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    Sunday
    Dec022018

    Regan & Lipton on "A Tiebreak Win and the Problem of Draws"

    IM Ken Regan and his blog partner R.J. Lipton weigh in on the Carlsen-Caruana match and draw [yuk, yuk] their own conclusions. The ideas discussed there are interesting, but they surrender a pure classical world championship while not going over to an explicit all-around world championship, an option mooted in my previous post. But they are offering solutions to a different issue than I raised in the previous post, though there is some overlap. Their focus is on the problem of (too many) draws; mine is on dealing with drawn matches that purport to determine the world champion at classical chess.

    Hopefully we'll have everything fixed soon, and FIDE will follow our suggestions to the letter. Sounds good and likely, right? Right?

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    Dennis: I am posting here because I am not sure whether your comment in the previous thread "Next post on this topic will be deleted sight-unseen" applied to the whole thread or just the poster "A". In your reply to me, you said "Anyhow, let's limit this to one more go-round." and I thought this applied to me personally. Therefore I felt I had a right of reply. {Apologies for lateness of reply - I got waylaid and either didn't have time to do a proper reply, or was too tired to do so.} Anyway, do as you will with this.

    First, let me thank you for bringing up this interesting discussion topic in the first place.
    Secondly, I commend you for your strong defence of your position that the WC match should not have draw-odds. I agree very much with what you say here. I think far too many people are using this as a cop-out solution, without admitting the large downside.

    Now on to some of the points in your reply:
    "I had in Kasparov-Kramnik in mind: it looked as if you were fine with a 16-game match (which finished in 15 games and had Kramnik up two after just 10 games) as evidence for your thesis, but the barely shorter (14-game) Kramnik-Leko match was unacceptable because it finished in a draw."
    Believe me, if I had thought the inclusion of the Kasparov-Kramnik match was going to be such a problem, I would gladly have left it out. Ok, with it in, it's 3 drawn matches out of 19 - so 16%. With it excluded, it's 3 drawn matches out of 18 - so 17%. Really, very little difference. I did not deliberately cherry-pick and reject the assertion that I did.

    "Again, it's cherry-picking. There's nothing about the 12-game match that makes it disproportionately likely to finish in a draw relative to a 24-game match...The only clear, meaningful difference I see is that the length of the match makes it harder for older, less fit players to maintain their strength at the end."
    I have to say I am staggered at this comment. It looks as though you are saying that (other things being equal) a drawn match is just as likely in a 24-game match as in a 12-game match. Or by implication, that the length of a match is immaterial as to the likelihood of its being drawn. This can be simply refuted. Let's take the likelihood of a draw in any one game as being 75%. Then in a 1-game match, the likelihood of it being drawn is 75%. Now, take a 2-game match. There are 3 ways this can be drawn (1) Both games are drawn. The likelihood of this is 0.75 times 0.75, which equals 9/16. (2) The first is won, the second lost. Probability (assuming both players equally likely to win) is 1/8 times 1/8 = 1/64 (3) The first is lost, the second won. Same probability as (2). Adding these 3 together gives 19/32 = 59%.
    The longer a match is, it is definitely less likely to be drawn. I sure Ken Regan would confirm this if he had a few spare moments.

    "And comparing 12-game and 24-game matches is further complicated in three ways. First, the very small sample size. Second, the different eras, which is especially relevant because players know an awful lot more now (especially and most relevantly about the opening and the resulting middlegames). Third, the psychology was different, because in the 24-game matches the champion had draw odds.".
    It was for reasons like this (plus the decrease in the number of games from 24 to 18) that I increased the drawing percentage from 16% (or 17% if you like) to 25%. I felt (and still feel) this was a reasonable allowance here. Thus I maintain my claim that increasing the length of the match from 12 to 18 games would decrease the likelihood of its being drawn by about half. So this single action would halve the problem immediately. You say you are for a longer match, but for different reasons, not this one. However to me, this reason would have to be among the most very important.

    "What is this draw death of which you speak? :) It's only a disease in the world championship match. How many draws do you have in your games, even your tournament games? I just looked up my games against 2200+ opposition, and the drawing percentage was 35.8%. (Against sub-2200s that figure dropped to around 10%.) With GMs, and certainly super-GMs, the number increases, but it's not as bad as you might think. The supposedly super-drawish Giri has 55% draws against 2500+ opposition for his career (at least the part of his career where he too was at least 2500), while for Carlsen the same search gets 42% draws. Kicking it up to 2600, it's still 42% for Carlsen, and still just 45% when he and his opponents are 2700+. And for Giri, it's still 56% draws at 2600 and 55% draws at 2700. Fewer draws would be nice, but if the range is between the low-40s and the mid-50s it's not a draw death."
    I am of course talking about when the very top players (eg 2760+) play each other. And in this case, it is certainly not a just "a disease in the world championship match". It is also very much a disease in the Supertournaments. So much so that it is driving the introduction of these idiot formats. The Grand Tour is now just a horrible mish-mash of god knows what of the three forms of chess. We now have in London this total damp squib from what used to be a fantastic first-class tournament. Now Norway Chess has caught the disease and is introducing something even worse. From something like 6 really great supertournaments just a few years ago, we are now lucky if we are going to get 2 (Wijk and St Louis). Only a disease in the world championship match? Like hell. It's wrecking the entire tournament calendar.

    To conclude:
    I think the answer as to what to do about ties in the World Championship match is:
    (1) Increase the number of games from 12 to 18. This will halve the problem.
    (2) In the one-in-four times there is a tie, play off in pairs of classical games until decisive (at FIDE Headquarters if necessary). This means someone HAS to win a classical game. And neither player is given any sort of unfair or artificial advantage.
    To me, this solution is really obvious, and I cannot see why anybody would have an objection to it, or suggest anything else. The ONLY downside I can see is that the match will last a little longer. Given the importance of the event, I think this slight downside should be easily acceptable.

    December 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterobserver

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