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Poll Dancing

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The Association of Chess Professionals and ChessBase are distributing a questionnaire about various chess format and rule issues to the world championship contenders. If you're rated 2690 or lower, stop reading now. What, you're still here? Oh what the hell, let's let the unwashed masses participate, too. Who knows, maybe after the politicians get everything they want and the super-elite players get everything they want, it will occur to them both that they don't get much of anything unless chess fans and the sponsors we bring get what we want. Power to the people.

Despite the many easy jokes I left out a few questions that are a bit redundant or only relevant to the players' preferences such as dress code. Though I put back the cube one because I find it funny they asked. I added some options to the rating system question so it's not just "it's great" vs "other". I made a few other little modifications and additions here and there as well, but you probably won't notice.

Seven more questions after the jump. Yes, you have click "vote" on each one separately for now.


nice poll mig, kinda like it

I cant understand why is the question about Bilbao in the original poll , what are they talking about?
Bilbao is a private tournament , why would they include such a stupid question in a poll which is suposed to help the candidates cycle?
And besides Bilbao only concerns to 6, 7 players over one year , why waste time and money to ask 80 masters who would never clasify to a tournament like that?
It is not even a valid question unless you already played in such conditions.
The question must be replaced for this one:
¨Do you have any clue about why the Gran Slam is so succesful ? , because we don´t.¨

"Who knows, maybe after the politicians get everything they want and the super-elite players get everything they want, it will occur to them both that they don't get much of anything unless chess fans and the sponsors we bring get what we want."

Hate to say it, Mig, but I think recent history suggests exactly the opposite: once the powers-that-be and the elite players get absolutely everything they want, they can go home and put their feet up. Job well done.

ELO should be replaced by Remi Coulom's WHR (Whole History Rating) System, ...

... with the addition that conspicuous non-activity should attract the assumption of real-rating decline.


Manu, I cannot resist .... :
1) Bilbao (the glass cube part of it) could at least conceivably be a model for other tournaments, including the WCh cycle !!? So in a way, including this question could be considered a compliment to the Grand Slam (and not much extra time and money is involved by putting it in).
2) Some of the present top 80 (the 'rising stars') may well qualify for Bilbao two or three years from now, and the rest can at least dream about it ,:)
3) Based on your own argument, your suggested question also wouldn't make sense: The Grand Slam, successful as it is, also caters only to the top30 (plus local wildcards for Corus).

This is my "Post sarcastic comments in some lame chess blog and/or message ", except that chessninja is not lame. Mig is the man!

I meant that IMO is not ok to mix Bilbao with the WCH cycle for now , no until it really becomes part of it , Why?
Because it makes the poll confusing regarding its purpose.
I want to know what a top GM think about the WCH ,not about a glass cage , at least not in this shallow way .
If they want to include Bilbao in this discussion, why not go straight to the point?:
¨Do you consider the Bilbao tournament a proper way to select the WCH challenger ? ¨
Thats the question , not if they like to play in a glass box!
If you take the glass box out,it still be a hell of a tournament.

What is the difference between candidate’s tournament and knock off tournament? Either way when you lose you drop out! In both the candidate matches and the knock off tournament: the players play more than one game; are paired according to strength (elo); and finally as the field narrows, the number of games (in the individual matches) increases.
The only bad thing i see with the knock off tournament is including too many players; read players that don’t belong there.

I tried to vote for "other" a couple of times, but it didn't work.

There are a lot of faults in the acp/chessbase poll. I wont really get into the details here, any reasonable person will spot the huge amount of errors there (some will even do nice sarcastic jokes in a not-so-lame blog...). the question that puzzled me the most was about time controls: are they really thinking about make rapid events count for classical ELO?? I even agree about making a rapid official rating list, but mix it up with the classical rating is just ridiculous. IMHO, a game could be "classical" with at least 4 hrs of play, 3 hrs (90min KO without increment) is already somewhat extreme... 90/30 would be kind of acceptable, but no less than that.

