Monday, 5 January 2015

The quest for perfection

Whenever a player starts an event with a run of wins, talk inevitably turns to Bobby Fischer, and visions of 100% . Fabiano Caruana's start in the 2014 Sinquefeld Cup was an example of this at the very highest level, while a more recent example was the start of GM Jun Zhao at the current Hastings International. He started the event with 6/6, leading to speculation that 9/9 was an achievable goal.  But almost as soon as this talk began, it was shutdown as Zhao drew his round 7 game.
The fact that he drew in round 7 shows one of the reason why 100% in any long tournament is incredibly difficult to achieve. The main goal of a tournament top seed is to win the event, and this does not require victory in every game. You simply need to score more points than the other players, and if this involves taking a couple of draws, then so be it. Sometimes a tournament will try  and encourage players to strive for more via extra prizes (eg $64,000 bonus for 100% in the US Champs, or the Doeberl Cup fighting fund), but this has not resulted in a rash of 'perfect' tournaments. In fact for a lot of players the prospect of gaining or losing rating points seems to be the greater motivator in a lot of situations, as for a chess professional, this seems to be the'currency' they prefer to value.

Zhao,Jun - Romain,Eduard [D27]
Hastings 2014-15, 04.01.2015

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