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Super in San Sebastián

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San Sebastián, Spain, in Basque country not far from where the Grand Slam final will take place in Bilbao later in the year, will host a chess festival with a very strong GM event this July. The dates are July 6-16 and the main event's field was just finalized today: Sergei Movsesian (2747 - SVK), Peter Svidler (2726 - RUS), Ruslan Ponomariov (2726 UKR), Hikaru Nakamura (USA - 2701), Rustam Kasimjanov (2695 - UZB), Francisco Vallejo (2688 - ESP), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2684 - FRA), Anatoly Karpov (2644 - RUS), Julio Granda (2610 - PER), Pablo San Segundo (2560 - ESP). (Average: 2687; category 18.)

It will be held in the same playing hall that saw the famous 1911 San Sebastián tournament won by Capablanca over Rubinstein, Vidmar, Marshall, and Tarrasch. In fact, this event can be considered a sort of warm-up for the events they want to organize to celebrate the centenary of that event. There are three other all-play-alls, a cat. 11, a cat. 8, and a women's event. The top event has a 34,000 euro prize fund with the winner receiving 9,000. (As is often the case, appearance fees, aka "the conditions" of the tournament, are surely substantially more.)

Remarkable to see Karpov taking on this field. You never know what to expect with veterans who don't play that often. Obviously he knows more about chess than the rest of the field combined, and can defend himself and get the occasional win against anybody on sheer Karpovness. But age plus a lack of practice is a faulty combination for anybody and this is too strong to be a warm-up event. Maybe he'll get in a few games. I'll certainly be rooting for him. It will also be interesting to see Granda Zuñiga back in an elite event. The Peruvian is in Spain pretty much full time these days but hasn't recaptured the magic that once made him the strongest Latin American player since Mecking. San Segundo might look out of place here, but he's a dangerous and experienced player who has quite a few elite scalps in his collection. I'll see if I can dig up a very funny interview I did with him when we met in Buenos Aires some 15 years ago.

Of course many eyes will be on America's Hikaru Nakamura, who hasn't had many opportunities in strong round-robin events while doing well enough in opens and league events to push his rating to 2700. Looks like a great event. Thanks to David Llada for the info.


"Of course many eyes will be on America's Hikaru Nakamura, who hasn't had many opportunities in strong round-robin events while doing well enough in opens and league events to push his rating to 2700."

There are plenty of other players who deserve more than Nakmura to play in these kind of strong events who have even less opportunities.

Well, for one, it's a break from the usual cast: Ivanchuk,Carlsen,Anand,Topalov,Karjakin,Aronian. What happens to Karpov will be very interesting. He'll probably do better than Romanishin did in Group C at Corus, but he might have to clinch and wait for the bell to save him. Take the perpetual check, Anatoly.

"There are plenty of other players who deserve more than Nakmura to play in these kind of strong events who have even less opportunities."

I'm curious: How many opportunities do you think Nakamura has had? There was a Corus B tournament some years ago...I can't think of any other elite round robin tournaments he's been in. Maybe my memory is failing me. I am not counting invitations to rapid tournaments.

Good luck to Nakamura. This is the kind of event I've wanted to see him play in.

How exactly does one "deserve" an invitation? Only the organizers can determine that. By rating alone is incredibly boring. Variety is good. Fighting chess is good. Playing in the European leagues is very difficult if you don't live in Europe or the former USSR. That so few players in the top 100 live outside that zone isn't only a matter of tradition, but opportunity and expense.

Who are the other players you are talking about, Kars? I'm sure there are many players who would be welcome and interesting, but such a statement surely requires a few examples with explanations of why you find them more deserving, in your terms, of an invitation. Carlsen, Karjakin, Radjabov, and Wang Yue are the only players of Nakamura's age or younger also over 2700. They are all rated substantially higher, but with youth still mattering quite a bit to organizers, that's not a bad list to be on.

Personally I'd like to see more of Wang Hao, who has shown some truly interesting chess off and on. Ni Hua is also still advancing. It's a bit silly that we get hot and cold running Wang Yue because of his rating jump. The Grand Prix has scooped up a few of the often overlooked second-tier players like Gashimov and Bacrot, which is nice to see.

