Proposal: A new World Championship format

by Frederic Friedel
11/4/2019 – When Paul Morphy played Adolf Anderssen in 1858, only two games of the eleven in total were drawn. Steinitz vs Lasker in 1894 produced four draws in 19 games, but when Capablanca played Lasker in 1921 there were already ten draws in 14 games. In the Carlsen-Caruana match last year all twelve regular games were drawn, so the title had to be decided in tiebreaks. But such tiebreaks involve rapid chess game, blitz and even the ominous Armageddon. Is there a way to decide the World Championship in classical games only? Problemist Werner Keym has proposed a format that does exactly this. What do you think?

ChessBase 15 - Mega package ChessBase 15 - Mega package

Find the right combination! ChessBase 15 program + new Mega Database 2020 with 8 million games and more than 80,000 master analyses. Plus ChessBase Magazine (DVD + magazine) and CB Premium membership for 1 year!


Decide the World Championship by classical chess

The tie-break systems that are currently used in chess are designed to break ties between players who have the same total number of points after the last round. This is especially necessary when prizes such as titles, trophies, or qualification for another tournament cannot be shared. And of course in the World Championship, where there is a title to be awarded. But here the system used to break a tie between two players is either:

  1. the challenger needs to win; or
  2. rapid and blitz games, including the ominous Armageddon.

Nobody cheers when a World Championship takes course, it did last year.

Wikipedia describes how it continued: "Before the tiebreak, it was expected that Carlsen would be advantaged because of his prowess at rapid time controls. Although the rating gap between Carlsen and Caruana in classical chess was a mere 3 points, in rapid chess it was 91 points. However, Carlsen's showing in the classical games, and the way in which he offered a draw in a favourable position in game 12 led Kasparov to opine that Carlsen appeared to be losing his nerve. But this was the result:

  • Game 01: Caruana ½–½ Carlsen
  • Game 02: Carlsen ½–½ Caruana 
  • Game 03: Caruana ½–½ Carlsen
  • Game 04: Carlsen ½–½ Caruana
  • Game 05: Caruana ½–½ Carlsen
  • Game 06: Carlsen ½–½ Caruana
  • Game 07: Carlsen ½–½ Caruana
  • Game 08: Caruana ½–½ Carlsen
  • Game 09: Carlsen ½–½ Caruana
  • Game 10: Caruana ½–½ Carlsen
  • Game 11: Carlsen ½–½ Caruana
  • Game 12: Caruana ½–½ Carlsen

Tie-break games

  • Game 13: Carlsen 1–0 Caruana, 
  • Game 14: Caruana 0–1 Carlsen
  • Game 15: Carlsen 1–0 Caruana

Both players were gracious in the press conference after the match, and paid tribute to their opponent. Caruana said the results showed that Carlsen is the strongest player in the world, while Carlsen said Caruana had just as much right as he has to call himself the best player in the world in classical chess. Carlsen's strategy to draw game 12 and win the tiebreaks had been vindicated, a point he emphasized in the press conference. Both players recognized that the other was a formidable opponent. Carlsen said he was very happy for having overcome such a strong obstacle, and would work to get better in the future. For his part, Caruana lamented the fact that one needs to find one's best form to win a tiebreak, which he wasn't able to do, but he looked forward to making another title attempt in the future.

A proposal

Recently we received a letter from Werner Keym, who is a teacher (of French and Latin) and is one of the most creative problemists in the world. He is also a profound thinker in all things related to chess, and came up with the following interesting proposal:

Current rules

For Swiss chess tournaments for individuals (not teams), FIDE recommends — in an Annex to the FIDE Tournament Regulations regarding tiebreaks:

  • The result of the direct encounter(s) between the players (if any)
  • The greater number of wins
  • The greater number of games with Black (unplayed games shall be counted as played with White)
  • The Average Rating of Opponents Cut (the average rating of opponents, excluding one or more of the ratings of the opponents, starting from the lowest-rated opponent)
  • Buchholz Cut 1 (the Buchholz score reduced by the lowest score of the opponents)
  • Buchholz (the sum of the scores of each of the opponents of a player)

The Chess World Championship Match should be decided neither by rapid chess nor by blitz chess nor by Armageddon, at the end of the match, but instead by classic chess. For this the World Championship match should be split into of two parts: a prologue and the match itself.

