London Classic: Peace at all costs

by Alex Yermolinsky
12/5/2017 – The bad news is that after three rounds, it has been 100% draws. Caruana even tweeted tongue-in-cheek, "We're thinking of renaming it to the Anish Giri Cup." The good news is that some players are clearly trying their best to break the fast. Aronian did everything he could, sacrificing material helter-skelter against Karjakin. When he was dead lost... he offered a draw. Report and analysis by GM Alex Yermolinsky. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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No laughing matter

Five more draws, would you believe it? No wonder some of the players want to rename the event to an Anish Giri Cup. Anish himself joined in the laughs by refusing to “validate” the tournament.  A witty quip, you guys seem to be doing quite OK without me, was his response.

Laughs are good, but the facts remain. As much as some commentators may fluff it, there's a sense of doom settling over the future of our beloved game. How do we get across to an average sports fan, when 100% of games are drawn? How far can we go while tinkering with the rules?

A fan doesn't miss a chance to capture footage of her chess heroes | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Stalemate counting as a win would turn upside down the entire endgame theory. By shrinking the margins of error, the reformers may inadvertently cause players to take less risk, not more.

Chess960? Weird configurations of the pieces produce more symmetrical structures (because alternatives are unknown and therefore too risky to try with Black), where the main objective for the participants is to get back to “normal” positions.

Yesterday I threw in an idea of randomizing openings by computer choice. Say, a hundred balls are thrown in the hopper, ten of each for major openings, such as the Ruy Lopez or the Nimzo, with a sprinkling of wild ones, representing the Budapest, the Trompowsky and such. Let the chips fall where they may.

All the same, there were some rather unusual opening choices today, but the results came out the same.

Nepomniachtchi and Caruana look around to see if there is any interesting chess going on in round three | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Nepomniatchi-Caruana was a reversed Pirc, Nakamura-So was a rare English/Sicilian line, and Adams-MVL saw the white rook come out to a3 in the early going. All fizzled out quickly. We won't be deceived by a long game between Michael and Maxime, a 4 vs. 3 rook endgame with the pawns on the same side of the board, since it is as drawish as they come and pretty boring to watch.

The two games I'd like to take a deeper look at had a similar motif of White playing his knight to a3 in the opening.

A knight on the rim is…right?

A school kid is invited to make the opening move on the board with two World Champions | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Carlsen's choice in the Catalan is quite well-known. Anand himself successfully used the same idea in his match with Topalov. White does get some pressure for the sacrificed pawn, but Vishy was prepared to deal with it.

One advantage of being a player no longer in the bloom of youth as Anand is that you have decades of theory and home preparation to fall back upon | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Magnus Carlsen 1/2-1/2 Vishy Anand (Annotated by GM Alex Yermolinsky)

