Yasser Seirawan: “A Radical Solution - Redux"

12/3/2016 – During the World Chess Championship match, Yasser Seirawan's article "A Radical Solution" was causing reactions from all sides. In a second article, the grandmaster is addressing his audience for a second time and specifies his criticism - regarding the format of the match. "A Radical Solution - Redux"...

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Hearty congratulations to Magnus on winning the World Chess Championship match and retaining his title.  Also happy birthday.  Congratulations too to Sergey on proving himself a most worthy Challenger.  It was a gripping match.  Bravo to you both.  My criticism, and other people’s, over Game 12 will soon be forgotten because the Rapid Chess tiebreaks brought us the joyous thrills that Game 12 so severely lacked.  Long live the Champion!

I am writing this article as a follow-up to the previous one, titled “A Radical Solution.”  Most importantly because I simply want to thank the readers, you the fans, for your feedback.  Sincerely appreciated.  Truly without your interest there would be no Championships.  It is the fans that make the game.  A fact that we should always remember.

The feedback was quite positive.  Thank you to each and every one of you for contributing to the discussion.  The radical concept of an odd number of match games with draw odds for the player who has an extra game with the Black pieces was not dismissed out of hand.  Even a majority found merit in the suggestion.  Even so, a greater majority preferred a longer match of 18 games.  I do not disagree.  I too much prefer a longer match.  In fact, I find it perplexing that in the penultimate qualifying stage, the Candidates’ Tournament has 14 rounds of play, while the pinnacle event in the whole cycle, the Championship Match itself, is merely 12 games.

Other worthy suggestions included the idea that in case of a tied match “pairs of Classical Games” should be played until a winner emerged.  The problem with such a practical-sounding solution is that it is impossible in real life for the organizers to commit themselves to the possibility of an open-ended match.  For starters, leasing space in a theater would be an enormous problem.  For how long should the organizer keep the space?  I know from my own personal experience in 1987, when Seattle bid for the WC match (Seville won the bid), that it was difficult in the extreme to get a beautiful venue, the Paramount Theater, for 24 games.  Seattle is a marvelous city with many facilities as well.  For the organizer, a fixed number of games is mandatory.

Another majority position from fans that surprised me greatly was that an even number of games was fine but that in case of a tie, after preference for an 18-game match, the defending Champion scoring 9-9 should keep his crown.  The argument in favor of giving the defending Champion draw-odds seems to be that the Challenger has to beat the Champion.  Why?  Because the Champion is the best player and if the Challenger merely ties with the Champion the Challenger has not shown himself to be superior.  An interesting viewpoint to be sure, but one I find to be bogus.

Once again I stress that I’m a critic of the current system.  I don’t like it at all.  In fact, I find the current cycle to be plainly stupid.  Why?  Please, take the following grandmasterly challenge, I double-dare you:  explain the current system to a good friend who doesn’t play chess.  Explain that the Champion, presumably the best chess player in the world, sits outside of a two-year-long cycle of events, biding his time, waiting for a Challenger to emerge.  That there is a series of four “Swiss Open” tournaments with hundreds of players, called “Continental Championships”, played at a different time-control, that act as qualifier events for a big-money event called the “World Cup.”  That it, in turn, is a 128-player “Knock-out” event featuring different time-controls, as well as tie-breakers that qualify the winners for a “Candidates’ Tournament” which is a “double-round-robin” with a different, slower Classical time-control.  The Candidates’ Tournament itself features a field of eight players.  Where the runner-up of the previous WC Match is joined by the World Cup qualifiers, some of the highest rated players in the world and a wildcard player chosen by the organizers.  Be sure to emphasize such terms as “Swiss Open”, “Knockout Matches”, “Double-Round-Robin”, as well as describing the different time-controls, and toss in an “Armageddon” once or twice to be sure that your friend is listening.  Don’t forget that tiebreaks are not used in the Candidates’ tournament.  Instead, do mention, please, that tying for first by losing more games than your rival is better than going undefeated, and I guarantee you that you will have thoroughly confused your friend.  And quite possibly yourself as well.

Even worse than the above challenge of explaining the current cycle to a friend, imagine yourself as an organizer of an event in the cycle.  You would like to have a prestigious elite event played in your home city.  How exciting.  You’d like the participation of the best players in the world.  Clear.  Who is the best player in the world?  Why, the World Champion, of course.  But the World Champion, the biggest draw in chess, is out of the cycle entirely.  Again, he is waiting for a Challenger to emerge.  It is crazy.  Why create such fantastic competitions that bar the world’s best player, the champ, from competing in any of them?  That strikes me as, dare I say it, counter-productive.

Fortunately for the world of chess, we have been lucky, blessed actually, Magnus has been a wonderful, active Champion.  He has not sat on his laurels.  Not at all.  He has played in the most challenging, competitive tournaments open to him and he has acquitted himself as a true Champion.  He has earned the admiration of all chess fans.  But let us say, for the sake of argument, that Magnus was less successful than he has been or, worse still, less active.  Imagine that Magnus takes a sabbatical from the chess tour for a year.  That would be terrible for chess fans.  In the meanwhile, the Challenger faces the whole world in his quest for a single spot.  Consider the route taken by Sergey Karjakin:  he played in the World Cup 128-player Knockout, surviving some extremely difficult, pressure-packed rounds, made it to the Finals and, incredibly, won matches by winning on demand.  This bravura performance earned him the right to be in the Candidates’ Tournament.  The strongest event in the world, which he won, undefeated, and he became Challenger.  Hasn’t he proven himself to be the World’s best player?  Especially as the Champion has been forcibly absent?  Or on sabbatical.  Why would the Challenger have to give the Champion an advantage of draw-odds?  After such a harrowing journey, hasn’t he earned fair and equal playing conditions at least?  This is why in my Radical Solution article I did not suggest that the Champion be awarded draw odds; rather, I suggested that it would be the drawing of lots that determined which player received draw-odds, as well as an extra game with the Black pieces.

