Zurich Challenge with new time controls

11/2/2015 – For the Zurich Chess Challenge, in February with world class players, the organisation has implemented a new time control: 40 minutes per game with additional ten seconds for each move, and two games per day. "We think that in the future classical chess needs to become faster." Winning gets you two points, a draw one point, while the blitz round is traditionally scored. Press release.

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5th Zurich Chess Challenge 2016
Promotion of a new time control

Zurich Chess Club

Press Release

From 12 to 15 February 2016 the world chess elite will arrive again in Zurich for the fifth edition of the Zurich Chess Challenge at the Hotel Savoy Baur en Ville.

The oldest chess club in the world and its honorable member Oleg Skvortsov suggest a most important innovation for the future of new classical chess with a new time control of 40 minutes per game with additional 10 seconds for each move. We think that in the future classical chess could pass to one hour control for each player. We have come to the conclusion that the game needs to become faster. We preserve the Zurich system of point control but for another format. There are two points for a victory, one point for a draw in new classical chess and 1 point for a victory and 0.5 points for a draw in a blitz. All games of our tournament will be commented live and broadcast worldwide live via Internet on www.zurich-cc.com.

The main sponsor of the Zurich Chess Challenge, Oleg Skvortsov


# Player
1 Viswanathan Anand
No. 3
2 Vladimir Kramnik
No. 4
3 Hikaru Nakamura
No. 5
4 Levon Aronian
No. 7
5 Anish Giri
No. 9
6 Alexei Shirov
No. 51

Ratings according the FIDE November 2015 list – Average: 2773 = Category XXI


Friday February 12 6 p.m. Opening Ceremony, concert, Blitz
Saturday February 13 3 pm first round, 6 pm second round
Sunday February 14 3 pm third round, 6 pm. fourth round
Monday February 15 3 pm. fifth round, 6 pm. blitz, closing

The concert on the first day is by the world renowned cellist Boris Andrianov (the first Russian cellist to become a laureate at the 6th international Rostopovich competition in Paris). Also invited is the Russian classical guitarist Dimitry Illarionov and one of the brightest violinists Alena Baeva. The blitz tournament on the same evening is not counted but used to determine the colors distribution of the new classical games. The final blitz tournament on Monday is with inverted colors of the new classical games. The Closing Ceremony is at 8 p.m. Spectators are welcome, entry free.

Sponsors: Zurich Chess Club (founded 1809, Savoy Chess Corner, "IGC International Gemological Laboratories" (this is a Russian institute providing gemological services, such as diamond grading reports, enhanced diamonds identification as well as certification of diamonds, gemstones and jewelry in the Russian Federation. IGC is the Russsian branch of GCI - a group of gemological laboratories worldwide).

The venue

The tournament takes place in the time-honored Hotel «Savoy Baur en Ville» (Paradeplatz,
Zurich, Switzerland) in the «Festsaal», the venue of many a famous chess event in the past.

The main sponsor, «IGC International Gemological Laboratories», is a Russian institute providing gemological services, such as diamond grading reports, enhanced diamonds identification as well as certification of diamonds, gemstones and jewelry in the Russian Federation. IGC is the Russian branch of GCI, a group of gemological laboratories worldwide.

Co-Sponsors: Savoy Chess Corner, Zurich Chess Club (founded 1809, the oldest existing chess club in the world). Organisation: Schachgesellschaft Zürich (Zurich Chess Club). Contact: media@sgzurich.ch

The Schachgesellschaft Zürich, which was founded in 1809. Its historical development has been retraced by Richard Forster and Christian Rohrer in a series of articles for us:

Innovation and creativity

The Zurich Chess Challenge is now in its fifth year, and is the brainchild of Russian chess patron Oleg Svortsov. This is more than just a tournament, as he has tried to innovate in each edition with ideas to combine world class chess with a format that appeals to the general public. Here is a look at the previous formats and the guiding concepts that drove them, all from Oleg Svortsov's creative mind:


The very first official Zurich Chess Challenge was a match between the top players Vladimir Kramnik and Levon Aronian. It was scheduled for six games played at standard time controls of 40 moves in two hours, followed by 20 moves in one hour, and finally the rest of the game in 15 minutes with a 30-second increment as of move 61. This made plenty of sense since it was viewed as a public training match by the two players in preparation for the forthcoming Candidates.