[Event "9th London Chess Classic 2017"] [Site "London"] [Date "2017.12.04"] [Round "3"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Anand, Viswanathan"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E04"] [WhiteElo "2874"] [BlackElo "2770"] [Annotator "AlexYermo"] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 dxc4 5. Nf3 c5 {Anand likes straighforward lines in his preparation to play with the black pieces.} 6. O-O Nc6 7. Na3 $5 ( {A similar version of the same idea is} 7. Ne5 Bd7 8. Na3 cxd4 9. Naxc4 Bc5) ({ while, of course,} 7. Qa4 {remains White's top choice.}) 7... cxd4 8. Nxc4 Bc5 9. b3 $5 (9. a3 a5 10. Bd2 O-O 11. Rc1 a4 12. Nce5 {Artemiev-Zvjaginsev, 2015}) (9. Qc2 O-O 10. Nce5 {Nakamura-Kaidanov, 2012}) 9... Qe7 {[#]} 10. Nfe5 { It seems Carlsen wasn't sure about his preparation.} ({A logical follow-up has to be} 10. Bb2 e5 11. b4 $1 {where Black's best may be} Nxb4 (11... Bxb4 12. Nfxe5 Nxe5 13. Nxe5 Bc3 14. Bxc3 dxc3 15. Qa4+ Nd7 16. Nc4 {quickly rounding up the c3-pawn and keeping some edge due to the vastly superior bishop.}) 12. Nfxe5 O-O 13. a3 Na6 {White then gets his pawn back and plays on.} 14. Bxd4 Bxd4 15. Qxd4 Rd8 16. Qf4 {etc.}) 10... Nxe5 11. Nxe5 {In such positions the key issue is to prevent Black from connecting his pawns.} Nd7 $1 {Vishy cuts throught the chase. The issue of a strong white knight has to be addressed immediately.} (11... O-O 12. Bb2 Rd8 13. Rc1 Rb8 14. Qc2 Bb6 15. Rfd1 Nd7 16. Nc4 $1 {turned out to be better for White in Melkumian-Grachev, World Cup 2017. }) 12. Bf4 O-O (12... g5 $2 13. Nxd7 Bxd7 14. Bxb7 $16) 13. Rc1 Rd8 {[#]} ({ More direct was} 13... f6 14. Nxd7 Bxd7 15. Bxb7 Rae8 16. Qd3 Kh8) 14. Nd3 $6 { Magnus takes it a bit too far.} ({Perhaps he was not entirely satisfied with White's chances after} 14. Nxd7 Rxd7 (14... Bxd7 15. Bxb7 e5 {is enterprising.} ) 15. Rc4 e5 16. Qc2 exf4 17. Rxc5 Rd8 {Nevertheless, it was the way to go.}) 14... Bb6 15. Bc7 Re8 16. Qc2 e5 {Black has accomplished his goal, and now it's up to White not to get worse.} 17. Rfd1 Nf8 18. a4 Bg4 19. Bxb6 axb6 20. h3 Rac8 21. Qd2 {[#] Here we have it: Black is a clean pawn up.} Be6 $2 { One can only feel disappointment seeing the Former World Champ settling for a draw.} (21... Bh5 22. Rc4 f6 23. Rdc1 Rxc4 24. bxc4 Bf7 $15) 22. Nxe5 Rxc1 23. Rxc1 Bxb3 24. Nf3 Bxa4 25. Nxd4 Ne6 26. Nf5 Qf6 27. Ne3 Qd4 28. Qa2 Nc5 29. Rc4 Bb3 30. Rxd4 Bxa2 31. Rb4 Re6 1/2-1/2

Strategy University Vol. 5: Winning Methods of great Players

Using ideas and games of great masters from the past, the famous Ukrainian trainer GM Adrian Mikhalchishin deals with various themes.

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Aronian's Na3 also was not a novelty. I guess the idea was to drag Karjakin kicking and screaming into a Stonewall setup, which Levon succeeded at. I think he realized White had a much worse version of it compared to the regular lines of the Dutch, but it didn't discourage Levon from trying his hardest. First he sacrificed his c4-pawn then offered another. Sergey stayed within the parameters of his solid game plan and despite a shortage of time was in a position to capitalize on Levon's risky play.

Levon Aronian 1/2-1/2 Sergey Karjakin (Annotated by GM Alex Yermolinsky)

