The $20,000 free-for-all chess tournament

5/24/2005 – Like to play in a grandmaster tournament? From your home and for a substantial prize fund? With a guarantee that you will not disgrace yourself? Then think about joining the first PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Tournament, where anything goes. Where computer assistance is not forbidden, it is positively encouraged. Here are all the details.

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The event starts this weekend, and will be held on the Playchess.com server. The organisers have already received entries from twenty different countries: Germany, Austria, Holland, Hungary, Sweden, Poland, Italy, USA, Spain, Columbia, South Africa, India, England, Moldova, Pakistan, Ukraine, Morocco, Mexico, Argentine and Turkey.


Grandmasters playing a tournament on Playchess.com (here Klaus Bischoff, Elisabeth Pähtz, Robert Hübner and Uwe Bönsch)

In the following you will find all the specifics of the tournament. Note that there is a special forum for registered players where you will be able to discuss any questions that arise before and during the event.

PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament

What is Freestyle Chess?

In a normal chess tournament there are very strict rules about what you can do or not do during a game. Certainly enlisting outside help – from a human or a computer – is one of the more serious transgressions. In Freestyle Chess everything is allowed. The players are expected to work in teams or with computers. There are no restrictions. Use Fritz or Deep Shredder, consult openings books or chess Informants, call Anand or Karpov and ask for help, if you know them well enough.

When and where

The PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament starts on Saturday, May 28. It is played on consecutive weekends and ends on June 19, 2005. It consists of a qualifier, in which everyone can participate, a main tournament with GMs and IMs joining the qualified players, and the final phase in which the eight top scorers play a knock-out tournament for the title and their share of the US $20,000 prize fund. Full details of the schedule and prize fund are given below.

All games are played on the Internet, in a special room on the Playchess server. Participants need to have an account on the server, which is free for the duration of the tournament. If you are not already a member of this giant Internet community (with over 100,000 active members) you can download the software at Playchess.com and set up an account within minutes.

Prize fund

The total prize fund is US $20,000 and has been provided by the PAL Group in the United Arab Emirates, the company that is behind the Hydra chess project. The prize money is divided as follows:

1st prize: US $10,000
2nd prize: US $5,000
3rd prize: US $3,000

There are special Lucky Win (see below) and bonus prizes that will be distributed during the tournament. Details will be provided when the number and make-up of the participants is known.

Registration

The entry fee for the PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament is 25 Euro (= US $31.50). This is paid when you register for the tournament. Late entries can pay the amount in Playchess "ducats" (electronic money) on the day of the qualifier. For them the starting fee is 300 ducats.

There is no entry fee for GMs and IMs with bona fide Playchess accounts. These players need to provide proof of their identity before the tournament starts. A title account on Playchess (with a King or Queen symbol) is sufficient, since it has been validated by ChessBase. Otherwise you will be asked to fax a copy of your passport or ID card to the organisers.

To register for the Freestyle Tournament you need to fill out a registry form (the link is given below), giving your name, address and Playchess handle. After this you will then receive access to a special participants' forum where players and organisers can discuss all questions relating to the tournament.

Important links


A picture of determination: former U18 world champion Elisabeth Pähtz at the computer


Schedule of PAL/CSS Freestyle Tournament

All times given in the following schedule are in Central European Summer Time (CEST), which is used in most European countries, e.g. Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, etc. It is GMT + two hours. For instance 14:00h (or 2 p.m.) CEST is 12:00h GMT and translates to 13:00h London, 8 a.m. New York and 4 p.m. Moscow. Click on the times given in the schedule below to convert to your local time.

Important note: you will need to log in with your correct handle no later than ten minutes before the start of each round. Anyone who is not present in the chess server room at this time automatically forfeits the game.

Qualifier – seven round Swiss

Your registry must be completed before Saturday, May 28, 2005 at 12:00h. Later entries may be accepted in the tournament hall, with the entry fee paid in Playchess ducats.