To his enormous credit, Magnus himself has expressed dissatisfaction with the current cycle.  He has called for the creation of a more “modern cycle”, without offering exact details of such a vision.  One thing is definite:  such a call is most assuredly not in his own best self-interest.  In a modern cycle, he may find himself having to earn a place at the final table, not enjoying the seeding of a defending Champion.

In my view, the stakeholders in the world of chess need to sit down and rethink the cycle in its entirety.  They need to analyze ruthlessly what events would be in the best interests of chess, the fans, the players, the organizers, and which offer fair, equal conditions for every competitor.  I hope that my two articles will help kick-start just such a discussion.  A discussion for which both the World Champion and the Women’s World Champion have openly called.  The chess world moves slowly.  If the cycle is not to be reconsidered in its entirety, I do hope, at least, that a radical solution for our crown jewel, the World (Classical) Chess Championship match, will no longer feature a tiebreak.

For myself, I’d consider it a massive improvement if the next World Championship Match were a 15-game contest with the player who is given the extra game with the Black pieces at the drawing of lots ceremony having draw-odds.  At every moment in such a match a player would be trailing and would have to fight for the win.  Tame draws would favor only the player in the lead.  Victory would come only in Classical Games and not through Rapid Chess, Blitz or an Armageddon game.  Lest anyone think that I would deny the chess world the thrills of Rapid Chess, I would not.  That is why there is a World Rapid Chess Championship which is called by that name.  It is coming up soon.  Be sure to tune in to that different form of chess.  But let us keep the three forms of chess, Classical, Rapid and Blitz, separate from one another.

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Resistance Resistance 1/5/2017 04:12
... (Seirawan's Redux article bit by bit - V).

(7) Then, in paragraph seven, Seirawan continues with his unwarranted bashing of the current Classical World Chess Championship Cycle, now adding a second "proof" to his previous claim (--i.e., the idea that the Classical World Chess Champion retaining his crown, in case of a tied Classical World Chess Championship Match, is "bogus"--), namely:

The current Classical World Chess Championship Cycle would also be the cause of prestigious elite events in the Classical Chess Cycle not being fantastic enough, since organizers of these events are unable to include the current Classical World Chess Champion in any of them (?). Seirawan reinforces this claim of his by informing his readers that such a state of affairs in the world of chess is 'crazy' (?), and counterproductive (?).

(7a) That the Classical World Chess Champion does not participate of the Classical World Chess Championship Cycle has nothing to do with prestige events from the cycle not being fantastic enough. Not all chess games are fantastic enough, nor even fantastic. Chess is a fight, not a circus. If it happens that you have a great game, good; if it happens that you don't, good then, too.

(7b) You don't need the Classical World Chess Champion playing in your tournament to make it a great tournament. You have many great players, apart from the champion himself. You just need there people that love the game.

(7c) Not every chess tournament has to do with the Classical World Chess Championship Cycle. There have been many Classical Chess tournaments through the years whose only purpose has been rather to celebrate chess; Classical Chess tournaments where the entire chess elite, includying the champion, gets invited to play and to share their passion for the game (Wijk aan Zee, Linares, Dortmund, Tal Memorial, and many, many, many more... ).

On the other hand, if Seirawan wants to see elite Classical Chess reduced to some poor, miserable Classical World Chess Championship Cycle, that would speak volumes of the poverty of his argument and of his view of chess in general.

(7d) Nobody said that the current Classical World Chess Championship Cycle is perfect. But to call it 'crazy' and 'counterproductive' just because people outside the world of chess might not get it at first, seems to me to be an outright exageration; an ill-intended exageration... (hidden agendas anyone?).

Resistance Resistance 12/12/2016 02:33
at TomHaegin: you could also do something productive yourself and actually read the many comments and reactions under these articles by Seirawan before you open your mouth. You'll see, among other things, that not everyone is as slavishly submissive as you are (--i.e., not everyone agrees with Seirawan merely because he is the one saying that which he says; not because he says what he says, then he is automatically right or moved by the best of intentions--). Then, you could try to articulate some solution yourself, or point out the reasons for your position instead of merely assenting like some obedient little puppy.
Resistance Resistance 12/12/2016 01:50
... (Seirawan's Redux article bit by bit - IV).

(6) In paragraph 6, Seirawan tells his readers that he doesn't like the current cycle (the 2-year cycle that produces the challenger for the World Champion), and that in fact he finds it stupid (!?). Then he goes on to provide the supposed reasons for him believing so, in what is clearly an unobjective, misleading attempt from his part to make things look worse than they are.

(6a) His critique is composed of at least two parts: (6a1) he doesn't like it that the champion doesn't have to participate in the same cycle that will eventually produce a challenger for him, the champion itself (?), (6a2) he thinks the cycle is 'bad' because it is too confusing for people not involved in chess (?) (--he wants to make it look as if the cycle structure is confusing "in itself"--).

(6a1) Somehow, Seirawan must think his readers are stupid enough to think that because the champion doesn't participate in the World Championship Cycle, then he is not playing chess at all (--which would be a false claim, since there are many prestigious tournaments throughout the year in which top chess players, including the Champion, participate in, and which have no relationship to the World Championship Cycle--), or if it is the case that he is playing chess outside the World Championship Cycle, then he is not doing it in a serious, World Championshipy capacity despite him being the actual champion (!).