/continues from my previous post:
And same thing with the dressing code and that kind of questions , there are much better and rich questions to ask.
For example , in order to make FIDE a fully democratic institution:
The president should be changed after a reasonable period of time , one person should not rule FIDE for life, he is not the pope ! .
FIDE must embrace democratic values in order to get somewhere near the marketing area.
No real sponsor put money on an organization ruled by a dictator , that is something that all the people who complains about money and chess should know.
The concept of having a president in FIDE is old , but at least it should be elected more often and selected from a diferent continent each time.
Thats why i dont like ACP at all , it reminds me too much some corrupted unions i worked with time ago.
Being only for the snapshot , never attacking the core of the problem.
But if the players are good with this ,there is not much to complain about .

I think it's good they try something.
If there is a big majority on one of the questions, this will have some weight. And if the big majority is reached on "no changes to the current cycle" it may come in time to influence the actual decision.

I prefer a long knock out tournament organized as a match.

Let's say the preliminary rounds can consist of a mini-match of 4-6 classical games (followed by rapid and blitz in case of a tie) and organized at the start of the year over 1-2 months - say Feb-March-April.

Then the QFs and SFs can consist of 6-8 games and organized over 1-2 months in the middle of the year.

And the finals consisting of 12-14 classical games organized at the end of the year starting in November.

Maybe GMs should play chess in little cubicles like where we work, with 4 ft high cloth-covered walls, and a tilting Aeron chair with wheels...

Perhaps world's chess masses deserve to get what they want, but, being passive and silent, masses are probably satisified in general with what we have now.

If (if!!) the US federation members are generally unhappy with Ilyumzhinov's policies, then why the USCF leadership is not fighting with Ilyumzhinov's policies?

But, I think, it is in fact not important for majority of the ordinary players what Ilyumzhinov is doing. Perhaps, most of players want the world championship final to be a classical match, but currently FIDE also supports this formula.

One record for the future generations:
Personally, I would be most interested to watch KO & rapid, matches consisting of approximately 6 games.

...At the Russian championship superfinal in Moscow, at some point there were no spectators at all at the end of the game like Svidler vs Morozevich. (But there were a few journalists to make a photo of the empty hall).

Manu, if you were a 2690+ player, you could put your comments in your answer to the poll - at the end of the original version, there is the opportunity to add "other proposals, .... commments or suggestions". Mig's version isn't as explicit on this point, but we do so anyway ,:) and maybe our discussion will also have some impact ["our" here obviously refers to all reactions in this thread].

I see more similarities than differences between Bilbao and the San Luis and Mexico WCh tournaments: in all cases a double round robin tournament, a relatively small number of players and the strongest possible field - differences are the glass cube and exactly how you qualify for the tournament.

Several questions of the poll may well fall under a general header "how to make chess more attractive for sponsors, which of their requests would be OK for you?". This includes the glass cube, dress code, doping and anti-computer controls, time controls and punishment for being late for a game (I will not [yet] justify each of these points).

Regarding Bartleby's comment: While _this_ poll (Mig's poll, open to everyone) is arguably less relevant, it is at least interesting that there is presently a huge majority for matches - 89% for the final match, 69% for candidates matches. I wouldn't have predicted this result, at least not the wide margin ... .

I think a World Champ should be able to win both a strong tournament as well as a match.

Going by the poll most people seem to prefer the old FIDE system (before Kasparov wrecked it) -Interzonals, Candidate matches and a final head-to-head. What exactly is wrong with it? Why can't we reinstate it?

"Why can't we reinstate it [the old FIDE system]?"

Two possible reasons:
1) It is too slow (one cycle taking about three years) by today's standards. In the same poll, a relative majority of votes wants the rating system to become 'more dynamic' .... .
2) It is hard to find [enough] sponsors, especially for the early stages (zonals and interzonals). Confer my posts on "Grand Slam vs. Grand Prix" - most of the (limited) sponsoring money goes to the 'top of the top' players.

