For anyone who’s following the World Classical Chess Championship it’s obvious that some of the games are incredibly boring. Sure there have been quite a few interesting games as well, but there is one thing that is generally clear in nearly all of the games:
The players take very little risk.
This, just like the Candidates Matches that no longer exist, can be attributed to one thing. The existence of the rapid tiebreak matches.
I think that just one relatively controversial rule adjustment could make the matches drastically more interesting.
Just as in the 20th century, the Champion should retain the title on a drawn match.
There should be no rapid tiebreak. If you want the title you need to beat the reigning champion. All of the most deserving World Champions throughout this game’s great history have managed to do so, and I don’t agree with giving anyone the chance to become World Chess Championship by tying a Classical match and then winning some rapid games.
Here are the reasons why I think this should be the rule:
- At every moment in the match, someone will be behind on the scoreboard. When someone is behind, that player cannot play the most boring openings and moves imaginable game after game. Instead every single draw specifically hurts someone and there is incentive for them to fight harder every game.
- It is much fan friendlier to put the players in a situation where they have to fight. No one is happy to pay a lot of money for tickets to this final game, and see the game fizzle out into a 30 move draw.
- I just find it unseemly that any player could join the ranks of the great past champions without winning the Classical Match. I’m going to say this, and it’s not going to sound nice, but Sergey Karjakin does not deserve to be World Champion.He does not belong in the category of Alekhine, Capablanca, Kramnik, or any other of the number of the great champions who had to knock off someone who was thought to be nearly unbeatable. Even Euwe, who is considered one of the weakest World Champions, beat the great Alekhine. If Karjakin wins the rapid playoff, which he probably won’t, I personally consider it a bit of a farce. Yes he has played solid and good chess, but holding someone to a drawn match over 12 games does not mean you should be the World Champion of chess. You could say the same thing about Magnus Carlsen, but Magnus has clearly earned his right to be considered one of the elite players of all time. He has beaten Anand decisively in two matches. If you want to be a chess legend, you need to beat the Champion.
The counterpoint is that this gives too big of an advantage to the defending champion. But what is wrong with that? The title of World Champion carries such major historical importance and in nearly all cases was achieved by decisively defeating the current champion. I don’t want this title lineage marred by someone who clearly hasn’t been able to achieve what the previous World Champions have.
I know this may sound like an odd viewpoint coming from someone who is a big supporter of rapid chess, but I take the World Championship and the history of the title very seriously. Kasparov didn’t get the title on a tie, he had to win a match against Karpov, and he worked his ass off to do that.
I am rooting hard for Magnus Carlsen tomorrow because I think that allowing Sergey Karjakin to become the Classical Chess World Champion by winning one single game out of twelve is a mockery to the title and the great lineage of Champions.
But no matter who wins, please bring back draw odds for the Champion. It will guarantee more interesting chess and also a more deserving World Championship title holder.