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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Jacob woge Jacob woge 1/2/2017 01:10
"My Gladiator Principle would revolutionize Chess tournaments."

It would certainly help getting rid of people physically unable to play blitz. No arms, no muscles, no eyes ... I have lost to quite a few of those guys. Nothing wrong with the brain. Whereas a dexterity contest ...
MKT MKT 1/2/2017 12:51
That's pretty good, but not really superior to 16 games and Champion retains title in event of draw.
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 1/2/2017 12:42
Thanks for the positive feedback, Rama, Petrarlsen and everybody else who liked my proposal! I'm glad it's not falling entirely on deaf ears!...

"The only minor quibble I have with your proposal is that there is no reason to force the world champ to play for draw odds. Allow him to voluntary cede the odds to the challenger if he likes."

I very much agree with you on this, Rama - this seems like a very good idea! Especially since, not having to qualify, the champion would be freerolling for the Candidates prize money, so he'd have little reason to avoid playing anyway. He might, though, and, in that case, your idea sounds very fair.
Noschessdamus Noschessdamus 1/2/2017 12:37
Xchess71 My Gladiator Principle would revolutionize Chess tournaments.
Events would now be much shorter, and only the TD can declare a game drawn before you go on to the sudden death G/5.
No one is being forced to do anything. This would be the new FIDE Rule 40/90 o(or whatever) then SD G/5.
XChess1971 XChess1971 1/2/2017 12:09
"The real issue is how to eliminate Draws from the WCCM, maybe even from Chess it self, so Chess can become more exciting for Prime Time entertainment. " <----------- Draws are part of the game. And this is the final of a WCC. You can't force people to not make a draw if it suits their interests due to tournament situation only because you want to see a happy face on the Prime Minister, or whoever. This is not NFL. And it is ridiculous to be comparing chess to other games. Chess has its own format.

Match Petrosian-Kortchnoi 1971 result + 1-0 = 9. Were we suppose to ask them to show more victories only because somebody didn't like to see too many draws?
A WCC Final is not an event that you produce only to see the smile of a President, a Minister, a sponsor, or whoever. Players are supposed to play accordingly based on their probabilities.

Anymore patzer comments?
nevermoreless nevermoreless 1/1/2017 11:21
I like this idea but does the extra pressure of having to prepare for both sides of the board every game equal the fact that the challenger looses a drawn match? I don't think so. It would put a type of undue duress to the champ who SHOULD have the advantage. That is one of the things that makes the match special. Even if you are a higher rated challenger you still are something of an underdog and that is the advantage that the champ won from the previous match by overcoming the same odds. The match just needs to be longer and odd in number if we retain the match format. I think it would be more interesting to watch play through out the year to see the challenger have to "earn" an advantage like your suggestion through quality of play similar to my modest proposal to your first article of a radical solution.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/1/2017 10:46
(2/2) The Candidates results (in terms of colors) where the following : 13 White wins (23.21 % - I will round it off, for simplification's sake, to 25 %), 3 Black wins (5.36 % - rounded off to 5 %), and 40 draws (71.43 % - rounded off to 70 %).

So, if we add Black wins and draws, the result is 75 %. As White has a 25 % winning percentage, the Champion (playing with Black, and having either to win or draw, for tiebreaking purposes), at this stage, has a big advantage other the Challenger (playing with White, and having, still for tiebreaking purposes, to win this game).

As for the advantage given to the Challenger to have the possibility to choose when this supplementary White game will be played, it seems to me that it is globally a small advantage : it plays a role only in the preparation phase, and, in the preparation phase, only for the specific preparation for the game (as the Champion will not know in advance when this game will be played). But it will obviously not affect the general preparation for the match, so, even the disadvantage in preparation is globally quite limited.

So I would think that this advantage given to the Challenger can be assessed as consituting only a "marginal advantage" for the Challenger.

As the Champion's advantage - as we have seen previously - can be approximately estimated as a 75 % vs. 25 % advantage, I think that, compared to the "marginal advantage" that, in this system, would be granted to the Challenger, it is a certainty that the Champion's advantage would be greater than the Challenger's. I certainly wouldn't go as far as to say how much greater the Champion's advantage would be, but, nonetheless, I think it is impossible that the Challenger's advantage could be greater than the Champion's.

And, in my view, this would permit to consider this system as a fair system.

