Sunday, May 25, 2008

Justice or Entertainment?

Happenings in US chess rarely draw my attention. But this morning, as I went about my Sunday morning ritual of coffee and paper, firstly flicking over to GM Ian Rogers' column in Sydney's Sun Herald paper, my attention was provoked.

In the past week, the US decided its latest champions: GM Yury Shulman for the men, and IM Anna Zatonskih for the women. It's the women's event to which we turn our attention. To say that the finish was dramatic is perhaps an understatement. Here's a video of how the title was decided. Watch from about .20 to 1.12.

Reactions to that incident can be read on ChessVibes and on YouTube. But here's GM Ian Rogers' take on it as well as on the so-called Armageddon finish:

Krush was, not surprisingly, devastated yet such scenes are likely to become more frequent as the Armageddon rule seeks to substitute entertainment for justice.

Most worrying is the possibility that the upcoming world title match in Bonn between Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand could be decided by such a game.

(You can read the regulations to the Kramnik - Anand match here).

Firstly, on the Krush incident: as far as I am concerned, Krush only had herself to blame. She failed to hustle. Bad time management, bad play and capped off by poor attitude. My sympathies for her are about as much as I give to that hapless side Chelsea FC. Zero!

Secondly, on the use of Armageddon: frankly, I don't see what the problem is. Rogers' notion of "justice" is, well, pretty mysterious to say the least. Maybe we need the simple reminder that we're not here to seek justice, we're here (or you know, there in Bonn) to find the winner. That's it! If we can go about that process with a little entertainment thrown in, then all the better. I think you'll agree that even for aficionados, draw after draw punctuated only by the occasional decisive game (which, you can bet, is what we'll likely witness in the upcoming match) can be terribly boring.

Finally, chess really needs to grow up. We want big sponsorship money, then we need to give results. Armageddon (or penalty shootouts) give results.

I'm in favour of Armageddon. What say you? Look right, scroll up and vote in the poll.


Anonymous said...

Interesting comments.

Professionals play to win, but should know how to show dignity in losing occasions as well. Poor form by Krush.

Anonymous said...

Anyone with plenty of experience playing bullet on ICC would be used to such situations...

Anonymous said...

What is this Armageddon rule? Does it involve knocking pieces over? The article is poorly written because it just assumes everyone knows what this Armageddon rule is. I don't, but the article resolves around it.

Anonymous said...

krush is annoying when she rolls her sleeve up constantly after every move. its funny but a real distraction in the game if you're watching

Anonymous said...

Yes, as every blitz player knows, Krush should have taken her top off to stop her sleeves annoying her!

Forget the quality of the chess, which sponsors don't really understand, just introduce more Armageddon finishes to attract the sponsors!

Brian Jones

Anonymous said...

armageddon is a terrible rule FOR THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. i agree with ian rogers, which is rare by the way. for an ordinary tournament okay, even US champs. but THE world championship and any tournament in the cycle to lead to world champs, no way. cant decide such a monumental thing by few seconds of lucky nerves

DeNovoMeme said...

If after 30, 40, 50 hours of chess between players there is no clear winner, then either:

1. Flip a coin or
2. Share 1st or
3. Armageddon.

All three have down sides but only one has an up side. Armageddon is EXCITING ! It attracts sponsors and that is good for everyone in Chessingdom.

ed g. said...

Chess titles should be settled by playing chess, not by playing some sickening variant.

As for sponors, who are the sponsors who were acttually attracted by it? Give one example of a sponsor who said "oh, we weren't going to support this event, but then they explained this supercool Armageddeon rule, so we did."

If Armageddeon were actually helpful, the I'd expect that the US Championship video would be: one of the top ten clips on YourTube; on ESPN as a "play of the day"; in the CNN sports report; or at least picked up by some widely-watched TV show. Oops, none of that happened.

As for penalty shootouts, football was already the most popular sport in the world before those were invented. As I recall, they were introduced in one of the attempts to make the sport popular in the USA. Fail!

Chaos said...

for those of you not in the US Pond, the next biggest US tournament that follows the championship (the chicago open!) which I played was also decided by one game armageddon between Petrosian and Akrobian. However, Akrobian won convincingly in the game. The difference is.... Petrosian smiled, put out his hand and then was the first one to start clapping for Akrobian. THIS is sportsmanship. This attracts sponsors. While I don't know how I feel about armageddon... I agree it is impossible to feel sympathy for Krush when she acts that way.

Anonymous said...

Funny how the better player always seems to win - regardless of the format!

Anonymous said...

Armageddon game after playing so many rounds of normal chess,than rapid chess,than blitz...what else do you want?! that poeple will play as Karpov-Kasparov for few months and than lose there mind??!
Wake up guys! is 2008 already!
Time to be more practical and find more ways to sell and atract poeple chess! in this sad situation where in so big countries as Australia there is hardly any tournaments or GM's-even blitz tournamnets can be great idea for a start to promotion!:-)
DeNovoMeme is genius! :-)

Anonymous said...

If you want a spectacular event - Armageddon on the 1 metre outdoor set in Hyde Park! (not sure where you get a big clock from?)

Anonymous said...

What about Armageddon 15 vs. 12.5, with Black having draw odds? At least this way the game is decided by who is the better blitz player rather than who has the faster reflexes.

Anonymous said...

Draw after draw is not the way forward. Technical set-plays (which is what many draws are) will take this game backwards (in fact I dare say they already are). If you're one of those that dispute that much, then how about 'technical set-plays will stunt the growth of the game'?

There are only so many opportunities to find a 'true' champion using the fine art. And those opportunities are afforded - in match play.

Anyone who slugs out the whole nine yards and can't come out on top ain't the champ! NEWSFLASH.

For mine, Armageddon or some similar blitzed-out variant is as good as any proposal I've seen.

TIP: Win the damn tournament outright (if yer good enough chump) otherwise take your chances with the other draw masters.

Whoever said this is 2008 was on the money.

Whoever said that the annoying sleeve rolling was OTT was on the money.

Whoever said that Krush displayed poor form was on the money.

Carry on!