Why is it that Seirawan insists on making us believe that the World Champion not participating in the World Championship Cycle is something unreasonable and, ultimately, "bad"? I have no trouble at all understanding the notion of a World Champion waiting for a worthy challenger, so they can fight for the crown --his crown-- in a serious match. On the other hand, I don't see any compelling reasons why the World Champion should participate in a cycle whose only purpose is producing a challenger for him, the actual champion. No third party, includying FIDE, is the "owner" (in any way) of the chess crown: because the title of World Chess Champion is accomplished by winning at the board; that's the sole reason you become (are) the World Champion: because you achieved it AT THE BOARD. Chess is not some talent show where the judges give their opinion on who's better and who's not; the best chess player is not decided through a popularity contest, either. He who wants to become the best has to beat the best; period. The World Chess Champion is not, on the other hand, (a) in charge of entertaining people (he is not a clown), (b) he is not in charge of making you or anyone happy (he is not a priest, nor a psychologist, nor some spiritual guide), (c) he is not in charge of making Mr. Seirawan & Co. rich men (he is not some money investment), (d) he is not in charge --he is not responsible-- of making the world a "better place" (he is not some cheap politician), (e) etc., etc. The World Chess Champion is simply, --yes--, the best chess player in the World; no more, no less.

(6a2) Chess is known all around the globe and played by many people, so it is true that any attempt at organizing an inclusive global classificatory cycle, for the purpose of producing a challenger for the world champion, will involve (necessarily) many, many players. I don't think, therefore, that such a heterogenous classificatory cycle is such a weird, surprising thing to happen in the chess world: it's kind of expected, indeed. On the other hand, you might perfect such a classificatory cycle, --of course--, but saying that it is bad because people not related to chess might get confused when seeing it the first time, is simply bad faith.

(next paragraphs to follow... )


TomHaegin TomHaegin 12/11/2016 10:32
Thank you Resistance, for having stopped writing your contrived essays. Why don't you do something productive with your time and think of better solutions yourself instead of picking apart others? What a clown you are...
TomHaegin TomHaegin 12/11/2016 10:27
Excellent article and ideas from Yasser who is a class act of a Chess ambassador. Me too I hope they enact some changes. As is, it is not a just, fair format.
Resistance Resistance 12/7/2016 03:57
... (Seirawan's Redux article bit by bit - III).

(5) Then, in his 5th paragraph, Seirawan shows surprise (?) that so many people liked the idea of the World Champion of Classical Chess retaining his title in case of a tie. He structures the rationale behind this position and then proceeds to "refute" it by reminding us that HE thinks it is 'bogus' (??).

(5a) I'm not sure why is it that Seirawan finds it so 'surprising' that there are so many people that like the idea of the champion retaining his title in case of a tie, given that it is probably the simplest solution to the whole issue of a tied World Championship Match, and the one that makes more sense. Why is it that there has to be a tiebreak? If the challenger wasn't able to beat the champion, he is no champion --period. The champion, on the other hand, keeps his crown because nobody took it from him. You want the crown to be yours? You got to prove you deserve it to be yours. And if you couldn't beat the champion, you haven't proved the crown is rightfully yours nor unrightfully his. On the other hand, third parties like FIDE do NOT own the title of World Champion: they are not "the owners" of it, so the title of World Champion is not theirs to give or take either. For the title, the chess crown, is rather FROM HIM WHO CONQUERS IT: it is a thing between Chess Players; a thing between those who play the game. Organizations like FIDE or any other third party (like audiences, television networks, etc.) are, as such, in no position to claim any true, real or special rights on it; theirs is, and should be no more than, a supporting role: their task and place is that of assisting; an intermediary that helps smoothing things out for players to meet each other and compete --no more, no less. Any attempt to surpass this secondary role by organizatons surrounding chess and chess players is illegitimate.

(5b) Seirawan knows, on the other hand, that it will not be easy to convince people and chess players of ideas contrary to Classical Chess and common sense, in matters regarding Classical Chess. For there is no good argument to make people believe that a randomly assigned advantage of drawing-odds for Black to one of the players, for the purpose of forcing a winner out of an otherwise tied Classical World Chess Championship Match, is a good thing and in accordance to Classical Chess. That is why the best line he can come up with is simply reminding us that HE SAYS that the idea of a champion retaining the crown, in case of a tied Classical World Chess Championship Match, is 'bogus'. He 'says', therefore... are we supposed to follow? Not by second, Yasser (--we are dealing here with the CLASSICAL World Chess Championship Match; not with the Blitz World Chess Championship Match, nor the Rapid World Chess Championship Match; nor the Television World Chess Championship Match, nor the Randomness World Chess Championship Match... --).

(next paragraphs to follow... )

Resistance Resistance 12/7/2016 07:34
... (Seirawan's last article bit by bit - II).

(3) So, in the third paragraph, Seirawan informs us that the feedback from his readers was quite positive (?). He thanks us again for our response (you're welcome again, Yasser), then he tells us that his 13th game draw-odds for Black tiebreaking proposal wasn't dismissed out of hand, that it was found meritorious, and that people preferred longer matches (he agrees with this last point). Then he finds it odd that the Candidates tournament is longer than the WCH Match.

(3a) I don't know which responses Seirawan chose to read, but for what I've seen they have been rather negative. Many people has expressed their dislike of this radical "solution" of his, and these opinions do not lend themselves much to second interpretations (--we don't like your unfounded proposal, Yasser: it is detrimental to Classical Chess. You just want somebody winning the match at all cost, so you can put it in big words in the press or your website that somebody actually won the match; you're thinking like they do in television, a way of seeing things that doesn't belong here, in Classical Chess, the same way Blitz and Rapid Chess do not belong either (your words). In chess, just as it is always a possibility to end up a game in a tie (a draw), it is also possible for the final result of a series of games to end up the same way: tied. This is bound to happen when you have players of relatively similar strength; even if their 'areas of expertise', so to speak, aren't the same, there are always opportunities to compensate, given the highly complex nature of chess--).