The touch of innovation came in the addendum to the rules: if a game ended in a draw within three hours or less, an additional Rapid game would be played, not counting for the overall score, but ensuring fans would always enjoy four hours of chess action per round, come what may.

All ChessBase reports on 2012 Zurich Chess Challenge


The following year, the format was expanded to include two more players for a full double round-robin tournament of classical chess with the four elite players Vladimir Kramnik, reigning World Champion Vishy Anand, Fabiano Caruana, and Boris Gelfand, who had just played for the World Championship the year before in 2012.

Once more the idea of guaranteeing chess action for the fans was included, though this time the rules stipulated that if a draw was concluded before move 40, an additional Rapid game would be played, which would not count toward the overall score.

All ChessBase reports on 2013 Zurich Chess Challenge


In 2014, the Zurich Chess Challenge was reformulated quite thoroughly by Oleg Svortsov. That year, instead of four players playing a double round-robin, six were invited, including the new World Champion Magnus Carlsen, as well as top American player Hikaru Nakamura. The previous players from 2013, Anand, Aronian, Caruana, and Gelfand,  were all invited back.

The concept of a rapid in the event of a draw in 40 moves or less was maintained, but two important changes were instituted:

1) The scoring of the classical games was doubled to two points for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss, because on the final day there would be a round-robin rapid event in which the rapid games would be scored normally. I.e. be worth half the effective points as the standard games.

2) This second change was enjoyed greatly, and as a result, tournaments all over began to follow suit: instead of a drawing of lots, in a fairly lackadaisical ceremony involving drawing papers out of a bowl (and variations thereof), a blitz tournament was organized in which the final standings would determine their numbers, and more importantly: who played with more whites!

All ChessBase reports on 2014 Zurich Chess Challenge


The formula in 2014 had been a huge success, and was maintained in 2015 with a slight difference in the lineup. The players were Nakamura, Anand, Caruana, Kramnik, Aronian, and Karjakin.

To say nothing was changed or innovated would be incorrect though. If the main competition was kept intact, another delightful event was conducted simultaneously, a match between legends at the board: Viktor Korchnoi and Wolfgang Uhlmann.

All ChessBase reports on 2014 Zurich Chess Challenge

Although the big name behind the series is Oleg Svortsov, an unsung hero that must not
be overlooked is his wife, Natalia Svortsov, one of the strong forces behind the tournament.


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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Truffaut Truffaut 11/3/2015 08:19
What do the top chess players in the world receive when playing in Zurich Chess Challenge? The "privilege" to play two chess games a day just like your average weekend Swiss Chess Tournament in the USA!

World class chess players should be treated with more respect.
ciuto ciuto 11/3/2015 06:37
There is a misunderstanding.
Nobody here is saying that it should be forbidden to play faster because of chess tradition.
What we are saying is that If you want to play / to organize a faster event, all you have to do is playing / organizing a "rapid chess" tournament instead of a "classic/standard" one.
As a matter of fact, many people (a vast majority of people, according to the comments I am reading here) still love playing and watching classical chess. Let them enjoy chess the way they like.

What's the matter with calling Zurich a "rapid tournament", as it is indeed?
LAMIB LAMIB 11/3/2015 01:32
@weerogue, I think you got us wrong. If you read the press release carefully ("We think that in the future classical chess could pass to one hour control for each player") there is no doubt that we are clearly talking about classical chess here.
Nobody here is objecting to a rapid or blitz game of chess. Correspondance chess has its fans and nobody is talking about making it any faster. We are just saying that if you play a chess game with one hour time control per player you can no longer call it classical chess. It should be called rapid and organizers should be fair enough to admit it.
weerogue weerogue 11/3/2015 11:21
Wow - what a tidal wave of negativity!!

Don't get me wrong, I love the depth that can be achieved with the long, traditional classical games, but I also enjoy the immediacy, multitude of games and creative play that comes with shorter controls.
(Also - if you want an even deeper game, why not play correspondence or advanced chess? :D)

The classical time controls are just a tradition, and one that I enjoy, but it does not mean that there isn't room for something else.

