Yasser Seirawan - A Radical Solution Final Thoughts

by Yasser Seirawan
12/31/2016 – After the World Championship match between Sergey Karjakin and Magnus Carlsen Yasser Seirawan proposed a "Radical Solution" to change the format of the World Championship match. It triggered an enormous discussion. Readers sent in hundreds of comments, Emil Sutovsky and Maurice Ashley published different proposals. Now Seirawan sums up his final thoughts on the World Championship format.

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Yasser Seirawan (Photo: David Llada)

A Radical Solution Final Thoughts

Dear ChessBase readers, dear chess fans,

I really must beg for your indulgence. When I wrote my original article, “A Radical Solution,” it was a knee-jerk rant of sorts. Reeling from the “thirty-five-minute punch,” of Game 12 in the World Championship Match (WCM) was simply too much of a disappointment for me to bear. With the whole world tuning in to watch a dramatic final game of a competitive sporting duel we witnessed instead a dud masquerading as a classical game, leaving me greatly annoyed. The players can’t be faulted - it was the match rules that were to blame.

After 30 moves and 35 minutes Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin
agreed to a draw in game 12 of their World Championship match.

Okay, one rant is fine, a second is pushing the boundary of fine etiquette and a third is well-and-truly over the top. Agreed. Hence my request for your kind indulgence as I genuinely find the issue to be far too important to pass over as things currently stand. Let’s get started.

Firstly, a very big thank you to both GM Emil Sutovsky and GM Maurice Ashley for contributing with their articles about the format as well as proposed changes to the WCM rules and regulations. Feedback on this vital topic is much needed. If both “market forces” and “the evolution of the game” are contrary to what I propose, that will be that, and my angst will quickly be buried by the sands of time. That said, please allow me to share some final thoughts on this crucial topic.

To sum up...

To sum up my views, as elaborated in my previous articles:

1. The WCM is the crown jewel of the chess world. We should aspire to a system that allows for matches like Botvinnik-Tal (1960) and Spassky-Fischer (1972), which inspired generations of chess players, including me.

Mikhail Tal vs Mikhail Botvinnik

2. Chess has one of the richest histories of any sport in the world. We should be proud of this history, and respecting the WCM rules both honors past World Champions and ensures the future of chess.

3. Chess should not give in to the fast-paced, modern age world of near science fiction that we colloquially call the “information age.” Chess cannot compete with the limited attention spans that Hollywood and other societal forces have capped at ninety minutes to two hours for movies, three hours for sporting events, and less for other things, such as political discourse. I don’t accept that to keep up we must play faster (!), decrease the number of games played (!) and force a result (!) by the time our nightly news source is uploaded, and that failing to do so means the extinction of our beloved sport.

Really? Are these the challenges that we face? To save our crown jewel we must change it beyond all recognition? Perhaps I’m merely having a bad period or simply exaggerating the challenges we face? That in fact while things may not be perfect with our WCM and cycle system they are reasonably fine. I think not.

4. I’m highly critical of the entire existing World Championship cycle, although I’m aware that my dislike of the cycle won’t change anything.

Which brings us to the WCM itself. My fundamental position is that the WCM should consist of classical games only, and that Rapid and Blitz should not be used to break a tied match.

My friend PCA President Emil Sutovsky proposed playing a Rapid/Blitz chess tiebreaker before the Classical games even begin. This creative idea ensures that a Rapid/Blitz tiebreak would be part of every WCM, not just tied ones. Since I don’t think Rapid/Blitz games should ever be part of a WCM, tied or not, I have to respectfully disagree with Emil’s proposal.

Maurice Ashley’s article reported the views of the world’s elite players on the current WCM regulations and the role of tiebreaks featuring Rapid and Blitz chess. I don’t question the accuracy of his article (that the vast majority of the world’s elite players are “okay” to “fine” to “supportive” of the current system (2016). I would be surprised if it were otherwise - it is difficult to compete at the highest levels of chess while questioning the legitimacy of the way chess is organized.

So where do I stand on all of this?

A. The WCM is too short

The WCM should not be a twelve-game contest. Twelve games are not enough.

The realities of the world today are such that a 24-game match is simply not going to happen. I get that. I suggest 16 games, as a compromise (but read on).

Placing our crown jewel in context: a month from now the second longest running traditional tournament in the world after Hastings, the 79th Tata Steel tournament, will be held in Wijk Aan Zee, Holland.

The sea in Wijk aan Zee

It will be a 13-round (game) event. It has not bowed to the demands of being shorter, faster and quicker to be “better”. Tradition still counts for something. The Candidate’s Tournament, the prelude to the WCM, is a 14-game event. Not Zurich 1953 by any stretch, but still long enough to get a worthy Challenger. Yet the WCM is shorter than these and other events, and is considerably diminished by these comparisons.

The argument that WCM organizers prefer a shorter (12-game) match doesn’t hold water. The additional costs of a longer match, in percentage terms, are not significantly higher and the extra games in fact can be very helpful to the organizers, as publicity builds and ticket sales increase as the match reaches its zenith.

All credit to Maurice Ashley for sharing the very strong criticisms from the 12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov, whose views of the current WCM format were positively dismissive. No longer being a potential participant in a WCM, Tolya could take a longer-term view than the current top players:

“…12 games is not that mockery on chess we observed during the knock-out system - but it is still not enough. At least 14-18 games are needed for full-fledged, creative fight: then the rivals have an ability to risk; whilst in a short match of the rivals whose strength is equal, the game is usually just hold, while the opponents are just trying to catch "a fail-safe chance." ... “I'm firmly against of mixing different forms of chess. Determining the Classical World Chess Champion in rapid, and all the more, in blitz is just nonsense."


