Match format: Sutovsky vs Seirawan

by Emil Sutovsky
12/6/2016 – Yasser Seirawan does not like the current format of the World Championship and proposed a number of hotly debated changes. Now, Emil Sutovsky, President of the Association of Chess Professionals, counters. He offers an out-of-the box proposal and invites readers to make their opinion heard.

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The format of the World Championship - a proposal

Emil Sutovsky, President of the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP)

First of all, I'd like to congratulate Magnus for retaining the title, and praise Sergey who was a worthy opponent to the reigning Champion. The Title Match is the most prestigious and the most followed event in chess – and I believe we shall stick to the match format – there were literally millions of spectators following the battle of New York. It was thrilling from the sportive point of view, but I believe the games could have been much more exciting if a different format was used. I would like to share my views:

1. Number of games

I don't think twelve is an optimal number of games. With twelve games the match seems to be too short – and this influences the match strategy of the players, provoking them to play overcautiously as even a single loss may prove too costly. Spectators also do want the show to go on. Chess fans and aficionados did not get tired of the match in New York – the vast majority would have liked to see more games. Whereas a 24-game match might be a bit too long for many reasons, I would suggest 16 games as a number that strikes a balance perfectly. It won't even increase the costs too much, if we have a day off after every three games (and not after two as in New York).

2. What to do in a case of a tie?

I have heard many proposals. All of them have some logic behind them, but I find it unfair to award the match to the reigning Champion in case of a tie, and I also don't think that an odd number of games and an extra attempt for Challenger playing with White helps too much (having White is not a meaningful advantage on the top level anymore).

I actually like the idea of a rapid tie-break. Just not after the regular part of the match, but BEFORE it. Then, the match starts with a bang (I'd rather call it overture) - a lot of excitement and the winner gets a pole position – which makes the classical chess that follows invariably more attractive – as a tie will now suit only one of the players. But the classical games will decide the match. The World Championship matches in 2006, 2012, and 2016 were decided by a rapid tie-break and the last classical games of these matches were anti-climactic, to put it mildly. It is also important, in my opinion, to play the rapid tie-break on two days (Saturday and Sunday – with a massive audience!), which allows us have more games (3+3) while one bad day won't have a decisive impact. Let's also not forget – we don't want our gladiators to die – playing four rapid games for such a high stakes, followed by possible blitz and Armageddon is really too tough. Honestly, I don't see any disadvantages in the proposed format change – except for one thing: this solution is a bit out-of-the-box. But we are chess people - we are supposed to be capable of such things!

3. No shorter time-controls

Finally, I'd like to unequivocally stress that I don't like the idea of shortening the time-control in the World Championship Match. This idea is advocated by some impatient spectators and even strong Grandmasters who find that classical chess becomes more and more dull. In my opinion, neither rapid nor “new classic” (about an hour for each player) is good enough to replace the proper classical game. I'd like to remind the proponents of shorter time-controls that the World Championship match is watched by millions of people, and making it more spectacular (if one considers mistakes to be spectacular) on the expense of damaging the quality of play is hardly a productive idea. Actually, the stats from Norway where 5-10% of the entire population followed every classical game from beginning to end on TV clearly proves that classical chess can be attractive – we just have to present it properly. And we don't have to compare chess with other sports all the time! Chess is a sport, yes. But the main reason why there is serious money in chess is our rich history, our traditions, our image of the most intellectual sport. Speeding up is zeitgeisty and trendy, but sometimes it is wise to be anti-trend and to stick to your niche, adjusting and improving, but not rebranding it. In a few years we will celebrate the centennial of the “Classical chess is dead – it is just a draw” movement. But chess is still alive and kicking, and it is bound to outlive those who claim its death today...

Of course, every reader is welcome to disagree with me and express his/her opinion in the ACP World Championship poll. We will publish the results in January – and develop recommendations for Fide based on the results of the poll. Make your opinion heard!

Naturally many people have their own opinions about the ideal format – and let me invite you all to express your thoughts by participating in the → detailed ACP poll dedicated to the World Championship format ←



Emil Sutovsky is President of the Association of Chess Professionals. He was born in 1977 and is based in Holon, Israel. In January 2012 he reached the highest ranking of his career of 2708. His highest position in the rankings was 17th in the world. Emil Sutovsky is the 2001 European Champion as well as a winner and a prizewinner of more than 100 international tournaments. Emil has an extensive experience in participating at television and radio programs and is author of over a hundred publications on the topic of chess.
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staleno staleno 12/7/2016 10:36

Thanks for your comment. I must admit it doesn't feel completely right to me either that the champion risk losing the title in a tournament (which is why I suggested a KO stage rather than a round robin candidates), but didn't find a good way to solve that particular issue.

