Karjakin win kicks off World Chess "Armageddon" series

by ChessBase
6/20/2019 – World Chess has developed a new tournament format for Russian television, dubbed the World Chess Armageddon series. Eight players entered a virtual arena, donned branded clothing and played blitz for $50,000 in prize money. In the end, as if according to script, local hero Sergey Karjakin defeated Ian Nepomniachtchi. | Photos: World Chess

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A twenty-first century TV play 

World Chess (formerly Agon), is trying to set up a TV-friendly tournament format with his new "Armageddon" series, which their website — in typically hyperbolic style — proclaims is "the first ever chess tournament produced for prime time television". 

Like the BBC's seven-season Master Game four decades ago, the tournament was staged using the knockout format. Two initial groups faced off in a series of matches culminating in a final between the winners of the groups. 

Two blitz games were played per round with a time control of 3 minutes plus 2 seconds per move. In case of a tie an Armageddon game with 5 minutes for White and 4 for Black plus draw odds followed. The format was developed for Russia's Match TV sports channel, and live commentary (in Russian) is available on the World Chess YouTube Channel.

The production resembled other contemporary live commentary efforts, but with one twist: Shot in a green-screen studio, the playing hall environment was entirely digital, save for the stone-slab style table and chairs.

Green screen studio

Going from this...

Virtual studio

...to this

The field

The field was naturally Russian-heavy, but quite impressive, including former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik persuaded to participate despite his retirement from classical chess competition earlier this year.

  1. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)
  2. Vladimir Kramnik (Russia)
  3. Teimur Radjabov (Azerbaijan)
  4. Sergey Karjakin (Russia)
  5. Wei Yi (China)
  6. Daniil Dubov ((Russia) 
  7. Ernesto Inarkiev (Russia)
  8. Boris Gelfand (Israel)  

The official site doesn't make the pairings, results or games readily available, but the matches were played over a seven-day stretch from June 10th to 16th. The format was double-elimination with a preliminary set of matches leading to a "winners" and "losers" bracket. The winner of the two brackets — Karjakin and Nepomniachtchi — played a final match.

Karjakin prevailed in the final, but this whole series was subtitled "The Beginning", so...to be continued...?

A look inside the "studio"

Karjakin and Nepomniachtchi

All games and final commentary


Commentary (in Russian) by GM Vladimir Potkin and WGM Elmira Mirzoeva


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