Furthermore, let me boldly state the obvious: the 12-game WCM of today is no longer an epoch-making, world-defining sporting event that holds the chess world enthralled. The WCM no longer stands out as the ultimate pinnacle of intellectual excellence. It is simply too short, both in absolute terms and in comparison to other events, including some national championships.

B. The World Championship title is losing prestige

Some of the feedback from readers after my two previous articles included opinions such as “why bother with a WCM? We have a rating system that tells us who is the best in the world.” and “neither tennis or golf have a world champion; we don’t need one either.” When chess fans express such sentiments, it is the severest of warnings.

The chess world is fortunate, because Magnus Carlsen, the current World Champion, is also the highest rated player in the world and no one can question the legitimacy of his status as the planet’s top player.

Magnus Carlsen after winning the strong open in Qatar 2015

But it is quite conceivable that the World Champion may not be the highest rated player in the world and it would be bad for chess if the rating system became more important than the title. This was foreshadowed in the mid-sixties, when Tigran Petrosian won, then defended, the World Championship title, despite some mediocre tournament results. But no one questioned the importance of the World Championship title - if someone was really better, a 24-game match was there to prove it (and Spassky did in 1969).

If one wishes to quantify this problem, consider that the prize fund for the Carlsen-Anand match in Chennai, India in 2013 was 2,650,000 Euros. The prize fund for the 2014 match was much less at two million Euros, and may in fact have actually been only one million Euros. The 2016 prize fund was the minimum one million Euros or rather $1,060,000 USD. The smallest prize fund of the 21st century for WCM’s. Is this rapidly shrinking prize money due to “market forces” or is the WCM simply no longer the prestigious event it once was?

C. These developments are not coincidental or inevitable

To recap my concerns: the WCM as an event shorter in length than ever before; it is shorter than the Candidates tournament that precedes it, as well as other events; it isn’t even close to the intellectual challenge it once was, because it doesn’t allow a full-fledged creative fight (Anatoly Karpov); the WCM is seeing steadily diminishing prize funds.

Throughout my career as a chess professional I’ve heard frequent laments of how chess does not get enough main-stream media coverage; television has ignored our sport more or less completely (excepting Norway); sponsors are not lining up to create great events because we don’t get enough exposure; chess columns are losing precious inches or being discontinued altogether.

The solution, so I’ve been told, is that if only we could get the spotlight of the world to shine its attention on our noble sport we would be discovered and chess would be transformed, as it was in 1972.

Fischer vs Spassky, Reykjavik 1972

We just need a golden break. What better place than the financial and media capital of the United States, New York City? Queue drumroll please, may I present Game 12 of the match. Trip, stumble, fall, splat. That was so comically disastrous I can now look back and laugh. If that represents our best effort while capturing the world’s attention I’ll have to rediscover checkers. I’m told it is challenging.

We cannot set ourselves up again for such a tragic fall. We cannot have a repeat of Game 12. As an ardent chess fan I cringe at the impact on potential sponsors. We simply have to do better in the future.

D. My proposal

Limiting myself only to the rules and regulations of the WCM I’d like to offer a clear, no-nonsense, proposal for the 2018 WCM that builds on my previous two articles.

While I was quite pleased with my original proposed solutions for improving the WCM, it was greatly enhanced by exchanges I had with my dear friend, Bruce Harper (fellow co-author and co-inventor of “S-Chess” - which is another topic altogether). I’ll let his own words speak to his suggestion, which I adopt:

“I get the concept that you unbalance the score from the start, so a drawn match is not mathematically possible. This is done in Go, where the “komi” (handicap) is, I believe, now normally set at 5.5 stones. This is based on the assessment that the first move in Go is worth something like 5 points, but by including a half point in the komi, a tie is not possible (since the actions of the players can only be measured in full points). So if the game is close, one side or the other will win by .5 points, but someone will win.

No draw in Go (Screenshot of Crazy Stone, distributed by Unbalance)

Your idea is essentially to introduce a komi into the WCM … Who gets the komi is random (under your proposal), and the other player gets one extra White in compensation (although it is not full compensation). 

Where I suspect the proposal could be improved is in deciding which player gets the advantage of the komi (which is greater than the advantage of the extra White). Drawing lots strikes me as unsatisfying, when one player has the accomplishment of winning (and possibly retaining) the World Championship title, and the other has the accomplishment of emerging from the Challenger system. On the theory that the Champion must be defeated for the Challenger to win the title, it might be better to just say: 

a. Play a 17-game match.

b. The Challenger gets the extra White.

c. The Champion retains the title in the event of a tie.

d. The Challenger chooses when to play the extra White game.

I added d. because we know that the extra White is worth less than the draw odds in the match. So it seems appropriate to enhance the value of the extra White by giving the Challenger the power to determine when that game is played. Some notice would have to be given, which would be something like within one hour of the end of the previous game or by 8:00 pm on the day of the previous game.

This would mean that the Challenger would always have two White’s in a row. But the Challenger would determine when he or she would get two Whites in a row, which is better than either getting the extra White out of the way at the start or deferring it to the end. I think from the spectator point of view it would be more interesting as well.”

As Mr. Harper makes clear, and I agree with him, the draw-odds advantage in favor of the Champion is greater than the benefit of the Challenger having an extra White. The chances of winning with White are slightly greater than with Black, but a win is certainly not guaranteed! However, giving the Challenger the flexibility of when to play the extra White game is quite a benefit as well. And it definitely spices things up.