1. Prologue

1.1 This consists of four classic chess games.
1.2 The player with the lower Elo rating plays white in the first game.
1.3 The player who gets more than two points is the prologue winner.
1.4 In case of tie (2:2) the player with the higher Elo rating is the prologue winner.
1.5 We now have a prologue winner and a prologue loser.

2. Match

2.1 This consists of twelve classical chess games.
2.2 The prologue loser plays white in the first game.
2.3 If the prologue loser gets more than six points in the match, he will be the champion.
2.4 If the prologue winner gets at least six points, he will be the champion.

  • Lots and chance play no role
  • Conditions for the champion and the challenger are equal
    There are at most 16 classic chess games
  • The prologue will take at most four days
  • In the prologue the player with the lower Elo number has nothing to lose and must play aggressive for a win
  • The player with the higher Elo, however, only needs to play for a draw 
  • The championship match is decided in at most 12 games and there may be much excitement towards the end: in case of a drawn score in the 12th game the prologue loser must win, whereas the prologue winner must at least draw
  • The match will end by a fixed day — this is important for organizers, sponsors, media, and audiences
  • The process is similar to gaining the pole position in F1 racing — a favourite is found in advance, and gets an advantage due to his pre-race performance. But it can be taken away during the race itself.

Tell us what you think of the proposal of Werner Keym. Should World Championship matches in the future be held in this way? Please comment in our feedback section below.

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register

glasshouse glasshouse 11/25/2019 02:53
I don't understand why my proposal is not fair minded. I understand completely you (and others) may not like it - but how is any other proposal here more fair minded? You complain about Armegeddon, but ultimately that is how the current world championship is determined if all previous games are drawn. And first a series of fast time control games are played - which determines chess playing strength other than at classical time controls (yet it is called a classical championship). With sealed bids for time willing to take Black, the time control is NOT arbitrary - as the current championship is -an Armeggedon blitz where a coin flip determines who gets what color in a predetermined time control (5 minutes vs four). If the idea of a long/classical time control, sealed bid Armegeddon offends you in some way - then surely you agree that a sealed bid Armegeddon blitz time control is more "fair minded" than the current pre determined 5 minutes vs 4 (colors determines by coin flip)?
Resistance Resistance 11/19/2019 06:17
Interesting proposal. I agree with the main point of the author: to avoid deciding the Classical World Chess Championship by way of Rapid or Blitz games (it's not the right way to decide such an important event). Also, I appreciate the mechanism he devised to establish draw-odds (a 4-game Classical Chess mini-match as deciding factor, etc). However, I disagree with other aspects of the proposal (number of games; some of the assumptions).

(1) I have no problem with the match ending in a tie. Chess itself allows for this third result, a perfectly natural and logical conclusion to a battle in which none of the players has proved to be superior enough to its counterpart.

(1a) Who keeps the title in case of a tie? The World Champion, evidently. His right to be called World Champion does not stem from the audience, nor from sponsors, nor administrative bodies (FIDE, in this case), but from himself. You become World Chess Champion by beating the best AT THE BOARD; you don't ask for the title of best player; you don't beg for it: you conquer it. If the Challenger cannot manage to take the crown from the King, and there's only one King, then he's no King. Period.

(2) I don't think draws are the problem, but people not taking chances (risks). Knowing that you get to decide things at a Rapid or Blitz mini-match, in case the 12-game Classical part of the Match ends in a tie, doesn't help either. A longer match would certainly help players loosen up, since they wont be feeling that pressured to avoid making (potentially) costly mistakes during games; while without tiebreaks, they'd also know, right from the start, that their efforts in Classical Chess will be the determining factor.

