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  1. #1
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    Classical Chess Matches - Start with the Tiebreakers!

    After watching the Carlsen-Caruana and Ju-Lagno World Championship Final matches, and many other World Championship matches in my time, I feel very strongly about the best future direction for classical chess matches.

    Put simply, I believe all classical chess matches should begin with the final tiebreaker (what we currently call the 'Armageddon' game, where Black has less time but draw odds), and work backwards to the classical phase of the match, where the winner of the 'tiebreaks' will have draw odds for the match. So, the first day of the match would have the following, in order:

    - Armageddon (final tiebreaker)
    - 2 Blitz games (third tiebreaker)
    - 2 Slower Blitz games (second tiebreaker)
    - 2 Rapid games (first tiebreaker)

    I can only see advantages to this approach:

    - The players know what result they have to play for in the next phase of the match. It's not a big deal if you lose the Armageddon game. If you win the rapid section, the previous sections become moot, and you enter the classical phase with draw odds.

    - The match will be much more interesting for spectators, who are guaranteed a day of fast chess (which modern audiences generally find more exciting than classical chess), regardless of the result in the classical phase.

    - The games will be more interesting, as the player who doesn't have draw odds has to win a game to win the match. The modern game theory of minimising the chances of losing in short classical match becomes much less relevant in such a situation.

    - The match situation is more interesting for spectators, as there will always be a player 'behind' in the match (6-6 being a tie for the player who won the tiebreak section).

    Naturally, the spectator advantages are also advantages for the organisers, who would obtain greater viewership at no additional cost.

    One may remember that in the past, the defending champion retained the title in the event of a draw, and these matches, along with 'first to 6 wins' have generally been considered more exciting (see, for instance the recent Chess.com articles ranking the World Championship matches).

    One could certainly debate other elements of the World Championship Match, such as how much longer the World Championship Matches should be (I would recommend 24 games, as in the 'good old days'), and the merit of deciding a classical match by quickplay. However, if one were to remove the rapid/blitz tiebreak component of the World Championship Match, the only other fair options would be to share the title (which I doubt would attract many followers) or play an indefinite number of extra games, which could lead to a repeat of the aborted Karpov-Kasparov 1984 match. In short, it's hard to find a solution that's both fair and practical, aside from the quickplay tiebreak.

    I predict that viewership of major classical chess matches will at least double if my recommendation of starting with the fast tiebreakers is applied universally.
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  2. #2
    CC International Master William AS's Avatar
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    Very good idea.
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  3. #3
    CC Grandmaster antichrist's Avatar
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    I don't like any other format than classic in the world championships. Games could be played in tennis tie-breaker serving protocol with .5 for a draw. So Player A plays one game white, than Player B two games white, followed by Player A 2 games white onward to a minimum 25 games. If a player is leading by a point at this stage then they win. If scores are still equal than the first player to get a point ahead wins.
    Last edited by antichrist; 25-11-2018 at 05:41 PM.
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  4. #4
    The Man in the Back that Caesar guy's Avatar
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    Any other format other than the one being used would improve the excitement factor. I think your suggestion makes a lot of sense Max - playing 'first to 6 wins' is impractical in this day and age though and isn't spectator friendly. Either you play tiebreakers first to determine who has 'drawn match odds' or you simply determine that a drawn match in classic time control = champion retains title. This guarantees competitive chess, and eliminates the need for ridiculous tiebreakers to determine the outcome of the world champion.
    'And the man in the back said "Everyone attack!", and it turned into a ballroom blitz. And the girl in the corner said "Boy I wanna warn ya, it'll turn into a ballroom blitz." Brian Connolly

  5. #5
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    I think this is an excellent general idea. Possibly playing the armageddon and blitz games first could impact on skill levels in the rapids though. This might be resolved by having a substantial time break between the blitz phase and the two rapid games.

  6. #6
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    I like the general idea here (for similar reasons, I've also seen at least one person suggest that soccer World Cup knockout games start with a penalty shoot-out ). I would just say that I think you could play the rapid/blitz games in "normal" order. As a spectator, I enjoy the rhythm of a playoff day where the tension increases as the time control gets shorter, and having possibly-inconsequential games first feels like it would cheapen the drama a bit.

  7. #7
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    It's a very bad idea. Like trying to combine The European Song Contest with classical music ...

  8. #8
    CC Grandmaster road runner's Avatar
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    I think it's a good idea too, and an improvement on the current system.

    However if you're going to give draw odds to 1 player in the classical games, why not just make that player the incumbent champion? Then we'd have at least 1 player trying to win, so it'd be an improvement over now, and not open to vagaries of the rapid system.

    Further left field, is a match even the right way to decide the world championships anymore? Who even plays matches anymore?
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  9. #9
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by road runner View Post
    However if you're going to give draw odds to 1 player in the classical games, why not just make that player the incumbent champion?
    Seems it's considered too large an advantage for a short match. Also it's kind-of unsatisfactory if a champion could keep their title just by drawing at long time controls all the time.

  10. #10
    CC Grandmaster antichrist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham View Post
    Seems it's considered too large an advantage for a short match. Also it's kind-of unsatisfactory if a champion could keep their title just by drawing at long time controls all the time.
    Have this format of the current champion retaining title but with an uneven number of games and the challenger plays white first.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham View Post
    Seems it's considered too large an advantage for a short match. Also it's kind-of unsatisfactory if a champion could keep their title just by drawing at long time controls all the time.
    Yes, I agree that giving the champion 'tie odds' for the classical part of the match would not be fair. It's another story if the right is earned as part of the match. As others have noted, there's more than one way to improve the current format.

    Antichrist's idea has been suggested by one of my good friends (an IM) in the past. It would succeed in making the match more appealing for spectators and sponsors, but at the price of possibly giving one of the players an unfair advantage. I think for a World Championship Match, the first priority should be that it is completely fair for both players, and then finding a way to make chess more appealing as a spectator sport without compromising the fairness factor.
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  12. #12
    CC Grandmaster road runner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham View Post
    Seems it's considered too large an advantage for a short match. Also it's kind-of unsatisfactory if a champion could keep their title just by drawing at long time controls all the time.
    I'd rather have a champion keep their title by drawing than a challenger gain the title by doing the same.
    meep meep

  13. #13
    CC Grandmaster Capablanca-Fan's Avatar
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    Very ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking. Makes a lot of sense actually.
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  14. #14
    CC Grandmaster antichrist's Avatar
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    If the classical games are played first and a result results then that is the best result
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  15. #15
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Another proposed reform is to split the match into "sets" of four games with a tiebreaker after each set that goes 2-2.

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