I think that, taking everything into account, it is thus possible to reach as a conclusion that the Challenger's advantage can't be superior to the Champion's advantage, in that system, but I would find particularly interesting to have the opinion of other persons on this point...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/1/2017 10:45
(1/2) In a previous post under this same article, I said : "For me, the only (very slight) doubt that I have on this system is : can we consider it to be an absolute certainty that the advantage is given to the Champion, in this new Seirawan system, and not to the Challenger ? It seems to me obvious, but is it possible to prove it ? For the moment, I haven't found sufficient time to think of it seriously, and I'm not absolutely and completely certain of this point..."

I've tried to put in perspective the advantages given to the Challenger with the advantage given to the Champion. This is my reasoning :

I've used the 2016 Candidates Tournament to estimate the respective chances of White and Black in this supplementary game (where White is given to the Challenger, the Champion having only to draw the game to be the "tiebreak winner", in case of a tie in the rest of the match). Why the 2016 Candidates ? Because the Candidates is the supreme multi-players event in the World Championship Cycle. There are 8 players (this avoids atypical results that could, for example, appear in a match between two players), and, as this tournament is a double round-robin, they play each other with both colors (which ensures an even distribution of colors between the players). This for a total of 56 games, which is, for example, much more than the 12 games of a World Championship match (so that the result of this "match between White an Black", played alternately by the 8 participating players - the Candidates can be interpreted like that for this purpose - can be considered as being sufficiently significant). And it is more logical to use the last Candidates Tournament, because chess playing evolves continuously, and it it necessarily important to use recent data. Obviously, it would be possible to chose much better statistics for this purpose, but to use the 2016 Candidates is a simple solution, and I think that, for this purpose, it is sufficient.
Noschessdamus Noschessdamus 1/1/2017 10:35
The healthy Great Debate over the right format of the FIDE World Chess Championship Match (WCCM) is as old as the game itself. Nevertheless, to try to insulate Chess from the wonders of “The Information Age”, as suggested by one esteemed Chess icon and Author, flies in the face of the very evolution of the Royal Game.
The solution seems very simple, at least to this humble Patzer.
In Sports, and I have no doubt that Chess is Sports, Art, and I might add, Science, and in particular, Psychology, one has to look at other sporting disciplines for innovations, and adopt parts from them to solve issues in Chess.
Having 12 Games for the WCCM is a nice round figure. The real issue is how to eliminate Draws from the WCCM, maybe even from Chess it self, so Chess can become more exciting for Prime Time entertainment.
In the NFL, games rarely end in a Draw, or as they say in the NFL, a Tie, teams have to play on until there’s a winner. This same principle can be employed in Chess.
If a Chess Game reaches an impasse that is declared as such by the TD as a dead Draw, then the players must play a single Sudden Death Blitz Chess Game (G/5), no increment, and the winner of the Blitz Game, well, is the winner of the Game.
This Gladiator Principle of a Fight to the Death in Chess could be employed not just to the WCCM, but to Chess in general, thus signalling the Death of Draws in the Royal Game.
XChess1971 XChess1971 1/1/2017 08:38
Chess culture is not just about chess positions. It also includes chess history. And the different developments of the game. Only since Ilyumzhinov came into the chess world it was created those knock out systems. That shows poor capability to keep up with the old systems. And also creating tie break systems such as rapid, blitz and armaggedon. Pretty sad that reknowned GMs are becoming part of FIDE's manipulation. It is surprising that Mr. Seirawan, and other GMs are becoming part of FIDE's game.
A7fecd1676b88 A7fecd1676b88 1/1/2017 07:44
@XChess1971 -- Good post.

You mention chess culture. Ironically, chess culture is not sufficient. Seirawan possesses a good chess culture, yet his suggestions have been poor. Chess culture may allow you to say things about chess positions. It does not however confer other abilities, such as the ability to make a logical argument.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/1/2017 07:29
@ imdvb_8793 : I've already said it elsewhere, but there are so many comments that it must be useful to say it one more time : your system suits me quite well. As in Sutovsky's system, the tiebreak is played in advance (...the "Candidates Tournament" - renamed - being also the tiebreak for the World Championship Match...), but the big advantage of your system on Sutovsky's system is that it "keeps the match Classical". So, for me, your system is indeed one of the systems that I consider to be quite satisfying.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/1/2017 07:19
@ lajosarpad :

- "We had a debate with Petrarlsen about the comparison between imbalance and counter-imbalance, it was interesting stuff for me, at least." : For me too !!

