How to Create a Vibrant Chess Universe

For those of you who know me, you know that I think the future of chess is in faster time controls. However I want to be quite clear that I don’t think that classical chess should be completely eliminated, despite what some of my past blogs said (although I do think it should be sped up a little bit).

However my main issue is with the lack of respect and development that rapid and blitz chess receive. In order to have a complete and vibrant chess universe, there needs to be an official rapid and blitz champion.

“Wait a minute Greg” you may say. “There already is a rapid and blitz championship, held every year.” But in my view, just because you slap the title “World Championship” in front of something, doesn’t make it a serious World Championship level event.

What if we just had some random 11 round Swiss and called that the Classical Chess Championship. No one would take it seriously of course, because this is not how you determine a champion if you are trying to take it seriously.

What the chess world needs is as follows:

  1. A World Classical Champion and a serious cycle to determine the next challenger (we already have this)
  2. A World Rapid Champion and a serious cycle to determine the next challenger (we don’t have this)
  3. A World Blitz Champion and a serious cycle to determine the next challenger (we don’t have this)
  4. A Worldwide team event in which clubs and cities from all across the world can compete (We haven’t had this until now, as the PRO Chess League, with nearly 50 cities competing around the world, is starting on Chess.com in January)

We absolutely need to fulfill #2 and #3 on this list and stop pretending that a 20 round Swiss is a reasonable Championship tournament. It’s just one fun tournament, nothing more.

How would I envision the “perfect” chess world?

1 – Every one of the above titles rotates on a 3 year cycle. For instance: the Classical Championship happens in 2018, the Rapid Championship Match happens in 2019, the Blitz Championship Match happens in 2020.

2 – Every 3 years there is a Candidates Tournament for each of these events. The format can vary a bit for the faster events, as because you can fit in many more games, you can use all kinds of more interesting and exciting formats

3 – Every 3 years there should also be an Interzonal Tournament, in which players from around the world compete in order to get the last few spots in the Candidates tournament

4 – Every year the PRO Chess League takes place (this is already slated to happen!)

For those who love Classical chess too much, I’m also fine with it continuing to occur every two years, and the rapid and blitz both taking place in the off year. Because those can be run in fewer days, and require less intense preparation, it should be less of an issue on people’s schedules.

How could the World Championship work in these new formats?

World Rapid Championship: Time control of 25+5, 4 games per day for eight days, for a total of 32 games. I am of course fine with a longer event, or even slightly shorter (24 games would be ok). But this would be the general idea.

World Blitz Championship: Time control of 5+2, 10 games per day for six days, for a total of 60 games. This seems like plenty to determine a definitive champion. But anywhere from 48-80 games seems acceptable

How could the Candidates work in each format?

Rapid: 8 player double round robin (14 games) played over 4 days

The top 4 finishers get seeded into brackets with 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3. They both play four game minimatches, with the players who did better in the Round Robin stage advancing on a 2-2 draw. The two winners meet in the finals for eight games over two days, and again the player with the better record advances on a draw. The total event time is 7 days, or 8-9 if you add a rest day. The top 4 finishers also automatically qualify to the next Rapid Candidates and the other four spots are up for grabs in the Rapid Interzonal

Blitz: 16 player double round robin (24 games) played over 3 days

The top 6 finishers qualify for the playoff rounds. 1+2 get byes to the Semifinals, 3 plays 6 and 4 plays 5 in 10 game matches, both held in a single day. Better performance in the Round Robin earns draw odds

Then they get reseeeded again into the Semifinals for another 10 game match, and then the finals will be a 20 game match to be held over two days with the remaining two competitors. This also takes seven days, or eight to nine if you include rest days. The top six finishers would all automatically qualify for the next Candidates Tournament, and the other ten spots would be up for grabs at the Blitz Interzonal.

Of course the above is just a quick outline of how it could work. There are many different ways to go about it, but the point is that there should be an organized, consistent and seamless cycle in place for both of these time controls.

If anyone out there who has lots of money and resources wants to make this a reality, I’m very happy to help organize. The chess world needs to drastically raise the prestige of rapid and blitz chess, and this is the way to do it. Single one off tournaments are pointless endeavors and will do very little for the prestige of any time control. Until an organizer actually takes these time controls seriously, which in my opinion no one ever has, they have no chance for real success.

2 thoughts on “How to Create a Vibrant Chess Universe

  1. Pingback: Dreaming of the Perfect Match Format: GMs Sound Off - US Chess

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