(4) Then, in paragraph 4, he acknowledges one of the suggestions made to him instead of his (the 'couple of Classical games' tiebreak that decides the winner when one of the players wins one of the unlimited two-game minimatches), and then proceeds to criticize it by adducing that such tiebreaks are no good in practice, because it is impossible (?) for organizers to stage an open-ended match in advance. Then he mentioned his own experience from 1987, at Seattle, when he couldn't secure the WCH.

(4a) Well, apart from the fact that I find this idea of 'pairs of Classical games' to be so, so much better than your poor tiebreaking suggestion of a 13th game with draw-odds for Black, Yasser, I have to say that I agree with that which one of the commentators already mentioned: we are talking here about the Classical World Chess Championship Match, not about any of your regular matches. This is the most important event in chess, and I'm sure people will be able to come up with good ideas in order to overcome such insignificant little problems as the one you're posing here. Besides, that you weren't able to secure the Paramount, back in the 80's, doesn't mean that other people wont be able to do it today; and from the fact that it is difficult to secure a beautiful venue in Seattle, for the Classical World Chess Championship Match, it doesn't follow that it is also difficult to secure beautiful venues somewhere else. Also, that we cannot secure a (the most) beautiful place for Chess, doesn't mean that we shouldn't stage the Classical World Chess Championship Match, then. We don't need to stage our most important match in the most beautiful place there is, Yasser: ultimately the main thing here is chess, NOT the decoration. I'm sure there are plenty of beautiful places around the world that will accomodate the players, their teams, the audience, reporters, etc, etc, while Chess waits for the chance to play at that greatest place in the world someday...

(next paragraphs to follow... )

Martas Martas 12/6/2016 10:18
@Petrarlsen: Difference between minimatches and rule regarding wins in standard part of the match is quite obvious, in first case players don't need to care about that rule until end of game 12, in second case they have to care a lot since first loss is almost deadly due to the draw odds for the opponent (possibility to equalize in next game is smaller, in half of cases not even this).
Regarding 30+30, it's difference to rapid is same as difference of rapid and blitz. It's slower, but still far from classical.
dwigley dwigley 12/6/2016 05:11
Have the tiebreak decided before the match in the qualifying tournaments somehow, like maybe in the Candidates tournament in which the World Champion has to participate to compete for the tiebreak. This would also be a way to get the Champion active in the cycle.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/6/2016 02:40
@ XChess1971 : You seems to have invented the chess version of "friendly fire"... Still, I'm fortunate, you didn't use any missiles...
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/6/2016 02:34
@ XChess1971 : I'm not sure I quite understand what you mean, but I am under the impression that your position isn't very different from mine, so there is one thing that seems rather obvious to me, and this is that YOU must not have understood at all my own position !! And, by the way, it would perhaps be somewhat better if, before using rather offensive words, you could try to be certain that your positions aren't the same (approximately) as those of your "target"...
XChess1971 XChess1971 12/6/2016 02:00
@Petrarlsen " I don't see why using a result from the previous cycle as a tiebreaker wouldn't be fair"
I guess you don't see it cause you must be a patzer to give such opinion. That's just plain stupid and ignorant. And probably you need to read much more about chess history.

Do you think Carlsen became World Champion by chance? Maybe somebody tossed a coin and Carlsen became World Champion? Or maybe Carlsen beat Anand in a tie-breaker such as rapid, and blitz where he got lucky.
So if he kept his title why it wouldn't be fair?

Since the times of Steinitz, always you had to beat the World Champion in a classical game. And if you couldn't do it. The World Champion always kept his title. If not wrong. Botvinnik-Bronstein 1951 12-12. Botvinnik kept his title. In 1954 Smislov drew a match with Botvinnik. Botvinnik kept his title again. Kasparov-Karpov 1987 12-12. Kasparov retained his title.

To all of the readers didn't Carlsen had to do a lot of effort to qualify to play Anand? Didn't Carlsen beat Anand? If he couldn't do it in a classical game... Would we have to say that it is unfair that Anand kept his title in case of a tie?
For what I know no tie-breakers are supposed to be used at all just to satisfy a sponsor distorting the World Chess Championship Final!!!
Ropie Ropie 12/6/2016 01:33
Once every two years there is a 14 player all play all tournament. The winner is the World Champion. No matches any more. How are the 14 players selected? The top 12 on the rating list can play. Two players are chosen by the organisers. The reigning World Champion can always defend his/her title.

During those two years there are numerous open & closed tournaments where you can play and make sure you are in the Top-12. Of course once every year is also a possibility, but would we remember Usain Bolt if the Olympics are each year?
dumkof dumkof 12/6/2016 12:32
Draw odds, time odds, colour odds are all stupid things, non-chess things, just creating artificial imbalances to secure a champion as fast as possible.

These odds may fit well to one player but not necessarily to the other. One player may prefer to play with black trying to draw, while the other player is forced to win with white.

Let's put all these stupid non-chess things out of our game, especially when deciding the world champion.

Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/6/2016 12:32
@ Martas : The idea, behind my "first win" (by pairs) rule" is to treat - to break a tie - the 12 games match as a series of 6 mini-matches of 2 games each. In my opinion, it isn't a "coinflip" : many persons proposed the idea to continue the normal match with mini-matches of 2 classical games ; it is exactly the same idea, with the advantage that the games wouldn't have to be played anew ; the games of the 12 games match would be used for that purpose. And, as the players would know this rule in advance, it is a fair rule.