- I think it is simpler to do an assessment of the respective advantages of the players with Seirawan's idea than with your idea (two tiebreaking classical games ; the first player who wins a game is the Champion ; if these two games are both draws, the "draw odds to the Champion" system is used), when the Challenger has White in the first game (...it is obvious that, if the Champion has White in the first game, your system is advantageous for the Champion). This because, in your system, after the first tiebreaking game, the "draw odds to the Champion" system isn't immediatly used, but a second - completely independent - game is played. So, if the Challenger has White in the first game, a draw doesn't gives the title to the Champion, but the "classical games playoff" continues. Whereas, in Seirawan's last system, it is rather simple : the Challenger has to win with White ; the Champion can win or draw with Black, so, to have an idea about the respective chances, it is simply possible to add Black's winning and drawing percentages, and compare the result with White's winning percentage. The only problem, in my view, is to evaluate the importance of the advantage given to the Challenger by letting him chose the moment when his supplementary White game will be played. I will soon post what, at first view, I think of this aspect of this question.
pillius pillius 1/1/2017 07:14
sounds interesting
lajosarpad lajosarpad 1/1/2017 06:42
Seirawan's idea seems reasonable to me. We had a debate with Petrarlsen about the comparison between imbalance and counter-imbalance, it was interesting stuff for me, at least. I have described there why I consider giving White - even if we assume that White has a practical advantage - as first color to the challenger to be smaller advantage than Champion retains and therefore it would provide partial compensation for the challenger and incentive to play for a win for the Champion. I do not prefer White to be given to the challenger though, I am not sure about the preferable color distribution in this system.

Petrarlsen's proposal is also worth considering. It is perfectly logical and fair. I could accept it as it is, but subjectively I prefer either the simple Champion retains, my own idea, or Seirawan's idea presented in this article.

Imdvb_8793 also has a good point. The candidates cycle would also be a fight for the draw odds, pretty nice idea.

Since there are many good ideas, I believe we need a referendum in the chess world to decide what chess players prefer and while that referendum would not necessarily decide matters, it would have a strong voice, pressurizing FIDE to improve the cycle.
Dukenails Dukenails 1/1/2017 06:30
Sounds good but unfair. I like Ramas idea in that the world champ can play in the candidates if he wants then if he wins het gets the draw odds in the actual match itself. If he declines then he bears the consequence of the challenger getting draw odds. Sounds perfect to me and would stop the old scenario we had when Anand was champ - hardly playing and spending all his energy prepping for the WC match. Luckily Magnus isn't like that but the next guy could be....
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/1/2017 06:22
@ johnmk : "The future is to have just a world championship tournament. The notion of having the #1 face off against the presumed #2 in the world is antiquated."

The fact that you use the term "antiquated" can only mean that you think that the idea of playing a match for the World Championship isn't in adequation with our time.

The answer is simple : take the hundreds and hundreds of commentaries under the three Seirawan, the Sutovsky, and the Ashley article. And count how many are in favour of a match and how many in favor of a tournament.

I haven't done this count myself, but I've read absolutely all these commentaries ; I don't think that, including you, there must be more than one percent in favor of a world championship tournament... So yes, the idea of a "world championship match" is certainly very "antiquated" indeed !!! In fact, it is now only supported by 99 % of the "chess public"... a mere trifle...
garyroe garyroe 1/1/2017 06:10
Thanks for the article!
Keep it simple, fair and best for the 2 World Champion contestants, therefore I strongly believe the best way to decide who's champion is
1. Head to head 16 games (up to 24) classical games and a draw match goes to the existing champion. That way the Challenger has to prove (maybe take more chances) he is better. Plus the physiological battle can be just as thrilling as the games.
2. Every 2 years, no sooner. Give the champ time to be champ, play tournaments, and promote chess 'as champion' so people get a personality along with the title. Gives the title much more depth and meaning.

Jacob woge Jacob woge 1/1/2017 05:35
"As an alternate simpler idea, to me, 16-20 games, with champion getting draw odds sounds fine to me."

That would be my preference as well.

"Whatever is done, PLEASE, PLEASE eliminate rapid play as a tie-breaker. It really lowers the meaning of "champion". "

I think the main problem is that rapid (or worse, blitz) tie-break is detrimental to the main event. As an example, take a look at Grischuk's white "games" in the Candidates' won by Gelfand.