Corus B was way back in 2004. Nakamura played in a few more strong round-robins in 2005 or so, Sigeman, Biel and Stepanakert. Cuernavaca in 2006. And did quite well, overall. But after you turn 18 and officially lose wunderkind status, such events about mostly about rating and/or who you know. If you don't crack the top 20 and live far from the action, invitations are hard to come by. Plus, it's not like there are so many of these events. As mentioned above, the usual suspects take up a lot of oxygen. Which is fine, but breaking through is even harder when you don't live in Europe. Flying in for a couple of jetlagged league games is nuts. I doubt he's played more than three or four games against 2700+ opponents in the past few years.

Has anyone heard of Rustam Ponomariov before? Is he another rating cheater?

Is this a tournament with classical time controls? I didn't find extra information to confirms this suspicion, but I guess if this were another rapid tournament this wouldn't be mentioned as a good opportuity for Nakamura, right?

I agree with Chessbuff - finally some 'other' names in a strong tournament! I can easily live with the fact that it is "only" category 18 whereas it could have been 20 with the usual very familiar faces.
BTW, I read that Nakamura was also invited to Corus B this year, but declined because the financial conditions were less attractive compared to earlier editions (some influence of the financial crisis?). As a German, I am missing Naiditsch ,:) who just entered the 2700 club together with Nakamura - but at least he gets his Dortmund invitations.
@Another Rus: This certainly/hopefully was a (1st April) joke - I hope Mig's entry is not. But if you really don't know: both Ponomariov and Kasimjanov are former world champions (under the KO lottery system, but still ....).

How to define an "elite event"? One player over 2700 playing? Two? All? I've been using the term too but now that I read this tourney is going to be an elite event, I'm not sure I've used it correctly.

Look at Veselin now!

@Thomas: Ponomariov's first name is Ruslan, not Rustam. Unless, like "Another Rus" suggests, Rustam is some hitherto unknown relative of Ruslan who has bought his rating. You never know what's up for sale these days...

Looking at the pathetic prize fund, I was just wondering what level of appearance fees these guys can command ? A top 10 place in a mediocre golf tournament on the European Tour would earn the whole of this prize fund in 4 days !

Yes, David, the topic of raising funds for chess has never been summoned here. I think as long as there won't be a really functional players association (not to blame the ACP, i think it's mainly the players' fault) they won't be able to have some leverage on fide, be a recognizable force to look sponsors and in general, organize the chess world seriously. It seems too hard to achieve, however...

The thing is, if I am not mistaken, the tournament is the project of a single organized who will pay the expenses single-handedly. Maybe these players know him, or are attracted by the Spanish coastal weather or just wanna have the chance of raising their ELO, maybe in cases such as Nakamura´s. Anyway of course this level of chess should be better paid, but I think it´s also the organisers´ fault that this can happen. I read an interview with Svidler the other day where he says he just doesn´t get invited to so many tournaments, but hey, isn´t he an average 15 in world rankings? You´d think he wouldn´t have that kind of problems, but he does, because it´s always the same players in all tournaments: Anand-Kramnik-Carlsen-Topalov-Ivanchuk-Radjabov... That´s why I think in that aspect this is a very interesting tournament that will bring some fresh chess forward.

Organizers are NEVER the problem , if the chess market would be wide enough there would be tournaments and invitations for everyone .
Pointing at the few people who actually do something is not the way to go, even when they suck.
The question to ask is , why isnt chess a little bit more popular ?
Well for starters we need to understand that chess is a very discouraging hobby for amateurs and public in general.
It is very unlikely that public will follow the comings and goings of an activity that treat them like worthless elements of its own equation.
Look at golf , soccer , tennis ,or for instance any e-sport , look at martial arts!.
Every other activity is finding his way to reach his own audience and exploit it (comertially speaking), everyone but chess.
I believe that we are not even close to our best possible audience , in fact it seems that (with exceptions) we´ve been heading the opposite way for too long.
Of course this is just an opinion , looking foward to see if Nakamura can handle it.

Anyone had time to look at the game Chucky invented? Its awesome , he is an artist.

It is just another attempt to be different.