An alternative and very simple solution could be to give draw odds to the player holding the highest official FIDE ELO at the start of the WC match, which would at least give the challenger a fair chance at obtaining that privilege. The disadvantage is of course that the champion would not participate in the candidates in this system.
weerogue weerogue 12/7/2016 10:22
@staleno: interesting proposal(s), I could see it working and it solves a few 'problems' that people seem to have with the current format.
As you point out, the main sacrifice here is the may lose the idea that somebody has 'won' the title from the current Champion (see Mexico 2007 - Kramnik had the right to a rematch should he not win it and made comments to the effect that Anand was 'borrowing' the title; I don't think that was disrespectful to Anand, I think it was more a comment on the dubious legitmacy of not winning the WC title in a match).

In chess there is a tradition that the World title is won in a match vs the current champion and I think, in a two-player game, that is the best way to decide the championship.
Hence, that leaves me in a position where I feel it is correct to have the current Champion defend his title against a qualifying challenger. What has he done to earn this right? He has qualified via the same system, qualifying to the London 2013 Candidates via his high-rating and finishing first (albeit on a highly-contentious tiebreak criteria!) in this epic tournament and then beating the incumbent Champion in a Classical match.

Taking a step back, it is fair to say that I am in the camp of the current WC cycle needing minor tweaks (match length, tiebreak criteria), rather than radical change. I know many, apparently including Magnus Carlsen (although his actual vision for the WC cycle is as-yet opaque) seem to disagree with me here. I think it's a privilege that we all have a right to our own opinion! :)
Alan B Alan B 12/7/2016 10:13
I agree with most of what mdamien said. Rapid and Blitz formats are different from classical chess (however that may be precisely defined in terms of clock time). There is no need for a tie-break, as mdamien and others have pointed out. The pressure to have one comes, I think, from administrators who slavishly want to copy other 'sports', influenced also by certain media organisations.
To state the obvious, there is nothing wrong with a tied result. That would simply be a drawn match, and the champion, not having been beaten, remains champion.
Just as important, I would like the views of the top players to play a major part in determining how many games should be played. Like many other fans, I think 12 is not enough. Opinions of administrators, promoters and potential advertisers are far less important than those of players and fans.
weerogue weerogue 12/7/2016 10:09
Some great discussion here - seems to be getting people interested and excited, which can only be a good thing! All of the following is just my opinion:

@GrayDuck: First point: I suppose the proposal would be to keep the rapid tiebreak format (broadly) the same as it is now, whether it happened before or after the match. In the current format, if the Rapid match is tied, they play Blitz matches; if these are tied, they play an Armageddon match, where Black has less time, but draw-odds, hence guaranteeing a winner.

@RaymondLabelle: I think F-R Chess is less relevant to deciding the Classical Chess World Champion than Rapid chess. As for series' of mini-matches in general: if this worked, I can't see who would be opposed to it, but unfortunately it is not practical from the point of view of organising a playing venue and sponsorship. What venue is happy to lease itself for an uncertain period of time? Not one on Manhattan island, anyway - we'll be back out in Siberia if we get anywhere at all.

@mdamien: are Rapid tiebreaks so bad that we must take measures to 'escape' them? Even if they don't decide the title, it would still be great entertainment to 'warm up' with these and hence I am in favour of having them at the start of the match. They could be used to determine the colour order and also 'lurk in the background' as tiebreak criteria should the classical games be drawn.
I think it's more of a question as to whether you are 'for' or 'against' Rapid tiebreaks being used to decide the Classical title at all. If 'for', I think having them at the start is a good idea: that way the drama comes in the Classical portion of the match, rather than the Rapid.
As for the 'draw odds for Champion' - don't you think that this will affect the match strategy for the Classical portion of games in the exact same way as having a different tiebreak criteria, such as the Rapid tiebreaks, known before the match begins? i.e. giving draw odds to the Champ also affects the match strategy of players in the Classical portion, if this is what you are trying to avoid.