(2a) How many games, then? I'd like to see the WCCh decided in 30 games. For an event of this magnitude, that gets to be played once every two years, I think that should give us a good idea of who's the better player; plenty of room for a great battle among two greats.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 11/11/2019 02:46

If you cannot make sense of my reasoning, then so be it. I'm sure it makes sense for others, who may agree or disagree with it, but do not tend to make such bold claims as it is not making sense.

I am not convinced that a rapid or blitz playoff has a very high chance for the player who is actually better (maybe better than 50%, but not necessarily by much), hence I dislike the current format. However, the fact that I would prefer World Champions to be determined in a more reliable format in the future does not make me question the title of the current world champion. The rules were as they were, we need to accept the past as it was, since we cannot improve it after it happened. Carlsen is obviously worthy to be a world champion, he has beaten Anand twice without tiebreaks. And even if Caruana has won the title in the tiebreaks, I would have accepted him as the world champion. The null hypothesis is that the World Champion is the best player. And if we give draw odds, then we need to refer to the null hypothesis if we have no better information. On the level of a championship system we cannot refer to anything better than the null hypothesis. The person who has won the world championship for the last time was the best player at that time and there is no reason to think that he/she is no longer the best, unless the challenger proves otherwise.

Equal chances means equal chances. If we really want to provide equal chances, then we need to remedy the differences. Since you do not want to remedy differences outside the system, like talent, for example, or opening theory knowledge, you do not want to provide equal chances either.

My goal with the World Championship system is to make sure that it is as reliable as possible in determining who's best. As long as the World Champion is the best player, I consider the result fair. The burden of proof is on the Challenger.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 11/10/2019 08:52
@lajosarpad, your reasoning does not make sense. I have read your posts.

1. You need to define what you mean by "worthy". It is not acceptable to say the current world champion is automatically worthy, ie whatever happened in the past was correct. You did not answer my other question which would have elucidated your reasoning: "How about the recent Fischer Random World Championship. Can we say ""About the Champion we obviously know that he/she is worthy. Otherwise someone else would be the Champion. He/she would have never earned the title otherwise." After all, So defeated the previous world champion, Magnus Carlsen."
As someone pointed out, that match included blitz and rapid. You said you did not believe in blitz and rapid. So obviously it is not whether someone is world champion or not, it is the format you are interested in. So what length of games is necessary? What time control is necessary?

Regarding "equal chances", you are completely perverting what I said. I never suggested to equalize IQ, socioeconomic status, seconds, computer resources, nor did I ever suggest to alter the conditions of the match to favor one player based on these factors. Yet you are suggesting something which is far more unfair than anything I have ever suggested, which is to give draw odds to 1 player, which is to give an advantage to 1 player who can win while having an equal result, which forces the other player to take extra risk starting from game 1 of the match. It has been absolutely established that taking more risk increases the likelihood of a loss. Looking at a FEW previous world championships as examples to support your point makes no sense because the sample size is obviously too small. My point still stands that players can get lucky by facing a weaker opponent when they are the world championship challenger, and then hold the advantage when they a face a stronger opponent while world champion (having draw odds).
SamerAdra SamerAdra 11/10/2019 07:30
Player A wins the prologue 4-0.
Player B wins the main match 6.5-5.5.
Player B gets the trophy despite having 6.5 points compared to 10.5 points in classical games.
Are we to believe this is an improvement?
Harrius Harrius 11/9/2019 05:43
I really like this earlier idea, that if after the 14 match it is 7 each: The challenger has one more white to win, and if he or she doesn't, they are not world champion. Draw odd for the match seem too much advantage for the champion, but if it was to happen, surely the last white, 15th, will see the challenger through.I think draw odds against one extra white are fair. So the tiebrake is simply a classical game with white of the challenger and draw odd for the champion!
PCMorphy72 PCMorphy72 11/9/2019 09:56
So, to break a tie, the "prologue loser" must win the last game with black? Is a lower Elo a so big fault? Naaah!!

