Quality Chess logo

A Defence of Classical Chess

I would not for one second overstate my influence on the World of Chess, but as Chairman of the Trainer’s Commission, I felt I had the right to mention one idea to the FIDE President about the future of the World Championship. I did not have any great new ideas; smarter people than I have already come up with many possible improvements:

* Have the play-off before the match and play it with draw odds. 
* Let the Champion have draw odds, but play an odd number of games, for example 15.
* Demote the Champion to the Candidates in the case of a drawn match and play the Candidates in a two groups with 4 games against all three opponent’s system, and then a match.
* Demote the Champion independent of the result of the match. Why have a Champion starting in the final at all?
* Speed up the game. Make it more based on a rapid, which is a purer form of chess.

All decent ideas as far as I am concerned. But I put my tiny voice between what I think was gathering less attention: to hold the Open and the Women’s Championship at the same time and the same place. Yes, it would require a bigger prize fund and more strain on the sponsor, but the Women’s events have been very fascinating chess with little attention. This could solve a lot of issues at the same time.

The last of the listed arguments is of course attributed to Carlsen. Nakamura scored an impressive -3 in Classical chess on the Grand tour and won it convincingly. In long games he was constantly outplayed by his peers, but in faster formats only Carlsen is his obvious superior. 

At the moment there seems to be an assault on classical chess. Sinquefield is not a great fan and has done a lot to promote rapid events and created this horrific Universal Rating System, which has meant that qualification for classical events has been determined by blitz performance. 

Speed chess is fun. Puzzle Rush on Chess.com is fun. But it lacks the one thing classical chess has to offer. Quality and depth. Chess is an incredibly deep and rich game, but without time humans will not have a chance to play great chess. The top players will constantly be faced with stronger and stronger engines evaluating their play, as they have less and less time to make their moves. It is turning top chess into a form of X factor, where the attraction is not to see great performances, but to see people fail. 

The real problems with many draws have been the tournament system. Ever since the introduction of a rapid play-off at the World Championship, it has become an obvious part of the match strategy. Carlsen clearly favoured his chances in the rapid the last two times and won them both convincingly. The Grand Chess Tour was detrimental to attractive chess even when it was full of classical events. The same guys playing each other again and again and half of them wanting to stay in the top 10 so they are invited again next year. The endless amount of Berlin draws was unavoidable. In the Candidates there is only one winner and the same players manage to create immense drama each time. The format is the problem, not the time control.

Or what do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top