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Thursday, June 9, 2011

The 2011 World Championship Candidates Match Tournament

       Quite a few people have been commenting on the fact that there was grand total of 3 wins in the classical time control. Grischuk made it to the finals by drawing the classical games and playing the blitz tiebreakers where he apparently felt he would have better chances.
       A lot of the top players have expressed their dislike of the current candidates system.  For example Magnus Carlsen refused to play and that was a major loss to the event.  I have to agree with Kramink when he opined that because this was a classical tournament they should be playing at classical time controls and playing rapid games has no place in these events. He suggested a round robin tournament which is what they had in the old days and it makes sense to me. Kramink pointed out that in Kazan he played more blitz games than classical which is just unbelievable. This year’s Candidates tournament was decided primarily by rapid chess and that should not be the case in a world championship event.
       GM Emil Sutovsky, World Championship and Olympiads Committee member, sent out a questionnaire to the world’s top 20 players asking their opinions and what changes they would like to see made. There will be a meeting this month where, hopefully, the issue will be addressed and, hopefully but unlikely, the players’ opinions will be given serious consideration, but don’t count on it.
       As I see it there are two problems with matches played at classical time controls.  The first became evident back during the K-K matches.  These days at that level it is very hard to win and unless some restraints are put in place the matches could go on for a protracted period of time making them simply too expensive for the organizers.  They also become boring and hold little interest for spectators.
       The other problem is money.  Organizers won’t organize and players won’t play without big money being available.  Even at the lower levels of play many class players won’t play if they have no chance to win big money.  With hotel, food and gas expenses making it expensive enough to play, then adding EF’s that sometimes run into hundreds of dollars, nobody is going to show up unless there is the promise of a big payoff.  There is a local club that offers occasional events with small EF’s and small prizes and they’re lucky to get 15-20 players.  Everybody wants a shot at winning big money. 
       Here’s my solution: Make the world championship a biannual round robin event where the top 20 rated players in the world are invited. I realize there probably would not be much money in these events, but who says the world champion has to be a millionaire? The great players of the past were far from it and they will always be remembered and revered in the chess world. Many GM’s of yesteryear had real jobs and chess was a hobby.  GM Arthur Bisguier told of how, when he played his match with Reshevsky, he’d get off work, grab some fast food and race to the playing site.  Ask one of these guys to do that today!  Most of them wouldn’t even consider it.  My guess is that in a big RR like I am suggesting things wouldn’t be so boring because the players wouldn’t be motivated by greed but by the love of the game.  Organizers?  There has always been folks willing to undertake organizing because it was something they enjoyed and they did it even when there was no money to be made. 
       Yes, that would cause a lot of top players to give up chess if they couldn’t make a living at it, but who cares?  Just remember the 3 wins at the classical time control and all the boring games. Who’s going to miss that? Fischer may have been a turd but at least he made his opponents play chess. Najdorf, Tahl, Bronstein, Spassky…we need more guys like them.  Not these wussies that are “playing” these days.

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