Tradition is served by having the Champion retain the title in the event of a drawn match - to be the best, you have to beat the best. No Rapid or Blitz tie breaks. Just one extra White for the Challenger, to be used as the Challenger sees fit. When the Challenger makes his or her push with the extra White, the chess world will take notice, and the Champion’s advantage of “draw odds” will be somewhat balanced.

While there is no perfect system, given the pressures of our modern-day realities, I strongly believe these proposed changes will help restore the luster of our crown jewel and would urge the FIDE to adopt them for the 2018 WCM.

Magnus Carlsen with the "Crown Jewel" of chess





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XChess1971 XChess1971 1/3/2017 06:39
@koko48 There are other sports that do not get sponsorship such as Women's Soccer, Table Tennis, and so on.... Of course they won't change their rules only because you are a neighbor that thinks that rules should be changed.
XChess1971 XChess1971 1/3/2017 06:32
Your comments show how ignorant and lack of common sense you are. I wonder what kind of rating and title you have to comment like that. But as you said before you are a patzer. So what can we expect from someone like you?
Nobody goes to a tournament to play for a draw. People plan their tournaments accordingly. If it fits they might take the draw. But like I said before only ignorance can make someone to come up with nonsense like what you have expressed so far. A world championship final is not something that gets decided on a rapid game or a blitz game. Instead of writing B.S. in here maybe you wanted to get yourself informed on how were the chess tournaments played in the past. The lack of capability from FIDE doesn't justify their actions. An unfortunately ignorant people like you think that it is OK to win a World Championship Chess Title playing sudden death, Armageddon, etc, etc. Why don't do you do us a favor and not worry about this and instead worry about getting yourself out of that patzer level that you have, instead of coming up with retrograde proposals.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/3/2017 03:23
@ koko48 :

- "What is so holy and sacrosanct about a 'Classical Only' World Championship match?"

The problem is not there at all.

A Rapid World Championship exists, and a Blitz World Championship too.

Classical games aren't used in the Rapid World Championship or in the Blitz World Championship, and, logically, Rapid and Blitz games musn't be used in the Classical World Championship. It is just a question of simple logic ; nothing more.

Or else a "combined" World Championship must be created alongside the three already existing World Championships, where Classical, Rapid, and Blitz games would be played on an equal footing.

I would also be quite favorable to develop and improve the Rapid and Blitz World Championship (personally, I find the current systems, based on the use of the Swiss System, completely inadequate for such events). I tried to suggest an idea to organize "serious" Blitz and Rapid World Championships under the last articles about the Rapid and Blitz World Championships ; I rather thought that some would approve, some strongly disapprove, some others explain that this idea was absurd but that they would suggest other ideas, etc., etc. ; in short, that it would launch a debate. In fact, nothing of all this ; the only problem that seemed to interest the commentators was the choice of tiebreak for this Swiss System tournament (a quite minor problem, in comparison to the generally completely inadequate format currently in use, in my opinion). And I would suppose that, logically, the commentators under the articles about the Rapid and Blitz Championships would basically be rather interested in Rapid and Blitz games, so, if even there, no one seems to be interested in "serious" Rapid and Blitz championships, I don't see where it would be possible to find a sufficient number of supporters for such an idea.

And, under the "World Championship Format" articles, only GrayDuck and you were proponents of Rapid and Blitz games. This while under these articles, a total of approximately 700 commentaries has been written, for the moment (not a mere trifle...).

So what do you really want ? To organize a "special" World Championship just for GrayDuck and you ??

If you would switch Classical games for Rapid games in the (current) (Classical) World Championship, you would obviously lose a clear majority of your current audience.

How could you compensate this ? You can hope to draw a new audience, but it seems obvious that to replace the former audience by a new one as (relatively) large as the present one could occur only in Dreamland.

So, what would you propose ???

- As for the 3 - 1 scoring system, I wasn't very convinced by this idea, at the time, but I was nonetheless very interested in these "experiments".

My own impression was rather the opposite to yours : that this rule nearly didn't change anything in the tournaments where it was implemented (if I remember well, in several of these tournaments, there were a little more wins than in other tournaments, but there were also several 2600+ players who participated alongside the 2750+ participants, and the increase in number of wins could perfectly well be the result of this disparity in level - by the way, I think, personally, that it can be quite an interesting idea to add some 2600+ grandmasters in the mix for top-level tournaments, as in these tournaments ; the resulting games - between 2750+ and 2600+ grandmasters - are different from games between 2750+ grandmasters, but they are very interesting too).

I didn't make any statistics on this matter, but it seems logical that, to make an important change, it is necessary to have provable justifications for it.

So, have you any statistical data to prove your point, on the usefulness of this 3 - 1 scoring system ?

And I would also point out that, quite obviously, this 3 - 1 scoring system cannot be used in a World Championship match...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/3/2017 01:39
@ Noschessdamus :

"Petrarlsen, you are afraid that under the Gladiator Principle you are gonna have to come to chess tournaments and play to win lol"

As I'm a lawyer and not a professional chess player, and as, at an amateur level, there are much less draws than at a 2700+ level, I can be concerned by the "draw theme" as a spectator, but absolutely not as a player.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/3/2017 01:12
@ maxi80 :

I definitely find your system very interesting.

