Tournaments with innovative formats
Up until recently, the prominent tournament that regularly earned the prize for eccentricity was the one in Monte Carlo held in honor of Melody Amber by her father, Joop van Oosterom. This tournament’s format featured a combination of rapid and blindfold chess. In the meantime, rapid chess, games played in 30 minutes or less, developed apace and soon “improved’’ to blitz chess (5 minutes for each player). This new culture became jaded when bullet chess entered the scene- with only 1 minute for each player per game.
FIDE, the World Chess Federation, gives players ratings only for chess at ample time controls. The US Chess Federation does the same but also rates so-called Quick Chess at G/5-G/29 minutes. In addition to these evolutionary mutations, the Internet Chess Club (ICC, ChessClub.com), the most popular chess-playing site on the Internet, rates players participating in a whole warehouse of different kinds of chess. These include Bullet, Loser’s, Giveaway, Crazyhouse, and Bughouse, a variation of “Wild’’ chess, where you play with a partner and are allowed to share pieces and guidance during the game. Loser’s chess is where the object is to get checkmated first!
While these sideshows were developing, the 100th Anniversary edition of the Botvinnik Memorial has managed to find another innovation. The men’s portion of this September tournament featured the top four players of the world - Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, and Levon Aronian. The tournament consisted of a double round-robin of rapid games at 25 minutes per game, with 10-second increments per move. However, in a triumph of novelty, the rules provided that the games would be interrupted in midcourse while each side comments to spectators on the game played so far. While one side delivers his thoughts, the other listens to music and thus could not steal his opponent’s plans. This was only fair. Following the tournament, each player gave a simultaneous performance against 10 opponents.
In the men’s section, world champion Anand won with 4.5 points. The latest quirk of fate was that the world’s No. 1, Carlsen, ended up last with 1.5 points. He even lost all his games in the second round. Who knows, maybe he had pneumonia and braved his way through. In the women’s section, Viktorija Cmilyte, of Lithuania, won with 4 points, and top-seeded Humpy Koneru of India came in last with 2 points.
The Botvinnik Memorial is especially interesting because of a concurrent article by Carlsen in “New in Chess’’ magazine. He describes the demands of high-level chess. He says you have to be in top form throughout (obviously calculating the best combinations for each move) and confesses that a long game will result in errors. He often plays soccer and similar sports between games and this does not help his preparation.
Brevity: R. Keene vs. John Sugden (1961) 1.Nf3 d5 2.b3 Bf5 3.Bb2 e6 4.g3 h6 5.Bg2 Nf6 6.0-0 Nbd7 7.d3 Bd6 8.Nbd2 c6 9.Re1 Bh7 10.e4 dxe4 11.dxe4 Bc7 12.e5 Nd5 13.c4 Ne7 14.Ne4 Bxe4 15.Rxe4 0-0 16.Rd4; 1-0.
Winners: Boylston Quad No. 1 - 1st, Jonathan Yedidia, 2.5-.5, 2d, Chris Chase 2-1, 3d, Michelle Chen 1.5 -1.5. New England Scholastic K-6 Under 1400 - 1st, Alan Sakarov, 2d-5th, Eric Feng, Sandeep Shankar, Alon Trogan, Gershon Gilman; Under 800 - tie for 1st, Tyler Saklar, Jason Liang, Alexander Bao, Nikita Roldan-Levchenko, and Luke Randolph, 3-1.
Coming Events: Metrowest Trick or Treat, Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25, 90 Oak St., Natick, inforequest@MetroWestChess.org; CMC Saturday Night Action Chess, Oct. 1, 201 Wayland Ave., Providence, email@example.com