Moscow Candidates (Part II)

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 BOOM OR BUST IN FINAL ROUND?

 

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I am certainly NOT disappointed with the fighting chess displayed in this tournament! After a shaky start where no one was willing to take any chances, things opened up and the players seemed to have a different mind set.

Perhaps it was a collective realization that both Nakamura and (especially) Topalov were giving away free points that spurred the rest to be more proactive and play ambitiously. Perhaps it was something else all together unrelated…IN anycase, I have found each round since interesting and filled with fighting moments.

Ofcourse, not everyone would agree…and that is their right.  Even with the games being hard fought, draws are still a valid result. Here is what one English blogger wrote a day or so before yesterday’s round

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So now the players find themselves going into the final round with only one thing absolutely CLEAR: the Bulgarian Topalov will remain in last place no matter what happens!  

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Topalov has been unrecognizable in this tournament, which is a shame because I thought going into the tournament that his chances of winning were not less than anyone’s, and better than most of the participants.  But form is a funny thing, often unpredictable and outside of the player’s influence. This is all part of what we call sport, and Topalov just has to accept it and move on…which I am sure is how he faces things.

For the rest of the players, everything is still completely wide open…as many as 3 players can still tie for first place!  

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Note this:  almost HALF the field can still tie for first place!  Clearly something is VERY wrong with a system of competition that does NOT determine an outright winner. Having an arbitrary rule that does this AFTER the games have all ended is not a satisfactory solution, either.  Where, then, is the solution?

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I woke up this morning finding the above to be the header for Greg Shahade’s popular blog.  Greg offers a series of arguments that fault the organizer/FIDE’s fundamental concept of how to determine the best challenger for Carlsen later this year in New York.  He also proposes several changes for next time. I suggest the reader take a quick look, as I have.  Greg’s reflections seem level headed and logical.

As for myself, I think an ENTIRE re-modelling of the FIDE world championship cycle is necessary. FIDE’s model, the details of which seems to change arbitrarily depending on how Kirsan feels on any given day, does NOT reflect the chess world at all. Today there are so many strong players who could give Carlsen a real fight for his money. Many of them are chinese grandmasters under the age of 30.

BUT the qualification system in place favours the established elite…as Greg correctly points out, the Moscow Candidates tournament looks and feels (and is) like any other of the elite tournaments today. Instead of being inclusive, as any sound qualification system for the world championship should be, FIDE insists upon a STATUS QUO system that EXCLUDES virtually all of the up and coming players!

Not even a Bobby Fischer or a Mikhail Tal would stand a chance of qualifying with the current system in place! Losing a SINGLE game early on in the qualification system (before the Candidates Tournament) virtually eliminates that player…

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It is worth reflecting at a time like this on how Bobby Fischer’s REAL fight to win the World Championship was mostly off the chess board: Fischer obliged FIDE to accept changes to an archaic system that merely served to preserve the status quo that had been in place since the end of World War II.  Fischer was also dead against a system where one loss would knock a player out, and so I think we can take it for granted that the Bobby Fischer of 1972 would NOT even consider trying to qualify in today’s system…Looking at it another way, how far our little FIDE has fallen since the end of the 60’s!

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