Grischuk-Aronian, ½, 22 moves
Grischuk-Aronian, ½, 17 moves
Grischuk-Kramnik, ½, 16 moves
Grischuk-Kramnik, ½, 25 moves
Grischuk-Kramnik, ½, 14 moves
Grischuk-Kramnik, ½, 8 moves
Grischuk-Gelfand, ½, 14 moves
Gelfand-Grischuk, ½, 18 moves

Strategy was, dig in as black, don't even try to win as white, and kill them in the fast time control. He was one game short of qualifying without having tried to win a single classical game. Not even giving it a go. Against Kramnik rapid chess, too, was too serious to be played out. Draw as fast as lightning, and on to blitz.

The exact same thing is what may happen in the WC when the challenger does not have to win.
bbrodinsky bbrodinsky 1/1/2017 05:00
I like Seirawan's ideas. Of course there can be endless variations, but his ideas are certainly better than the current system. As an alternate simpler idea, to me, 16-20 games, with champion getting draw odds sounds fine to me. After all, no champion is going to draw all 20 games (unless his name is Anish Giri. Sorry, Giri, I just couldn't resist).
Whatever is done, PLEASE, PLEASE eliminate rapid play as a tie-breaker. It really lowers the meaning of "champion". It's as if the Super Bowl was tied after regulation, and they switched to arena football to determine the winner (no offense to arena football, it's a great game, but...)
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/1/2017 04:28
@ MichelDeNostredameDeEchecs :

lajosarpad and I already explained with much details why we both consider very firmly that the "draw odds to the Champion" system IS logical and fair in the commentaries under the Sutovsky article (pages 3 to 5 of these commentaries - http://en.chessbase.com/post/acp-proposal-poll/2#discuss) (lajosarpad's approach is rather different from mine, but our conclusions are the same : this system IS a logical and fair system).

Which doesn't mean that I consider this system to be the ideal system ; only that it is a fair system, and thus, that it can be envisaged to use this system without any problem.

You can perfectly disagree with our reasonings, but then it will be up to you to explain why.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/1/2017 02:22
@ EL 2400 :

- Your first format (a tiebreak with two independant classical games) is the exact format suggested by lajosarpad in the first page of the commentaries under the Maurice Ashley article (http://en.chessbase.com/post/maurice-ashley-yasser-seirawan-debate-world-championship-format#discuss).

For me, if White is given to the Challenger in the first game, the problem is that, at this point, the Challenger is given an advantage, which isn't logical. It is probable that the fact that the "draw odds to the Champion" system is used at the end has for a consequence that, globally, the system advantages more the Champion than the Challenger, but I don't think this can be proven (for example, could it be possible to affirm and prove that the "White in first game for the Challenger" advantage has a value of "1", and that the use of the "draw odds to the Champion" system has a value of "3" ? In my opinion, no...).

So, in my view, White must be given to the Champion in the first game. And it must be noted that this gives to the Champion a smaller advantage than if the "draw odds to the Champion" system was directly used after the last "normal" game, because, in this last hypothesis, the Champion is directly awarded the title after the last "normal" game, while, in lajosarpad's system, if White is given to the Champion in the first game, the Challenger has still two opportunities to win the Title, so, in fact, compared to the direct application of the "draw odds to the Champion" system, this new system is more favorable to the Challenger.

I will not develop more these points, because, after lajosarpad's post under the Ashley article, we discussed this in great lengths, and it doesn't seems very useful (unless there are some new arguments) to develop this anew here.

- As I already explained under the Sutovsky article, in a conversation with ivan3ivanovich (in pages 1 to 3 of the commentaries - http://en.chessbase.com/post/acp-proposal-poll#discuss), a 60 mn. game (or equivalent, as a 45 mn. + 15 s. game, for example) is a "classical" game, and not a rapid game. My explanations where rather exhaustive, so I think that the simplest solution, for those interested, is to read them directly under the Sutovsky article.

As for me, I would find preferable to use 30 mn. + 30 s., rather than 45 mn. + 15 s., for reasons I explained in different posts (for example in a post - "12/9/2016 01:40" - in the 4th page of the commentaries under Sutovsky's article - http://en.chessbase.com/post/acp-proposal-poll/3#discuss).