@joshuar: more Classical games - I definitely agree! We are all here because it is a Classical Chess World Championship and I think that having more games (and, if it helps, fewer rest days!) is definitely in the greater interest: it gets players less 'scared' of mistakes (knowing they have more time to recover) and should make the prospect of a decisive conclusion of the Classical portion of the match more likely. Let's do this!
As for the rapid tiebreaks - I respect your opinion here, but I don't share it. You are happy to have rapid tiebreaks at the end 'if sponsors/participants/viewers want it', but I think that having them after the match dilutes the importance of the Classical portion more than having them beforehand would. In having them afterwards, the drama and excitement, the 'final spectacle' is bestowed on the rapid tiebreaks; if you had them beforehand - all of that drama and spectacle happens in the final Classical game - preferably Game 16 or above ;) - of the match! One player goes in knowing he must win to win the match! Doesn't that sound exciting and dramatic?! And it's for a Classical game! Imagine how many people would watch that. In the current system, people know going into the last Classical game that it may well not end up being decisive - that's anti-climactic.

Regarding Sutovsky's proposals, as can probably be gathered, I find myself quite in favour of them, particularly:
~ Longer match! This is the most important one.
~ Fewer rest days - probably helps support the 'longer match' proposal from Sponsorship/cost point of view, but also has got to be better for spectators not to have so many 'off' days. Would be interested to see how the top players felt about this.
~ Rapid Tiebreaks before the match
staleno staleno 12/7/2016 09:47
I agree with Sutovsky on many of the aspects, but I also agree with some of the objections. Allow me to present a compromise solution that I believe players, organizers and chess fans (from purists to the modern fans) all can live with:

- World Champion gets a spot in the candidates, while all other players need to qualify through conventional routes.
- The top two finishers of the candidates are qualified for the world Championship match.
- The winner of the candidates gets draw odds in the match.
- WC match played over 16 games.

This format has many advantages:

- Only classical chess is used to decide the winner - no need for rapid games at all.
- WC match is kept long enough to satisfy the fans, but I think 16 games is the absolute maximum that can be expected from organizers and players. Magnus would probably favour 12 games over 16, maybe even shorter.
- Candidates would be more attractive, with the world champ participating.
- For a tournament that is only played every second year, the privilege of a direct spot in the final is unheard of in pretty much every other sport. Even Magnus himself has argued this case. While I do understand that it will be a bit unsatisfying to fans if the champion loses the title in a candidates tournament, it can hardly be called unfair.

As an alternative to the candidates tournament, I actually prefer (8-game) matches (quarter finals, semi finals), as it seems to me to be more in the spirit of classical chess, and more fair. In this case, the draw odds could be given to the player with the best score in the semi final (or even to the reigning champion, since in this case he (or she) would have qualified fair and square).
goeland goeland 12/7/2016 09:31
Very good and innovative way of thinking by Emil Sutovsky. Completely in phase.
Balthus Balthus 12/7/2016 08:34
@joshuar: short, logical, clear, convincing. I would subscribe to that.
occhio vivo occhio vivo 12/7/2016 08:07
Please, no rapid or blitz in classical chess. 12 games are too short. Ok 16 games and in case of a tie, who wins first classical game has won the match.
joshuar joshuar 12/7/2016 07:28
Yes, maybe now matches are too short and 16+ games would be ideal.

Rapid tiebreaks BEFORE the match are just silly, though. First of all, why CHEAPEN the World Championship before you know that you HAVE TO break a tie? Let the players prepare and focus on classical chess matches.

If there is a tie, I personally prefer Champion Retains Title since the challenger has not proven that he can beat the champ, and this FORCES the challenger to play aggressively and try to win. Although this most recent cycle had great games (forgetting game 12), Karjakin played defensively the whole way through.

If sponsors/participants/viewers prefer tie-breaks, then fine. Just break the tie with rapid games like in the current championship. That was thrilling and very exciting, and I think it would have been entirely anticlimactic to go into the 12th game of classical chess knowing Carlsen had already won the Rapid Tiebreak. If you're going to have a tiebreak after classical chess, then give it to the CHAMPION.

I hear all of you who state how much the challenger had to go through to get to this place. But if you recall, the champ had to do it, also, AND they have to defend their title. I really DON'T like the idea of an uneven number of games and then the drawing of lots coming into play. Let the two people play CLASSICAL CHESS, and THEN worry about it.
mdamien mdamien 12/7/2016 05:42
I had voiced some agreement earlier, reluctantly that if we're going to have rapid and blitz tiebreaks, it would be better to put them at the start of the match. After reading other comments I have to correct myself. If forced to have them, at least at the end of the match we might not see them, whereas at the beginning of the match we're not escaping them at all, and still they will affect the overall classical strategies of the players.

I was struck by one comment about FIDE "bestowing" the title, or not, and this is for the most part the contemporary viewpoint and the current reality, although when Kasparov took the title outside its auspices, he was still clearly the champion. Had Fischer arranged his own match on classical terms after 1972 instead of relinquishing his title in a tizzy, FIDE would likewise been left with nothing but regulations. No, while FIDE currently controls the title, it does not bestow it. The champion owns the title.

