World Championship priority…

Last week’s poll question was about trying to claim a draw in a blitz game. It was a simple question and had an overwhelming answer from the readers. ‘Play on’. Some of you correctly guessed the reason for asking the question was to settle an argument in the office. Playing with Black was a friend of ours from Edinburgh. The draw claimant with White – let’s call him “Andrew” – believed he should get a draw because of his overwhelming position. Jacob, Colin and I disagreed. We are grateful for your help in showing “Andrew” how wrong he was.


This week’s question is more serious, and was suggested by a conversation between various people on the blog. What is most important for you in a World Championship cycle? That the best player wins the World Championship. Or that we get the most entertaining cycle?

8 thoughts on “World Championship priority…”

  1. I voted other. While I want to have an entertaining cycle, and while I want even more that the best player wins, for me it is of the up-most importance to preserve tradition.

    I want the world champion to be the one winning the match between the world champion and a challenger. This gives unfair advantage to the present world champion, thus reduces the chances for the best player to win, but on the other hand the fact that it is difficult to dethrone the world champion makes it even a bigger feat to become world champion.

  2. I am also a traditionalist at heart, but remember that traditions can change. Until 1948, the tradition was that the champion could basically pick and choose his challenger. And until 1962, the challenger was decided by a tournament rather than by matches — and now we have come back to that. So tradition is a slippery thing.

    However, the ideal for me is that the best player is the champion, and I think that the best way to determine that is a head-to-head match. This is problematic when you have more than 2 qualified players, but it is the ideal in my opinion. Entertainment is desirable but secondary.

  3. Jacob Aagaard

    The question is mine and designed on the debates we have had here on the site more than what I wanted. My personal opinion is that it is unimportant who the World Champion is, but important that he has won the title in a fair contest. But I did vote for entertainment, which among others mean candidates tournament rather than matches.

  4. I find matches more entertaining than a tournament. This one on one, mano a mano, I like it.
    There are tournaments the whole year through. Matches feel more special to me.

    I’m not saying we should have candidate matches, we probably shouldn’t. But saying that a tournament is more entertaining is just a personal preference, not a real argument.

    The world champion does serve as a billboard for chess to the outside world. In that respect I do think it matters that we have a stable world champion who is among the strongest players, and not a “random” top 100 player who won a yearly KO event.

  5. Jacob Aagaard

    I could argue that more people find the Candidates tournament more entertaining, as this was shown on a previous blog poll. But you could argue that more people are interested in the World Championship match, and be right as well.

    I am not sure who this random top 100 player you refer to is. Khalifman was top 10, Kasimdzhanov was top 12 a few years before he won the KO, Ponomariov was 4th half a year after he won it. Then Anand won it twice, Svidler, Karjakin, Kramnik, Aronian.

    I am happy it is the World Cup and not the championship, although I do think the World Champion should be forced to play it. I was disappointed he did not enter it on a wild card last time actually, after he had published an open letter criticising the current system.

  6. I’m obviously exagerating when I say random. Still, according to Wikipedia Khalifman was rated 2616 when he won, Pono 2684, Kasim 2652. Strong players, but let’s be honest, not in the same league as the classical world champions.

    It is true that the world cups were always won by elite players, including also Kasmy and Gelfand.

    Nevertheless, I think my point stands. The world champions are the most brandable thing we have in chess, and this risks to be undermined.

  7. Jacob Aagaard

    I actually think the most brandable thing we have in chess is that people think we are smart. Look at your insurance policy or bank using chess in their adverts, because it symbols intelligence. People think I am smart because I am a GM, while those who know me, know about the empty space in my skull :-).

    But I do not think that a priority of having the World Championship being as entertaining as possible means that we want to undermine the World Champion. The World Cup is in no way as interesting as the Candidates and the European is really for hard core fans like me. But it is interesting in terms of deciding the challenger, deciding on the advantages of the World Champion and so on.

    By the way, look at who Kasimdzhanov beat in order to win. If that is not worthy of a World Champion, I do not know what is.

  8. Apparently, Hou Yifan votes as the majority.
    Carlsen’s position is not clear, he behaves like an classical champion, but advocates democratic changes.

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