Bronstein promoted the virtues of shorter time controls, not in place of classical controls, but as something to sit alongisde them, to complement and enrich the overall proposition of chess and indeed now we have Classical and Blitz ratings and World Championships in these disciplines that I personally find very interesting.

As for motivation, I think it is clear that chess is nowhere near as popular as things like poker and, as was mentioned in the run up to 'Millionaire Chess', it is impossible to find TV stations willing to show games at traditional Classical time controls; therefore, I think the organisers here are taking a step to try and help with the popularity of chess, which is something I think should be encouraged, not ridiculed and criticised before we even get a chance to see what it's like.

This is not the end of the world, or even the end of classical time controls in chess, it is merely an innovation, and an innovation to which six of the best players in the world have agreed to!
Why not join them with interest and curiosity, rather than hostility and 'fear of the unknown'?

I'll be there - looking forward to it.
WildWine WildWine 11/3/2015 10:37
Thumbs down for the 'new' time control and this tournament. Instead I will be watching with great curiosity the open tournaments(Qatar Masters, Gibraltar) where the strongests players in the world compete with the hungry and talented 2600+ and 2650+ just waiting for their chance to cause a sensation. I think this is the future of chess and will attract more attention.
JeanH JeanH 11/3/2015 05:06
Faster time controls : a mistake as usual. Spectators need more time to try to understand the games and the players need more time to play really great games. Everybody and chess is losing.
Blackacre Blackacre 11/3/2015 04:09
40 10 is not serious chess. Soon, no doubt, we will have 5-minute "classical" chess. Meanwhile, for chess lovers, there are always the games from the good old days (40 moves in 2.5 hours, with adjournments). Games where players had time to make deep plans, calculate complicated variations thoroughly, and play precisely in the endgame.
glider1 glider1 11/3/2015 03:52
"The game needs to become faster".....because they only start thinking somewhere around move 15-25. In effect standard chess has been shortened by 33% which should be reflected in shorter time controls. If you shorten time controls, it sometimes causes a glitch in players memorization which means we can get the occasional unusual game. If Classical time controls are what is wanted, switch to Chess960 (Fischer random) because that is where the extra time will make sense.
BeFreeBusy BeFreeBusy 11/3/2015 02:12
I thought it was April Fools, but too early (or late). Blatantly ridiculous. Why the arbitrary 40+10? If you say 60 minutes per game will be the new standard, then that wouldn´t even add up. Somebody didnt think about this, and yet they have the power to organize such tournament. Shame, cause the event venue itself is nice.
yesenadam yesenadam 11/3/2015 01:54
I agree with all the comments.

Who are these arrogant people saying 'the game needs to become faster'? Amazing. Well, maybe they're not arrogant, I mean, they had to find SOME way of saying 'We think we can make more money from chess if the games are faster. So they must be faster.' Because they couldn't just say that, could they.
Chess is doing fine, never better, chess doesn't 'need' anything.
These people are talking about what >they want<, not what >chess needs<. Pretty obviously. Who do they think they're kidding. Themselves? This tendency of thinking that everything must be, 'needs' to be 'monetized' up the whoopsy really sux the big one. 'Everything solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned...'

Anyway, classical chess already is much faster than it was. A lot of tournaments (e.g. Bilbao just now) and the WCC are already way shorter than they should be. It's kind of like anorexia - always slimming, but still always seeming too fat, up until the day there's nothing left. 'A most important innovation for the future of classical chess' - did they not notice their 'innovation' equals killing it off immediately? And they have the gall to go on about their heritage and history.
TLemanczyk TLemanczyk 11/2/2015 11:25
Somehow all the bad ideas that seemed to be disproved long time ago came back again once in a while. This super bad idea to worsen the quality of the elite player's game by robbing their thinking time is even more ridiculous than Carlsen's recent idea to play out the World Champion's title in a lottery. It's always a bad sign when organisers of elite tournaments came up with such destruvtive ideas. Hopefully this does not mean that another whealthy regular supporter of chess plans a withdrawal...
flonks flonks 11/2/2015 08:30
I'd propose 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw.
The importance of draws would be decreased.
Schulmjo Schulmjo 11/2/2015 07:40
Well, then you cannot use these game for ELO rating and if there will be more such tournaments you can forget about ELO-ratings at all. There will still be a lot of beautiful games, but there will also be a lot of blunders. How will you call this time control? I suggest "semi-rapid", because it is slower than rapid. But certainly no classic chess. Seeing Magnus, Vishy, Levon, Fabiano and four more GMs in Baden-Baden this year was the greatest experience in my "career" as chess fan because it took six hours until the last game was over and I had the chance to watch and calculate myself what I thought they would calculate. 40 min + 10 sec and the games would see me sitting there not understanding what happened.
Aighearach Aighearach 11/2/2015 07:39
If they think rapid chess is the future of chess, just hold a rapid chess tournament instead of a classical tournament. Easy as pie. Classical chess isn't going to be using G40+10 in the future, that is just daft. People who already prefer to play classical will not consider that to be a useful amount of thinking time. It is, and will be, "rapid."
Rfield Rfield 11/2/2015 06:29
Snappy tempo for classical order is the craze. Zurich sponsor beguiles the quick witted pro to suit the criterion. Provided the prize values recompense their urge no big deal to the pros.