Well Manu, I really don´t know what they do in golf. For me it´s really boring and I really don´t know why it should be so popular. I´m not trying to say it´s better or worse, but I find it boring, like many people find chess boring, and it would be nice to know how they get such a broad audience. I always thought that posh people like golf because it´s a sport but it doesn´t require too much effort. Skill and practice-yes, but not too much speed or stamina or long-term concentration. On the other hand, I think that, at least in Spain, in tournaments like the Grand Slam in Bilbao where we get Leontxo Garcia´s excellent broadcast, accompanied by the analysis of some GMs is a great approach. People love it, and Leontxo speaks about matters that are parallel to chess during the games, in a way that even people who don´t belong to the chess world can be interested about what´s going on. IMO, there are lots of good ideas and approaches, it´s just that most people, when they get home, they want to devote their free time to a hobby that doesn´t take hours and hours of study and mental effort to understand (and a zillion times more to master). How many waitresses and butchers do you reckon would take on a physics course as a hobbie?

What is it going to take for chess to be really popular (tv coverage, big payouts, etc)? Does some of the blame lie with the USCF and FIDE? Both organizations are constantly bashed for the way they are ran. Is it time for a fresh approach?

I don't see what the big deal is with poker being televised, who is watching that? Chess can be much bigger. We already have the youth on our side. Over 5000 kids are gathering in Nashville this weekend for the SuperNationals.

What is the real reason USCF membership is declining? Why can't we find big time sponsors for tournaments? Why can't international events be held in the U.S.? It's time for a change.

Golf is one of the most difficults sports in existence , Chessgirl , and yet they have managed to make the audience believe in its benefits and encourage its practice at any level of skill.
Chess is different, we (generally speaking) despice lower skilled players , we do not understand why would they want to play when they suck like that.
The benefits of the game are irrelevant for almost everyone and not apropiatte taken into consideration.
Good that you mentioned the Grand Slam because i I consider it the big exception i was talking about .And as you can see in most of the events of the GS , they try really hard to put the game closer to the public .
I do not agree with you about waitresses and butchers ,that is IMO profiling and i dont even think in that terms.

Golf is easy to understand. The blue player takes 4 shots to get the ball in the hole, whereas the red player needs only 3. The red player did better.

Tennis is also simple. The red player hits the ball over the net and the blue player misses it. The red player did better.

Soccer is obvious: The red team put the ball into the opposition's net twice, but the blue team couldn't do the same. The red team is better.

This could go on and on...the red boxer knocked the blue boxer down and the blue boxer was counted out...easy to understand who is better there.

No special skill is needed to understand who is better in any of these examples. What you see speaks for itself.

Now, chess. The red player plays Bg5 and the blue player responds Be7. The non-chessplayer thinks "so what?" A non-chessplayer cannot see who is better. A special skill is needed. To a non-player, the movements of little wooden objects on a board are meaningless.

Well Manu, with those professions I was trying to reflect normal working-class people. Of course generalising is not the best option but, in general, if you take the average working Spaniard, you know that when they get home normally women want to watch the yellow press on TV and men want to watch football. And I will include my mum in that group, and she´s a university doctor, but when she comes home the last thing she wants to do is start studying something as complicated as chess. There are of course many people who do, but they are a minority because it is quite a discouraging activity if you start practising it as an adult already, since there are many new concepts to learn.
You say bad players are despised, but that is not my experience. I started playing at 21 and I really suck at it, but I find many people who are willing to help me improve, it´s just different worlds, the world of professional chess and that of amateur chess, and the public will normally be composed of amateurs who enjoy watching the "stars".

It becomes a discouraging activity if no one tells you the many benefits that the game has for all ages .
For example ,maybe your mom (my mom or any mom ) could find a moment to play if she knew that playing regularly will keep her brain from rusting at later stages in life.
I mean , if chess is good for businessmen , chidren and artists alike , is because of many benefits that the game has. And yet (almost)no one cares to promote or research those properties.
I also started playing as an adult and chess became just the extra help i was needing for my profession , but no one point me in that direction , i found chess by luck.

People can always complain chess is too hard, yet they find time for such stupid activities that you're never short of surprises. And Luke, guess what the average golf "understander" thinks when the player takes one stick or another. It's as easy as putting a webcam and watching the faces of players when they're thinking. Even pics are spectacular. The tension players put in a game of chess is easy for everyone to see, and could be an example of the marketability of the game. The problem is not on the game, but in the ones playing it: Fide and the players.

Chess is easy to understand: Whoever captures more of his opponents' little guys has an advantage. And when you capture the big guy you win, and score a point.

Wow Bartleby, you definitely suck more than me in chess, congrats ;)

I don't understand golf. I mean, it's fun to watch the players poke at the egg with sticks, until they get it planted in a hole. But then, instead of letting it grow into a stick with a flag on it, they pick the egg out of the hole, and put the previous flag stick back.