I very much like your tiebreaking ideas ; especially the third, in a way, because it is a completely new idea, quite innovative (I already devised ideas for my own system that had a certain degree of resemblance with your first and second tiebreak, but nothing that had anything in common with your third tiebreak). All these tiebreaking ideas designed specifically for matches prove that tiebreaking ideas that don't involve making the players play new games are quite possible for matches, and not only for tournaments.

It would be very useful, because, obviously, a playoff with Classical games could very easily, if there are many draws in the given match, become completely unrealistic in terms of organization and costs.

These ideas would limit the importance of the "draw odds to the Champion" system, wouldn't involve "non-classical" games, and wouldn't add any supplementary costs. Quite a bunch of positive points, in fact !

As for a 16 draws scenario, I think that, with your system, this would be EXTREMELY unlikely to occur.

This because, as the "draw odds to the Champion" system is used as a last resort, the Challenger simply HAS to win, or, otherwise, he will simply lose the match. Even a very draw-oriented player (like Giri seems to be for the moment, for example) can't choose such a strategy, because he can't gain anything that way, in the end.

Rationally, it seems obvious that, several games before the end of the match, the Challenger will necessarily begins to play more and more riskily, because if he doesn't attempt anything, the Champion will simply cruise through the last games, and win easily. And, if the Challenger begins to play more riskily, very probably, he will either win, or lose, and the "problem" will be solved.

And, if EL2400's idea (60 % of the prize fund - for example - to the Challenger, if the match is tied, at the end) was implemented, the Champion too would have a serious incentive to play for a win. So, if the two players have significant reasons to play for a win, I don't really see how all the match's games could be drawn.

Furthermore, I'm nearly sure that the "worst" series of draws in a World Championship was the series of 17 draws in the 1984 match between Kasparov and Karpov, and that no other draw series of 16 or 17 games ever happened in a World Championship. So, with a system that gives a big incentive to play for a win for at least one player (we must remember that, in the 1984 match, the draws didn't count, so there was absolutely NO incentive to play for a win, for the players), I really think it is nearly impossible to see a match with 16 consecutive draws.

And if, in spite of all these elements, this would happen one time every 300 years... I think we would manage to survive to it !!!
koko48 koko48 1/3/2017 01:00
Final thought: The most radical (and effective) solution I saw in the chess world in decades, was the introduction of football scoring in tournaments (3 points for win, 1 point for draw, 0 point for loss)....Which seemed to eliminate with one bold stroke, the age-old stain of pre-arranged GM draws in tournaments... Players were forced to play for a win every game, and even the draws were well fought, interesting games - 'Real' Games

And yet the football scoring had a very short run...I never see this format used in major tournaments anymore

Why? Is it because too many traditionalists started complaining that "this is not how we've always played chess"? Did most of the players oppose football scoring, because they didn't like having to play for a win every game? Perhaps they missed having extra rest days during the tournament, and the easy, pre-arranged draws in the last round? I suspect it was a combination of the two

Regardless the chess world is going to have to address a very fundamental question, now that the game is seeing revenue and sponsorship dry up...Will chess players continue to insist on "business as usual", or will they be willing to embrace truly radical solutions?

I don't think it's an overstatement to say that the survival of the game itself - particularly as a professional enterprise - may be at stake
koko48 koko48 1/3/2017 12:03
First, the Fischer boom will never happen again. The entire world will never have their focus on chess like they did in 1972. That is a virtual impossibility. Back then you had no internet, and only five or six channels on the television set. And no remote control - you had to get up from your chair and tun the dial, if you wanted to change the channel!

What that means is, if something was televised on one of the major network TV stations more people throughout the world tended to watch it, and pay attention to it for long stretches...There was simply not as much competition for viewers' attention in 1972

You also had Fischer's outsized personality AND the heavy political and Cold War implications of the match, which will (probably) never happen again.

The chess world had it's moment in the spotlight, when the world was interested in it and chess was 'cool' and a 'fad'...But FIDE squandered that moment with petty politics (at a time when Chess had $5 million WC purses in 1975, second only to Muhammad Ali title fights....And Fischer insisted on pay equity with Ali!)

That said, we have to acknowledge that the world has changed....The internet creates a lot more competition for viewers' interest...And the internet also dictates, in many ways, the format and duration of the spectacle

This proposal is called "Radical" but it is still based on a reactionary conservatism, that the World Championship must remain classical only. Why? Why cling to a tradition that never made chess more popular, and in today's world (and today's elite chess game) is the least interesting format?

Traditionalists can take heart in the fact that it was never designated the "World Classical Chess Championship"...It was always called the "World Chess Championship"

And you're going to deprive it of rapid playoffs? Its most interesting, internet friendly, and fan-friendly format? Which also produces the most drama, and the most interesting games?

Why? What is so holy and sacrosanct about a 'Classical Only' World Championship match?
Noschessdamus Noschessdamus 1/2/2017 10:22
Petrarlsen, you are afraid that under the Gladiator Principle you are gonna have to come to chess tournaments and play to win lol
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/2/2017 09:39
@ Noschessdamus :

"Draws are obsolete under the Gladiator Principle."

Wanting to completely suppress draws in Chess is just completely ABSURD.