With that view, for those who think it is unfair for the champion to retain his title in case of a draw: the champion is putting his title on the line in this match; what comparable stakes are put in by the challenger, that he should demand such parity?
newbie_learner newbie_learner 12/7/2016 05:27
I fully support Sutovsky's proposal. It seems novel and interesting.

More importantly, I really don't understand why there are still so many posters advocating draw odds for the defending champion. It was really an unfair tradition (which is why we moved away from rematch requests and and draw odds in favour of defending champion) in more recent chess championships. Proposing to reinstate draw odds would be doing a great disservice towards the spirit of fair play.

Do the same proponents of draw odds for defending champions remember that the current world champion does not need to play in qualifiers? The current champion already has an objective advantage in that aspect. In most league (sports) sports, there is no longer such thing as defending champion only needs to beat the challenger. The defending champion still needs to play in qualifying matches!
peterfrost peterfrost 12/7/2016 05:20
Whilst I am inclined to agree with Yasser that there should be no place for rapid chess in the Classical World Championship, Emil's suggestion of shifting the rapid tie break to before the classical games is a creative idea, and a definite improvement. I agree wholeheartedly with him that shorter time controls must NOT be contemplated. Anyone arguing that the World Championship should be conducted on a time control of an hour for each player should be quietly taken out the back, hung, drawn and quartered, and advised to take up computer gaming instead of chess.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 12/7/2016 05:18
Proposal for tie-break.

Mini-matches of two games (settles the colours problem). Mini-matches until we have a winner.

Classical time control - would keep that legitimacy.

BUT, the games would be in Fischer random chess.

The pros:
- it would diminish the probability of ties, because an important cause of the high proportion of ties is opening preparation,
- it would liberate the players from opening preparation after an already long and tiring match.

The only con: it is not exactly the same game. But so close - the same rules exactly except for the placement of the pieces at the beginning - and requires exactly the same abilities, with the exclusion of opening preparation, which is often assisted by teams and computers anyways.
GrayDuck GrayDuck 12/7/2016 04:54
I wish to make a few points about this proposal.

First, I am a bit unclear about how the match would be decided if both the classical set of games and the rapid set of games were tied. Would blitz games be used? If so, when would they be played?

Second, I would suspect that the winner of the tie-break would have a very big advantage in the classical games because he could play more conservatively. As a result, I would think that the rapid games would end up deciding most matches. I favor faster games, so I would welcome that result.

Third, even if he can support his 5-10 percent claim, I think his interpretation is foolishly unrealistic. That statistic would only prove that a small percentage of the residents of a tiny country will follow chess if they have a favorite son (someone from that country) in the sport's most prestigious contest. Ten percent of Norway's population is less than 0.007 percent of the world's population. I want to emphasize that I do not favor eliminating classical chess--just change the World Championship so that it reflects the chess that is actually being played today. The whole point of the World Championship is to create a connection with all chess players by establishing who is the very best of players. If someone can only prove to be the best at a form of chess that is played by very few players, how can he honestly say that he is the best in the world?
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/7/2016 04:32
@ koko48 : "(...) Especially if you haven't done any research on the subject first (...)" : You don't know exactly until which point I went in my researches, and I don't know either until exactly which point you went into your own researches, so we can't at all use such arguments ; neither I with you, nor you with me...

As for the 2800+ grandmasters against the 2600+ grandmasters, as for me, I consider that a game as, for example, the Carlsen - van Wely game that I cited before is as interesting as a game between Carlsen and another 2800+ grandmaster. It is also a 2800+ grandmaster giving all he has in a game : there, the objective is to win and nothing else (...because even a draw wouldn't really be fully acceptable for a player of such a level against a 2600+ player...). When, against a fellow 2800+ player, Carlsen will try to win, but a draw isn't such a big problem... So, the game will be quite different, but also very interesting, in my opinion...
XSammaelx XSammaelx 12/7/2016 04:22
A pretty reasonable solution, but any time spent playing rapid that could instead be used for classical is a waste in my opinion. You say 16 games of classical and two days spent on rapid/blitz? My response is 18 games of classical and NO rapid/blitz - just play a single armageddon game immediately after game 18 finishes if a tiebreak is needed.

The most appropriate "tiebreaker" for a classical match is to maximize the statistical sample size (most possible games) to unravel any slight difference in playing strength. If this fails, then just draw straws. Players may not like an armageddon tiebreaker, but if a player were going to prove him/herself superior there is plenty of opportunity in 16 or 18 games, and any failure to do so is the player's own fault.