Where's the sport in that?

"Golf is easy to understand. The blue player takes 4 shots to get the ball in the hole, whereas the red player needs only 3. The red player did better."

Tell me about it. Was playing with a friend of mine (and FM, to keep chess content high) on Saturday, and I managed to drive the green on a 235 yard uphill Par 4, while my buddy drove it short and left. His second shot went over the green and down the hill, his third shot, over the green and on the fringe, and he chipped in from off the green. I three-putted. We both made 4's. Argh.

Ok This conversation has gone from chess to golf ! Now you know why chess is not popular. Even on a chess forum people would rather discuss the intricacies of golf, so obviously the fault is not with Fide in its entirety. Anyway, this is not to denigrate anyone over who is good or bad at chess or why it's not as popular as soccer. One of the cliches would be that if the prize money for lets say US Championship was around 100K instead of 25K, then it wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure that more people would take up chess as a career option. If it were 1 million, (like in poker) even I would start studying the intricacies of Aronian-Taimanov line in the King's Indian leaving everything else! But of course, such a prize money requires generous sponsors who would require large audience, and the circle goes on. Bottom-line is that chess is not a spectator sport like soccer or football, where people who can barely lift themselves up on the couch can enjoy the game without knowing how to properly execute a power drive. You can't enjoy chess in the same vein, without knowing the basic opening theory and middlegame planning etc. It's not chess's fault..it's the distinct character of the game that makes it different. So don't compare apples and apricots, and then wonder why people buy more apples!

I think the main difference between chess and golf is that the latter is traditionally a sport for rich people, so there is by definition more money floating around. Same could be said about tennis and Formula 1 racing ... .
And "on the other end of the scale", soccer and football are 'popular' sports - many people watching even if they don't practice or don't even know the rules. It is easier to get major sponsors if you can guarantee TV coverage, and the amount of TV coverage is in turn a function of the number of people watching.
Maybe these were two obvious statements, but the key thing is they cannot be changed, at least not in the near future.

¨So don't compare apples and apricots, and then wonder why people buy more apples!¨

Nop , you didnt get it , its not a comparison, its a learning process.
Nobody can expect the same popularity than soccer , but there are many things to learn from the way they do bussines(same with any other succesful activity).
Chess needs to get in touch with its audience , when that happens the results are great.Things like the glass cage worked so well because of that simple reason.
Claiming that chess is too complicated for being popular is wrong , like saying that is not an spectator game .
Chess needs to find the best ways to be presented/broadcasted to the public , that s all.

Ideally ,chess needs to be presented in a way that it is interesting for a person who doesnt even knows the rules of the game.

¨ To a non-player, the movements of little wooden objects on a board are meaningless. ¨
That is not enough reason to not make the game interesting for him .
In case you didnt notice chess is a multi dimensional game ,remember what Kramnik said when they asked him about poker and chess.

The vast majority of non-players do not know how the pieces move. To them, a televised chess game would look like two people sitting at a table randomly moving little wooden figurines around on a board. Very few non-players would find that interesting. Yes, you or I would be interested, but then again, we know how the pieces move and we understand the rules for castling and en passant.

Who's talking about television? Chess should be marketed on the internet. It only takes a little understanding of the game to be able to follow it on a server, kibitzing and analyzing with your own module (as many people already do). You can add webcam or anything else for extra value for those not able to follow it more deeply. If on top of all, you can get some comentators live, every man and his dog can follow and enjoy chess live. It's a problem of marketing. If they don't get people to know the game and to log into the servers when you're running a tournament it will never work. The Bilbao experiment on a glass cage was aparently very succesful. Such ideas should be organized. The problem is FIDE and Global Chess-whoever is organizing the whole thing. They did a wonderful job (by the nowadays standards) with the Elista Candidates matches. Why is it that they can do it again, with a better media covering?

Wrong , if the sport/game is well presented you dont need to understand everything at once.
There are other aspects of the game that can keep you watching/interested , like the clash of personalities or the special rules of a given competition (blindfold , rapid , whatever), or the beauty of the venue , even the background of the participants and their history.
Without knowing what is happening at the board you can still feel atracted by the many other layers of the game .
Even fishing has better broadcast than chess .