As for the draws, it must be taken into consideration that, if none of the players wins a "2-games mini-match", the tiebreak goes to the Champion, so I think that the Challenger would have a big incentive to win a "2-games mini-match". I considered also to use the last win, but I think it is more artificial ; this system wouldn't resemble anymore to a series of mini-matches. And I would rather think that it would produce more draws, because it is nearly impossible to know in advance which win will count for the tiebreak, so, in this case, there will not be any special incentive for the first win in a "2-games mini-match".

For the 30 mn. + 30 s. games, my idea is that, with a 30 seconds increment, the players would never have less time that what could be the case in the 12 principal games, when the players plays only on the increment, having used their entire main time. So it keeps a minimal quality of moves ; we couldn't, for exemple, see what happened in the rapid games of the Carlsen - Karjakin match, where Karjakin played entire series of moves on the 10 seconds increment ; necessarily, the quality of play can't be really good in such circumstances. And, according to the official criteria, such a game is considered as a classical game, and not a rapid game.

No system is perfect, but this system has a few advantages : 1) To use only classical games. 2) To be perfectly fair. 3) To reduce the use of the "draw odds to the Champion" system to very rare cases. 4) To have the same total duration than the current World Championship match system (to avoid potential problems with the sponsors...).

It all depends on the criteria that one considers to be the most important...
weerogue weerogue 12/6/2016 12:29
Thanks again Yasser for a very reasoned and thought-provoking article.

Taking a step back, I'd like to offer my opinion:

~ In the (admittedly comparatively short) 15 years or so that I have been following chess, this is definitely the best state the WC cycle has been in terms of both stability and format:

~ Stability: we are in a situation where players and fans know what to expect - it is on the whole clearly defined (though not without complexity and inconsistencies, as YS points out). I believe that it's hard to overstate the importance of this following the years of chaos that preceded it.

~ Format:
~ Candidates: (multiple-round) round-robin Candidates tournaments *rule*. These are a rightly revered and have a special place in the hearts of chess fans, with numerous shining examples lighting up the history of chess (not least Zurich 1953 and London 2013). In my opinion these are preferable to the mini-match knock-out tournaments of yesteryear, and far more preferable than the 'whoever can get the money together and reach an agreement with the champion' conditions we have seen in the not so distant past (see Kasparov-Kramnik [not Shirov!] for example).

~ a WC match! I believe a match between two players is the best way to determine the champion and again there are many stellar examples of such matches with a special place in chess history. Nobody respects the champions of the knock-out competition championships and also I believe less credence is given to winners of WC round-robins (Kramnik made comments to the effect that Anand was 'borrowing' his title, due to his right for a match against the winner of the 2007 WC tournament). Chess is a two-player game and I think it's great to see two players battle it out over a (preferably quite long!) series of games.

Regarding YS' suggestions specifically:

~ Radical re-think of entire cycle: as above, what I think are required are refinements to the current cycle, rather than wholesale, 'rip it up and start again' changes; specifically, the match length and the Tiebreak criteria (in the match and in all WC-cycle events, not least the Candidates) need attention.

~ Odd-game match, extra black has draw odds: quite a cool idea.
Potential refinements:
~ Instead of tossing a coin, why not play a series of rapid or blitz games before the match begins?! :)
~ I propose the winner of the coin-toss/quick games get to CHOOSE whether they want to play with the extra black or extra white - could be interesting!
~ as suggested by [a GM I forget], the rapid/blitz portion could be played before the match, rather than after. This would then influence the entire match strategy of the players and achieve the same effect of YS' proposal - a situation where somebody knows he has to win the Classical portion of the match to become Champ. I don't think this would sacrifice any drama, as each game in turn, especially the last (should it reach it), would be weightier with drama as a result. I quite like this idea.
~ Draw-odds for Champ - not a huge fan of this, though it is seen in comparable sports such as boxing.
~ Coin-toss, as suggested by Fischer - seems to belittle things in my opinion.

~ Champ's conditions are too favourable: I tend not to agree with this. I think in chess, the best player in the world and the World Champion are not (and need not) be one and the same. It is quite transparent from the ratings over the last few years who the best player in the world is. As Anand said before his first match with Carlsen, (paraphrasing): "In chess we have a tradition where the World Champion is the winner of a match" - this is a great part of chess heritage and is a distinction in itself. The two things do not need to be the same, though of course in cases such as just now, it does help to legitimise the title of 'World Champion'.
Martas Martas 12/6/2016 11:45
@Petrarlsen : I just went through your proposal, I don't like few points
- first win rule - This forces players to be even more careful and thus would produce even more draws. Rather then this I would go for last win. And even then - promoting one win to be more significant then the other one is too close to coinflip. (Somebody mentioned here similar rule with black win being more valuable, it's very similar.)
- 4 games tiebreak 30+30 - some time ago we played a tournament in a club having 45 minutes for 40 moves and 15 minutes for the rest. Tournament was taken as preparation for team competition in classical games, but afterwards people agreed it was just slower rapid, not really preparation for classical games. So same here, I would expect people who don't like rapid tiebreaks would not like this one as well.
toma toma 12/6/2016 11:30
As Yasser himself, I remember well the old three year cycle, 24 games system, with champion retaining his title in case of 12:12 (Botvinik - Bronstein comes to mind, a fantastic, dramatic match). I am adamant that it was the best system ever produced.

The present two year cycle, 12 games match system is an emulation of the old one and therefore acceptable, but just barely. In my view, it is a match for Classical Champion, 12 games is to short and rapid and blitz should not be played in any case.

I do not agree with Yasser that the Challenger should be put on the same level as the Champion. The Champion is "the Champion", because it is difficult to become the Champion. If it was easy, the title would have been degraded. All Champions from history of the game are quasi mythical creatures, legendary heroes of the game, so the title should not be made easier to get. Second grade reputation of "FIDE Champion" title is the best argument for what I am trying to explain.