Perhaps you are creative Carlsen fans, but Caruana and any challenger would prefer a last "Armageddon classical game" like in my serious proposal:
Tormentor2017 Tormentor2017 11/8/2019 08:15
Why not play the 12 classical games and if it ends 6-6, then the Champion keeps his belt like boxing? No rapid/blitz/armaggedon games at all.
JeanH JeanH 11/8/2019 01:40
Why not start the match with the challenger having to win one more game than the champion ? Would not be new, of course... This prologue stuff makes the whole thing harder to understand for the general public. No real need for that.
Jacob woge Jacob woge 11/7/2019 05:18
What about this.

In my opinion, anyone with sufficient mental skills may have a go at becoming world chess champion. You don't need much to function except your brain and some Sitzfleisch.

I have played opponents with no legs, no hands, no eyesight, or no muscles, and I have lost. Were a disabled player to have enough talent and stamina to join the top ranks, he or she could potentially become world champion. Because chess is not a game of dexterity. It is a battle of minds.

But not when and if blitz becomes an integral part of the competition. A physical handicap may play a role. "He won, because he moved faster".

Imagine this: The world championship comes to a close. All even, only blitz is left. The night before, one player sprains his wrist, has it bandaged. That pretty much decides the issue. Try to play blitz with your lefty.

There is chess for blood and there is chess for fun. Fast time limits are for fun.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 11/7/2019 01:17
@Azzur I agree, that would be fair. We do not crown a new World Champion if the Challenger failed to win, but we give him/her an extra White and we see the end of the match as well. I could certainly accept this on my part. The rapid/blitz tiebreak being played upfront has a serious drawback. Imagine the case when the Challenger is an excellent Blitz player, the Champion not so and the Challenger gets draw odds. The Champion will strive hard to win a game, as the Challenger has draw odds due to his/her advantage earned in disciplines other than classical chess and the Challenger would only have to hold the draw. I would not be convinced about the new World Champion being the best indeed in this case.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 11/7/2019 01:16

If the World Champion can get away with drawing all the games, then the Challenger is not strong-enough to win and it would not make much sense in my opinion to crown the Challenger in this case, even if he/she wins some rapid tiebreaks. Nevertheless, since these are the rules, if Caruana would have won the tiebreaks, I would not contest his title, but would be skeptical about him being the best player in the world. On the other hand, Carlsen has beaten Anand in 2013, achieving 3 (!) wins and no (!) losses, retained his title with 3 wins and 1 loss in 2014 against Anand, so he has certainly convinced me that he is the World Champion. In 2016 and 2018 he had this safety-first approach, waiting for the tiebreak, where he was comfortable.

My reasoning is that if someone has already proven that he/she is the best, then there is no reason to think otherwise until someone proves that he/she is better.

@dumkof even though I agree with you that Armageddon with long time controls would not be ideal, I would like to kindly ask you to refrain from offending others. Glasshouse has shared his/her idea with us, which is an Armageddon with long time controls. You and I disagree with it, but nonetheless this is a sane proposal and I would not doubt that Glasshouse is fair minded.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 11/7/2019 01:16

"I define fair as a format that gives equal chances to both players."

The players have different strengths, different health status and fitness, different seconds, different age. You will not be able to provide equal chances to them unless you switch to a coin toss or the like to determine who the World Champion is. Of course, providing equal chances is a flawed approach. One can argue that besides their abilities and situation, like IQ, level of nervousness, known opening theory, helper seconds we need to aim for equal chances, but being World Champion is certainly part of someone's situation and that seems to be an excellent tiebreaker. It worked in the past, the last match played with draw odds to the Champion was Kramnik-Lékó in 2004, which is pretty recent and then two players, who are considered to be very drawish in 14 games had 4 decided games. We didn't see anything of the like in Carlsen-Karjakin 2016 or Carlsen-Caruana 2018. There were 4 decided games in Carlsen-Anand 2014 from 12 games and 3 decided games in Carlsen-Anand 2013. So, draw odds to the Champion was always motivating at least one of the players and has never produced such draw serials as we have seen in 2012, 2016 and 2018. In 2018 none of the games were decided, which is a serious problem. Many are arguing that at the top level games tend to be drawn, but that's not really true. If we look at games at tournaments played at the top level, even the candidates, we see decided games, so the current system rewards players who do not take risks. Carlsen didn't play for a win in a position where he had the advantage. He didn't bother, he was so confident to win in the tiebreak. I would not mind even if the games are all drawn, as long as they are fought out well.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 11/7/2019 12:59
@fgkdjlkag the World Champion is the World Champion. If he/she is not worthy to be World Champion, then we need to strip him/her off the title at once. A system which guarantees that the World Champion is worthy will yield a worthy World Champion after the first match. So, if the World Champion is unworthy, then the Challenger will beat him/her and from there on we will have a worthy World Champion. If the World Champion is already worthy, then there is no problem. When we plan a system to determine who the World Champion is, then the least of our concern is the current situation, because, if another system is introduced, the current situation will be changed at short notice. I do not trust the result of a rapid/blitz/armageddon tiebreak indeed, but that was used before, those were the rules. I do not intend to strip off Carlsen from the World Champion title just because the way he retained his title was not convincing for me. It was the system's fault that it made a tie as a result comfortable for both players and it would be outrageous to change the rules of already played matches.

