15 February 2014

Shall We Organize Chess960 Tournaments?

Continuing with my previous post, Who Needs FIDE?, where I wrote,
If the chess960 community is serious about the future of their game, they should not rely on FIDE or on any other traditional chess federation, just as they should not rely on the chess publishing industry to advance interest in chess960. The entrenched chess interests have too much at stake to humor the upstart.

The post earned a few good comments, one of them on another post, It's Not About Short Draws, where GeneM made several remarks that deserve a response. First, there is the question of ratings.

GM: Mark is mistaken about FIDE’s source of strength: I believe it comes primarily from FIDE’s rating system.

MW: A rating system is important, but it puts the cart before the horse. You need tournaments before you need a rating system. Today there are few chess960 tournaments. Traditional tournaments were held for many decades before rating systems were introduced, because ratings are a refinement, not a prerequisite. The job can be outsourced to any rating agency. FIDE doesn't have a monopoly on the service.

Next, there is the raison d'être for chess960.

GM: Mark is unjustified in asserting that the goal of chess960 is to remove the effect of at-home opening phrase preparation. Yes that was Fischer’s goal, but Fischer speaks only for himself.

MW: Fischer spoke for more people than himself. His concern was the extensive use of computer-based preparation, where the players memorize variations calculated by an engine. This was not an issue until the 1990s.

Finally, there is the promise of partial progress.

GM: My main comment today is to urge Mark to switch to a glass-half-full perception from his glass-half-empty perception.

MW: Let's say that 'X' chess960 start positions (SPs) are 'authorized' for tournament use, where 'X' is one or two. The glass is neither half-empty nor half-full. It is (X+1)/960 percent full, where the '+1' is the traditional start position, SP518 RNBQKBNR. If someone wants to organize a tournament limited to one (nontraditional) SP, I'm all for it. Better that than nothing at all, but I'm not going to forget that the ultimate objective is full play in all 960 SPs.

HarryO flagged a post on his own blog with a concrete proposal: Let's crowdfund the first ever Chess960 simultaneous.

We crowd-fund the first ever official chess960 simultaneous between Hikaru Nakamura and the Chess Tigers club in Germany. The event is held some time this year before the next world championship match.

As for me, I was thinking about a more democratic option: running a tournament or series of tournaments on one of the online servers that support live (crossboard, as opposed to correspondence) chess960 play. There are three servers listed on the sidebar. Are they active? What would it take to organize a tournament on any or all of them? What would it cost?

Lots of questions, not many answers. I'll look at some of the details in future posts.

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