Draws are an integral (and important) part of Chess ; one more time, if you don't want draws, don't interest yourself to Chess. It's as simple as that.
Noschessdamus Noschessdamus 1/2/2017 09:28
XChess1971, under my Gladiator Principle you have your beloved Classical Chess. The only change is that at the end of the time control of Classical Game 1 of the 12 games match, you don't get any new added time. If for some reasons no winner of game 1 after your Classical G/180, maybe a stale mate or a theoretical draw, then it's SD G/5. Draws are obsolete under the Gladiator Principle.
maxi80 maxi80 1/2/2017 09:10
You're right Petrarlsen. Alternate colours. Champ has three Whites #1, #7 and #13 after a rest day including Game 1. And Challenger has two Whites #4 and #10. As for TBs, especially TB #3 the idea behind it (them) is that every game counts to determine the winner. In the unlikely event of 16 draws then simply the Champ retains the title. I can compromise on that, but who wants to dream about such a scenario...?! Not me that's for sure.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/2/2017 08:16
@ Keesje : "(...) we had a World Champion who didn't have the guts to even try to play for a win with the white pieces in the last game!"

I think that Carlsen doesn't reason at all like that.

He is a complete pragmatic ; the only thing that interests him is to win, and he will always choose what he thinks to be the best in order to win. He considered that his best chance was to wait for the tiebreaks - and he did precisely this. And he won, so he was right !

I quite like this pragmatic approach, and, if the rules were satisfying, such an approach wouldn't have any negative consequences. One more time, in my opinion, the problem is with the rules, and not with the players.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/2/2017 07:58
@ maxi80 :

Just a detail that I don't like in your system : "After TB #3 Champ retains Title, but in the event of a succession of 16 draws, the Champion retains, but both players are forced to take part in the next Candidates."

With such a rule, the Champion would be only a "half-Champion" in the view of the public ; I wouldn't find this very satisfying.

And, if the "draw odds to the Champion" system is used in a World Championship system, it means that the Challenger MUST win, at one moment or another. If there is a series of 16 draws, it nearly necessarily means that the Challenger didn't really seriously enough tried to win. So he doesn't deserve to win the Title, and it is quite normal that the Champion keeps the Title.

I would be favorable, to try to avoid this possibility (a series of 16 consecutive draws), to use EL2400's idea (described on the 2nd page of commentaries under the present article - post "1/1/2017 11:11") : in case of a tied match, with application of the "draw odds to the Champion" system, 60 % of the prize fund would be attributed to the Challenger, and 40 % to the Champion (for example ; other values could be chosen, the idea being to attribute more money to the Challenger when the "draw odds to the Champion" system is used).

This would encourage the Champion to play in a not-to-conservative way, because, in case of a final tie, yes, he would keep the title, but he would lose much money ! This idea would certainly make it even less probable to have a series of 16 consecutive draws.

And it wouldn't be unfair, because, as the new (and former, in this case !) Champion has automatically the right to participate in the next World Championship Match, he is ensured to gain more money still at this moment (...as even the loser of a World Championship Match has a very significant monetary prize...), so that, globally, the Champion still gains more money than the loser of the match.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/2/2017 07:21
@ maxi80 :

On condition that the color repartition is what I think it is in your system, I really quite like this system.

For me, the three basic conditions for a World Championship System are fulfilled, in this system : it is fair, logical, and it "keeps the match Classical".

I fear a little, though, that many people will HOWL at your third tiebreak. As for me, I note that it is precisely only the third tiebreak (it would obviously not be used frequently), and that I don't find it more artificial than, for example, the Sonneborn-Berger that is nevertheless used in the Candidates Tournaments. And, as there is a logic behind it, this third tiebreak isn't a problem for me.

I think that your system has a significant resemblance to my own system, that I notably described under Maurice Ashley's article.

To make it easier to compare these two systems, for those who could be interested, my system can be find on the first page of commentaries under the Ashley article, in two posts : "12/13/2016 07:26", and "12/13/2016 07:27" (here is the link to this page : http://en.chessbase.com/post/maurice-ashley-yasser-seirawan-debate-world-championship-format#discuss).
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/2/2017 06:42
@ XChess1971 : I think that Noschessdamus can very safely be considered as the winner of the Worst System Competition between all the systems presented under the Seirawan, Sutovsky, and Ashley articles. I think we could even say that he won this contest with flying colors.

It is not easy to conceive as bad a system as this one ; we must give him his due, and admit his superiority in that respect...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/2/2017 06:32
@ maxi80 : You don't mention it explicitly, but I suppose that, in your system, the color are alternated evenly from the first game ? This would mean that the Champion would have White in the 7th game, and not the Challenger, and that the socond White game of the Challenger after a rest game would be the 10th game.
XChess1971 XChess1971 1/2/2017 06:20

Since the beginning of time chess has been played first without clocks. Later on with clocks. But it has always been the nature of the game to play classical, and beat others under the classical way. Carlsen as many previous challengers had to do a lot of effort to conquer the WCC title, and won the title by playing classical chess. Also there is big history behind all of this. We CAN"T have a World Chess Champion that wins the title in a BLITZ Game. That's something very basic. And I won't waste my time answering your atrocious comments.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/2/2017 06:16
@ maxi80 : There is, I think, a little problem in your description of your system : you attribute White to the Champion AND to the Challenger in the 7th game. As I haven't - for the moment - completely understood the logic of your system, I'm not sure which one is the right one...
maxi80 maxi80 1/2/2017 05:04
Sixteen Classical games. No change to Time Controls.
Rest Day after game #3, #6, #9 and #12. Then four games in a row on consecutive days:

1 2 3 – 4
5 6 – 7 8
9 – 10 11 12 –
13 14 15 16

Match to start on a Tuesday. Game #16 on the third Sunday after Game #1.
For example, November 8 – November 27 ( Last four games to be played Nov 24-25-26-27 )

The Champion has White in Game #1.
The Champion has three Whites after a rest day, including game 1: #1, #7 and #13.
The Challenger has two Whites after a rest day: #4 and #7.