[Event "9th London Chess Classic 2017"] [Site "London"] [Date "2017.12.04"] [Round "3"] [White "Aronian, Levon"] [Black "Karjakin, Sergey"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E11"] [WhiteElo "2805"] [BlackElo "2782"] [Annotator "AlexYermo"] [PlyCount "65"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 Be7 5. Bg2 d5 6. Nf3 O-O 7. O-O Nbd7 { Black has been solid in this line, which resembles the Closed Catalan, only with the white bishop misplaced on d2.} 8. Na3 $5 {Aronian always seeks a new path. The development of the knight to the edge of the board takes care of the c4-pawn and allows White to get his major pieces out.} c6 9. Rc1 Ne4 10. Be3 f5 {Sergey took a bit of time here. Normally he's not a big fan of the Stonewall formation.} ({Levon already had an occasion to showcase his positional skills in this line:} 10... Bxa3 11. bxa3 Nd6 12. c5 Nc4 13. Rxc4 $1 dxc4 14. Qc2 { Aronian-Giri, Tata Steel 2017.}) (10... b6 {is supposed to be met with} 11. cxd5 cxd5 {but White didn't get so much out the c-file in Gozzoli-Meier, 2017:} 12. Bf4 Ba6 13. Bc7 Qe8 14. Ne1 Bxa3 15. bxa3 Qe7) 11. Rc2 a5 {Sergey wanted to stop White's expansion on the Q-side.} ({Alternatively he could have invited it:} 11... Bf6 12. b4 Qe7 13. c5 {counting on the counterplay with} b6 $1) 12. Qc1 Bf6 13. Rd1 g5 {[#]} 14. Nb1 (14. Ne5 $5 {is what White always wants to do in the Stonewall. It's not really a pawn sacrifice here, as} Nxe5 ( 14... Qe7 $5) 15. dxe5 Bxe5 16. f3 {gets it back. The position after} Nd6 ( 16... f4 {is very risky:} 17. fxe4 fxe3 18. cxd5) 17. Bxg5 Bf6 18. Bxf6 Qxf6 19. e3 {is slightly better for White, who will try to get a hold of the dark squares, such as in} Bd7 20. c5 Nf7 21. f4 e5 22. Nc4) 14... Rf7 15. Nc3 Rg7 16. Ne1 {Aronian continues to maneuver.} ({A standard method in such positions is} 16. Nxe4 fxe4 17. Nd2 {to prepare f2-f3.} ({or} 17. Ne1 {with the same idea, although in that case Black can try the surprising} b5 $5 18. cxb5 cxb5 19. f3 Bb7) {I think Levon was concerned with the future of his knight after} 17... Rf7 (17... a4 $5) 18. f3 exf3 19. exf3 a4 {but then White can try the direct} 20. f4 $5 gxf4 21. gxf4) 16... Nd6 17. b3 ({Another surprising line that didn't see the light of day was} 17. c5 $5 Nc4 (17... Nf7 $11 {may have been the reason Aronian didn't want to close the position.}) 18. Bxg5 Bxg5 19. f4 Be7 20. b3 b5 21. bxc4 bxc4 $13) 17... dxc4 18. Na4 ({After} 18. bxc4 Nxc4 19. Ne4 Nxe3 20. Nxf6+ Qxf6 21. Qxe3 {White has enough compensation, but Black counters with} e5 {before White can clamp down on that square.}) 18... cxb3 19. axb3 Nb5 20. Nd3 $5 {One cannot accuse Levon Aronian of not trying. The second pawn is offered.} Qe8 {Sergey thought better of that.} ({Both} 20... Nxd4 21. Bxd4 Bxd4 22. Rcd2 Qe7) ({and to the lesser extent} 20... Bxd4 21. Bxd4 Nxd4 22. Rb2 Qe7 23. e3 Nb5 24. Rbd2 {were playable.}) 21. Ne5 f4 22. gxf4 gxf4 23. Bxf4 Nxd4 24. Rxd4 Nxe5 25. Rd1 Qg6 26. Bg3 h5 {[#] At first glance, White's situation looks critical. However, both players realized that the threat of h5-h4 was only good to win a piece, not to checkmate the white king.} 27. Nb6 Rb8 28. Rcd2 Nf7 ({Here is a line to illustrate the point.} 28... h4 29. Rd8+ Bxd8 30. Rxd8+ Kh7 31. Nxc8 hxg3 32. hxg3 Qf6 33. Be4+ Ng6 34. Qd2 {White is only down the exchange with a solidly protected king, which cannot be said about his black counterpart.}) 29. Qc5 $5 {Aronian insists on "losing" a piece. } ({He could have played} 29. Qc2 {to take care of the problem on the g-file.} Qxc2 30. Rxc2 e5 31. Nxc8 Rxc8 32. h4 {White has compensation, but hardly more. }) 29... e5 {Again, Karjakin says thanks, but no thanks.} (29... h4 30. Nc4 hxg3 31. hxg3 b6 {otherwise it's hard to save Rb8 from the attack by the white queen.} 32. Qxc6 Ba6 33. Qxe6 Kh8 34. Rd7 Bxc4 35. Qxc4 {is objecively about equal, but it's harder to play for Black, particularly when low on time.}) 30. Qc4 Kh8 31. h4 $6 {After the game Levon expressed his regret for letting the formerly 'bad' bishop on c8 live.} ({Indeed,} 31. Nxc8 Rxc8 32. h4 {was a better choice.}) 31... Bf5 32. Nd7 Rbg8 33. Kh1 $2 {[#] with this move Aronian offered a draw. By his own admission, Levon "cheated" a bit, as no such offers should remain part of chess competition.} (33. Nxf6 Qxf6 34. Qc3 Rg4 {already slightly favors Black, who aims to have a go at the white king, e.g} 35. Qxa5 $2 Rxh4 $1 36. Bxh4 Qxh4 $19) ({In the game continuation} 33. Kh1 $2 {Black had a large, if not outright decisive advantage. Karjakin said he didn't see} Be7 $1 {saving the bishop and preparing the shot on h4.} 34. e3 (34. e4 Bxd7 35. Rxd7 Bxh4 {as the 4th rank is now blocked.}) 34... e4 $1 35. Rg1 Bd6 $19) 1/2-1/2