"I suppose you'll now want to use some external information like rating to support who is the "worthy" world champion, but I thought that in your view the world championship itself is supposed to determine that. "

It's unnecessary to suppose that. I have already described that draw odds to the Champion is the approach I prefer. No need to guess. You just need to read attentively and then you will be able to make sense out of my reasoning. Whether you agree with it or not is another matter, but at least you will understand it.

Even though I do not like the scenario when we crown a World Champion based on rapid results, the reason of this discussion in the first place was the all-drawn match between Carlsen and Caruana. If Carlsen had draw odds, then Caruana would have surely played more aggressively, like we expect a Challenger to play. He didn't have to, hence he didn't do it.
PendekarMustar PendekarMustar 11/7/2019 09:45
Wouldn’t it make sense to ask a serious thought to the top ten players in the Classical, Rapid and Blitz for their thought must be useful and relevant in formulating a solution to this issue and of course the thoughts of any stake holders as well.
Azzur Azzur 11/7/2019 09:38
My 2nd preference is that the rapid/blitz matches are played upfront - this is so that the player who "lost" that pre-match now knows what they need to do - so, in theory could lead to more enterprising games.
Azzur Azzur 11/7/2019 09:37
Of all the formats that I've heard, the one I still like the best is that the Champion gets draw odds but the Challenger an extra white. Thus something like a 15 game match but the Challenger gets an extra White, which can be used at any time (so surprise factor).
strokajlo strokajlo 11/7/2019 08:29
Excellent proposal!
Jacob woge Jacob woge 11/7/2019 01:18
“How about the recent Fischer Random World Championship.”

For one thing, the word “rapid” and/or “blitz” seems to be missing in the name of the event.
dumkof dumkof 11/6/2019 09:01
Glasshouse, you are far from being fair minded. I hope you are not a judge, because this would be a catastrophe.

Who gives you the right to give one player 2 hours of thinking time, while giving only 45 minutes to the other? And you call this "long time-control Armageddon"? As Armageddons aren't damaging enaugh, we now have the "long time-control Armageddon" Ridiculous!

I start to believe that there are some guys here, intentionally proposing Armageddons and blitz games, even in a match with classical time control, just to heat up the discussion here.

Stupid blitzes and Armageddons with arbitrary time odds have no place in a respectable classical chess match.
glasshouse glasshouse 11/6/2019 08:02
Couldn't all chancre be removed by resolving a tie using the combination of a long time-control Armageddon where the players bid on the time that they are are willing to have Black (and 'win' via a drawn game). For instance, if White gets 2 hours for the entire game, each player bids how little time they are willing to get and make a draw. (Example: one payer bids 50 minutes, another bides 45 minutes. The player who bids 45 minutes gets 45 minutes vs 2 hours for his White opponent and if Black draws they 'win'. Of course, the bids are 'blind', each person writing a time in an envelop and not knowing what their opponent bid.)

Depending on your opponent, your opening prep, etc you would make a bid - and the bid strategy itself would become part of each players skill set - but it would be their bidding skill, not something arbitrary.