The Champion enjoys a 3 to 2 chance of winning the first game. This is more than enough in favour of the current Champion.

Let’s split the Wch in four mini-matches. Games 1-4, 5-8, 9-12 and 13-16 ONLY for tie-break purposes.

TB #1 --- Number of mini-matches won by Champ / Challenger.
TB #2 --- Number of first wins in individual mini-matches.
TB #3 --- First wins weighted:

M-match #1 --- 0.4
M-match #2 --- 0.3
M-match #3 --- 0.2
M-match #4 --- 0.1

After TB #3 Champ retains Title, but in the event of a succession of 16 draws, the Champion retains, but both players are forced to take part in the next Candidates.

Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/2/2017 02:39
@ johnmk : And I think that, for a very large part, the aura of the World Title procedes from the games. If the World Championships of the past are so memorable, it is because we can still follow step by step these supreme confrontations between absolute top players.

If you would replace the World Championship Match by a World Championship Tournament, yes, the result would be a reliable one, but this result would be a sort of "Elo Rating n° 1" bis. You can't follow as closely at all a confrontation between two players in a tournament as in a match.

For example, in the 2007 World Championship Tournament, Anand won convincingly, but how ? By winning against the four tail-enders : Svidler, Morozevich, Aronian (who was only 2750 at the time), and Grischuk. And, his two games against his main rival, Kramnik, were two draws. This doesn't amount to much in terms of legacy to the posterity.

So, if we want to have a World Championship Title that has a real meaning (not a "Elo Rating n° 1" bis - it would be rather redundant), the only logical possibility seems to me to keep the World Championship Match.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/2/2017 02:01
@ johnmk : For me, the main interest of a World Championship Match (compared to a World Championship Tournament) stands in the match's games.

In a World Championship Match you have at least 12 games between the Champion and the Challenger. Between the winner of the previous World Championship Match and the winner of the last Candidates : necessarily two exceptionnal players ; you can't win either of these two events without being one : the level of the opponents is such in both events that no ordinary player can participate in a World Championship Match.

And, for me, the games of all these World Championship Matches constitute one of the "main treasures" in Chess : whole series of games between mythical players.

For me, it would be an irreplaceable loss if these World Championship Matches where to be replaced by tournaments. Because, in a tournament, the Champion would "make his global result" by playing against a whole series of players ; good players, obviously, but without this enormous "added value" of a clash between the top two players on earth (according to the results of the World Championship Cycle).

What would remain of the confrontation between the two best players, in a double round-robin (on the Candidates model) World Championship Tournament ? Two games... And, quite possibly, two draws... In terms of legacy, it would amount to next to nothing. And, in my opinion, this would be an enormous loss for Chess.
johnmk johnmk 1/2/2017 01:36
@Petrarlsen - I understand your criticism. My concern originates from the consideration of why, once every 2 years or 4 years there is a conceit that we need to have a face-off between the presumed #1 player in the world and the #2, when every other chess contest is in the form of a tournament.
In the old days, once every decade or so people would scratch their chins and muse "hmm I wonder who is REALLY the best player in the world?" So then they would hold a match -- people would convey themselves by horse and buggy to distant points to play a match, because people reckoned that this Steinitz is really something else and he deserves the right to challenge Andersen because Andersen is another player who is really gall darn good.
Today, we have ratings. No need to make a judgement call about who deserves to be a challenger. Our conceit about a face-off between two people I guess is from the need to believe that there really is a #1 and that there really is a #2. (Remember Tal first beat Botvinnik but then Botvinnik retook the crown, so who was really the best? Hard to say).
To me it makes more sense to just take the top 8 (or 6 or 12) players by rating. What used to be called the Candidates Tournament can be the actual WC tournament. My argument stands.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/2/2017 01:34
@ lajosarpad :

- "I think the second difference is more important, as it increases the task-space for the preparation of the Champion."

And, personnaly, what do you think about my reasoning about Seirawan's system ? I think, for the moment - as I said above - that Seirawan's system cannot be considered as being potentially advantageous for the Challenger. But there can perfectly be a flaw somewhere, in my reasoning !

- In my view, to compare your system (in his "first White given to Challenger" version) with Seirawan's system, it is possible to reason like this :

At step 1, the two systems are similar (one independent game, for which the Challenger has White).

At step 2, in Seirawan's system, the Champion directly keeps his title ; in your system, another game is played.

So, for the moment, your system is more advantageous for the Challenger, because, in Seirawan's system, the Champion immediately keeps his title (this is clearly 100 % advantageous for the Champion !), while, in your system, he can still very well lose the last game and his title.

But, in Seirawan's system, there is also a additionnal advantage for the Challenger : the fact that he can choose the moment when the supplementary game will be played.

So I think that we can take, on the one side, in your system, the fact that one more game will be played (with a clear risk of losing his title, for the Champion), and, on the other side, in Seirawan's system, the fact that the Challenger can choose when the supplementary game will be played.

For me, as I said in my previous posts about Seirawan's system, the preparation advantage given by this choice about the moment of the supplementary game is only a marginal advantage. And, in your system, the fact that the Champion can lose the second game (not played in Seirawan's system) is a rather significant advantage for the Challenger, because he gains a last chance to win the Title (while, in Seirawan's system, at that moment, the Challenger cannot win the Title anymore).

And so I conclude that it is possible to consider that there is a possible doubt about the fact that your system (in this variant) could be globally advantageous for the Challenger while considering that Seirawan's system cannot be deemed potentially advantageous for the Challenger.