I do like the idea of eliminating rest days to make room for more games though, and not just because it was my idea too ;-)
koko48 koko48 12/7/2016 04:13
@Petrarlsen I'm not interested in arguing with you for the sake of argument so please, don't argue with me for the same....Especially if you haven't done any research on the subject first (re: the effect of football scoring in chess)

You are splitting hairs with my 'rabbit' comment, there was obviously no disrespect intended....a 2600 GM is a relative rabbit to a 2750+ GM, let alone today's Super GMs who hover at or over 2800....My point was, this has nothing to do with the crux of the argument, which is increasing the impetus for Super GMs to play for wins against each other....Either in a WC match or an elite tournament

And since we're on the subject of football methods, here's a proposal to "kick around" among those of you who want to keep the WC classical only, without draw odds for the champion....Why not use the football tiebreaks for home-and-home matches? The first tiebreaks are 'away' goals, which in chess would be wins with black.

Keep in mind that under this format, Karjakin would have won this match after the twelve classical games, as he had the sole win with black

Also keep in mind that if these rules had been in place at the beginning, Carlsen might not have played so recklessly with white in game 8....And he also might not have played so conservatively in some of his black games....

It's interesting to consider how the 'wins with black' tiebreak could affect the play....Would it make white play more conservatively, and black more aggressively? Or just one or the other? Would it lead to more interesting games overall, or more staid ones?

I honestly don't know the answer to this question.....Which is why I prefer the rapid tiebreaks

Lee Hendon Lee Hendon 12/7/2016 03:55
New Idea Armageddon World Championship in the case of 3/4 -1/4 result
The tie break would be a correspondence match where they would have to snail mail
there response back around the globe instead of just handing it across the table

Hopefully this proves the stupidity of using Rapid, Blitz and Armageddon for Classical Chess

Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/7/2016 03:40
@ koko48 :

- Even a 2600+ grandmaster is a "rabbit" for you ?? Wow... you are really not very respectful for such strong players... Obviously, a 2800+ grandmaster is still clearly stronger, but this don't at all makes a 2600+ grandmaster a "rabbit" ; this is rather absurd...

- "(...) it's elementary mathematics" : You speak theory, and I answer practice... What interests me isn't essentially the theory (...not that it is whithout any interest...), but the real consequences of the application of this rule. My impression is that the practical consequences are not really so good that what this rule promised in theory. But, one more time, I haven't checked this in detail (but I nonetheless don't at all speak completely whithout knowing anything of what I speak of : I always follow closely competitive chess), so I will not argue with you on that point ; I could perfectly well be wrong...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/7/2016 03:20
@ ivan3ivanovich :

(I didn't have enough time when I wrote my last post to you, so I continue now...) You are not very cautious ; you nearly resorted to name calling against me (it really wasn't very far from that) whithout even checking correctly your facts. The result : what you said about me now turns against yourself like a boomerang...

You said : "30min+30sec IS rapid chess BY DEFINITION", and : "By FIDE statute anything shorter than 90min+30sec IS Rapid chess (or Blitz)." Wow... such a general muddle about the time control rules is rather appalling...

The rules are MUCH more complicated than that :

A first element : "A ‘Rapidplay’ game is one where either all the moves must be completed in a fixed time of more than 10 minutes but less than 60 minutes for each player; or the time allotted plus 60 times any increment is of more than 10 minutes but less than 60 minutes for each player." ("Laws of Chess: For competitions starting on or after 1 July 2014", Appendix A).

But what must also be taken into account are the rules related to rating ("FIDE Rating Regulations effective from 1 July 2014", point 1). It has no consequences as to the fact that a game is a "classical" or a "rapid" game (a "rapid" game can only be a game with less than an hour - or equivalent), but not every classical games are rated.

And these rules are somewhat complex : "For a game to be rated, each player must have the following minimum periods in which to complete all the moves, assuming the game lasts 60 moves. Where at least one of the players in the tournament has a rating 2200 or higher, each player must have a minimum of 120 minutes. Where at least one of the players in the tournament has a rating 1600 or higher, each player must have a minimum of 90 minutes. Where all the players in the tournament are rated below 1600, each player must have a minimum of 60 minutes." So classical games between 60 mn. and 120 mn. (or equivalent) can be rated in certain cases, and cannot in other... no generalization can be made on this subject ; it depends on the Elo level of the participating players (BUT, even when there are not rated, they don't become rapid game : cf. "Laws of Chess", Appendix A seen above).