- At first view, I find it a really excellent idea to give more money to the Challenger than to the Champion in the case where the "draw odds to the Champion" system is used. And we musn't forget that, potentially, the Champion will earn more money still afterwards : he will automatically participate in the following World Championship match, where even the loser of the event gains quite an appreciable sum, so I don't find it unfair at all to give a superior sum to the Challenger than to the Champion, in vue, notably, of this (ample) compensation...
kordet26 kordet26 1/1/2017 01:47
It should just be 18 games, and if it's tied the Champion retains the title. No reason to complicate it.
Jacob woge Jacob woge 1/1/2017 01:08
"At the time of defending the title the World Chess Champion hasn't gone through any qualification. Only the challenger had."

At the time of defending the title the WC also has not beaten the previous champion, if it comes to that.
geraldsky geraldsky 1/1/2017 12:26
Best is 20-game world championship match. no more tie break. if the score is tie after final game, the champion retains his title and the prize is shared equally by both players.
MichelDeNostredameDeEchecs MichelDeNostredameDeEchecs 1/1/2017 12:18
@Jacob woge
At the time of defending the title the World Chess Champion hasn't gone through any qualification. Only the challenger had.

To any extent there is no fairness nor sound logic in giving the champion an advantage, however small one might think it could be. The World Champion earned the title, sure, but it is a good reason to give him privileges? Why the champion ought to have an easier task? If the champion is superior should be able to prove it by winning the match, which is the same as saying that if the challenger is stronger it should be able to beat the champion.

My last words on the WCM are as such: draw mean two losers or two winners. It means nothing. Especially in chess where a draw can sometimes be forced.
EL2400 EL2400 1/1/2017 11:11
Money Talks:
1. What is important for players in WCC is not history but Money. The Money means especially the privilege to be in the next final. (As Spassky said that, the greatest player of all times Bobby Fischer, fixed him his pension for his life.)
I think that maybe because the match was in NY there was less money, because in Europe the games were played in early mornings. I didn't watch any game or TB to the end. So when the match is in difficult hours, there will be not enough money. (But anyway I think that it was great that the match was in USA.)
I think that GM Seirawan is a great commentator. I agree with his basic ideas but…
I don't agree to his idea about 17th TB game and all about it.
2. I want to say that I don't like shorter and shorter times control. I think also that in this match there was not enough times in the endgames. And so the standard of the endgames falls down a lot. In the world cup the knockout (KO) system is good and it make possible to take part for 132 players.
But in WCC final match it is not right at all.

3. The Format that I offer:
12 games match with Classical time control and as much times as possible.
If the match is 6:6 then will be played another 2 Classical games with the same times control.
The contender will get white in game 13 and black in game 14. So the contender will have 2 tries to win the match.
If it is 7:7 than the world champion will stay the world champion, but the contender will get more Money. For example he will get 60% and the champion will get only 40%.

3b. Another TB for games 13-16 that I think is possible: 4 Rapids with times control for example 45m+15s for a move. 2 games in day 1 and then another 2 games in day 2. Between every game there should be enough break for the players.
If it is 8:8 than the world champion will stay the world champion, but the contender will get More Money. For example he will get 60% and the champion will get only 40%. In the past there were many matches in WCC that was drawn, and the champion kept his title, as it also happens in Boxing WC for many years. Kasparov also was clever enough, to make a lot of money from matches…
4. Money Talks - to the benefit of the great chess players who qualified to the finals.
Jacob woge Jacob woge 1/1/2017 11:00
"Does the champion have beaten everyone else? No, it didn't. Just the previous champion."

Plus, thru the qualification process, a couple of other guys.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 1/1/2017 09:41
One thing I DO think : this idea is better than the present system, and also better than the previous proposals (the first Seirawan proposal, and those by Sutovsky and Ashley).

For me, to be acceptable, a system must be fair and logical, and, for the "classical" World Championship, it must use only "classical" games".

And a system (as I explained previously, under the previous articles by Seirawan, Sutovsky, and Ashley) IS fair if a small advantage is given to the Champion, and is NOT fair if the advantage is given to the Challenger.