Qualifier (Saturday/Sunday, May 28-29, 2005)
Round 1 Saturday, 28.05.2005 14:00h CEST
Round 2 Saturday, 28.05.2005 16:00h CEST
Round 3 Saturday, 28.05.2005 18:00h CEST
Round 4 Saturday, 28.05.2005 20:00h CEST
Round 5 Sunday, 29.05.2005 14:00h CEST
Round 6 Sunday, 29.05.2005 16:00h CEST
Round 7 Sunday, 29.05.2005 18:00h CEST

Time controls are 25 minutes for all the moves plus a 10 second increment per move. The event is a classical Swiss. The top ten players will qualify for the main tournament. If tie-breaks are needed these will be played on Sunday at 20:00h CEST. They will be games played at accelerated rates: 15 + 5 and if required 5 + 1.

There will be special Lucky Win prizes (ChessBase Training CDs or DVDs) for players who end up on certain spots in the final tournament tables. The places that receive Lucky Win prizes will be announced immediately prior to the start of the qualifier.

Main Tournament – eight round Swiss

In the main tournament the ten players from the qualifiers are joined by Grandmasters, IMs and VIP computer teams. The time controls are 60 minutes for the game plus 15 seconds increment per move.

Main Tournament (Friday-Sunday, June 3-5, 2005)
Round 1 Friday, 03.06.2005 17:00h CEST
Round 2 Friday, 03.06.2005 20:00h CEST
Round 3 Saturday, 04.06.2005 14:00h CEST
Round 4 Saturday, 04.06.2005 17:00h CEST
Round 5 Saturday, 04.06.2005 20:00h CEST
Round 6 Sunday, 05.06.2005 14:00h CEST
Round 7 Sunday, 05.06.2005 17:00h CEST
Round 8 Sunday, 05.06.2005 20:00h CEST

Participants in the main tournament must be in the playing hall ten minutes before the start of the first round. Pairings will be conducted on Friday, June 3, at 16:00h CEST. GMs with bona fide Playchess accounts (King symbol) can still register before 16:00h in the Freestyle tournament room on the server.

The top eight players will qualify for the final knock-out stage. If tie-breaks are needed these will be played on Saturday, June 11 at 12:00h CEST. They will be games played at accelerated rates: 15 + 5 and if required 5 + 1.

There will be six special Lucky Win prizes of $100 each for players who end up on certain spots in the final tournament tables. The places that receive Lucky Win prizes will be announced immediately prior to the start of the qualifier.

Quarter-finals – knock-out system

Quarter-finals (Sunday, June 12, 2005)
Start Sunday, 12.06.2005 12:00h CEST

The quarter-finals consist of four-game matches, played between the eight best players of the main tournament (paired 1-8, 2-7, 3-6 and 4-5). The time controls are 60 minutes for the game plus 15 seconds increment per move.

The games start on Sunday, June 12, 2005 at 12:00h CEST. At the end of each game there is a 15 minute break. The four winners proceed to the semi-finals. If tie-breaks are needed these will be played on the same day, after the regular games have finished and will be at accelerated rates: 15 + 5 and if required 5 + 1.

Semi-finals – knock-out system

Semi-finals (Saturday, June 18, 2005)
Start Saturday, 18.06.2005 12:00h CEST

The semi-finals consist of two four-game matches, played between the four winners of the quarter-finals. The time controls are 60 minutes for the game plus 15 seconds increment per move.

The games start on Saturday, June 18, 2005 at 12:00h CEST. At the end of each game there is a 15 minute break. The two winners proceed to the semi-finals, the losers play for place three. If tie-breaks are needed these will be played on the same day, after the regular games have finished. They will be games played at accelerated rates: 15 + 5 and if required 5 + 1.

Finals and play for third place

Finals (Sunday, June 19, 2005)
Start Sunday, 19.06.2005 12:00h CEST

The finals consist of two four-game matches, played between the two winners and two losers of the semi-finals. The time controls are 60 minutes for the game plus 15 seconds increment per move. The games start on Sunday, June 19, 2005 at 12:00h CEST. At the end of each game there is a 15 minute break.

If tie-breaks are needed these will be played on the same day, after the regular games have finished. There will be two games, played at accelerated rate of 15 + 5. After this, if required, there will be sudden death blitz games played at a rate of 5 + 1. The player who was higher in the main tournament gets White in the first blitz game.

The winner of the finals gets the first prize of US $10,000 and the title of "First PAL/CSS Freestyle Chess Champion". The runner-up gets $5,000, the winner of the match for third place gets $3,000.

There will be special software prizes totalling US $2,700 for the places 4-8.


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