All in all, it seems to me that the optimal solution, in present circumstances, would be 2 year cycle, 18 games match, Champ retains his title in case of 9:9.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/6/2016 10:05
@ Martas : Yes, I know, I explained myself this point two days ago in another post.

But, for me, the consequence isn't that the "draw odds to the Champion" isn't fair ; I don't see why using a result from the previous cycle as a tiebreaker wouldn't be fair ; the problem is not there : the exact same rules applies to everyone. If the Champion is the Champion, it is because he won the previous World Championship match, and everyone (including the new Challenger) could have won this match, too (by qualifying through the Cycle, etc.), so to use this match as a tiebreaker is a rule based on an absolutely fair criterion, in my opinion.

Nonetheless, I consider too that to mix two cycles is not ideal. For me, as I consider the "draw odds to the Champion" to be fair, I don't eliminate it altogether, but I think that, ideally, it must be used only as a last resort.

It is precisely for this reason that I posted, yesterday, a system, using only classical games, and restricted to the present calendar limits of the World Championship match, that used the "draw odds to the Champion" system only as last resort, in very rare cases.

For me, this kind of ideas could be the "right direction" ; to keep the "draw odds to the Champion" system for certain cases, because this system can be quite useful, but also to use other tiebreak methods before, so as to restrict as much as reasonably possible the application of this system.
Martas Martas 12/6/2016 08:48
@ Petrarlsen : Using the last Candidates tournament as a tiebreaker isn't so different from using the previous World Championship match as a tiebreaker (the "draw odds to the Champion" system), in accordance to what I explained in my previous post.
So, if you consider the first as being fair, it would be logical that you would also consider the second as fair.

There is slight difference, old system with draw odds for champion means odds based on result of previous cycle, while the proposal means draw odds based on result of tournament in current cycle. You could even consider the final match being sort of tiebreak of candidates tournament.
So as such is meant to be more acceptable for those who consider draw odds for old champion as unfair (ie. Yasser).
Balthus Balthus 12/6/2016 08:29
After thoughts: in view of the tragic divide that ruled the chess world in the 1990s/2000s, I see this level of dissatisfaction with the World Champion framework as a first(chess)world problem, really. With the title finally unified, let us not erode it with fussing about the why and hows of execution.

For this reason, I totally agree with RoselleDragon's comment:

"18 games. In the event of a tie, the champion retain his title. I don't understand why we need to complicate matters. I don't care if tennis, golf or what ever else have no champion. Chess does. And it has a rich tradition. Forget about rapid and blitz as tie brakes, these formats are not really chess, so they should not be used to determine the champion."
docjtr1 docjtr1 12/6/2016 08:24
13 or 15 games, challenger with extra white, current champ to have drawing odds to retain tittle but prize fund split in half.
Balthus Balthus 12/6/2016 08:13
This is a snake biting its own tail. Someone said, Magnus showed his worth in rapid chess but not in classical chess. If so, Karjakin showed his worth in classical chess even less. After all, his only win came from Carlsen going nuts playing for a win in a situation where he should have settled for a draw.

But. (And this is a big but!) If there had been a tie-breaker that said (as someone suggested) that more wins with black would mean ultimate victory in the case of a tie, Carlsen would have weighed in game 8 that if he loses, he would have to win at least two games in the last 5 (or one with black to restore a dead heat, which is nearly as difficult), where he would have white only twice, and definitely avoided pursuing the mirage of a win beyond any reasonable point. Which might result in another 6-6, but now with all games drawn. Would that have been better? I doubt it.

Also, if the reigning champion had had the drawing advantage, Karjakin could not have played the way he did in game 12. Would that have been better? I think so.

All this boils down to one ultimate point: the players at this level ALWAYS play the way they do because of the rules. My intuition is that, should you change the rules, even in the most radical way, the number of draws or the match strategy would not change in proportion. If there were 13 games and the drawing advantage decided beforehand by pure chance, a player might still find it preferable to go down undefeated, with 6.5 to 6.5 than to allow their opponent to come out a clear winner, similar to football teams that conspicuously play for the Russian roulette of a penalty shoot-out even when they still have time theoretically to turn the match around.

If you want to do away with rapid tie-breakers and avoid a possibly infinite string of pairs of matches in which the players would grow more and more cautious because of the price they have to pay for a defeat, then just keep the status quo, scrap the tie-breakers altogether (as there is no guarantee for a tie to be broken with classical time control), and give the drawing benefit to the reigning Champion.

Applied to this year's match, this would have forced Karjakin into more adventurous gameplay in the last classical, which, after all, is what all comments - as far as I see - would consider the point of the whole system overhaul in the first place.
Resistance Resistance 12/6/2016 07:48
Seirawan's radical reaction to the 12th game of the recently finished Classical World Chess Championship Match, between Magnus and Sergey, also seems to be part of a different agenda.

(1) He opens the article by whole-heartedly congratulating both players on a gripping match (--I agree: it was also a gripping CLASSICAL Chess Match for me, in that long control time version of chess that some youngsters don't get--), then he immediately and subreptitiously reiterates his own criticism of Magnus and Sergey's 12th game (--that he does not agree with both players playing such a short draw--), then he attempts to associate the idea of 'joyus thrills' with Rapid Chess and Classical Chess (--he indirectly refers to the other 11 Classical Chess games from the match, for he just said that they had a 'gripping match'--).

(1a) After harshly criticizing Magnus and Sergey for their short draw at the 12th game of their Classical Chess Match, he anyway wants to be in good terms with both players. Seirawan is one of the main men of one of the regular tournaments Magnus visits (used to visit) during the year, the Sinquefield Cup, and it is not a good idea to be in bad terms with him (--he needs to suck up a little if he wants Magnus overthere, next year--).