But it is quite possible that, on the one hand, it could be proved with a complete certainty that this version of your system cannot be advantageous for the Challenger (even if, for the moment, I must admit that I'm still not convinced ! sorry !...), and, on the other hand, my reasoning about Seirawan's system isn't perhaps as convincing as I thought it to be. These things are rather complex, and it is not easy to be absolutely sure of the drawned conclusions !
wlk1977 wlk1977 1/2/2017 01:18
Thanks Mr. Seirawan we have a long discussion. I agree with him on fundamental ideas. There should be WCH MATCH (not tournament, not rating, not anything else). This game is played by TWO players, not more, nodoby else could be blended. One of them MUST BE the current World champion. As for determining the right challenger it is another long story. Fundamental number in CHESS IS 8, so the most logical number of games should be divisible by 8 without residue. 8 is too low, 24 already said to be "too much", so we can take 16 as a STANDARD. The Challenger, not the Champion should PROVE HE IS BETTER, otherwise a change on the WCH Throne is useless, even contraproductive. Otherwise we risk to slow down the evolution of a game (or our life). It has to be decided in CLASSICAL CHESS time control. No rapids, God forbid! from blitz and Armageddon. Theese are all the fundamentals.
To MR. Sutovsky: Rapids in front of the match are even worse than in the end. The last WCH match nicely gave us the best proof. Challenger`s main objective was to bring match to the tiebreaks. With some help, he succeeded. Can you imagine, if he could by the rule win the WCH match by this strategy? Nonsense! We want to see active play, the goal of our game is to mate opponent`s king, not to draw all the games.
So, how we can deal with tied match after 16 games? The first of all, we can ignore it, as we did for at least hundred years in the 20th century. Second, we could add some additional games (was that case in Bronstein-Boleslavsky match in the mid of the last century). How many? Pair. Do we want to give challenger better chance in tiebreak? OK, we can add one more game, so he could play two times with white. Altogether maximum of 19 games. How about the schedule? Again, clear water, 3 day of play, one rest day. That is: 3-3-3-3-3 (yes, fifteen, and break before the last game!)-1. If match is tied 8-8, one day break and the last 3. Altogether max. 25 days, without tiebreak 21. Current system is 18/20, not a big difference.
If radical, than games should be played till the very end. Not Sofia/Corsica rules, but till the bare kings or any other elementary draw, clear also to beginner. More of that, the side, who can force stalemate of opponent`s king should be awarded by that komi. Number of that komis should slash tied matches in favour of player who has collected more of them.
Very easy, very clear, but by no means random.
Keesje Keesje 1/2/2017 10:37
@Petrarlsen, technically you are right - of course. Carlsen won the title according to the (silly) rules they agreed on upfront.

However, the fact is also that the we had a World Champion who didn't have the guts to even try to play for a win with the white pieces in the last game! I repeat this, because it is so embarassing:

** The World Champion did not dare the play for a win with the white pieces! **

Carlsen can point to the FIDE rules, sure, but another option would have been that he just told the FIDE that he refuses to play with stupid match rules. A real World Champion would not have agreed to a match with these childish rapid- and blitzgames.
XSammaelx XSammaelx 1/2/2017 10:25

I've always thought the quest to make chess into a broadly popular spectator sport is a fool's errand anyway. It's not draws that are the problem, it's that chess is too esoteric to become generally popular. Lots of people know the rules, but few play well enough to begin to appreciate top GM games, and it's really only live GM commentary that has opened up top level chess to club level players like myself within the last few years.

And, if you ask me, draws can be just as exciting as any other game. Kramnik-Carlsen London Chess Classic 2010 was one of the most exciting games I've ever had the privilege of watching live, and it was a draw!
peterfrost peterfrost 1/2/2017 10:23
I like your updated proposal. But what I really want to say is how I cheered and stamped my feet when I read your point 3 that "chess should not give in to the fast paced, modern age world". We must not compromise the quality of our product (by speeding it up) in a misguided effort to make it more popular. It would be like having Mariah Carey singing Tosca at the Met...yes, because she's "box office" it would get greater attention, but what is the point of that if the fundamental beauty of the art-form being performed is thereby lost? I am so glad that an esteemed grandmaster is taking a stand against the excessive respect being accorded games with very quick time controls. I only wish some of the world's current elite would show that they value the game more than their wallets, and take a similar stand, encouraging organisers to keep speed chess out of classical tournaments and world championship matches.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 1/2/2017 09:39

I would like to point out that my proposal was about 2*n games after a drawn match to break the tie, first decisive game decides the outcome. If no decisive game, then Champion retains. We have talked about the case when n = 1. However, the Champion retains is another specific case when n = 0. Seirawan's idea is quite similar, with two differences:

1. There is an odd game, n = 0.5.
2. The challenger can choose when the odd game is played.

I think the second difference is more important, as it increases the task-space for the preparation of the Champion.
psychess psychess 1/2/2017 08:37
I'm glad someone is looking out for history and classical chess.
Noschessdamus Noschessdamus 1/2/2017 08:01
XCHESS1971, The Gladiator Principle not only eliminates draws in chess, Classical or otherwise, it also force players to come to tournaments, or WCCM, and to play to win, because your opponent will be playing to win.
As for the Sudden Death G/5 (no increment) aspect of The Principle, reaching a draw in the regular time control is a very remote possibility because both players will be playing to maybe 40-50 moves with no additional time to the classical time control. And, if the game reaches King v Pawn against King v Pawn, or any other theoretically drawn position, as determined by the TD, then it is time for the dreaded SD G/5. And some body will win that or their clock will fall; either way a result will be reached.
islaw islaw 1/2/2017 07:33
What's the rationale for draw odds? First move advantage? That it would be difficult for black to win or draw? That a draw is already considered a win? I did a little experiment with chess engines Crafty, phalanx, etc., matching them with themselves, that is, Crafty vs Crafty, etc. so playing strength is taken out of the equation. In my very limited samples black would get a draw and/or win within four or five games usually and then I would move on to the next engine because apparently it already disproves that black has to go through hell and high water to get a draw or full point. Crafty got a draw on first try (looks like Crafty is a good defender) . Maybe first move advantage is only true when there are only a few moves to choose from and since both sides are dealing with an ocean of possibilities, it doesn't apply?
XChess1971 XChess1971 1/2/2017 04:02

