25 March 2015

A Pseudo World Championship

When is a World Chess Championship not a *real* World Championship? A strong case can be made against the most recent World Computer Championships, as in the 20th World Computer Championship. Another can be made against the Women's World Championship, which I last discussed in Knockout Format KOed (December 2012).

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not at all against the idea of a Women's World Championship. Women seem to enjoy competing for their version of the world title and both men & women enjoy following the competitions. The problem is the schizophrenic format of the series. From the current 'Regulations for the Women’s World Chess Championship Cycle' (the italics are mine):-

The Women’s World Chess Championship shall be organised annually and qualifying events include the following: National Championships, Zonal Tournaments, Continental Championships, FIDE Women’s Grand Prix and the final stages, the Women’s World Chess Championship Tournament in even years 2014, 2016 etc. (64-player knock out system) and the Women’s World Chess Championship Match (10 games, 2 players) in odd years 2013, 2015, etc.

Tournament in the even years, match in the odd years -- and not a normal double-round-robin tournament as last seen in the 1997 Groningen Women's Candidates Tournament, but a 64-player knockout tournament. A similar format was abandoned for the unrestricted (aka men's) World Championship after the disastrous 2004 FIDE Knockout Matches (aka The Worst World Championship Ever).

Simply stated, the knockout format is too vulnerable to random factors to be taken seriously as a World Championship. The winner of the event deserves our full respect for achieving a major tournament victory, but doesn't deserve the title of World Champion.

The current Women's World Champion said the same thing when the current Sochi tournament was announced after a months-long delay.

'Generally speaking, I don't think I will continue to play the World Championship if the knock-out system is used', she said. 'The system is different from the men's. If it were the same that would be much better'. • Hou Yifan: 'Probably I Won't Play in Sochi' [chess-news.ru]

Peter Long of TheMalayMailOnline.com said similar in a pair of recent columns:-

Former Women’s World Champion Susan Polgar is a current FIDE 'Co-Chairperson' of the Commission for Women's Chess. Given her complaint about having been treated unfairly throughout her career, you have to wonder why she tolerates FIDE's approach.

1 comment:

Peter Long said...

The other co-chair of the FIDE Womens Commission (by its very existence and activity a clear nod to tokenism) is an elected FIDE VP and therefore promoted from being its Secretary. I could ask both - I like to think they are friends - but I know they would have difficulty answering while also being put in a difficult position!