(1b) Then, Seirawan attempts to mix up the notions of joy, Rapid Chess and Classical Chess, all in one single unit of meaning (--it is evident that he wants his readers to keep that idea in mind: that joy, Rapid Chess, and Classical Chess are, in a way, the same thing... --).

(2) Then, in the following paragraph, he thanks his readers for the many responses to his article (you're welcome, Yasser), yet in the middle of this 'thanks giving' moment, he emphasises this idea of his that the most important thing in chess are the fans, and that this is a fact (?), and that it is a fact the we should always remember (?).

(2a) This opinion of his, that the fans are the most important thing in chess, apart from being kind of misplaced, it is only that: an opinion, NOT a fact (--why is Seirawan calling his own opinion on this matter 'a fact'?--). And he wants his readers not only to keep this particular opinion of his in mind, but to always keep it in mind (--what is it that you're up to, Yasser?--). It seems that the beloved editor of the old but always joyous and instructive Inside Chess, now host of the Sinquefield Cup internet broadcast, is now onto something completely different here (--is it money, Yasser? Is it fame? Is it the opportunity of (again) becoming a relevant figure in the world of chess?--).

(Analysis of next paragraphs to follow... )

XSammaelx XSammaelx 12/6/2016 05:24

Ultimately your argument is just that since a lot more games out in the wild are played at fast time controls (which I pretty much stipulated to all along btw) that fast chess should be part of the world championship. I still say this is a leap of logic. Why? Well lets follow the idea that what most people are doing should be what is done in the championship and see where it takes us:

Besides faster time controls, games played without clocks are very common too (this is the way most kids and non-club playing amateurs out there do it). So shouldn't un-clocked be played in the world championship? And you wanted to downplay blitz as a potential part of the match, but I assure you a lot more blitz (and bullet!) is played than even rapid, so shouldn't that be reflected in the championship format too? Also, online beats otb so shouldn't our chamionship include online games?

So I'd say the perfect championship match should be this:

4 blitz games (3 online, 1 otb)

3 bullet games (2 online, 1 otb)

3 games without clock (played on a set purchased from a discount store with folding board and lightweight plastic pieces)

2 rapid games (1online, 1 otb)

1 classical game tiebreaker (only if we have to, draw odds for black ala Seirawan)

We can call it the GrayDuck World Chess Championship!
hCumper hCumper 12/6/2016 03:54
How about a slow armageddon game? White would get normal time allowance and the players for bid for black's; start with 1 minute then 2 minutes, 3 minutes and so on until one of the players volunteers for black. The terms of the game would be fair in the view of the players themselves.
jsaldea12 jsaldea12 12/6/2016 03:54
I would suggest the world chess championship, classical, should end in classical games, not rapid chess because rapid chess has its own world rapid chess championship, unfortunately sitting there at is CM himself. But classical chess should end in classical. Howe about 12 games, and in case of drawn, 4 more games to decide.
Doug Eckert Doug Eckert 12/6/2016 02:50
Play 18 games tie goes to the champion. Winner has to win at least two games. A tied match after 18 games without both players winning at least 2 games each results in the title being vacated, each player receiving the losers advertised portion of the prize fund less 25% and both players needing to go into the qualification cycle to qualify for the candidates tournament rather than being seeded in. That should motivate both players to play fighting chess. If they don't, less money and potentially being excluded from the following cycle. The only downside is explaining to the world that the title is vacant for two years if this were to actually happen.
eja616 eja616 12/6/2016 02:30
What is fair in a chess match is when both players are subject to the same rules throughout the match including tie-breaks such than neither player can exercise an advantage (in any type or form) over his opponent that would help him win the match. In other words, if one rule applies to the champion, it should also apply to the challenger, and vise versa. If that is not the case, then you have what they call an "uneven playing field" which compromises the match goal of producing a champion after a fair fight. I find this to be the case in all other sports I could think of such as boxing, basketball, tennis, etc. For example, they don't have a rule that allows the reigning NBA or boxing champions to win the contest in case of a tie. They don't give a reigning tennis champion a similar "draw-odds" to break the tie. They may give a perceived "home court advantage" to the NBA team that has the best winning record after the regular season which it rightfully earned, but they still require that team to win (not tie) their matches in order to advance in the playoffs. But I did not cite these sports to justify my point but to illustrate it. There are probably other sports out there or even the same sports I mentioned above where matches would be carried out differently by different governing bodies. But I would think that any sports that allows an "uneven playing field" to exist during the match is falling short of the definition of what is fair.
The_Tenant The_Tenant 12/6/2016 02:23
"In my view, the stakeholders in the world of chess need to sit down and rethink the cycle in its entirety."

Who are these stakeholders? Do we have any names?
kf2wins kf2wins 12/6/2016 12:03
hmmm I think after a tie of 12 games, they should play 4 blitz games of fisher random chess , so no one has a preparation advantage in the blitz games winner takes all and shows the real ability of chess strength.
Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/5/2016 10:53
@ Zmeu : Using the last Candidates tournament as a tiebreaker isn't so different from using the previous World Championship match as a tiebreaker (the "draw odds to the Champion" system), in accordance to what I explained in my previous post.

So, if you consider the first as being fair, it would be logical that you would also consider the second as fair.