So, for me, the only (very slight) doubt that I have on this system is : can we consider it to be an absolute certainty that the advantage is given to the Champion, in this new Seirawan system, and not to the Challenger ? It seems to me obvious, but is it possible to prove it ? For the moment, I haven't found sufficient time to think of it seriously, and I'm not absolutely and completely certain of this point...
satman satman 1/1/2017 09:41
These proposals are all very logical and reasonable, but logic and reason don't get you very far with the current FIDE leadership and their corporate cronies.
This is where the change needs to come before meaningful reforms can be implemented.
MichelDeNostredameDeEchecs MichelDeNostredameDeEchecs 1/1/2017 08:10
CONCLUSION (part II - start the previous comment)

If one introduces odd match game numbers, Armageddons or any kind of mechanism that doesn't treat both players the exact same way, then you won't have a start under equal conditions. If one agrees that Classical Chess isn't the same as Rapid or Blitz Chess regardless what the reasons may be, then introducing those models of chess in WCM would be legitimate only if both players Rapid and Blitz chess history would be comparable. Otherwise the match wouldn't have the same starting condition for both the contenders. Accordingly the challenger should have proved to be best of the rest and the champion to still be the champion also in the other chess model picked to be part of the WCM. That hardly will ever be the case.

Since we just established we cannot introduced unbalanced ruling in the WCM that handles one of the players even so slightly differently from the other, from here we have only two option:

1. Keep playing until a winner is produced. No matter how long was the match - 12, 14, 16, 18 or 24. You keep playing 4 games mini-matches until the score is settled unevenly (so to give both players the same amount of Blacks and Whites).

or you choose the solution I support.

Seirawan likes radical changes? Not sure about that, but I'm sure I do:

2. You strip the title from the champion who didn't prove to be superior to the challenger thus there's no best player at present - in fact you have two and there can be only one, the champion.

Now, you cannot do a rematch because it isn't fair to the player that lost against the challenger. It should have a say at this juncture, but then again this player lost against the challenger so it isn't the best of the rest. The world champion title remains vacant until the next candidate match cycle where the best and second best will be decided. Then we will have a WCM between them. If the candidate cycle is in the form of knock-out matches, as currently is, even better. We make their candidate match in the format of WCM.

Finally I like to say I hate the idea of not having an official World Chess Champion, but my hope is that knowing what it's at stakes the current champion would play to take less draws because it can lose the title as much as the challenger can win it. And that's even footing if you ask me.
MichelDeNostredameDeEchecs MichelDeNostredameDeEchecs 1/1/2017 08:09
INTRODUCTION (part I - follow the next comment)

To be completely impartial in the judgment of how fair the WCM is, one needs to assure the players are starting under equal conditions and they are ending on the same terms. Tradition, history of the players, sponsors, audience or any other political and social reason one can bring to bear, shouldn't influence the natural unwinding of the competition which has to be decided solely on the board.
Superiority is proved only if all the rules applied in the match favors both contenders evenhandedly. I believe it to be the only legitimate statement. Once unbalancing rules are introduced in the match system, one cannot establish any longer beyond reasonable doubt who the strongest player at that very moment is.
One extraordinary example is having handed over the title to the current champion in case of a drawn match, as in the motto of sorts "To prove to be the best, you have to beat the best". Taken out of context it appears to be an honest argument. The champion already has proved to be the best of all, hence the challenger must defeat the champion to prove its superiority since there can be only one best player.
To demonstrate that this concept is fallacious with an example let's think about a WCM cycle played every 20 years time. While the champion didn't play for the title at all for 20 years, the challenger is fresh out of the qualification system. The history of chess has shown that in such long time one can't play at the same strength one once was. Therefore the challenger would have actually been the best player in this scenario, superior to the 20 years older champion, if not only for the fact it has beaten all the other challengers. A WCM wouldn't even be necessary.
Since the strength of any player continuously evolves due to age, current form and other factors, having the challenger on the loser side in case of a drawn match declares the champion status of being comparable to a norm. One doesn't need to win matches to retain such status. Think about the scenario where an hypothetical champion just draws all the matches it plays. Would the champion have proved to be the best of all? Surely not. It didn't beat anyone, but the previous champion. That would be enough if and only if the strength of a player wouldn't change.
Following this conclusion one can come up with a different motto "To prove to be the best, you have to beat everyone else". Does the champion have beaten everyone else? No, it didn't. Just the previous champion. Hence if one decides beating the challenger, the best player among the rest, is enough to ensure the champion has proved by induction to be the best, it follows that in case of a drawn match the champion should lose the title, because it didn't prove its superiority, only to be at least equal. Indeed this argument is also biased, as the challenger did beat everyone else minus one, the best. It didn't prove to be superior either.