The Dutch Stonewall - A fighting repertoire against 1.d4

In the Dutch Stonewall Black from the very first move fights for the initiative. Let Erwin l'Ami take you on a fascinating journey to the depth and attractions of this unique opening. At the end you will be rewarded with a new repertoire against 1.d4!

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Sergey Karjakin learns he was had | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Sergey Karjakin and Levon Aronian explain what happened to Maurice Ashley | Saint Louis Chess Club on YouTube

Both games could have been wins for Black or at least should have gone on for much longer than they did. While I can listen to some explanations for Vishy's and Sergey's decisions, it's their mindset of being satisfied with a draw with Black that's to blame.

The London Classic is an invitational tournament, as all top events are. Invitations are based on ratings. Making draws keeps ratings intact. You draw the conclusions.

Well, we are down to a six-round event now. Time for the players to start winning games, and that's the only thing that would make me shut up with all that gloom and doom talk.

Round three commentary

 

Commentary by GM Yasser Seirawan, WGM Jennifer Shahade and GM Cristian Chirila, with GM Maurice Ashley reporting from London | Source: Saint Louis Chess Club on YouTube

Standings

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Carlsen Magnus 1,5 0,0
  Aronian Levon 1,5 0,0
  Caruana Fabiano 1,5 0,0
  Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 1,5 0,0
  So Wesley 1,5 0,0
  Anand Viswanathan 1,5 0,0
  Nakamura Hikaru 1,5 0,0
  Karjakin Sergey 1,5 0,0
  Nepomniachtchi Ian 1,5 0,0
  Adams Michael 1,5 0,0

All games

 

Links



Yermo is enjoying his fifties. Lives in South Dakota, 600 miles way from the nearest grandmaster. Between his chess work online he plays snooker and spends time outdoors - happy as a clam.
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peterfrost peterfrost 12/7/2017 01:18
I think the "draw problem" is quite easily rectified. Organisers err in inviting 10 elite players of equivalent strength.
Tournaments are much more interesting with, say, 6 elite players and 4 2500-2600 "up and comers" which introduces a whole new range of strategic options, based around the elite players needing to trying to win the games against the lower rated players, even with black. The problem would still be present at the Candidates and Gran Prix tournaments, but all other events would enjoy a much healthier win/loss ratio.
OrganicChess OrganicChess 12/6/2017 06:18
To the Author:

The photo capture for Carlsen vs Anand: Not just any random school kid but U8 EYCC silver medalist, Shreyas Royal, whom I coached during that championship this year https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1592634097425673&substory_index=0&id=130911230264641
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/6/2017 03:37
@ ICCF Grandmaster : I also agree that, in correspondence chess, the problem isn't the same, because the draw rate is really VERY high...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/6/2017 03:08
@ ICCF Grandmaster : Personally, as the draw rates that we see usually in high-level tournaments quite suit me (without taking into account, obviously, completely atypical tournaments as this one), I would prefer to keep the current rules as they are, but I quite understand your position nonetheless...
ICCF Grandmaster ICCF Grandmaster 12/6/2017 01:48
@ Petrarlsen 12/5/2017 10:15: "... it is necessary to escape the "central draw zone", and this isn't easy, so a win is really objectively quite significant..." - I understand your point. Yet, I am sure, even a stalemate "win" isn't easy to achieve. Chess would remain the same and become even more complex with 3 results to go for. It has to be tested and will be tested at least in correspondence chess, where the draw rate is close to 90% at higher level.
Ben Seeley Ben Seeley 12/6/2017 03:48
(Also, in addition to all the nifty things you can do with computer programs to find opening positions that are fair, you can also delegate some of the work to human committees to examine positions for "interestingness" or any other criteria that chess players would consider important.)
Ben Seeley Ben Seeley 12/6/2017 03:36
In the board game of Othello, we have something which might be a solution for this kind of problem.

It is described here- http://berg.earthlingz.de/xot/aboutxot.php?lang=en

Basically, very strong computer programs were used to examine all possible sequences of the first few moves that could be played, and they identified all of the positions which are evaluated as being extremely even. Some of the moves used to create the position may be terrible, but the net result is an even position which is reasonably fair to both sides.

And then this list of starting positions is used on some game sites and in some tournaments, where the players get a random position from the list as their starting position. Conventional opening theory basically gets thrown out the window. There are hundreds of very early legal positions which are playable, most of which would never be played "naturally".

You could develop it further for chess, by having the chess programs verify that there are a decent number of playable sequences for each selected position, so that the position wouldn't be super narrow for one player or both players. This could help ensure fairness.

Probably some people would still prefer playing "classic" openings, since there is so much history there, among other possible reasons to appreciate classical chess openings. And I am not much of a chess player, so I could be missing other nuances as well.

But this kind of computer-generated list of options is available as a possible solution, if it becomes really important to reduce the number of draws in chess tournaments. It may also increase excitement as well, since players would have to figure everything out on their own for nearly the entire game. And it's like Chess 960, but the positions would be far more similar to classical chess positions.
e-mars e-mars 12/5/2017 10:59
@fons Completely agree, however when it comes to play a Candidate or the World Championship final, and players are most likely around the same level, draw is the more logically and statistically correct outcome.

@drgenial +1 Same (very high) level + good quality = draw

Somebody seems to forget the K & K world match... And somebody seems to forget that if rating diff is so tiny, so small, again, draw is statistically correct.

I truly despise the idea of giving much more space to rapid & blitz games, even tho they're spectacular and surely fun, I do seek quality, still.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/5/2017 10:15
@ ICCF Grandmaster : As for me, I must say that the usual draw rate (more or less 65 %, I would say...) rather suits me : it ensures that wins must really be EARNED by the players. It isn't automatic at all that one or the other player will win his game ; it is necessary to escape the "central draw zone", and this isn't easy, so a win is really objectively quite significant...