You said about me : "If you are so ignorant of even the most basic of the rules of the game of chess, how come you consider yourself qualified to propose on the championship regulations?" As this in fact applies to you, and, not to me, I suppose you will now immediately stop to comment the diverse articles on the World Championship format ? It seems to be a very logical conclusion...

Your completely distorted interpretation ot the rules have only one consequence : you end up looking really incredibly silly (the problem isn't obviously that you made an error - it can happen to everyone, but when you use offensive language to correct someone else's supposed errors... and that, in fact, what you says is completely absurd, you really looks completely ridiculous...).
Lee Hendon Lee Hendon 12/7/2016 03:14
Champion starts in Final

Leave Rapid and Blitz out of the Classical World Championship (before or after)
24 Game Match with the Champion retaining in the case of a 12-12 tie
On a 12-12 tie the prize fund is split equally

This happens in the Ryder Cup in Golf and no one complains, Boxing Champion retains on a draw

This also helps keeps a clean linage of champions ie) You have to beat the man
ChessTalk ChessTalk 12/7/2016 03:01
You're a genius, Sutovsky. The only change I'd recommend is giving the winner of the tiebreaks (two day rapids match) the option to have an extra white in the following 17 games or tiebreak advantage. I know you said 16 games but giving the winner of the tiebreaks the choice of an extra white or tiebreak advantage puts the onus on the winner. Thank you sir, I love the rapids games as tiebreaker at the beginning. In fact, if it has to be at the end of the match, I'll always rout for a tie cuz I love the way Magnus played at the very end.
koko48 koko48 12/7/2016 02:52
"I therefore think that, for a tournament, the best way to have a low draw rate is to have grandmasters of comparatively lower rating participating."

I'm talking about elite events...I'm talking about creating greater impetus for the Super GMs to play for wins against each other. That's what people want to see...The best players in the world crossing swords

What you are talking about is adding more rabbits to the field...Lower rated players for the Super GMs to beat up on....We've seen that example plenty of times...The Super GMs try their hardest to beat the rabbits, and usually still agree to short draws against each other

It's because of the traditional scoring system people, it's not too difficult to figure out....In many circumstances it makes more sense to take an easy half point, than risk a loss playing for a full point

There are no agreements to 'split points' under football scoring, because the 3 points are not split....Both players are more likely to fall back in the standings with a draw, then 'hold their place'....And usually the player with the white pieces really wants to go for the 3 points, because he/she has the most to lose with a draw

You don't need to "analyze the consequences" of football scoring's use too deeply, it's elementary mathematics....But if you need more proof of the results of football scoring, again, look at the games played under that format
johnmk johnmk 12/7/2016 02:47
Having a match every few years does cheapen the title. It is a concession to commercialism. Aside from that, I propose that there is no world championship match. instead, there should be a world championship tournament among the best players. It would be more interesting and less likely to end in a draw. Only if there is no clear winner from the tournament should there then be a play-off to determine a world champion.
A7fecd1676b88 A7fecd1676b88 12/7/2016 02:43
@The ArabReaper " ACP logic much like FIDE these days, is always guided by words such as 'sponsors", "followers", "prizes""

Assuming that is true, it explains why Sutovsky's format is, apparently, so patently stupid.
alec2183 alec2183 12/7/2016 02:42
"Whereas a 24-game match might be a bit too long for many reasons"

Why is it too long?

Wilhelm Steinitz and Emmanuel Lasker played their first match in 1894 in Philadelphia New York and Montreal the way I see it if a limping old man suffering from gout and other health problems managed to get on with it and defended his title with everything he had left I see no reason why the current champion still in his 20's in excellent health who has the conditioning of a top athlete and his challenger can't after the first half of the match they can have a short rest before resuming the match in another city like Lasker and Steinitz did.

What's the problem?!
kbala kbala 12/7/2016 02:32
The "briliant" idea proposed by Sutvsky is (as a matter of fact) the idea of Alex Ferguson. Shooting penalties before the match. IMO, in the case of a tie, the champion should retain the title. It's always been like that.
GELO1325 GELO1325 12/7/2016 02:30
I partially agree with the Statement by Sridhar, but also want to add that the Current Champion – MUST / MUST / WIN – he/she must beat a Challenger, who has gone through the Long process (Cycle) to be Entitled to try a Crown. If the champion could not win the Challenger in a Real Classical Match he/she should pass his title….
No Way we should introduce Rapid/Blitz Games before a Serious Classical Match. .(a Different Approach..)No trainer will put the Long Distance Runner to compete in Sprints ( 100/200/400 m..) makes no sense
The max Games that could be introduce is 16, on the other hand 12 is OK!!!
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/7/2016 02:27
@ koko48 :

- "But in match play, particularly for the World Championship, it is moribund...And its pulse is getting weaker " :

Same as usual : classical chess is moribund, but the hundreds of commentaries under the Seirawan and Sutovsky (281 posts at my last count, two days ago, before Sutovsky's article) are nearly all in favor of Classical Chess (only 2 commentators prefer rapid or blitz games).