Yes, if chess is well presented it will attract the interest of some non-players. But as history has shown, despite many attempts, not enough non-players have been attracted to make chess a profitable venture for the big sponsors. So, what we end up with is a former World Champion playing for a first prize of 9,000 euros.

¨But as history has shown,¨
History just shown that you can put GMs into a glass cage near the public and everything gets better , and that a tournament can raise almost the same money as a WCH match.
History is made everyday by everyone , things can always improve and i dont have a clue what you mean with ¨despite many attemps¨.

Apparently everyone is wrong except Manu. If glass cages and 5 min chess is not attractive enough, why not add underwater chess with piranhas taking a bite off the player? I am sure that would attract a lot of attention and audience will be thrilled to the limit! on the other end of the spectrum we can have women chess tournaments with bikini clad players..audience and sponsors will be excited to say the least! Pretty soon..we will focussing on everything else except chess, just to make it more 'presentable'! I am sure that will be a learning process as well.

Of course it can get better, but there´s a limit. Lots of people will always prefer soccer and soap opera.

You underestimate both the possible audience and the possible reach of the game.

In fact we already had some very lousy and cheap presentations of the game , like Kirsan show us here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zLHKmqapq8
And we all know how much sponsors like him...

If you can only come up with piranhas and bikinis dont try to make everybody else believe that there arent other ways.

I never said we can get as popular as soccer , im only pointing our lousy and short minded way to show the game to the public.

Mig just hinted about it, but Luke, they aren't playing only for 9000 euro for first, but have a fee and a prize. It's quite different to what you are understanding, it seems.

A game of chess is a rich source full of ideas and counter-ideas, of hopes and dreams, and harsh realities, of well-lighted highways, and obscure side alleys, of overcoming obstacles, of working with what you got, and of triumph and defeat. It's difficult to tell this magnificently interwoven story. But that doesn't mean it can't be done.

You have to find ways to visualize ideas. You have to make the viewer connect with the players, to get to an emotional level. For a chess player, the actual rules and moves are just means to express ideas, and fight for them. You have to make this clash of ideas visible. You have to get inside their heads, show how they are thinking. The viewer has to feel like he is Topalov pondering the next sacrifice, or Leko aiming for perfect control, or Ivanchuk having fun. With current approaches, we are just making first tentative experiments how this could be done.

Thx Bartebly , thats what i was talking about , but much better written.

The glass cage was a nice idea, but it is unclear or unproven how much extra (lasting) attention it really created, particularly among people who do not even know the rules of the game. Sure, many people who happened to be in town (locals shopping, tourists sightseeing) stopped for five or ten minutes. Maybe then they left without seeing any action - unless they happened to pass by during time trouble, maybe not a single move was made on the three boards in the meantime ... .
How many stayed longer? How many came back the next day?
In any case, the players (not the glass cage) were the reason for the huge amount of prize money.
And I find it odd that the San Sebastian organizers are now criticized for 'lousy' prize money, rather than praised for putting up a new strong tournament with "new" players (plus the experiment to include "good ol' Karpov"). We don't even know about appearance fees - maybe they aren't that bad after all, if Nakamura declined the Corus B invitation but plays in San Sebastian ... .
And BTW, the lousy prize money is more than MTel provided last year ,:) . There was NO prize money, only (secret and presumably generous) appearance fees [source: New in Chess 4/2008]. A bit surprising to me, as they claim to encourage fighting chess ..... .

The public (chess players and non chess players alike) sees that a former World Champion is playing in a tournament where the stated prize for first place is 9,000 euros. Public thinks: "chump change".

Thx Thomas , that is the exact opposite of what i was talking about .

pray tell what it this game is chucky invented? Links to such info would be appreciated.

chessbase , kiss the queen:
I have to say , you are a little lazy.

Re: comments about the prize fund being "chump change" or embarrassing.

1) Others have made the excellent counterpoint that player appearance fees/expense payments may be larger than the actual prize fund. They won't announce that sort of thing.

2) Several years ago, I interacted with a person who was trying to invite the top players in a variety of "mind sports%

Re: comments about the prize fund being "chump change" or embarrassing.

1) Others have made the excellent counterpoint that player appearance fees/expense payments may be larger than the actual prize fund. They won't announce that sort of thing.