I don't say this to promote particularly the "draw odds to the Champion" system, but I think it is logical to consider this system as fair, anyway.
Zmeu Zmeu 12/5/2016 10:33
@ Martas,
I like it: top two finishers of the candidates tournament play a 12-game match with draw odds in favor of the winner of that tournament. It's settled then ;)
Hgloverchess24 Hgloverchess24 12/5/2016 08:36
The champion playing black in the odd out game and retaining his title in the event of a draw is fair. To become champion he had to beaT the regining champ, so it is fair that the challenger must beat him. Once this standard implemented and always carried forward , it is fair due to the fact the current champ had to beat the same odds at one time. Right?
JtheJ JtheJ 12/5/2016 07:43
The immutable objective in chess is to mate your opponent. But in draw-ish games there could be a secondary objective that could offer a solution to the problem of a drawn match. In my view, it is a solution in the true spirit of chess. I offer a rough sketch of that solution below.

For a given color in drawn games…

Force = Sum of the values of the pieces.

Space = Number of squares controlled less contested squares.

Time = The amount of time left on the clock rounded down to minutes.

Pawn Structure = The number of pawn chains greater than two, times the number of pawns in the longest chain.

Apply a coefficient to any or all of these elements, if you think it needs normalization.

For a given tied game: add it all up, then subtract black’s score from white’s.
A positive score for white awards white one point. A negative score for white awards black one point. A zero score awards zero points.

At the end of a tied match, use the sum of these points as a tie breaker. If it is still tied, another game is played, or the current champ remains, or whatever.

Obviously, there will be arguments, changes, refinements, refutations, out-and-out rejections, etc. But if this or a similar system is adopted, drawn games would change character – if mate is not possible, then maybe the next best thing – a victory of a different kind is…

Petrarlsen Petrarlsen 12/5/2016 07:11
@ Zmeu : "Any other tie-break (black odds, champ odds, etc.) make the contest not totally fair."

For "Champ odds", why ? It is a completely objective criterion ; in this case, the result of the previous World Championship match is used as a tiebreaker.

Why wouldn't doing this be fair ?

The fact that the Champion won this previous match demonstrates one thing clearly : that he can be "The Best in the World", at a given moment, with a given set of rules (the World Championship rules).

As for the Challenger, by winning the Candidates, he "only" demonstrated that he can be "The Best in the World", when the Champion isn't participating. So, in fact, he proved less than the Champion. And, in my opinion, this is a completely objective justification for the "draw odds to the Champion" system.

And we musn't forget that the Champion too had to win the Candidates (and to go through the full qualifying cycle), before becoming the Champion. So when, for example, Yasser Seirawan says that the "draw odds to the Champion" system is not fair, because the Challenger had to survive the whole cycle, and, finally, to win the Candidates tournament, I don't think it is quite a convincing argument, because the Champion too had to do this before. And the big difference is that the Champion didn't stop there : he won the World Championship match against the previous Champion, too.

I'm not particularly favorable to the "draw odds to the Champion" system, but, in view of these arguments, I do nonetheless think that this "draw odds to the Champion" system is completely fair.

As for me, I would nevertheless use the "draw odds to the Champion" solution only as a last tiebreaking solution, not because this solution isn't fair, but because it mixes the results of two World Championship cycles, and I think that it is better to use a tiebreaking solution which doesn't mix the results of two cycles first. But, for me, I dont consider this to be an important problem, and I think that, as a last resort, this is a good and simple solution to break a tie.

And, as an aside, the "draw odds to the Champion" system also has a positive side : as it makes it a little more difficult still for the Challenger to win the Match, it also makes the World Championship title more significant still, because, to become the Champion, you must really prove that you can be better than the previous Champion, and this strengthens a little more still the value of the Title ; this aspect of this solution seems to me to be quite positive...
Martas Martas 12/5/2016 05:22
Zmeu: proposal with current champ joining candidates sounds OK. In such case 12 games match might be enough, in the end 2 games between those players were already played in the tournament. It also brings acceptable option to get rid of tiebreaks - draw odds for winner of candidates - in case of match tie the winner of the tournament has already proven he is slightly superior to the player who finished second.
tafit tafit 12/5/2016 05:20
Yasser's idea is bad simply because it's not fair. Having draw-odds would be too much of an advantage probably leading the player with this benefit to play in a very low-risk /dull way...
Zmeu Zmeu 12/5/2016 04:12

As you initially suggest, the bigger problem is the automatic seeding of the (previous) champ into the final. The world champion should be seeded into the Candidates tournament instead, and he top two finishers there would play for the title. If we have a dominant champion, then he/she will be a huge favorite to one of those two spots, if not, then the top two finishers there would be the rightful contestants to the title.

Regarding rapid tie-breaks, I think they *do* make sense when it's just two players fighting it out in a match. Any other tie-break (black odds, champ odds, etc.) make the contest not totally fair. Fischer reportedly would have chosen a coin-toss as the tiebreaker. I think the fans would rather see more chess. Longer matches might make it a more fair classical match, but they could also favor the younger player or lead to more dull "energy-saving" draws.

I despise the FIDE bureaucracy and corruption, but on the particular issue of the world championship match regulations, I think FIDE has it more or less right!
Let's get to work on reducing the champion's next-cycle rights.
croquete croquete 12/5/2016 12:25

It strikes me as hard to understand why this is the best moment to publicly discuss this issue, is it fair to Carlsen, or everyone involved on the championship?
Anyway, it’s easy to agree that all tie-breaks have some degree of unfairness. But the problem is not generated from the tie-breaks on themselves , only on the simple fact that both players have the same points.
On Football ( or soccer to all American friends) the problem is solved by kicks from the penalty mark… Is it fair? Maybe not …but the problem is solved in a very spectacular way.
On the final interview after the mach Carsen said it regained on that day the pleasure to play chess, and Karjakin said that it “was fair “and it works”.
And if you “fallow the money” I think the sponsors seemed to be pleased with the spectacular “fireworks” posed by the rapid chess.
So, if the argument is that we should defend classical chess for the sake of its own definition; remember first that is too short of an argument when money is talking so sweet.