Wednesday, August 10, 2011




By GM Sergey Shipov – Part 2

In my opinion, this is a clear improvement on the football system, which is currently trying to embed itself in the chess world. In my system, players with a solid positional style, which often leads to simplification and a draw, will still be able to compete equally with the "hackers", and will not find themselves inevitably losing ground to them, as happens now in "football chess".

If one works out the average, over a number of rounds, the relative value of a win and a draw will be 3:1.5, in other words, the 2:1 ratio that has traditionally applied. But there will still be a considerable incentive to play for a win in the main game, since there it is possible to get three points at once, and also gain rating points.

Meanwhile, if one makes a draw in the main game, one still has to battle further, and there is a risk of losing the blitz and ending up with only one point in the score-table. From the mathematical viewpoint, the new system is more logical and more correct – in every game, there are three points at stake, and not three or two, as under the football system.

And let us remember also the matter of entertainment. No matter how strictly one applies Sofia rules, many games end in a draw, often without any great fighting value. But in the new system, entertainment will be guaranteed, in every pairing, in every round. Guaranteed. Neither in the tournament hall, nor on the Internet – nobody need be bored, and maybe spectator numbers would be increased. This last consideration seems to me to be the most important in the attempt to make chess competitive with other sports, in the battle for the hearts and minds of the public.

And finally, by comparison with the old system, there would be no fractions in the scores, something which is also appealing to the wider public. It is by means of such seemingly minor factors that the whole overall picture is improved.

Do you object that this would make the ability to play blitz too important in tournament success? But, excuse me, does not blitz already play a role in determining the world championship candidates (remember the matches Kramnik-Radjabov and Gelfand-Kamsky), and also a key role in knockout tournaments (there are already many statistics on these)? And surely such events are more important than ordinary round robin tournaments?

Furthermore, who amongst the top GMs cannot play blitz? Look at the results of the Tal Memorial world blitz championships – there, all the leaders were elite players. True, there is not absolutely symmetry in strength between classical and blitz, but this is sport, and everyone has his strong and weak points. And the player who works on his game can improve any element of his play. At the end of the day, most chessplayers like to play blitz, both for pleasure and training, and for trying out opening systems. So why not make use of this ability and combine the pleasant with the useful…

There is one other objection – there may be noise emanating from the blitz, which could disturb players still playing their main games alongside. This was occasionally an issue in Kazan. There are at least three answers:

1. Put up with it for the sake of the spectators.

2. Hold all the playoffs together, after all the main games are over.

3. Play the main games and the blitz in separate rooms.

Admittedly, in a large Swiss without other rooms available, this problem may be more difficult to solve, but in a small round robin, it is not an issue. If the will to solve the problem is there.

This system of blitz playoffs is more than just an attempt to remedy the deficiencies of the football system. It is an attempt to save tournaments with a classical time-control and render them more attractive. Of course, it seems paradoxical – blitz is used to save classical chess, but that is life.

Of course, the details of the system need to be worked out more fully and tested in practice. But let organisers themselves decide how best to run their events and make them attractive to spectators.

Sergei Shipov (born April 17, 1966 in Murom) is a Russian chess grandmaster with a peak FIDE rating of 2662 (#23 in the world on the January 1999 list). He is also a chess journalist and author, the man behind the popular chess-website Crestbook, where, among other services, he provides online-comments to current chess events.

Shipov has written a number of books, e.g. "The Complete Hedgehog" and coached some notable players, e.g. Vladimir Belov, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Svetlana Matveeva, Ian Nepomniachtchy, and most recently Daniil Dubov,

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