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    Sunday
    Nov082015

    This Week's World Chess Column, on Rapid Chess

    The column is here. I muse about recent suggestions that rapid chess should become "real" chess; i.e., that classical time controls should be eliminated and rapid ones take their place in main events, and then present a rapid game that is one of the best and most interesting games of modern times, period.

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    Reader Comments (7)

    "In 1987, when Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short played a rapid match, it was widely viewed as a wacky, one-off experiment for publicity."
    Not in The Netherlands. I own old magazines (Schakend Nederland) of Dutch chess federation KNSB and sure enough on the tournament calendar there are a few rapid tournaments. When I started to play competitively in 1981 it was a common variation. The big advantage was that chess clubs could organize tournaments for just one day (say five games lasting one hour at the max).
    But this doesn't affect your main point: that rapid chess is on the rise.

    There is another issue you haven't addressed. The level of play obviously is increasing. That will make it harder to win games. Corr. chess provides the evidence; WCh tournaments have a high percentage of draws.
    Playing good games at shorter time control is harder. Hence shorter time controls will provide more chances to decide games. It may take a long time, but in the long run rapid chess will replace classical time controls. This

    "I have time to find deep ideas that make a particular game memorable"
    didn't prevent corr. chess from high draw rates; nor was it a decisive argument against abandoning adjourned games. Before that happened I have found some deep ideas in my games as well. One involved a seemingly depressing endgame (I had been worse for quite a while) with a surprising knight sacrifice that would win if my opponent accepted it, but only draw if he declined. I had found it only a few hours after adjournment; unfortunately my opponent had found it a few hourse before the game restarted. After the game (that didn't last long anymore) we laughed because we both were a bit disappointed.

    November 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMNb

    in the comment of game Ivanchuc-Yusupov
    "'33... Nf2!The threat of ...Nh3 followed by mate on g1 or h3 "
    shouldn't it be a mate on g1 or f2
    ?

    [DM: Yes. Not sure if I can fix it, though.]

    November 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRalph

    Excellent column, modern GMs should be able to play games in a fraction of the time that Steinitz and Lasker had who needed to make it all up themselves. Plus it encourages more attacking chess.

    November 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMathsChess

    A good start to an interesting topic. Would like to see this topic explored much further. Having played all three time limits competitively, I found the rapid to be the most enjoyable. I worked for a living so having to play a four hour game at night after work was dreadful. Rapid (I really liked 30-30's) is long enough to explore some good ideas and reduce time induced blunders, but not a sit feast that was often as draining as the actual play. How often do you see player wandering around the tournament hall because they got tired of waiting for their opponent to make an obvious move. I contend it makes you think and see more not less.
    If chess is to become a spectator sport then the time limits need to be closer to the spectators needs. Two hour to two and half hour games would make a lot of sense. For the games won by having the time to look deeply there are many that are lost do to fatigue or boredom. The history of chess has shown most of the great players not needing lots of time to find great moves.

    November 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLarry L.

    Just another thought about long time limits. How many chess players can cite an "Evergreen" game won in a correspondence competition. I am sure there a few but correspondence games are rarely the stuff of legend. My point, what makes chess games great is players finding great moves when the clock is ticking away. Chess is not meant to be a research project, it is a game. So why don't we play it like one, where quick thinking, a good game plan and new flawless execution make it entertaining.
    To name a few people who often played quickly, but have many memorable games to their credit. Paul Morphy, Bobby Fischer, Mikhail Tal, Gary Kasparov, and Jose Capablanca to name a few off the top of my head.

    [DM: I'm not sure what you mean in the last two sentences. Fischer et al played relatively quickly, but if you look at Fischer's or Kasparov's time expenditures they used plenty of time. Kasparov in particular would often get into at least slight time trouble, and even their "fast" games were ones where they took around two hours for the first time control.]

    November 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLarry L.

    One of the problems to be solved with blitz and rapid is the commentary and the game/tournament coverage. In classical, there is time to cover all the games and offer deep explanations and analysis. On the flip side, in rapid and blitz most coverage will focus on a single game and offer very little in the way of analysis- many times offering no explanations at all just to keep up with the moves being played.

    In fact, when watching rapid and blitz, I prefer watching a silent camera showing the board, the two players and the clocks better than listening to befuddled commentators constantly updating the board wondering if they have the latest moves.

    [DM: Amen to that!]

    In my opinion, if chess is to become more accessible/popular/mainstream it must find a good balance between the current time controls where games drag on for 6 hours but are accompanied by excellent commentary and 20-30 minute games that offer no chance of providing decent coverage.

    [DM: I enjoy watching games at all the time controls, for very different reasons. Both/and is my motto here.]

    Thank you for the great article Dennis!

    [DM: You're welcome!]

    November 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterErik

    I generally agree with Erik, and I heartily agree with Dennis' "Both/and is my motto here".

    There is one downside to "enough time to cover classical time controls": every now and then, there might be 'too much time' - if a player spends, say, more than ten minutes on his next move or if the character of the position doesn't change for 10+ moves. If no parallel game is available to comment upon, commentators have to fill the gap with chess history, anecdotes, TV series, whatever - can be challenging for the commentators and a matter of taste for listeners.

    Another aspect is the number of parallel games: Two might already be too much for rapid/blitz, but, depending on the games, not enough for classical time controls (e.g. Bilbao). Seven as in Wijk aan Zee (or 14 including the B group) may already be too much under any format - while providing better chances that some games will be interesting/fascinating. Commentators and spectators alike may miss key moments or turning points, particularly when the games approach the time control - advantage of classical time controls: it is possible to reconstruct what happened later on.

    The final aspect is what spectators want - fast food, a meal worthy of a Michelin star, or something in between. I have no idea about Erik's level, but someone who wants and appreciates "deep explanations and analyses" is probably at least (ambitious) 1800+. Next question is the typical or average level of spectators. On Sutovsky's Facebook page (thread on St. Louis live commentary), Tarjei Svensen stated that the average is about Elo 1500, Sutovsky disagreed saying that, certainly in Russia, it is much higher. I tend to agree with Sutovsky - 1500ish players from my club aren't interested in top chess, or at least won't follow for hours.

    Chess would need to appeal to a wide (and on average weak) audience to become interesting on TV. I am more or less "another Erik" - do we need to sacrifice/downscale or expectations to make chess more appealing for TV, and thereby for sponsors?

    November 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

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