Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mangalia Chess Festival With New Scoring System - A Step in the Right Direction for the Integrity of Chess Competitions

The Mangalia Chess Festival used a scoring system in which draws led to a blitz standoff. The rules for the tournament were as follows:

Each game bears three points instead of the "normal" one. In case of decisive result, the winner receives three points, the defeated signs zero. But if the game ends in a draw, each player takes one point and then they move in to play Armageddon blitz game (5 minutes for White, 4 for Black + draw odds) for the remaining third point. Thus a game can give 3-0 or 2-1 score.

I completely support the use of a game to determine who gets the points coming out of a draw, but I am not sure blitz time controls is the way to go. For my long-term readers you will recall that I have posted on a few occasions that the whole notion of questionable draws has greatly hurt the world of chess in terms of the integrity of tournament results. Questionable draws over the years have given rise to many skeptics of chess competitions, and rightly so.

I firmly believe that the new rules surfacing are a big step in the right direction, but the time controls need to be longer. I would even fully support a normal time control second game right after the draw happens, as this would add a level of "overtime" and excitement to the competition. Then it's a matter of stamina and skill, just like in so many other professional competitions.

Nonetheless, the use of "Armageddon blitz" to determine draw games is a massive step in the right direction. Players will try to avoid getting into a drawing situation and will fight harder for the win from move one. Frankly I hope to see similar rules used in many more top-level competitions, even if it has to be short-time controls for the time being.

Once questionable draws are removed from Chess, the main integrity issues will be resolved and hopefully the general media over time will get engaged with the competitions as they were in the past.