I guess you do not understand, and already Petrarlsen told you. It is CLASSICAL CHESS. You should not use any other means than classical chess. It is the nature of the game to have drawn matches. There is not, and never was a "Gladiator Principle" in chess. If you want to have something like that probably you need to look for a different sport rather than looking for alterations to the game of chess. And no arbiter should declare a game of chess drawn.
sdprasad sdprasad 1/2/2017 03:57
Draw odd seems fair to some, while tie breaks seems fairer to some.. it's a subjective thing and I think we should respect that the world has moved on to a tie break system from the draw odd system because of certain reasons. There is no need to go back to Fisher-Karpov days again. But I do agree 16 classical games + tie breaks are better than 12 Classical + tie breaks
sdprasad sdprasad 1/2/2017 03:49
devil's advocate's argument - a draw odd would heavily incentivize World champion to play extra safe in all the games, including the extra white thrown in by the challenger. because all he needs is to keep drawing and wait for his chances if challenger pushes too hard. This means challenger has to take extra risk in every game. Does this sound fair?

I think the solution proposed may even make the whole match ultra boring because of the draw odd. Then people will complain that "ohh in which other sport do you see champion getting such a huge advantage?!"..and another set of rule change will have to be discovered!!!
Khondakar Nazre Mowla Khondakar Nazre Mowla 1/2/2017 02:57
12 match is enough then unlimited classical games without night off means no sleeping for both players so grueling play would force them to bring out result and first winner will be the champion and the champion should play next candidate.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/2/2017 02:28
@ Keesje : "The title is just vacant now. Carlsen failed to defend his title and Karjakin failed to earn the title."

With that, I don't agree. The players adjust their match strategy according to the rules.

Carlsen thought (quite rightly - his domination in the 4 games rapid match showed it quite clearly) that it would be advantageous for him to wait for the tiebreaks, and he very logically did what he thought that could be the best for him (and I would point out, too, that he lost - at least ; depending on the exact price fund - 50.000 euros in the process in favor of Karjakin, for winning in the tiebreaks rather than in the "main games", so it certainly wasn't simply laziness that justified this choice).

What Carlsen had to do was to win according to the present rules, and he did just that.

And it isn't the players fault if the rules presently mix Classical, Rapid, Blitz, and (worse still...), Armageddon games.
JanneKejo JanneKejo 1/2/2017 02:12
Why not share the World Champion title between the two players in case of an even score in the WCM?

They would both be World Champions and neither of them would get automatically to defend the title in the next WCM. Instead, they would both be seeded in the Candidates Tournament and the two top players from that tournament would play the next WCM.

If the score in the WCM is not even, the World Champion would defend his title in the next WCM against the winner of the Candidates Tournament.
Queenslander Queenslander 1/2/2017 01:53
Thanks Yasser, I too think that sixteen games would be ideal. Since we aren't ever likely to go back to a 24-game match it feels like the 'golden compromise'. I don't perceive a need for further intervention ('spicing things up') though. In the surely relatively unlikely event that the match is tied 8-8, the Champion simply retains his (her) title. That's how sport works.
Keesje Keesje 1/2/2017 01:48
Any other system would be better than what we saw in Carlsen - Karjakin. I agree with the statement "The World Championship title is losing prestige".

To me, there is currently no World Chess Champion.

The title is just vacant now. Carlsen failed to defend his title and Karjakin failed to earn the title.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/2/2017 01:43
@ Noschessdamus :

"(...) the Death of Draws in the Royal Game." I rather think that you could take out "Draws in" of the sentence ; it would much rather be "(...) the Death of the Royal Game.".

And, furthermore, you are trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist : for example, the 1927 Capablanca - Alekhine match and the 1984 Karpov - Kasparov match featured strings of draws quite comparable, or even much worse (the 1984 match) to what happens in the present days matches.

Draws are an essential part of Chess ; the important percentage of draws is also what guarantees that the won games are really meaningful.

The only result of such ideas as your ideas would be to completely kill all notion of game quality - the interest of Classical games is precisely that the results of Classical events are decided by games which have a content of a very high quality. If, after each draw, you accelerate the time controls until Blitz, you have destroyed the very essence of Classical Chess : a Blitz game can be quite interesting to follow live, but with such a short time control, the game quality cannot be at all comparable to the quality of a Classical game played by top grandmasters.

You use the phrase "the Royal Game", about Chess, but I really wonder what could be "Royal" in such hectic, ever accelerating, events ??? Yes, it would really be "the Death of the Royal Game"...

If you don't like draws, the solution is very simple : there are many, many sports where the draws don't exist ; you can quite simply turn to these sports. If you hate draws, it is really a very strange idea to interest yourself in Chess, a field in which the draws constitute quite an important feature.