03 June 2009

Top Players on the Top Issues

At the beginning of the year, the hot topic in the World Championship was FIDE's proposal to change the format of the championship cycle that had already started with the 2008-2009 Grand Prix; see 2010 Candidates for reactions from around the chess world. The last reaction in that post was '2009-01-05: Vladimir Kramnik on the World Championship Cycle
(part one; Chessbase.com)
', where the former World Champion suggested,
I think that it would be better to do an open questionnaire, on paper, and not just for the top five or six players, but for all of the participants of the Grand Prix, plus maybe the top twenty players. Not only about the ongoing cycle but also about future cycles, about how top chess players see all questions concerning time controls in world championship cycles, in other tournaments, the format of world championship cycles – knockout, matches –, candidate tournaments or no candidate tournaments. It is much more efficient to write down all these questions, and all players have to send in their answers.

Unlike many such ideas, often forgotten shortly after the interview is published, Kramnik's proposal was pursued by two opinion makers in top level chess: The ACP and Chessbase opinion poll amongst top players. The results of the questionnaire are available via the ACP Board Newsletter #2/2009. This news item on the ACP web site points to a PDF (The ACP Board Newsletter – # 2/2009) which in turn points to another PDF: The ACP - ChessBase questionnaire: preliminary results, 'based on the answers of 21 top grandmasters'. Here is a summary of the results.

  1. What in your opinion is the best format for a World Championship final? • 61% : A match

  2. What is the best qualification system for the World Championship final? • 33% : A round robin tournament; 29% : Candidates matches

  3. What time controls should be used in World Championship events? • 56% : The so called "Classical" time controls (6-7 hours per game)

  4. What time controls should be used for chess tournaments in general? • 47% : The so called "FIDE" time controls (90 min for 40 moves, then 30 min for the rest, + 30sec/move from move 1)

  5. What do you think about a time increment after each move? • 90% : I think there should be an increment from move 1

  6. What is your opinion about dress code during World Championships and top tournaments? • 62% : "Decent dress" obligatory (for instance jacket, no sport shoes)

  7. What do you think about doping control? • 38% : I would accept doping control if it is adapted specifically for chess; 38% : I don’t see a necessity for doping controls, but would accept it

  8. What do you think about anti-computer cheating controls? • 67% : They should be obligatory and made as tough as possible

  9. What do you think the punishment for being late for a game should be? • 5% : The player automatically forfeits the game [other choices -- financial or rating penalty, other (please specify precisely what), should not be any penalty -- were split almost equally]

  10. What do you think about the current rating system? • 67% : It is fine, no changes needed

  11. What do you think about changes made to the current WCC cycle (change of format, etc.)? • 47% : I object to any changes made to the current cycle

  12. What do you think about staging Super-GM tournaments in a soundproof glass cabin in a public square, as was done in Bilbao 2008? • 57% : I think it is a good idea and I am comfortable with it

In all cases except one ('punishment for being late for a game'), I've given the top answer(s). In all cases, the answers are exactly what I would have guessed beforehand.

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