Mig, why can't we vote on the dress code question? I am strongly against dress code in chess. One of the charms of our game, IMO, is how it attracts the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the sane and the insane alike (you finish the list). Humans in all shapes and forms should be welcome as long as they play chess! This is how it has been and should be. I think it would be sad if attempts to attract sponsorship would streamline us and sacrifice this cultural heritage on the altar of conformity. And I think this question is relevant to the general chess public.

1) Rating system has absolutely nothing to do with WcH system. You can have a 3-year cycle and update the ratings every day.
2) You don't need too much sponsorship in the early stages. If there is enough money on the top, there will be incentive to play in the bottom.

I cut a few just to be concise and the dress code isn't really something fans need be concerned about, though a few may have opinions on whether or not it's good for the game. Mostly that's up to organizers, who can simply put their preferences into the players' contracts. Like the cube, nothing to do with the laws of chess and format.

The PCA preserved the system of interzonal, candidates matches, and long-match world championship, jaideepblue. The PCA cycle had all of those things, as did the concurrent FIDE cycle. It was Ilyumzhinov who abolished all that for the knock-out format.

The somewhat ridiculous thing about polling the elite players on format matters is that they always vote for whatever gives them the best chance to win and/or make the most money. As well they should. But since everyone votes his perceived, usually short-term, individual best interest, it's not as if a consensus of these votes necessarily reach any logical or pragmatic framework for the long-term success of the support (or, ironically, the happiness of the players). It's like voting every year for tax cuts and realizing years later that roads and schools would be nice, too.

Of course FIDE and organizers should, MUST, consult the players on as many things as possible. But the players need a more unified voice to 1) have impact and 2) look out for the long term and not just the short term. FIDE would prefer to respond to squabbling individuals, all with differences major and minor at every step since they can always just say, "the players don't agree, so we did what we thought was best." E.g. time controls. (And thus the still-mysterious conference call mentioned in the ACP article linked at the start.) And while it's not wrong to find such a balance between the players and federations, deciding to favor something to give it a try is far better than abstaining and trying nothing (or everything at once, as in the WCh format of late). Experimentation and one thing, but without means testing and consistency it's just spitting into the wind over and over.

Bondegnasker, I don't think any dress code would ever affect the general chess public, i.e. all levels including amateur events.
I don't know if there was any formal dress code at Corus - presumably at most something unwritten, inofficial and/or voluntary. My own on-site impressions are: If (or: assuming that) there was a dress code, it was strictest or most strictly observed in the A group, already less so in the B group and even less in the C group - though even C group players did not wear old worn jeans, shorts (wrong place and wrong season) or anything alike ... . I did not further check for the amateur events, but don't remember seeing many suits there.

BTW, I am just curious .... : Magnus Carlsen's dressing style seems to have changed compared to two or three years ago - singling him out because he was well-known for his training suits when he first entered or approached the world top. Maybe frogbert can and wants to provide some inside information (approaching gossip): Was this his own choice [a matter of growing up]? Or did some other people give him a hint? For example his manager, his father (I know that's the same person), personal sponsors or the general public.
I am joking, but at the same time curious.

Candidates matches should definitely be in the mix. Without them there would never be matches other than for WC match and the occasional exhibition. The Candidates matches would provide a necessary context for the WC match.

Mig, you may well be right concerning "the somewhat ridiculous thing about polling the elite players ...." (your third paragraph). But then who can and should decide what's best in the long term??
1) FIDE (more or less synonymous with Ilyumzhinov for the time being)?
2) Garry Kasparov?? Maybe not as ridiculous as it sounds in the first instance. He has lots of experience with WCh cycles and no own selfish interests, assuming that he never returns from retirement (Kamsky also said "I am gone for good" at a certain moment in time). Yet this would still be 'controversial' [not only for a few people on this forum]
3) "We the people"???

In any case, I think the ACP initiative has added value with respect to the FIDE conference call - "still-mysterious" in your words, "not adequately documented" according to ACP and, in any case, limited to five players (and five selfish interests!?).

