Even chef Gordon Ramsay would FUCKING agree! A former top-grandmaster, Andrey Deviatkin, today expressed some pretty FUCKING strong views on what Andrey considers the failure of FIDE’s Grand Prix as well as Kasparov’s Grand Chess Tour to arouse either interest or excitement amongst chess players and spectators. I concur with a great many of his insights…and I know that many of my colleagues hold similar views. What do you think? (Don’t let Ramsay intimidate you!)
‘If one asks my sincere opinion, without any diplomatic equivoques, about both GP series, I’d say that it makes me sick.
In Russian, there’s a saying “axe soup” that arises from someone allegedly having promised to make a good soup out of a simple axe, which the person did by putting an axe to boiling water, and then adding there all the ingredients necessary for a good soup. Both FIDE Grand Prix and the Grand Chess Tour (especially the second one) are luxuriously organized events, but in both the chess part is the very same axe. With its high level of organization and all the fuss created, I don’t think they would be less interesting if the central activity were a block championship in yard-cleaning or washing the dishes.
A Grand Prix series consisting of mixed Swiss events like Qatar Open, Aeroflot Open, Gibraltar, etc., and the final round-robin, would probably make sense – but not the current format. Almost everyone, including those players, has been pretending (maybe because when one gets paid well one feels obliged to pretend?) that something great is going on, even if the Berlin is used in 30% of the games and novelties happen at move 36. But even without the Berlin, watching the same 10-15 players facing each other again and again is unbearable.
The other point is that while the elite cult is on, the majority of ordinary GMs around 2600 (like me when I was an active chess player) get no real chance in their life to face the top 10 in classical chess even once. This is utterly unfair and not in the spirit of sports at all, isn’t it? Meanwhile, it’s not that the very top are uncapable of losing to middle-class GMs: remember just the recent European team championship in Reykjavik, where Carlsen lost to Pelletier and couldn’t beat other supposedly mediocre GMs; Giri “the Unbeatable” was demolished by Babula, Adams (9 draws in London) lost to Solak. Again, this kind of unexpected rivalry makes mixed events much more attractive in the eyes of spectators, including yours truly.
So, I’m for more and more open tournaments with both top and middle-class players present, probably Swiss ones. At the same time, the number of closed elite events should be reduced to the minimum. In my opinion, the chess world needs Wijk aan Zee, at least because it’s a huge tradition; we need maybe another one or two, but no more than that. In no way the closed elite tournaments help promote chess, whatever their organization; on the contrary, they intensify the wide public’s impression of chess as a very boring activity for the few. In fact, such events are likely to be pushing the already endangered game further towards the brick of extinction.’–GM Andrey Deviatkin