The Pawn Method:
An easy way to set up Fischer Random Chess positions

The Pawn Method is a simpler, faster way of setting up a starting position for Fischer Random Chess (aka Chess960). Unlike other methods, it doesn't require dice, coins, or a complicated process. It has been proven to select one of the 960 possible starting positions with perfect randomness. Created by Robby Walker and Tim Suzman.

First-time Setup

On the bottom of each pawn, write the following:


How to use the Pawn Method

Begin by randomly shuffling the white pawns in their starting row.

Look under each pawn. If the pawn says Q, B, or N, place a Queen, Bishop, or Knight in the corresponding starting square. If the pawn says K/R, leave it blank for now (we'll fill in the King and Rooks at the end).

Did the two Bishops land on the same color square?

If so, we need to move one to the opposite color. This part looks confusing at first, but only takes a few seconds in practice.

Randomly select one black pawn and look at the bottom.
Move the Bishop to that new square, swapping it with the piece already there if there is one.

For example, if we picked the R4 pawn above, we'd move the Right bishop to the 4th black square and end up with:
Fill the 3 empty squares with Rook, King, Rook, in that order.

Mirror the black pieces and you're done!

Have a good game!