Obviously, in the present tournament, I would much like a lower draw rate, but as I said previously, such a draw rate isn't usual at all, so it wouldn't be logical to draw general conclusions on the basis of such a tournament...
Bill Alg Bill Alg 12/5/2017 10:12
I think there is a problem with this article, actually. The author thinks that he can understand and that he is entitled to judge the actions and decisions of the best players in the world, who are much stronger than he ever was: 'While I can listen to some explanations for Vishy's and Sergey's decisions, it's their mindset of being satisfied with a draw with Black that's to blame.'
ICCF Grandmaster ICCF Grandmaster 12/5/2017 09:25
I mentioned time controls only in order to say that we should not reduce them. Rapid and Blitz should not become the main stream chess, even though it might be more attractive for the media. - In my first posting I gave my credo: let's change the score for stalemate, which would allow to play on 3 results instead of 2. Nearly each simple pawn ending, where one side is a pawn up, would result either in a win (1 point) or in a stalemate win (0,75 point). As I said before: it's an old idea by Lasker and Réti, and Aronian seems to like it. It's at least worth trying out and see how it works.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/5/2017 08:29
@ Aighearach : Yes, in fact, ICCF Grandmaster's sentence ("For all those sticking to deep classical chess with long time control, it might be worth reading what Aronian said in his interview about draw and stalemate (...)") isn't sufficiently developed for us to be sure what he means exactly by it. Obviously, he seems to link the question of the time controls with Aronian's quote, but how, I'm not sure, in retrospect...

But I'm not at all convinced either by the fact that it is possible to link the two : it isn't because the current rules tend to the fact that the most common outcome of a chess game is a draw in high-level chess (which is in fact rather obvious ; I think that Aronian explained this much more for the non-chess playing public than for other chess players, even amateurs - I don't think I have ever seen a high-level tournament with less than 50 % of draws...) that classical time controls must be suppressed !
felixlatiza felixlatiza 12/5/2017 08:09
Petrarlsen: "So much negativity ! (Even GM Yermolinsky goes in this direction !!)" Drgenial "Relax. They are the best in the field. It means...they play the best in the field. Enjoy the moves and learn with it." You´re right, so much complain, Aronian has just played an extraordinary game against Karjakin pushing creatively to the extreme, he must be very upset with all these nonesense regrets. I hope these great players don`t ready these comments not to try to satisfy the public with absurd blunders from excesive risk.
Aighearach Aighearach 12/5/2017 08:04
@Petrarlsen He didn't say that Aronian said anything about time controls, he said that people who support classical time controls should consider Aronian's words. Perhaps he's hoping that these people will also agree with Aronian that the "new" rules might be the problem?

People who think the time control is the problem already have an answer, no use addressing them with it.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/5/2017 06:34
@ ICCF Grandmaster : "The most common outcome", logically, means more than 50 %. In fact I think that the draw rate at 2750+ level must even be nearer 70 % than 50 %. But I don't see this as a problem ; a draw can be quite interesting. And I don't see at all how this quote by Aronian could be considered as a criticism (even implicit) of classical time controls...
ICCF Grandmaster ICCF Grandmaster 12/5/2017 06:22
For all those sticking to deep classical chess with long time control, it might be worth reading what Aronian said in his interview about draw and stalemate:
Interviewer: "I heard that apparently a draw is the most logical outcome of a game."
Aronian: "Yes, because the latest chess rules which are currently in use, I think for about 270 years, help Black to achieve a draw. There was a time when you could stalemate your opponent with your vast army and that would have been considered a win. Perhaps 0.75 for those days. Chess was always the sort of game that people would play by betting money, and the winner would have been offered something. In those days they would reckon in that way. Nowadays you may have two knights advantage and it can end in a draw, which is a little illogical, and therefore a draw is now the most common outcome of a game."
Petrosianic Petrosianic 12/5/2017 05:55
The only game that was truly shameful was Aronian-Karjakin. She shouldn't be allowed to agree a draw in a decisive position just because neither one wants to risk it. Black would never have accepted a draw in a Blitz game in such a position. The Draw OFFER is the villain in this case. Players should not be able to simply agree among themselves to put points on the board. That's a holdover from the days when chess was a gentleman's game, not a sport. so, the draw offer should go, and along with it 3-move repetition (which is a sneaky way of offering a draw without speaking up). As in Shogi, it should be simply illegal to repeat a position 3 times.