Ideally, you mean? It would be as it is in professional sports federations: means-tested, sponsor-driven, union-involved, federation-approved. Instead we have one guy in a castle in Kalmykia that's been struck by lightning a few too many times doing whatever the heck strikes his fancy and/or whatever puts enough money in the pockets of a small group of people. (No, that's not the same as "sponsor-driven"!)

This isn't a simple process with simple answers. Even the questions are difficult. But having organizers and sponsors involved from the start is essential. Having a unified player voice involved is a huge advantage. Giving the fans a voice, or at least an ear, improves buy-in and in the internet age allows for a vastly enhanced feedback loop with the end consumer of the product. It's not as if they poll tennis fans or baseball fans about the details, but they are sensitive to reactions because there is such a large media and public base for those big sports. Not so in chess. So we have lame blogs.

Why is it that, whenever I read about Kalmykia or Kirsan, I am reminded of "BORAT"?

"struck by lightning" and "whatever strikes his fancy"

I just realised why Kirsan thinks it is OK to become WC solely based on blitz skills...

The old system with interzonals and matches could be brought back, and a cycle even wouldn't need 3 years if the cycles overlap. 2 years for a cycle would be OK. E.g. like this:

2010 Jan - there is already a challenger from the previous cycle, due to play the champion in December. Top 100 from the rating list players are invited to play in a qualifying tournament in June. (If you want to play for the championship, get into the top 100 first.)

2010 Jun - qualifying 13-round Swiss tournament, best 14 players qualify.

2010 Sep - Candidates matches of 8 games each: 7 of the 14 candidates proceed to quarterfinals.

(2010 Oct-Nov - Olympiad)

2010 Dec - Title match (of the previous cycle). At least 16 games. Winner is champion, loser joins the 7 players qualified in the September matches.

2011 May-Sep-Dec - candidates matches with 8/4/2 players (at least 10 games/match).

2012 Jan - Again, we have a challenger due to play for the title in December. Top 100 players from the rating list are invited to a Swiss qualifier in June. And so it goes on...

Come on, is it just a wet dream of mine? :-)))

The old system was good, but it was, and would be, difficult to find enough organizers, let alone sponsors for all those events.
The basic question is: Do you want to build a meaningful WCh qualification system, or a professional tournament series which provides a stable source of income for the top players, or both at the same time?
FIDE tried both at the same time, and failed. Dream on.

Mr. Mikhail Golubev - The USCF stopped fairly representing it's members years ago (Lev Alburt exposed their hypocracy, deceit, and theft). So even though most US players feel FIDE should be abandoned, the criminals in charge of the USCF refuse to do as they're told. We should just all boycott the USCF AND FIDE.

Excellent suggestion, Mig! I am going to bed soon, perchance to dream...

For what to do if FIDE again ignores the wishes of the players, it would have been nice to have a choice of "Ring Kirsan's doorbell and run."

Because you are a bigot?

"It's like voting every year for tax cuts and realizing years later that roads and schools would be nice, too."

I'd stay away from those state indoctrination centres known as "schools".. Your Russians were to first to provide free "day-care", under auspices of fortifying work force with women.

Roads are a mixed bag. They engender pollution and abnormally benefit those able to afford moto-transport.

Plus voting in any case is a nefarious government scheme to give the hoi polloi the aura of "democracy" when the puppeteers are still pulling the multitude of strings.

FIDE is at least like it is: a one-man gong show.

G1! U GOT $$ 4 IZ + CM & L8R WC?

I fully agree , nothing good is possible while Kirsan is president.

Kirsan is a true FIDE president. Nothing unifies the chess fans more than the opinion about Kirsan.

Excellent, but, only have 6 candidates qualify, the other two being: the loser of the previous candidate's final, and the loser of the previous wc match.
Quarterfinals - 10 games;
Semifinals - 12 games;
Finals - 16 games;
Championship - 24 games.

