. The position can arise from the French Defence.

  • 1. e4 e6
  • 2. d4 d5
  • 3. exd5 exd5
  • 4. Nf3 Nf6

The identical position can also be reached, with two extra moves played by each side, from the Petrov Defense:

  • 1. e4 e5
  • 2. Nf3 Nf6
  • 3. Nxe5 d6
  • 4. Nf3 Nxe4
  • 5. d3 Nf6
  • 6. d4 d5[3]


a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
f8 black rook
g8 black king
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
e7 black bishop
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c6 black knight
e6 black pawn
f6 black knight
c4 white bishop
d4 white pawn
a3 white pawn
c3 white knight
f3 white knight
b2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
f1 white rook
g1 white king
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Isolani position which can arise from the Queen's Gambit, Nimzo-Indian and Caro-Kann among other openings.

The position on the right, featuring an isolani can be reached by many different openings and move orders. For example, there's the Nimzo-Indian Defence:

  • 1. d4 Nf6
  • 2. c4 e6
  • 3. Nc3 Bb4
  • 4. e3 0-0
  • 5. Bd3 c5
  • 6. Nf3 cxd4
  • 7. exd4 d5
  • 8. 0-0 dxc4
  • 9. Bxc4 Nc6
  • 10. a3 Be7

Caro-Kann Defence:

  • 1. e4 c6
  • 2. d4 d5
  • 3. exd5 cxd5
  • 4. c4 Nf6
  • 5. Nc3 e6
  • 6. Nf3 Bb4
  • 7. Bd3 dxc4
  • 8. Bxc4 0-0
  • 10. 0-0 Nc6
  • 11. a3 Be7


Transposition possibilities of some openings[edit]

Some openings are noted for their wide range of possible transpositions, for example the Catalan Opening and Sicilian Defence.[2][4]

For a simple example, the opening moves 1. d4 e6 can transpose very quickly into a wide range of openings, including:

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
e6 black pawn
d5 black pawn
c4 white pawn
d4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Queen's Gambit Declined, after 2 c4 d5. The QGD itself offers a wide range of transpositional possibilities.
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
e6 black pawn
f6 black knight
c4 white pawn
d4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
After 2 c4 Nf6. This could develop in many ways, including: Queen's Gambit Declined, Nimzo-Indian Defense, Queen's Indian Defense or Modern Benoni Defense.


a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
e6 black pawn
f5 black pawn
c4 white pawn
d4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Dutch Defense, after 2 c4 f5.
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
b6 black pawn
e6 black pawn
c4 white pawn
d4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
English Defense, after 2 c4 b6.


a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
e6 black pawn
d5 black pawn
d4 white pawn
e4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
French Defence, after 2 e4 d5.
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
e6 black pawn
c5 black pawn
d4 white pawn
e4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Franco-Benoni, after 2 e4 c5. This can transpose into various types of Benoni Defense after 3 d5, into the Alapin Variation of the Sicilian Defense after 3 c3, or into main lines of the Sicilian Defense after 3 Nf3 cxd4 4 Nxd4.


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mark Weeks. "Chess Opening Tutorial : Introduction to 1.d4". about.com. 
  2. ^ a b Soltis, A. (2007). Transpo Tricks in Chess. Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-9051-9.  See review at "Transpo Tricks in Chess - review". chessville.com. 
  3. ^ Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992). The Oxford Companion to Chess. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-866164-9. 
  4. ^ Fine, R. (1990) [1943]. Ideas Behind the Chess Openings. Random House. ISBN 0-8129-1756-1.