Eliminating Stalemate is NOT the answer. That would simply make the game even more drawish and materialistic Nobody would risk an attack at all if there was no chance of having enough resources to hold the game if the attack failed.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/5/2017 05:55
@ temujin64 : As I said in my previous comment : in most tournament, the draw percentage is quite acceptable, in my opinion, so it isn't because, from time to time, there is one tournament with a super-high draw percentage that classical chess as a whole must be thrown into the dustbin... For me, what is particularly interesting, with classical chess as it is played nowadays, is that it represents the summit of what a completely isolated player can "create" on a chessboard (...and, by the way, this wasn't the case with the old adjournments, because a team could quite well join the player to analyze the game before the end of the game...). If classical chess was suppressed for high-level chess, the result would be that, globally, for example, games played between 2500 to 2600 GMs in a classical chess tournament would probably feature a better playing level than the games between 2750+ GMs. And I would find this quite a pity...

What you suggest would in fact be the use of a rapid time control (your time control would be considered as the equivalent of a 14 mn. time control - rapid chess...). I would be quite interested to see longer rapid or blitz tournaments between top-level players, but I don't think that your idea would work, because such a great mass of games would, in my opinion, be perceived as slightly repetitive. My own idea, for Rapid or Blitz chess, would be to stay very close to the "classical games tournament" outline : simply to replace individual games between two players by a one-day match between the same players. (For example, a 4-games match, for Rapid chess, or a 8-games match, for Blitz chess - but this is just an example...) And for the global result, the results of one game in a classical games tournament would be replaced by the result of the corresponding one-day match (with 1 point for the winner of the match, 0 point for the loser, and a half-point for each player if the match is drawn). I think that this system would be much more interesting to follow that an endless series of games between the same players.
tourthefarce tourthefarce 12/5/2017 04:34
I agree with "fons", throw in some hungry young players in the mix and you'll see a better tournament for everyone. I am not against all draws, but boring "I just show up to collect my paycheck" draws are what's upsetting to the fans. A nice cash bonus for every won game might do something too.
temujin64 temujin64 12/5/2017 04:06
It seems to me that there are two significant problems with these tournaments. The first is that there are not enough rounds. Let's face it; if you lose a game, just one, you are not going to win the tournament. There are not enough rounds to recover from such a setback and then go +2 to win the tournament.

Second, time controls and time controls with increments and/or delays are too long for our computer prepared competitors. Even those players who sometimes forget their prep have time to wait for their mental block to clear with plenty of time still remaining to play the rest of the game comfortably. Maybe it is time for slow/classical chess to go the way of chess played without time controls?

I think this tournament would be far more interesting and exciting if the time control was two minutes per player with a twelve second increment from the start. Players play each other a total of six to eight games per round and play each opponent a total of six to eight times for the tournament. This gives you a tournament of 54 or 72 rounds which should be more than enough recovery time for any player suffering from a poor or too ambitious start.

Organizers can then tinker around with both the time control and number of rounds to find what leads to the best quality of events.

Just my two cents.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/5/2017 03:39
So much negativity ! (Even GM Yermolinsky goes in this direction !!) I follow top-level chess permanently ; in most high-level tournament, we don't see at all such series of draws ! And, objectively, if, in most cases, high-level tournaments don't produce such a draw percentage, it means that the problem isn't with high-level chess itself ; the causes must be linked to this tournament or its circumstances.