Just a wet dream of yours, I'm afraid, Misi :)

Yes, a wet dream, I'm afraid so. :-(
But I still keep wondering why...

The old system did work until 1993, and between 1993-96 there was enough money for TWO cycles (PCA and FIDE). In 2008 there was enough money (1.5M euros) to organize a 12-game "title match" between Anand and Kramnik. (Did it occur before 1996 that a title match was as short as 12 games? Don't mention Lasker vs Schlechter, since it was not for the title.)

It is still not easy to believe that no sponsors could be found for a decent WCC cycle if FIDE pulled their act together.

(Note to previous comment: OK, Lasker-Janowski was a short match, too, but just because Lasker won the required 8 games easily...)

I think we should keep in mind that Kramnik himself said in the final Bonn press conference that world championship matches should be between 12 and 16 games, with 14 being his ideal number. He's lost his aura of wc match invincibility but he still has considerably more experience than any other active top player in that area.

In the same conference, WC Anand said 12 or 14 games are ideal. As much as we love to watch these match games, I don't think we should make them longer than what the players consider to be a reasonable length.

On showing up late for the game, I say there is already a penalty, and a very just one at that. Your opponent (or at their level, the arbiter) starts your clock, you lose valuable thinking time. The later you are, the worse it gets.

I have no trouble with forfeiting players who aren't at the board at start time at elite events. They are being paid to perform and have obligations amateurs and players in opens do not have. Players who get appearance fees are in a different world in many respects. This means more responsibilities, or should.

Official events like national championships and Olympiads are somewhere in the middle, I would say. The player has accepted certain responsibilities by agreeing to participate in such events that someone paying to play in an open has not accepted.

As for WCh match length, the players usually prefer shorter matches, and why not? It's less work, simply enough. Who is going to make the argument that a 24-game match is needed to decide something that can be decided in 10 games, or 12, or 14? But as we saw in Bonn, where the match was essentially over after six games, it does matter. The last week+ of the match was devoid of sporting relevance. This can happen in a longer match as well of course, but in that case you have to have a real mismatch, such as Kasparov-Short. I doubt anyone would have written Kramnik off after the 6th game had it been scheduled for 20, or even 16.

I'd be happy to have 20. 24 is probably unrealistic with today's crammed calendar. 16, with eight whites each, is to me the absolute minimum to have anything approaching the ebb and flow and real feel of a classical WCh match. You can make a mistake or two, learn, plot, vary, feint, etc. Move minimums (yes, even in a WCh match) are needed to at least avoid the travesty of paying customers coming for a quick draw like we saw in a couple of Kasparov-Kramnik games. In our premier event more should be expected, not less.

The longer the better. In long matches strategic choices take on an extra dimension. There should be enough time to adjust and if necessary change the match strategy. Plus, the World Championship match should be unique and outstanding in its requirements.

Mig: when the optimum controls, formulas are discussed, I think that what really matters is what can be the most attractive for the young people (and not for guys who were present at Lasker vs Tarrasch, sorry). And I am afraid that the faster the better. The classical games can be intolerably boring to watch LIVE for anyone (yes, much worse than your beloved folks dancing), unless there is something really special.

Besides, for professionals it should be clear that the opening preparation for the match is just a roulette nowadays. Only when playing against many opponents in a tournament, one can show his/her real overall level of the preparation.

If by live you mean in person, perhaps. But aside from a few places and a few top events, practically nobody watches chess in person and even where people will come there is no realistic concept to make that profitable in an impactful way.

But on the internet, which is what chess spectating is really about, classical games are much preferred and attract far more spectators. You can have commentary (nearly impossible and mostly nonsense for rapid), good chess, and people in many time zones can watch at least part of the games. This was proven over and over back in the KasparovChess days (based both on polling and on the actual numbers) and I doubt it's any different now. The constant improvements in audio and video just make classical more attractive. You can get through slow moments (or slow games/rounds!) with interviews and other value-added content.