Secondary shift is for amusement of spectators and disputants for the routine bowl number picking is out of trend.
ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 11/2/2015 06:13
vishy, naka and giri are asians/ of asiatic origin! interesting!!
excalibur2 excalibur2 11/2/2015 05:31
And I will be giving this a miss. Waiting for the Qatar Masters, London chess and Corus/TATA steel to commence.
excalibur2 excalibur2 11/2/2015 05:30
I'm glad the World Champion didn't involve himself with this mess. It's tournaments like Zurich Challenge, that have no regard for the history and traditions of chess, that are part of the problem chess faces in popularizing itself.
WorstWoodpusher WorstWoodpusher 11/2/2015 05:06
"We think that in the future classical chess needs to become faster." Yes, something like 1.e4 black resign 1-0
Californils Californils 11/2/2015 04:42
"We think that in the future classical chess needs to become faster." Well, that's a pity. A reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal pity. Can't agree more with the above comments...
LAMIB LAMIB 11/2/2015 03:26
I completely agree with ciuto and daftarche. True chess fans will always love classical chess.
Wodzu Wodzu 11/2/2015 02:20
Well said @ciuto well said...
pocketknife pocketknife 11/2/2015 12:54
It is insane. I like deep normal chess. Why they invited the best players of the world if they want to see quick decisions and blunders?
J Nayer J Nayer 11/2/2015 12:04
"We have come to the conclusion that the game needs to become faster. "


Money, money, money.
daftarche daftarche 11/2/2015 11:44
who are these people who decided to make chess faster? based on what? as mentioned correctly if you want faster games, organize a rapid tournament. chess is a slow thinking game and it will remain so.
ciuto ciuto 11/2/2015 09:41
They say: "We think that in the future classical chess needs to become faster." This makes no sense at all. If you want a faster event, all you have to do is organizing a rapid tournament instead of a "classic/standard" one. As simple as that. Classical chess is not fast and there is no logical reason for classical chess to become faster. You want the top-players to play faster? Let them play rapid chess and call that with its proper name: rapid chess. It's a total nonsense let them play rapid and pretending they're playing (fastened) classical chess.
hansj hansj 11/2/2015 09:37
"We have come to the conclusion that the game needs to become faster. "

Why? For what reason?

Will this give games of a higher quality? Of course not, au contraire.
Vongoom Vongoom 11/2/2015 09:11
@sxb103: There will be two tournaments, a "classic" and a blitz, both scores will be summed. "Classic" games are considered twice as important as blitz ones.
thlai80 thlai80 11/2/2015 07:22
@sxb103, because blitz score is half of the points, meaning x1 of 'current system' that you are referring to.
Rama Rama 11/2/2015 06:18
re: "We think that in the future classical chess needs to become faster."

However FIDE currently rates chess at 45 + 10 (or faster, down to 10 + 10) as rapid.

The skills are different and that is why the rating lists are not identical imo.
sxb103 sxb103 11/2/2015 06:15
How many time controls are we going to have . Can't FIDE standardize ? as far as scoring: win =2 , draw =1 is just multiplying scores by 2 from the current system. Why is that needed ?
jhoravi jhoravi 11/2/2015 05:22
Does the result of that time control affect their classical ELO?