2) Several years ago, I interacted with a person who was trying to invite the top players in a variety of "mind sports" to a conference. This person was absolutely shocked...that some of the top checkers people, top gaming people...were happy to appear for a free plane ticket. The chess folks? They asked for $5,000 and $10,000 appearance fees. This not a criticism at all -- the very fact that such persons can command such fees (vs. other "mind sports") shows that chess does carry a value. Even if we don't always see it in the prize funds for particular events.

Technically speaking, it is not even clear whom you mean with "former world champion" [including all definitions of WCh, there are three in the field], but presumably you mean Karpov.
Now, I don't know in which other sports a former WCh could claim a lot 10-20 years after losing his title (again matters of definition) and being largely inactive [if Wikipedia is correct, Karpov's last supertournament was Linares 1994]. If Karpov now plays San Sebastian for the money, he is certainly most interested in the appearance fee (I would give him at most outsider chances for finishing first ...).
But (Karpov earned enough money so he doesn't have to worry about it any more) maybe he even plays 'just for fun'. Also a reply to Chesspride: Over the last ~5 years, Korchnoi played several times at a Dutch blitz tournament, asking only a very modest appearance fee. Even the organizers were surprised, his explanation was something like "I still love playing chess and travelling, but don't get many invitations these days". To which I can add - nothing wrong with it - that he seemed to thoroughly enjoy the attention he got from organizers and fellow players, including amateurs .... .

Your presumption is correct. To use Kasparov's terminology from his "Great Predecessors" books, the lineage would be:

Anatoly the Twelfth.
Garry the Thirteenth.
Vladimir the Fourteenth.
Vishy the Fifteenth.

Future generations will remember it like that. Ponomariov, Khalifman, Kasimjanov and their titles will have no more validity than Bogoljubow being a "FIDE World Champion".

I don´t agree Luke, I think many players who haven´t been world champions but have fought for the title are remembered (or do you think that if Carlsen died without having become an official world champion he would be forgotten?), and I also know that in all the books showing world champions, etc., the players you mentioned are all there, and they are invited to ex-world champion tournaments, and so on.
I also think that Ponomariov is at a higher level than Khalifman and Kasimdzhanov, because he has always kept over 2700 and at the top 20 of the rating list. He also has the "advantage" of being the youngest world champion in chess history. Khalifman´s and Kasimdzhanov´s were quite short-lived reigns, and soon dropped down to +2600. I would also put Kasimdzhanov above Khalifman, but well.

ChessGirl, I see no contradiction with Luke's post, he merely meant "remembered as world champions". However, no offense implied to Ponomariov, Kasimdzhanov and Khalifman, but I am not sure if they will be remembered _at all_ by future generations. Bogoljubow is still known - well mostly because an opening is named after him, and that was easier to achieve in the old days ,:) .
Another issue: Some people had stated that Jakovenko should also get supertournament invitations. He will play in Dortmund this year along with Carlsen, Kramnik, Leko, Bacrot (Aeroflot qualifier) and Naiditsch (local hero, but the rating gap with the other players is less than it used to be). As Dortmund is not part of the Grand Slam, apparently they don't feel bound by the semi-official rule that you always have to invite one player from Latin America and one from China - hence they can give more spots to the 'rest of the world' ,:) .

"their titles will have no more validity than Bogoljubow being a 'FIDE World Champion'"

Bogo was never a FIDE World Champion, Khalifman at least won an event called the FIDE World Championship (with 37 of the world's top 40 participating, or something like that). Bogo won a single short match against Euwe, no one called it a World Championship then or later, least of all FIDE or Bogo himself, so there is a bit of a difference.

Since we are talking about titles , i have a question:
Anyone knows which WCH matches were played with draw odds for the defender of the title?

Sub question : How can that ever happened?
This must be the game that gathers more people with knowledge in maths , how come nobody said : hey, isnt that a little too much?
Isnt that like playing a decisive armaggedon-game but with classical time control ?, and adding the posibility that the challenger may have the black pieces and still have to win the last game!
Maybe im missing something , but i cant believe that such a rule ever existed.
I think boxing have/had something like that , but cannot think of any other sport that has something similar.

What's so strange about draw odds? They've been used in most matches back at least to Botvinnik, I think, and it just means that the challenger has to actually beat the title holder to become world champion. As you imply, only boxing really has the same concept of a reigning champion - in something like football it means almost nothing that, say, Italy are the World Cup holders. But the idea of a reigning champion has worked very well in chess, so why change it?

If you don't have draw odds then you're either going to have a match potentially stretching on indefinitely, or you end up with playing rapid, blitz or even armageddon tie-breakers, which is also hardly ideal.

