Zurich: "new classic" with Morozevich and Gelfand

by Frederic Friedel
2/9/2016 – No, they won't be playing in the main event, which features six world-class grandmasters. Boris Gelfand and Alexander Morozevich will play a two-round match on Saturday, February 13th, at the Hotel Savoy Baur en Ville, simultaneously with the first two rounds of the main event. And with the same "new classical" time controls: 40 minutes per game with additional 10 seconds for each move. An interesting experiment.

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5th Zurich Chess Challenge 2016 with a new time control

From 12 to 15 February 2016 world chess elite players will be in Zurich, for the fifth edition of the Zurich Chess Challenge at the Hotel Savoy Baur en Ville. It is organized by the oldest chess club in the world, the Schachgesellschaft Zürich, and sponsored by Oleg Skvortsov, owner of the International Gemological Laboratories in Moscow, a chess enthusiast who is staging an increasing number of chess events in Russia and Switzerland.

Oleg Skvortsov (picture) is promoting and testing a serious innovation for the future of new classical chess: a new time control of 40 minutes per game with additional 10 seconds for each move. He believes that the game needs to become faster and in the future classical chess could pass on to this format of a one-hour control for each player.

The 5th Zurich Chess Challenge 2016 will be held with the new time controls, which allows two rounds to be held per day, at 3 p.m. and at 6 p.m. (on Saturday and Sunday), with the final round taking place on Monday at 3 p.m., followed by a blitz tournament and the closing ceremony at 6 p.m. There are two points for a win and one point for a draw in new classical chess, and one point for a victory and 0.5 points for a draw in the blitz.

New: Match between Alexander Morozevich and Boris Gelfand

In order to further promote the new time control suggested by Oleg Skvortsov, the well-known grandmasters Boris Gelfand (Vice World Champion 2012) and Alexander Morozevich (Runner-up of the SG Zurich Jubilee-Open 2009) will compete in a two-round match on Saturday, February 13th at the Hotel Savoy Baur en Ville. This match will take place simultaneously with the first two rounds of the main event (3 p.m. and 6 p.m.) in the Festsaal.

Participants of the main event

# 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 pm opening ceremony, concert, blitz
Saturday February 13 3 pm first round, 6 pm second round
Match Gelfand vs Morozevich
Sunday February 14 3 pm third round, 6 pm. fourth round
Monday February 15 3 pm. fifth round, 6 pm. blitz, closing

The opening ceremony – a musical and chess feast!

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.

Boris Illarionov and Dimitry Andrianov playing R. Bellafronte Suite No. 1 for cello and guitar

Alena Baeva plaing a Violin Concerto in D minor, opus 47, by Jean Sibelius

After the concert there will be a blitz tournament which is used to determine the colors distribution of the new classical games. The final blitz tournament on Monday will be 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:


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.

Topics: Zurich, Zurich 2016

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
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Yuan Mei Yuan Mei 2/12/2016 05:35
Moro should play in the main event. Pity.
Queenslander Queenslander 2/11/2016 09:44
I'm sure it will be an exciting an interesting event. The notion "new classical" is a little fanciful though because, as others have commented, 40m+10s is essentially rapid chess (not that the players are obliged to play poorly). I'd love to see Kramnik dominate and Anish to take some serious risks!
spirum spirum 2/11/2016 03:31
i believe in a 6-hour classic time control
Beanie Beanie 2/11/2016 05:36
It is OK that CB gives detailed reports on these events because they involve some of the finest players in the world. There's just no point in calling it "new classical", an oxymoron I think. It's OBVIOUSLY rapid. Many spectators would rather see a GM make an inaccuracy due to being in a difficult position created by excellent play by the opponent instead of a blunder due to time-trouble.
BeFreeBusy BeFreeBusy 2/11/2016 03:22
Ridiculous, indeed. They can´t even calculate the new time control properly, it´s not even close to one hour! Except if the game will last minimum 120 moves... lol! Hopefully this experiment will last just one time. There isn´t even much point going through the games seriously afterwards cause the mistakes are due to time pressure.
HarryHaller HarryHaller 2/11/2016 02:50
I completely agree with everyone who has said that this is not a "new classical" time control, but just rapid. Chess needs to maintain its dignity and maintain its unique values, not sell out in a futile attempt to make some money. And for the players, this time control is just stress and tension and false results. Playing a beautiful, well-played game and bringing it to its logical conclusion is enjoyable chess, not winning or losing in a time scramble. This time control creates only regrets and unhappiness.
On the other hand, I agree with Shirov's inclusion, and I wish top-level tournaments would include many players outside of the top ten, as they did in the past - this creates more interesting play and more unique stories. Many top-50 to top-100 players can compete with the elites but do not get the chance.
Oudjat Oudjat 2/11/2016 01:04
This so-called new time control is to classical chess what Mc Donald's is to classical cooking. Only s..t.
fons fons 2/10/2016 03:34
Very strange to have the match between Morozevich and Gelfand take place at the same time as the main event. The organizer is competing with himself!

And of course it's just rapid. Calling it the new classical is very arrogant indeed.
Johanath Johanath 2/10/2016 12:57
Great to see Moro playing again! Unfortunate that it is with such time controls though.
digupagal digupagal 2/10/2016 12:42
What baffles me is why Anand is participating in such events
He is not in his best form, this time control will not make it easy for him confidence wise just before the candidates.

All this makes me believe that Anand is not serious this time about Candidates, may be he will retire after candidates.