I think that all tie breaks should be resolved this way, rather than faster and faster time controls until ultimately a blitz Armageddon where the times are pre-established and a coin flip determines your color. What-ever the events time control, a single Armageddon based on that time control, with both players bidding for Black, could decide the winner. One example is the current knock-out tournament. This approach would approximate skill at the main event time control in the tie-break, and rely solely on the players skill.

Several years ago a few tournaments had the players bid on the amount of time for Black in an Armageddon game (though it was only blitz) to determine a tie break, but this practice seems to have stopped, whereas I don't understand why it hasn't been expanded.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 11/6/2019 06:39
"The biggest problem is this requires sponsorship for 16 games @ classical controls. If the money were there for longer matches, wouldn't we be playing them already?"

Prices today are MUCH lower than in the past because of inflation. So a 24-game match today would cost a lot less than a 24-game match 50 years ago. Plus there is the opportunity to sell tickets, advertising during online broadcasts, and so on. Of course the venue makes a big difference, some recent events have been at very nice venues, which would cost more. But also there is an opportunity for venues to want to host a world championship, because of all the positive publicity.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 11/6/2019 06:33
Regarding the comment "It's unfair but so is everything else", not so. I define fair as a format that gives equal chances to both players. There was a proposal by a mathematician, I believe in the 1990s, for an unlimited games match with first to x wins winning the title, where x was a statistically calculated variable that took into account the probability of each player being stronger based on the score. I wish I still had a copy of the paper (if someone has it, please post it). It sounds more complicated than it is, but the winning scores were determined before a match so it is actually quite easy. Eg, 3-0 was a winning score, then maybe the next winning score was 5-3, etc.

The paper looked at all previous world championships to date, the actual result, and the result his format would have produced, with estimates of the length of matches, etc.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 11/6/2019 06:20
How about the recent Fischer Random World Championship. Can we say ""About the Champion we obviously know that he/she is worthy. Otherwise someone else would be the Champion. He/she would have never earned the title otherwise." After all, So defeated the previous world champion, Magnus Carlsen.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 11/6/2019 06:18
@lajosarpad, your reasoning does not make sense. "About the Champion we obviously know that he/she is worthy. Otherwise someone else would be the Champion. He/she would have never earned the title otherwise."

Wait, what?? Exactly what is being discussed here is the world championship format. You BEGIN your argument by ASSUMING that the prior format produced the "worthy" result. And you do not trust rapid/blitz/armageddon. So according to your logic, Caruana has demonstrated he is equal to Carlsen at classical chess. There is no "weaker" player and "stronger" player, which are the terms that you have used to discuss the world championship. I suppose you'll now want to use some external information like rating to support who is the "worthy" world champion, but I thought that in your view the world championship itself is supposed to determine that.

@besominov, you state the world champion "and/or had to overcome a similar challenge" but it was exactly my assertion that that is not true. Carlsen defeating Anand was not a similar challenge as Caruana defeating Carlsen, because Anand was weaker than Carlsen while Caruana and Carlsen are equally matched at classical chess.

What if marcguy's suggestion of an extra white to the challenger, draw odds to the champion, was implemented in Bronstein-Botvinnik and Caruana-Carlsen, and Bronstein and Caruana won their matches?
Or do you KNOW that the outcome would have been the same as an even number of games with draw odds? Obviously not. So you cannot say that a even games draw odds system produces the "worthy" opponent.
dumkof dumkof 11/6/2019 04:26
vandahl's proposal is the simplest and best of all.

After an 8-8 tie, prolonging the match by 2 games, to preserve colour equality, is fair and equitable.

The probability of an 8-8 and 12-12 tie in a row, is significantly lower than a 6-6 tie alone. And should the match still end 12-12, this would mean that the challenger is not better, so the champion keeps his title.