On that account neither of players proved to be the best: the champion didn't prove to be better than the best of the rest and the challenger didn't prove to be better than the best. What would you do then?
Rama Rama 1/1/2017 07:50
I think your idea is great and I have echoed it more than once. People ignore your idea because they can't see past their own. The only minor quibble I have with your proposal is that there is no reason to force the world champ to play for draw odds. Allow him to voluntary cede the odds to the challenger if he likes. Anyway, I think your idea would get more traction if it was a post on a blog like wordpress or blogger.
RoselleDragon RoselleDragon 1/1/2017 05:07
Please Mr Seirawan,

The game is fine the way it is. The only change I agree with in modern chess is that the players should not be able to agree to draws before move 30. I agree with 'nbeqo' : The champion must beaten in 16 or 18 or he or she retains his her title. No rapid no blitz.
deepestgreen deepestgreen 1/1/2017 05:03
No, sorry, not reading this. The scatter brained ramblings have gone on too long.
mellekvese mellekvese 1/1/2017 04:47
Makes no sense. Will you accept a WC who won the title because he had an advantage in the match?

Just increase the number of games to 18, and WC keeps the title in the event of a tie.

Other change: rest days only after games won by either player. No rest days after draws.
Leavenfish Leavenfish 1/1/2017 04:34
"Draw odds" as enumerated here is not a bad thing. As they say, "In order to BE the man, you have to BEAT the man".
For a short match it would be problematic...but 17 games is about right. It's certainly better than 'mixing time controls' in a tie break. Might as well flip a coin...
XChess1971 XChess1971 1/1/2017 03:47
Honestly. The go comparison is nonsense to me. Mr. Seirawan why you are trying to force a winner in the match? I think that if the challenger can't beat the World Champion in a classical game he doesn't deserve anything else.
Maurice Ashley proposal sounds like a joke, and Sutovsky must be playing chess in another planet. The World Chess Championship is based on playing CLASSICAL GAMES. If FIDE is too stupid to understand that, I'm sorry for them. The excuse of the organizer, that the television, etc, etc. does not justify the shortening of the match, and also if a challenger or the world champion can't win the match then it ends just right there. And the World Champion keeps his title. We can't look for tie breaks only to make happy a sponsor, only because FIDE is too stupid to allow that, and can't find sponsors, but only by distorting the original WCC cycle. Isn't enough that FIDE has destroyed the different cycles that used to be played years ago. At least the final of the WCC should be played under regular terms. Extending the number of games should be sufficient. And if the challenger can't win or the World Champion can't win. Then it is tie. Plain and simple. At least you got see them playing maybe 18 games.
Mr. Seirawan you are directing yourself to the readers. But unfortunately many of these readers are ignorant and have no chess culture. Why don't you instead direct yourself to the professional GMs, and many other strong chess masters from around the world.

This opinion shows how ignorant is this reader:
“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.<------ On your opinion Mr. Seirawan. I got a question for you......Who are you asking opinions??? Maybe you are asking to many of these guys that probably only beat their neighbors????

Mr. Seirawan how about we played dices. If Carlsen got a 7, and Karjakin got a 9 he becames World Champion by only playing to a draw. Only because you want somebody to win so that your sponsor is happy.

I guess I might start switching to checkers. Or maybe to "go". I might start following games from Lee Sedol, only because you and others keep on trying to distort the game of chess.
XSammaelx XSammaelx 1/1/2017 02:23

Surely you understand that players go through ups and downs, and that a short run of bad results is not really enough to wash away the immense weight of dozens of prior performances establishing Calsen as the world's top player. We can debate exactly when, assuming he keeps turning in sub-par results, we should stop considering those results anomalies and start considering them a true reflection of his strength (indeed we have a tool called the rating system designed to do just this very thing for us), but I doubt any statistician would be ready to drop him so far so fast as you're doing.
A7fecd1676b88 A7fecd1676b88 1/1/2017 01:56
@XSammaelx -- "He has not been in good form of late, but his class is pretty well established."

Well, that's the whole point. His class is not so established anymore. karjakin had no problem holding him to a draw in classical games.
Does the pro Carslen is the best player on the planet crowd even listen to themselves? Carlsen is the best player on the planet they chant, even though he could not get a plus score against karjakin, even though he could not win the WC Blitz, even though he could not win the WC rapid.
You can't make this stuff up.