And everyone (or nearly everyone) in chess knows the names of all the last classical World Chess Champions, and no one (or nearly no one) can enumerate the Rapid and Blitz Chess Champions for the last 10 years, but this is not a problem : classical chess still is moribund... yes, extremely convincing... (and, one more time, I would like to stress out that I quite like rapid and blitz chess, but it isn't a reason to see things in a completely warped manner).

- "The people who still insist that rapid chess is "not chess (...)"" For that, I wouldn't at all support such opinions ; I clearly consider that rapid and blitz chess IS chess, but a very different sort of chess. Quite interesting, but not at all in the same way.

- About the 2012 Anand - Gelfand match and the 2016 Carlsen - Karjakin match : "In both cases the rapid tiebreaks saved the match, and were by far the most interesting games". Speak for yourself ! I don't remember well the games from the 2012 match, but as for the 2016 match, I found them rather disappointing. Karjakin was always very far behind Carlsen on the clock, and the chess content was much affected by this. As for the content, I clearly prefered the classical games, that were much more satisfying in terms of chess content (I know - there were some rather "empty draws", etc., etc.... always the same complaints... but there were still many very interesting games in terms of chess content).

- As for "football scoring", I didn't interest myself quite closely to the analysis of the consequence of its use, but my impression is globally that what influence most the draw percentage in a top tournament is the presence of 2500+ or 2600+ grandmasters. They are very good players, but as 2750+ or 2800+ grandmasters are stronger still, the stronger players really try very hard to win against them, with the consequence that, frequently they do win, and, not frequently but still regularly, they "push" a little too much, and lose against the (relatively) weaker player. And these games are quite interesting too : to see how a top-player plays in a nearly "must-win" situation against a weaker - but nonetheless quite strong - player gives chess of a relatively different sort, but quite interesting too (I remember a recent game between Carlsen and van Wely, at Wijk aan Zee if I remember well : Carlsen wasn't at all the same Carlsen that usually plays for example against Karjakin, and it was nonetheless a very interesting game - and he won). I therefore think that, for a tournament, the best way to have a low draw rate is to have grandmasters of comparatively lower rating participating. Which doesn't mean that every top tournament must also invite lower-rated grandmasters ; for me, it is a choice - one can chose to do it or not, and it will give tournaments "with different flavors", so to speak...
yesenadam yesenadam 12/7/2016 02:26
Not sure why commenters say Sutovsky's ideas are so radical. They seem a mix of how-it-is-now and how-it-was - desire for more games, less quick chess - plus the promising idea of tie-breaks first. Sounds obviously better than tie-breaks-after. But 'champion retains title' wasn't broken and didn't need fixing. Personally, 18 or 24 games sounds good to me. Who complained Fischer-Spassky was too long? 12 is ridiculous - how people expect fighting chess when 1 game may well determine everything I have no idea. That combined with looming tie-breaks is farcical. 16 doesn't sound longer enough. Most of the comments are very sensible, well done CB commenters, I don't have much to add - except the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that if, as we are repeatedly assured nowadays, it's a brand new era, entirely about mass-marketing, making it exciting for TV, new audiences, hi tech etc - why not make the playoffs a boxing match? That would be more attractive to TV audiences, doubtless. (Reductio ad absurdum) Is 'armaggedon' so different? Not so much. Neither are anything like classical chess.
dysanfel dysanfel 12/7/2016 01:37
Of course I meant 18 games. typo.
dysanfel dysanfel 12/7/2016 01:35
You have to beat the World Champion to be world champion. A tie does not cut it. A rapid play off does not cut it. 17 games, tie goes to the champ. End of it.
koko48 koko48 12/7/2016 01:22
"It was not the football scoring system that caused games to go all the way to the end. It was the Sophia rule, and players like Magnus and Nakamura who would not accept short draw offers. As a result, it made difficult for other players not to follow suit."