No reason to complicate things with arbitrary tiebreakes, draw odds, time odds, colour odds etc.
vandahl vandahl 11/6/2019 03:19
play 16 games classical chess
if the result is 8-8 after those, play 2 and 2 games, until there is a winner, with a limit of 8 rounds
if still drawn, the Champion remains the Champion

MANY people would like to see a long match again, the Kasparov-Karpov abandoned match was one of the most exciting ever seen! They should have seen it out to the finish.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 11/6/2019 12:06
If the World Champion remains the World Champion, then the status quo remains unchanged. If the Challenger wins, that's a radical change in the status quo and he/she needs to evidently prove that he/she is better than the Champion.

The end of the match needs to be known, no organizer will want to risk an endless match as in the case of the infamous Karpov-Kasparov match.

Correcttion on my previous comment: "It's fair to the chess players, who will have their champion and fair to the players, since the only case when the system would be unfair would yield a situation in which the weaker player ends up without the title. "

I have meant that the only unfair scenario is when the weaker player ends up to be World Champion.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 11/6/2019 11:56
The purpose of the World Championship Final is to determine who the best player is. This is a large service to the whole chess world, including the protagonists, but not limited to them. When I talk about the system, my goal is to have a reliable way to determine who the best player is. I do not trust the result of a match decided in a coin toss or rapid/blitz/armageddon tiebreaks and fairness, in my view is guaranteed in the case of a system which reliably finds the best player in the world. It's fair to the chess players, who will have their champion and fair to the players, since the only case when the system would be unfair would yield a situation in which the weaker player ends up without the title.

We cannot guarantee that in each and every situation the stronger player will win, there can be cases when he/she is sick exactly in the period of the match, or a former secundant of a player helps the other and so on. The only thing we can aim for is to ensure that the system will not crown someone who is unworthy. About the Champion we obviously know that he/she is worthy. Otherwise someone else would be the Champion. He/she would have never earned the title otherwise. So, the Challenger has to prove himself/herself. This is the reasoning behind the draw odds to the Champion. I like @marcguy's idea of giving draw odds to the Champion and one extra White to the Challenger.

I disagree with those who say that both players must be in trouble in case of a tie. Let's take the example of the Kramnik-Lékó match in 2004. The Champion has draw odds and both players were drawish at the time. Kramnik won the very first game, Lékó equalized in the fifth game and took the lead in the eights game. His strategy was to hold the draw in all games and allow Kramnik to blunder and lose. Yet, Kramnik, faced with a dire situation of losing his title has attacked all in in the last game, which is remembered now as the game of the year to earn a tie and thus retain his title.
besominov besominov 11/6/2019 06:18
If the goal is to reduce draws then make the match longer and reduce rest days.

I think that will work better than giving draw odds or anything else.

[I don't mind draw odds for the current champion. It's unfair but so is everything else. At least the current champion has already proven himself (and/or had to overcome a similar challenge). Blitz tie-breaks favor the better blitz player, that makes even less sense in a classical match.]

There are no perfect solutions to the draw problem and there are no perfect solutions to break up a tied match.
melante melante 11/6/2019 01:59
I actually like pipopalazzo's idea: in case match ends draw, champion retains title but next cycle the candidates tournament (with the WC participating) selects the two contenders for the final match instead of just the challenger. If the resulting match is drawn, winner of the Candidates gets title but, again, will have to play next cycle. Quite an interesting idea!
marcguy marcguy 11/5/2019 11:40
How about this? Match is 17 games long, Champion gets draw odds, Challenger gets one extra white game.
njg149Chess njg149Chess 11/5/2019 07:18
How about this? The entire match is played in the classical time control. Only wins count, and the match is won by the first player to reach 6 wins, or the player who wins more games in a pre-set number of games (24? 30?). If the pre-set number of games is played and both players win an equal number, they are declared co-champions. A rematch would ensue in the following year.

Draws don't decide the best player. The champion is the one who can win more, like in all other sports & games. At this level of chess (unlike other games & sports) most players can frequently draw most other players, if that's all they want to do. If neither player is capable of winning more games than the other, the match must be declared a tie - a unique situation that only chess would allow.

