Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mixed Lineups

This article is calling for a change. You know that feeling of great excitement when the next top tournament is about to start? And then the numerous authors, websites and fans are analysing players and predicting results. What do we get from it? I'm brave to speculate that many game lovers are feeling frustration by great number of short draws. In short I also count 30 moves of theory in popular line before signing scoresheets. Personally, I feel betrayed. Heck, they have even desecrated Tal's Memorial. I didn't want to post the results and poor champion was probably turning sides in his grave.

I don't intend to analyse psychological background of this behavior. Ok, one friendly draw can be tolerated if player is tired or just not feeling well on the day. Nor rating or prize calculation, most of them receive fat envelopes before the tournament anyway. After all, sponsors should be worried how they spend the money. Oh, we complain about the lack of sponsorship, there's one hint.

Personally, I'm getting bored seeing same players "fighting" eachother over and over. Chess audience likes to hear statistics just as much as NBA or football folks. Your wish.... ChessBase will return the query with exact "these two have met eachother in 35 games, success percentage goes as follows...". Why would I want to see them playing 36th game? Can they surprise the opponent, can they be inspired to fight? Adams, Polgar, Bacrot and Shirov were members of the exclusive club, until they were dropped out. Ivanchuk and Gelfand were on hold for awhile, but Ivanchuk was playing and winning tournaments without a break to prove that his place is among the tops. I think few others should be sent on similar voyage. At the same time, Mamedyarov is sitting 4th on the rating list, still waiting for his chance. A bunch of others, too.

Mig Greengard was calling for Sofia rules on numerous occasions. While Sofia surely represents an improvement, I'm not sure if it's perfect solution. Players are not allowed to draw, but they are not forced to fight either. Try to beat Kramnik's Petroff-Berlin rock. And Leko can equally draw 20 moves or close the gates and defend for 80. At the same time, I believe most of them are fed up of eachother.

One of the possibilities is to decrease appearance fees and put the money into fight for prize fund. Surely, this would cause resistance and habits are hard to change. New idea deserving to be tested are mixed lineups. Make the rating spans 2600-2750 for example. Players from the both ends of rating scale would be motivated. For a 2750 finishing on 50% in Linares or Dortmund is normal, but facing 2600s it would be embarrassment. Let them dig with nails for glory and money and let's test those huge ratings. Affiliate with strong opens and have the winners join the club. I would also advocate filling at least quarter of the field with domestic players. How else to attract attention of media and generate interest of chess in your country. Having Tiviakov shaking his pants to lose as little as possible? A bunch of talented Dutch players were going unnoticed in B group. Or guarding Linares' category and reputation by tolerating draws instead of throwing some Spaniard into the fire? Why not a 2400-2500 country's junior champion. Poor fellow might be knocked on the floor, but the gained experience is of huge value.

Break the exclusive club!


No comments: