Thursday, 24 July 2008

Time to slow down?

(WARNING: This one goes on a bit)

When I began playing chess Australian players with FIDE ratings were very small. This made getting one a real status symbol and I knew a few players who went to extraordinary lengths to get one. Although FIDE have made it much easier to earn a FIDE rating, and large numbers of players now have them, there is still a sense of importance attached to them. It is this sense of importance that is leading some event organisers to make the deliberate decision to have FIDE rated weekenders, even if this reduces the number of rounds etc
This may result in Australian chess coming full circle, in terms of the format of weekend events. To explain ....
Until the 1990's most Australian weekenders had time controls of 40 moves in 90 minutes (or 40 in 100) which meant that 5 rounds were normally the maximum number of rounds that could be held over 2 days. At an Albury Weekender in the early 90's(?) Darryl Johansen remarked in his winners speech that he liked the tournament but it was a shame there weren't more rounds. Subsequently myself (and then others) began to organise tournaments with time controls of G/60 minutes (with analog clocks), and G/60+10s per move (when DGT clocks arrived). This meant that an event could have 6 or 7 rounds over a 2 day weekend. However the clear drawback with this time control is that the quality of chess suffers. And I suspect that the higher rated players would prefer longer time controls.
So this feeds back into the idea of FIDE Rating weekenders. As the fastest time control for a FIDE rated tournament is 90m+30s per move, the top end of the tournament gets both a reasonable time control, and the importance of FIDE rating points. Of course for 2 day events we are back to the problem of having enough rounds.
One solution is to hold a 2 day tournament over 3 days! A FIDE rated top section with 6 rounds could have a Friday night round, 3 rounds on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. Indeed this is a common format in the UK, and probably elsewhere. Unfortunately Australia isn't the size of a postage stamp (like England) and having to travel 300km or more on a Friday afternoon may not appeal. Therefore the organisers should offer byes for the Friday night game. Again there may be a problem in that such byes are usually half point byes and giving up half a point may not appeal to someone who has ambitions of fnishing in the prize list.
So my final format suggestion is to choose an arbitrary cut off (say 2000) and anyone who takes a first round bye with a rating above that gets a full point bye, while below that is a half point bye. The question is would everyone above 2000 just take a full point bye and not make the effort to travel early, or even if they could play on Friday, decide to pocket the point.
So to summarise ...
FIDE Rated Weekender
  • Time Control: 90m+30s per move
  • Schedule: 1 round Friday, 3 Rounds Saturday, 2 Rounds Sunday
  • Requested Byes: First Round - Full point for players over 2000, half point for everyone else. Half point byes only for all other rounds


Garvin said...

Why would a 2000+ not take the free point when there seems to be a couple of advantages at least to it?

1) Does not risk dropping half a point in round one
2) Will have the advantage of not playing till late the night before, especially when facing 3 90 + 30's on Saturday.

TrueFiendish said...

"When I began playing chess Australian players with FIDE ratings were very small."

It's true: in recent decades people seem to be getting bigger. Have you seen the kids of today?