Peace, Nathan
Martas Martas 11/5/2019 06:19
Elo based rule for ties? Sounds weird for case when 2 players have similar rating, gives some space to organize match with your teammate in order to gain some rating and advantage for WC match.
If rapid as tiebreak is a problem, just go for draw odds for current champion, otherwise stay with current system with rapid playoff (maybe blitz and armagedon is a bit too much).
Jacob woge Jacob woge 11/5/2019 05:19
"Stop all the foolishness and play 12 games. The player with the best score after 12 is the champion. If no winner after 12, then play until one player or the other wins a game. There. It’s done."

Or, after three months, the match is cancelled as both players are hospitalised. They shoot horses, don't they?

I have one thing to add in the way of incentive to win. In case of a drawn match, each player would not get 50% but only the loser's share of the prize money. The rest goes to: charity - or rolls over to the next WC match. In which none of the players are guaranteed a spot.

On the other hand, a drawn match is in itself not boring. It could be N/2 wins each. What we really do not want to see is nothing but draws. Especially draws where the players are just biding their time to get to the lottery of the rapids or worse. A nasty side effect of having that tie-breaker.

So that could be the key. A perfect string of draws is the least wanted scenario, and is countered by reducing the prize fund. There has to be a bloody nose somewhere. If wins are exchanged, there is full payout.

I do not see collusion and splitting the money as being a problem.
koko48 koko48 11/5/2019 04:57
So under this system, Carlsen could have retained his title with 16 straight draws (which is more and more likely in today's comp-assisted, low risk WC classical games) - instead of 12 straight draws like last year.

So great, you succeeded in keeping the WC classical games only....but how does this actually make the games and the match more interesting to watch? For both chessplayers and the general public?

The player with draw odds will still play it safer...and in order to have a real chess game, it takes two to tango

The WC match is our game's showpiece event. It usually gets the most publicity and the most interest among the casual player and general public. We should be thinking about creating interest in chess...not sticking to classical games only because "that's how we've always done it"

Chess matches used to have no clocks at all. Then they had clocks, but adjournments. Now games are played in one session, at faster time controls with sudden death and increment. Time controls have always changed in the WC, so why are people so upset about WC playoffs at faster time controls? Especially when nowadays, the rapid games are the most interesting games (and quite high quality, despite what many people try to claim)?
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 11/5/2019 04:46
This falls into a long line of suggestions that ADVANTAGE one player over the other, as pointed out by GreenKlaser. Having draw odds forces the other player to take more risk, and lowers the risk-taking player's probability of a win. Why can't anyone outright admit that the goal of all these methods is to unfairly advantage one player because we know that the nature of chess is for a high percentage of draws?

Same as introducing large prize money to a winner - it cannot change the fact that the NATURE of high-level chess is a high probability of draws. Playing more aggressively does NOT increase one's chances of a win, it increases the chances of winning or losing (that is, a decisive result instead of a draw).

And for the "classic" draw odds to the champion - it has the same drawback of giving an advantage to one player before the match. It is NOT fair just because a champion may have had to face the same situation as challenger, because he was facing a different opponent and may have had an easier time dispatching a weaker opponent (like Anand-Carlsen), but if a player is equally matched in classical (eg, Caruana), then Caruana's task as challenger with draw odds is more difficult that Carlsen's was when he faced Anand. This is still a legitimate suggestion and format for the world championship, but don't pretend it's fair.
cepfan cepfan 11/5/2019 04:10
The proposal is good. The prologue should be played about one month before the match begins. Then each player knows the conditions of the match and may modify his strategy.
To me two things are important: (1) the match is decided by classic chess; (2) the conditions in case of tie are clear at the beginning of the match.
By the way the proposal works as well if the champion has a lower Elo rating than the challenger.
chipstaylor chipstaylor 11/5/2019 03:26
Compromise.... the middle ground or the Golden Mean as as Aristotle will put it. 8 games Classical chess and 8 Games Fischer Random in Classical Time. Tie Breaks: 4 Games each of Slow Rapid.
mc1483 mc1483 11/5/2019 03:16
Complications are unnecessary. Give draw odds to the champion, like it was done in the past, and the problem is solved. Maybe it's not fair, but there are no fair solutions anyway: if all games are drawn and armageddon is not good, someone must have draw odds, one way or another.