The "good chess" part isn't to be underestimated even if the average viewer has no realistic chance at understanding a live GM game unaided. Good commentary requires time. You can also, as we do on Chess.FM, interact directly with the audience by taking questions in the chat. In rapid you have no time to discuss anything except the last blunder and then wrap up with "and now it's a time scramble" as the moves fly by.

Contrasting classical with the FIDE/ACP "fast classical" 90'+30" isn't such a huge difference other than in quality. But I'm not aware of any advantage in viewership by the faster control. Few people can schedule 3-4 hours of watching live into their agenda any better than 4-6. The ability to go in and out matters quite a bit. Watching a rapid game zip by in 30-50 minutes can be fun, but there's really no feel for the spectators; it's simply too fast for the non-master player to get a handle on what's happening beyond watching his computer's evaluation. Now that's boring!

Concerning "Punishment for being late..."

'Edward Lasker tells the story of how, in 1915 at a tournament in New York, Ed. Lasker was scheduled to play Capablanca in the second round. Capablanca did not show up on time and Ed. Lasker waited, restless because he did not want to win the game by default. Finally, with ten minutes left, he tried to get Capablanca on the phone at his hotel. When Capablanca answered Ed. Lasker said, "Where are you? They are going to forfeit your game!" Capablanca answered, "I was just ready to leave. I'll be right over. Why did you call me? This makes me lose a minute!"


Of course Capablanca, despite having almost no time left on his clock, won.'

Mig: no doubt that some people need all this, but I am sure that for the absolute majority of chess-players it is not normal to watch the classical game in full (i.e. 4-5 hours!!), live on internet, whatever additional services are provided. I have read your message, had a second breakfast, smoked a cigarette or two, and I see that Kamsky made one move within all this time. Classical chess can be fun to play for amateurs (like myself, for example), I am not against it in principle, but as a show it is too slow. I think that at the professional level they should play rapids, if we really want to attract more people.

It's a question that's susceptible of an answer, surely? Are the respective online viewer figures for say Linares and Mainz, or Amber, or some rapidplay event, not available?

1) They DO play rapid... ever heard of a tournament named 'Melody Amber'? How about Mainz? Cap d'Adge? ACP Rapid World Cup?

2) IMHO hardly anybody spends 4-5 hours on the net just watching the games. I guess most of us just pop in to have a look once an hour (when we have a break from work).

3) Why just care about online viewers? Most chess games are re-played later by chess enthusiasts, from chess journals, books, databases, etc. And it's better if they are quality games, played in 4-5 hours, not blunder-ridden rapid games.

To put it more shortly:
Classical chess may be boring to watch live, but it's much more fun to replay and analyse later.
Rapid chess may be more fun to watch live, but it's less fun to play over later and to see all the time-scramble blunders.

"Watching" a 4 hour chess game live on the web is a misnomer, a defenseless straw man.

We merely "monitor" a 4 hour chess game live.
We peek in with Refresh every half hour or so.
We enjoy reading the commentary of the latest few moves, and looking at the new postion for a minute. Then we get back to work.

About time controls: Can we just conclude that both 'classical' and rapid time controls have their advantages and disadvantages, hence their right to exist? But slower time controls are more suitable for world championships, conceding that separate title for rapid (and even blitz) WCh's also have their 'right to exist'.
BTW, at least on site (distinct from 'on the Internet') some people watch games for several hours - based on my own experience and observations from Corus. Probably also not continuously, leaving the venue intermittently to have a coffee, a beer, a chat with friends (or even with 'strangers') - and staying glued to the monitors on scene when time trouble action sets in. And here, 4 hours may well be more convenient than 6-7 hours: you may put chess on your agenda for Saturday afternoon, but have other plans for Saturdat evening.

What's this about the "FIDE time control"? My recollection from Dresden is that FIDE, not before time, finally put a stop to this abomination, and only the Americas are trying to keep it alive.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 13, 2009 12:45 PM.

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