10 March 2012

The More the Better

In my most recent post, Chess960 Needs Fresh Eyes, I touched on the idea of
two-game matches where the opponents used the same start position, taking the White side in one game and the Black side in the other. While this seems like a natural way to conduct a chess960 tournament, for practical reasons it is better suited to correspondence play.

I was thinking about the extra time required to play two consecutive games with the same start position. After posting those remarks, I remembered the recent San Sebastian tournament, an event featuring traditional chess with a twist. As TWIC 896 (9 January 2012) explained it:-

Donostia Chess Festival: The format was unusual a knock-out tournament with some modifications, as the players who got eliminated played in a parallel group. And the main novelty was that, following David Bronstein's idea, the matches consist of two games of classical chess played simultaneously. So no one had the advantage of playing the first game with the white pieces. • [Wikipedia: San Sebasti├ín: 'San Sebasti├ín (Spanish) or Donostia (Basque) is a city and municipality located in the north of Spain']

What did the players think about this format with two simultaneous games? The official site, Donostia Chess Festival, carried a number of comments from top players in the event.

GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov: I think this Basque system is very competitive. I like this format and that's why I'm here. The idea was created by David Bronstein and if I'm not mistaken he was playing against Mikhail Tal crazy matches on eight boards simultaneously. I don't know if this format can be popular in the future but in my opinion to organize this event is already a big success!

GM Sergey Fedorchuk: During the game I was confusing moves, score sheets. I was writing wrong moves, correcting them and of course it distracted me. At least I pushed clocks correctly. I was playing very fast at the beginning thinking that my time will finish very soon but in fact two hours are enough even for two games. I believe it's just new type of game just different one if we compare to "normal" chess. Some players can play better rapid chess; some of them play better blitz, so there will be some players who can play better with [this] format as well. Some poker players open many tables in computer screen. They play simultaneously everywhere and can control the situation.

GM Antoaneta Stefanova: I've never played the tournament like that before, so I expected to be more confused with all those actions -- playing, writing moves in different score sheets, pushing buttons on clocks. Loek Van Wely told me he had played the tournament on the six boards against the same opponent. So since we have only two here it can not be so difficult.

GM Loek Van Wely: It's also kind of tricky to play on two boards. I believe its better not to play fast here. You should not be [distracted] by your opponent who makes moves on the other board as well. Although, if there is an obvious move on the other board you can make the move quickly but in general it's better to keep on thinking about your position. The only situation when it's possible to switch all the time is when you have time trouble. In any case it's not so simple somehow to play here. [...] You look to one board then to another one and somehow you don't see clearly any more. I believe people will like this format and we are going to see more tournaments with Basque system. In my opinion it's a fairer format. There is a chance to play against the same opponent with both colors.

GM Andrei Volokitin (the eventual winner): Basque system is very interesting and not typical. It has right to exist. I like to play chess in general, so I feel comfortable to play so many games. The more the better!

Chess960 is already a giant step forward in the evolution of chess. Is the chess world ready for it to be combined with the Basque System of tournament play?


HarryO said...

It's a great idea for traditional chess I think, but not so much for Chess960.

Traditional chess needs roughly 30% less mental energy than Chess960 at a guess, because there is so much pre-arrangement in traditional chess. Playing two simultaneous Chess960 games would be pretty overwhelming. Personally I'm pretty overwhelmed just playing one game of Chess960!

But for traditional chess it makes sense because not only is the opening familiar, but many mid-game themes are also familiar because they emerge out of the pre-arranged openings. Therefore simultaneous games would be much less confusing.


HarryO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HarryO said...

News on the Basque Chess960 idea. Here is a transcript of the two commentators from the Showdown in Saint Louis 2015 talking about it:

Jennifer Shahade: "I really wish that we had Basque Chess for Fischer Random don't you? So that we could see how Fabi would tackle playing white (in contrast to Hikaru)"

Yasser Seirawan: "Oh that would be intriguing for sure"

Jennifer Shahade: "I think in Fischer Random it really makes a lot of sense, because you get to show....cause it's to easy to say after the game 'hey white just has an edge in this particular Fischer random'. But if you play Basque Chess960 you have to show it from both sides"