In my opinion, two elements concur to create this effect for the present tournament : 1) The proximity of the Candidates Tournament (4 out of 10 of the London Classic participants will play in the Candidates Tournament, and, very probably, they keep their preparation for the Candidates and thus, choose to play globally in a quite "safety-first" style here). 2) The double fact that there isn't any "under-2700" GM in the participants and that 8 out of 10 players are 2750+ GMs - when the levels are more varied, in many games, one of the players must play for a win... and the draw level goes down accordingly).

And, furthermore, personally, I consider that, even with this "draw-avalanche", many games are still interesting ; a draw isn't necessarily at all a boring game !
melante melante 12/5/2017 02:10
@geraldsky : right, like at Isle of Man... what a joke of a game that was!
drgenial drgenial 12/5/2017 01:47
Aronian and Ding, high rating players, won the World Cup. If others, less rated, had won it, they would be playing these big tournaments. Add up your ratings and you get your way through. Ask Wesley So.
drgenial drgenial 12/5/2017 01:34
Do you really wish that bad these players to blunder moves? Or you want them to play the best possible moves? If yes, then draws are more likely, right guys?

Imagine if you as human could always draw against Komodo. That would be thrilling, would not?
drgenial drgenial 12/5/2017 01:32
"As much as some commentators may fluff it, there's a sense of doom settling over the future of our beloved game. How do we get across to an average sports fan, when 100% of games are drawn? How far can we go while tinkering with the rules?"

Relax. They are the best in the field. It means...they play the best in the field. Enjoy the moves and learn with it.
geraldsky geraldsky 12/5/2017 12:57
lets see Carlsen -Nakamura game..maybe theres a winner
scoobeedo scoobeedo 12/5/2017 12:11
The player which offer the draw get 5 slashes with the whip ... heh
fons fons 12/5/2017 11:54
All these weird proposals to the draw problem.
The solution could be much more simple: more variety in the playing field.

I was against this "Grand Chess Tour" concept from the beginning for a variety of reasons.

I don't want to see the exact same handful of players every single time.
Forcing organizers to invite only certain players makes it harder to find sponsors.
The up and coming players never get their chance.
Making a living from chess is hard so why give more money to the only players that don't actually need it?
Too many draws when only the very top play each other.
Chess fans don't care for this Grand Chess Tour ranking anyway.
Chess is not tennis, or football, or whatever else they want to compare it to to justify this GCT.

I'm sure I can come up with more.
Lachesis Lachesis 12/5/2017 11:48
Always appreciate the commentary from Yermo.
ICCF Grandmaster ICCF Grandmaster 12/5/2017 11:45
By the way... Adams vs. MLV escaping in a stalemate by 58.Rg2 - that's nice, BUT it covers the fact that Black had a clear advantage in this ending and White finally was forced to look for the stalemate solution. Therefore IMHO - referring to Lasker and Réti - stalemate should have a slightly different score than a "normal" draw: 3/4 point for the one stalemating, and 1/4 for the other one, who gets stalemated.
Nelba Nelba 12/5/2017 09:50
Prize money should be according to who wins more games and not who has more points.
Pionki Pionki 12/5/2017 09:16
Top chess is boring to the extreme. 20 moves of theory, then another 20 of nothing. It's like watching a swimming competition where competitors swim unisono in separate lanes, from start to finish in every run. Why would anyone care about it? Why was this organised in the first place?
Derek McGill Derek McGill 12/5/2017 08:08
What about changing from ratings to old USA system of just being Class 1 Class 2 up to Just GM ?
melante melante 12/5/2017 07:54
why not like football? I.e. 3 points for victory, 1 for draw
gonda gonda 12/5/2017 06:29
next time I am offered a draw, would do well to first check whether I am winning ...
gonda gonda 12/5/2017 06:28
in a world where everyone is a winner... like this tournament so far! while i love hard fought draws, read: amateur chess, and do agree that such a level of grand mastery has probably solved chess to a certain extent, yes, i'd love the players try for wins. Perhaps changing the invitation format might work? or having multiple world-cup like competitions? just throwing guesses there without thinking it over.
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