Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On Carlsen's Withdrawal

Wow. When I read this pop up in the news, I thought, so what. So the guy withdraws, big deal. But almost a week since that letter from Carlsen, ChessVibes is still milking the story after seeing their comment numbers break records.

The long and short of all this is that fans' reactions are mixed: some support the Norwegian, others don't, while some are just plain confused. Even I got confused for a moment when our old mate Macauley appeared to accuse Chessbase of making up an interview!

Anyway, here's my take. Carlsen obviously wants change and he wants that quickly. He could have just as easily played on and his career (apparently something he's concerned about) would have remained intact.

So, he plays chicken with FIDE. When you're number one, not necessarily continuously but definitely consistently for the foreseesable future, you can afford to do that. The guy is saying, "show me your world champ, but I'll show you who's really numero uno".

It is just now a matter of watching who'll blink first. I'd like to say and believe that it will be FIDE, for I'm with Carlsen on at least this one point that the whole system of matches is not "sufficiently modern and fair". In fact, the idea of a match (or series of matches) is just plain old-fashioned. Matches hark back to the days when men challenged other men to a duel. Time now I say to dump that idea.

I think, however, that FIDE can afford to bide their time. After all many fans, and possibly players, still believe that one-on-one contests are the very heights of chess combat. Hec, even I get excited, especially when one guy is an absolute wanker. Think Topalov. It's really that sort of polarising effect that stimulates plenty of interest.

But a World Championship series sans the best is ridiculous. I hope FIDE will accomodate Carlsen: shorten the cycle, firm up the structure and remove privileges. Too hard?


Smooth Chillsforever said...

Frankly,I'm still confused on what exactly MC is requesting. I mean, whats wrong with taking the top 10 rated players in the world, play a round robin tourney and the winner becomes the number one challenger to face anand. Or..throw anand in the mix and play a round robin and the winner =world champion..kinda like the US Championship format?!any comments?

Anonymous said...

Too much said already on this, so I'll be brief. The WC should be the best. Since chess history shows numerous examples of guys who could pile up points like gangbusters in tournaments but not win matches at the very highest levels, only a match really settles who is best. Tenacity and soundness always grinds down brilliance and risk-taking. And since Soviet-style collusion in tournaments could still occur, you still need some qualifying matches to optimally select a challenger, esp. one w/qualities needed in match play. Below that level, at some point only a tournament can "process" a larger number of players into a select group of candidates. "Chess politics" cannot realistically be removed from the process.

So, Carlsen and the top GMs want stability and predictability as to process? Just give them stability and no mid-course changes. Easy, except for economics. You cannot remove economics. In a recession sponsors retrench. Thus, this time, the GP tournament cancellations, etc. It's all quite imperfect. That's life. Get over it, Magnus. See you next cycle. Must be nice to be so young and so darn good!

Ryan said...

"Hec, even I get excited, especially when one guy is an absolute wanker. Think Topalov".

That made me laugh out loud! I think the debate between tournaments/matches is a distraction. What we need is a settled cycle that doesn't get changed on a whim, and which sponsors are happy to support.

Thomas said...

carlsen is being a spoilt brat. as kramnik said, now that everything is more or less settled and stable, why not just play? why make a pigs breakfast of it now? and just be a spoilt brat kicking and screaming like kasparov did? its not like its lacking any of the serious top players - if you're not scared, just plough through them and smash them all! what does the world number 1, the magnus carlsen, the amazing nobody can compare to carlsen, then who cares about number of matches, number of games, format?

look at kramnik and aronian's responses on chess vibes. they are right: why all the fuss? if you're the best, go through it! and personally speaking, i think aronian or kramnik will whip his a*s!

Anonymous said...

anand agrees with kramnik and aronian: “The cycle has a clear direction and seems to have the pieces in place. We have the most probable venue and organisation for both stages and the match in London would definitely be a high point in chess, something I am keenly looking forward to. The candidiates by itself will be an extremely strong and very keenly contested event”

carlsen made a BLUNDER. i appreciate the guys who are willing to fight on any grounds, no matter what format/time/number of rounds. carlsen just wants to cherry pick.

go aronian! go gelfand!

Anonymous said...

When Bobby Fischer pulled the same stunt in the 1972 match with Spassky, Jim Slater sweetened the pot substantially.
Bobby duly beat Spassky and then found ways to tell the rest of the chess world to go fly a kite.
Carlsen is surely a great player, but a poor sport. And clearly there is more money in male modelling than in chess.