Two reasons for draw odds:

If you use rapid games as a tie-break, the one who is thought to be better at rapid games will implicitly have "draw odds" in a way. Look at how specialists like Tkachiev or Nakamura handle K.O. matches: Draw the normal games, win in the rapids. The entire match strategy may be determined by who is better at rapid, or blitz.

If you don't give draw odds to the Champion, and the challenger considers himself the weaker player, there will be a strong incentive for the challenger to follow a strategy of lifeless draws, because whatever tie-break you use, there will be some element of luck involved, and this will improve his chances.

But honestly I think draw odds happen whenever the World Champion has a strong enough position to dictate the terms.

But for example last year in the Spanish Team Cup the opposite happened. Linex Magic had been Spanish champ for a very long time, but even after tie-breaks the results were drawn in the final against Caja Canarias, so the latter automatically became Spanish champion. I thought that was a little bit stupid.

I agree with mishanp and Bartleby that draw odds may well be the lesser evil compared to "endless matches" or rapid/blitz/Armaggedon tiebreaks. What I can add:
1) Wikipedia has a very complete (exhaustive) article on all world championship matches all the way back to Steinitz:
2) Examples of "endless matches" within my own lifetime:
Karpov-Korchnoi 1978 (32 games, final score 6-5 wins)
Karpov-Kasparov 1984 (abandoned after 48 games, score 5-3)
I guess nowadays it would be difficult to find a sponsor or even a venue for such open-ended events.

BTW, one of Manu's points clearly makes little sense:
"and adding the posibility that the challenger may have the black pieces and still have to win the last game!"
Having the black pieces in the last game means he had an extra white in the previous games, so this can hardly be called discrimination ... .

'Draw' -- describes the outcome of one chess game.
'Tie' -- describes the outcome of a match (a set of games).

Matches should not resort to giving unfair "tie-odds" to one player. But if such a match rule is used, then....

....The player who enjoys the tie-odds advantage should be assigned the black pieces in the final game.
This color assignment would marginally help market the match.

" Having the black pieces in the last game means he had an extra white in the previous games, so this can hardly be called discrimination ... ."
Like always you dont understand , and like always you put words in people's mouths , i never said anything about " discrimination" .
I was referring to the possibility that after being tied the hole match , your last game becomes and armaggedon game (win or win situaton)and that you may even have the black pieces in that game.

I understand the points made by bartleby and mishamp ,but i still prefer the rapid tie breacks.
It just seems too unfair to my taste , IMO the champion has to beat the challenger to keep the crown .
The match should be a test for both of them.

As it happens, Wikipedia is wrong when it says Linares was Karpov's last supertournament. A short look at his "career details" at db.chessmetrics.com shows Linares 1995, Las Palmas 1996, Dos Hermanas 1997, Wijk aan Zee 1998 and 2003 and so on.

If I remember correctly (book not at hand), Kasparov said in his Great Predecessors, Karpov's last place in Las Palmas 1996 showed him (Garry) that his (Karpov's) time as a competitor for the chess crown would be over. (Guess who won ;-)

Manu said: "IMO the champion has to beat the challenger to keep the crown."

I agree with Manu.


Do you have more information on the tournament in

San Sebastian The dates are July 6-16 2009.

I live in st louis and went to the games almost everyday.

I made a video you can see


Well, posting such a link for the world to see leaves you open to kudos and criticism. So here ya go ...

Kudos that you made the video. It's not easy, and Windows Movie Maker isn't the easiest app to use to create a masterpiece. So for that you get props.

The music is nice, but doesn't mesh fully at times with the subject matter.

I think your superimposed comments are trite and obtrusive. They are anything but 'cute,' which is my impression of the intent.

Overall, I give it an average grade for a layman.


Oh yeah, one more thing ... if yer gonna advertise on a video you are touting, my site would remove your post. Just sayin' ...


Did Mig manage to find the Granda interview from Buenos Aires?

The interview was with San Segundo. I definitely don't have a digital copy of it. Might have that copy of "Ajedrez de Estilo" buried in a box somewhere, but couldn't find it. Not as interesting as a Granda interview, I'm sure. He's a weird cat. Anyone who would give up chess for a few years to farm is all right with me.

That's a very healthy advice. Thanks, the discussion was very good.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 31, 2009 4:26 PM.

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