Rest of them (Aronian, Giri, Nakamura) are in good enough form so they can afford to take such risks.
fightingchess fightingchess 2/10/2016 11:13
what do these participants think of this new classical chess? do they support it? if yes, why and if no, why did they take part in it?
fightingchess fightingchess 2/10/2016 11:10
you know what makes me upset? the fact top chessplayers put up with everything and try to be nice. i miss kasparov and his sharp comments.
SteveinDallas SteveinDallas 2/10/2016 08:24
Show a little respect Danichess: Shirov is a former world no.2!
peter frost peter frost 2/10/2016 08:21
Could not agree more with Pocketknife, hpaul and MHBChessFan. I wish to add to my earlier comment by expressing my disappointment at how Chessbase, an esteemed body which should be acting as a vanguard for the best interests of our game, is giving such prominence to a non-serious event. They are according the event a level of respect which the time control does not merit. This must NOT become the future of chess, and it is the responsibility of leaders such as Chessbase to uphold and defend real chess with reasonable time controls. This kind of event is fine if conceived and promoted as a "second class bit of fun"...but for Chessbase to present it as something important, even the new "classical", is a dereliction of its duty to the game.
peter frost peter frost 2/10/2016 08:01
This is NOT "classical chess"! For goodness sake, call it what it is...it's a somewhat elongated rapid. I am tired of seeing these 'mickey mouse" time controls encroaching upon the real thing. I for one will be taking no notice whatsoever of this tournament, and hope that this experiment utterly fails. We must not bow to mindless philistines in need of "instant gratification".
ubernomics ubernomics 2/10/2016 06:08
If chess is to be commercialized broadcasting-wise, the ideal medium is NOT television.

The ideal medium, of course, is the internet.

Professional football/baseball/basketball sell broadcast rights for many billion dollar. FIDE could offer up broadcast rights for each tournament for bid. But if no way can be found to monetize the internet broadcast, then that is probably due to the small onlooker base.

In an actual tournament, many games are underway simultaneously, so the audience member need not follow only a single game. Moves need not blitz out to see "action" (anyway, not the reason to watch chess. chess is a mental sport, not a physical sport).

Most importantly, fanbase want to see the "best version" of a game. Which would be slow chess. Fans don't want a lot of junk blitz games. Playing blitz in the first person is kinda action-orientated. But not as third-person. When a GM does it, it's difficult to distinguish whether some moves are profound or gross error. It's a meaningless blur. I'd even argue it's pointless to follow a live blitz tournament.

Commentary-wise, fast chess makes for bad commentary. In slow chess, commentators leisurely switch from game to game, only focusing on the more interesting positions.

A second way of monetarizing is to do what Chessbase does, which is to host a news site, to help sell its (excellent) products. Because many chess fans do not even want live transmission, but to read about it after the fact, with good analysis.

P.S. - Oleg Skvortsov looks like the smarter, more insatiable twin of Gelfand.
MHBChessFan MHBChessFan 2/10/2016 02:54
"Oleg Skvortsov (picture) is promoting and testing a serious innovation for the future of new classical chess [...]"
"Serious". Some words should be used seriously.

Besides, the acceleration of chess is incompatible with the reputation of the game : a game of reflection, not of reflexes. If people want to see fast and spectacular games, video games are already here. If people want to see more comprehensible mindgames and bluff, poker is already here.

The royal game of chess is unique. Don't let anybody, even if they pay well, denature the spirit of this game.
pocketknife pocketknife 2/9/2016 11:15
I so much hate their arrogance to call this format "new classical" that I won't follow this event. What is even more I will encourage my friends to do the same till it will be honestly handled and called a rapid event. I am sick of these kind of people who forcefully state the blue is red and get away with it because of their money.
pocketknife pocketknife 2/9/2016 11:08
New Classical??? It is a joke! It is a rapid tournament and that's that.
keithbc6472 keithbc6472 2/9/2016 07:40
I agree that top ten players only mean dry long arduous games with minimum of risk. I am old enough top recall tounaments with 16/24 players of all levels; promises some interesting games!
vishalshedge vishalshedge 2/9/2016 07:32
good tournment
digupagal digupagal 2/9/2016 07:29
shirov is one player who should be invited to every elite tournament irrespective of his rating. I believe he has a minus score against Anand, good opportunity to pull a game back for him.
WickedPawn WickedPawn 2/9/2016 05:53
danichess: What do you want? another boring Grand Chess Tour tournament featuring the top 10 players with 99% draw percentage?

We want dynamic and open games, with high decisive result chance and Alexei Shirov is the perfect fit.
hpaul hpaul 2/9/2016 05:32
My guess is that the five games Shirov plays with the others will be the five most interesting games of the tournament. "Fire on the board."
hpaul hpaul 2/9/2016 05:23
Experimentation is good, but I hope the preferences of the players will determine whether this particular time control becomes more than an experiment. 40 +10 is essentially mild time pressure (about a minute per move) from the start of the game, so it doesn't allow the traditional deep think that's often needed a couple of times in a game. Its main purpose seems to be to fit in more than one game per day, which would certainly make tournaments and matches a lot cheaper to stage, and it would probably be more palatable for a TV audience. But the depth of chess is better plumbed at a slower time limit.
M_Ali M_Ali 2/9/2016 05:11

Class is permanent.
danichess danichess 2/9/2016 05:07
what is Shirov doing in this event? 5 of the players are top 10 and he is 51! makes no sense at all to me, they could have invited Carlsen,Caruana, so many other players