It was definitely the football scoring that made them play out the games...Go back and look at the games of some of the London Chess Classics (they were the first to implement football scoring if I remember correctly) and the other tournaments that used the 3-1-0 system....You will find very few (if any) short, unfought draws in those tournaments

It also creates more drama in the last rounds....I remember one year at the London Chess Classic, five of the eight players had a chance to either win the tournament or tie for first going into the last round. The players in the lead still could not afford to agree to a quick draw, like they would in the traditional scoring system....Because a draw guaranteed them nothing

The year I'm thinking about, I believe Kramnik had a one point lead going into the last round....And he still had to play for a win because a draw could have conceivably dropped him to third or fourth in the final standings

(With traditional scoring the last rounds are almost always an anticlimax....The 'real' games are usually played in the penultimate rounds....Last round, the players in the lead don't risk anything)

The players played for wins under football scoring because they had to, not because of the example of Carlsen and Nakamura....And it wasn't the Sofia Rules in themselves, because I've seen plenty of GM draws under Sofia Rules....'Extended' GM draws...Today's Super GMs can play 30 or 40 moves without really breaking the balance of the game
Maturner Maturner 12/7/2016 01:03
I like the idea of having the tie break before the start of the match. It would create more interest at the start of the match because the faster time controls are more attractive to a general audience.
kemal13 kemal13 12/7/2016 01:00
Here is my radical suggestion:

1) Make it a four-player tournament where everyone plays four games to each other, totaling 12 games, but with different strategies. I am sick and tired of seeing the same opening again and again.

2) Wouldn't be beautiful if we see Carlsen, Nakamura, Caruana, and MVL (or So, Karjakin, Giri, etc.) battling with each other?

3) That way, a player would not have to wait for many years to play a title game. Besides, we have way too many talented players and it is unfair to leave them out.

4) Instead of relying on supercomputers and studying the one single player's games for months, one will diversify his efforts and rely on supercomputers less, helping the spectators see many games where instinct, rather than boring variation memorization, will play a role.
Sridhar Jujjavarapu Sridhar Jujjavarapu 12/7/2016 12:55
The contention is about
1. Clear winner who can claim to be legitimate world champion
2. Duration [sufficient number of games]
3. Tie breakers

Currently we are looking for a clear winner in certain number of regular games. Now we have 12, if we increase it to 16, 18, 20, 24, will it help? May or may not, however many number we have, we still might run into issues. Tie breakers does not sound fair when we have Rapid, and Blitz world chess championships.

BTW, why should someone always wield the title of world-champion? If there is no clear winner, the title should not be bestowed. Before the beginning of the world championship the incumbent world champion relinquishes the title and plays on equal terms with challenger. If none of them win, the title is NOT bestowed on anyone. But both will compete in challengers next year and winner will be world champion. This will force current world champion to try for a win and sounds fair. Duration we can pick according to the conditions.
croquete croquete 12/7/2016 12:49
Thank you chessbase for the laughs. A championship between these two GMs would start with a bang. Then there would be an n prime number of classic chess games. Then if there is a tie they can toss a coin and choose between theire proposels.
This bang Idea puts all upsidown. The star of classical chess is...classical chess and should not be influenced by a previous tie break.
The ArabReaper The ArabReaper 12/7/2016 12:46
agree with fcotovalm. Sutovsky is the president of ACP, the tool by which Kasparov split the world over WCC with the FIDE, let us not forget that. ACP logic much like FIDE these days, is always guided by words such as 'sponsors", "followers", "prizes" etc and not by the preservation of the traditions of this game. Understandable, if ACP works like a broker for some company who wants to get a few million bucks from a tournament's cycle or a WCC match, one will easily start thinking along the lines of "tie-breaks" and "rapid games" and "action/no draws games" and so on.
Sutovsky writes "ficionados did not get tired of the match in New York – the vast majority would have liked to see more games. Whereas a 24-game match might be a bit too long for many reasons, ". I didn't get what are those reasons since he never mentions them, explicitly. Can you please do that?
The idea of a rapid tie-break is ridiculous, since a champion remains a champion unless he LOOSES. It has always been like this in chess. and sine Mr. Sutovsky doesn't expalin to us why he "find it unfair to award the match to the reigning Champion in case of a tie", we ask him here to explain it to us mere mortals?
NB: Please make those explanations reasonable and logical, not just like the word "bogus" of Seirawan's in his last letter which we didn't understand why it was "bogus" besides, that he didn't like it in the way I may not like Ketchup.
Alekhines-Cat Alekhines-Cat 12/7/2016 12:37
16 games is OK, 20-24 is too much.
8-8 the WC retains the title. The challenger must win the match.
The classic format but 16 games.
vladivaclav vladivaclav 12/7/2016 12:15
ok, the number of games should be increased (16-18) but look... last time when kramnik defended his title by drawing the match with leko, nobody complained.