Friday, 30 March 2007

FIDE Time Lords Gain Ground

FIDE's website has a report of the recent meeting between FIDE president Ilyumzhinov and ACP (Association of Chess Professionals) president Tregubov.

The text is given in full at the bottom of this posting.

Basically, the two presidents have agreed that chess (like Caesar's Gaul) should be divided into three parts - classical, rapidplay and blitz - with a separate rating produced for each. They have then specified the appropriate time controls (both incremental and non-incremental) which should apply to each.

Then comes the list of official (i.e. FIDE's own) events that will be played under the 'classical' header, and they are: "The whole world championship cycle, including continental championships, the world Cup and the world championship match will be held with the classical time control. The other FIDE tournaments are supposed to be held with the rapid time control."

The glaring exception is the FIDE Olympiad. It has not been mentioned, so one has to assume that the intention is that it will be played at rapidplay, with more than one game a day. This begs the question as to how many players from non-sponsored nations will be bothered to traipse across the world, at great expense, to take part in a rapidplay tournament.

I also pity entrants to the world senior championship: after a lifetime of standardplay chess, they too may be subjected to the clock-thumping farce of rapidplay. Those of us well stricken in years know only too well how much harder it becomes to calculate quickly. I would guess that a sizeable proportion of the over 60 brigade will stay at home rather than subject themself to rapidplay.

As I have said before, there is nothing wrong with rapidplay per se. I'm quite happy to make a short trip to a one-day rapidplay tournament within a 10 or 20 mile radius of my home, but there is no way I'd buy a plane ticket or run up a five-day hotel bill to play quick chess somewhere remote.

As for FIDE and their argument about making "chess more attractive to media": this is utter tosh and I'm sick of spelling out the refutation in print. Ray Keene pointed this out years ago. When Kasparov and Short played a glitzy match for the TV back in the 1990s, they used a time limit of (I think) 25 minutes for all the moves. As Ray pointed out, the TV company still had to edit that down to 30 minutes for the TV show. So - what's the difference between editing a rapidplay game and a standardplay game? Let the guys play a proper game and then let the TV people edit it to whatever length they think appropriate for transmission.

As to the argument about "achiev[ing] time savings for professional chess players": the perverted logic behind this seems to be that a pro might earn more money per minute if the game is speeded up. For heaven's sake, don't anyone mention this to professional footballers, otherwise we might have Wayne Rooney asking for a 20% reduction in the length of Premiership matches in lieu of a 20% wage increase.

My feeling is that, although the ACP president has mouthed some of the appropriate sentiments about the need to retain the long-play format, the situation seems to be as I feared when writing about the earlier Ilyumzhinov/Kramnik meeting. Even the time controls specified as 'classical' [(100'/40+50')+30" for electronic clocks or 120'/40+60' for mechanical clocks] are a contradiction in terms.

Tregubov has clearly yielded to FIDE pressure (I can't help picturing Azmaiparashvili and Makropoulos standing over him while he signed the agreement). It's all very well the ACP representing existing professional players (who learnt their trade playing to more sensible time controls) - but who represents players who aspire to being the next generation of professionals? The FIDE-istas remind me more and more of Harry Potter's Death-Eaters - gradually sucking the life out of professional chess.

The fight is not over yet since both presidents have to take the list of proposals to their respective boards. Let's hope that the ACP shows a bit of sense and resists this latest proposal - otherwise chess itself could be in terminal time trouble.


FIDE - АСP Meeting Report - Moscow, 25.03.2007 - by Pavel Tregubov
Duration – 4 hours, Attendance: President K. Ilyumzhinov, President P. Tregubov, President’s advisor B. Balgabaev

I. The main topic of the meeting was time control in FIDE official tournaments. This subject has been one of the most discussed in the chess world over the past few years.
FIDE’s basic concept is to gradually reduce the length of chess games, which would enable to:
- have two rounds a day in some tournaments, in order to substantially cut organisation costs and achieve time savings for professional chess players;
- make chess more attractive to media (TV in the first place) and as a result to potential sponsors.
ACP’s position:
- reducing time for reflection damages the games quality; the calculation system for games with a shortened time control shouldn’t therefore be the same as that for games with classical time control, as their sports value is lower;
- rather than continuing to reduce the classical time control, it would make more sense, in line with today’s world, to actively develop and promote rapid chess;
- the world championship and its traditional time control are an integral part of chess history; the whole world championship cycle must be held with classical time control.
Following a long discussion, the parties worked out the following common position, which has to be approved by the ACP Board and will be presented for consideration to the next FIDE Presidential Board.
1. FIDE sets up three official time controls:
а) classical (100'/40+50')+30" for electronic clocks or 120'/40+60' for mechanical clocks;
b) rapid 20' + 10" for electronic clocks or 25' – for mechanical clocks;
с) blitz 3'+2" for electronic clocks or 5' - for mechanical clocks.
2. There will be a separate calculation system for each of these time controls. In addition to the existing classical system, FIDE will introduce, from 1.07.2008 two new systems: one for rapid tournaments, and one for blitz tournaments.
3. The whole world championship cycle, including continental championships, the world Cup and the world championship match will be held with the classical time control. The other FIDE tournaments are supposed to be held with the rapid time control.
II. Appeal Committe
19.03.2007 The ACP sent to FIDE a proposal on a problem which has recently become a topical issue: determining the composition of the Appeal Committee for FIDE official tournaments.
FIDE doesn’t see any possibility of changing the composition of the AC for the upcoming Candidates matches, as its members (G. Makropoulos, B. Spassky, B. Ivanovich, B. Asanov) were invited a long time ago and have confirmed their participation.
It is agreed that the ACP will propose one of the candidates to the AC for the most important official FIDE tournaments."

1 comment:

  1. A rapidplay Olympiad would be fun -and it would only take around 2 days. However, I certainly don't see this as a reason to wipe out the traditional Olympiad at the classical time limit. Why not have both? In fact, the rapidplay could even be tagged on to the end of the real Olympiad as a bit of harmless relief from the proper chess.