Monday 3 August 2015

King of the ring

Over the years I have experimented with various tournament formats, to see whether variety is really the spice of life. However one format I was not aware of is currently being used in the Russia v China Match. It is apparently borrowed from Go, and it is a combination of a team match and a 'last man standing' type event.
Each team submits a playing order before the start of the match (unknown to the other team), and then the first two players meet. After that it is 'winner stays on' while the loser is replaced by the next player on the list. Obviously the match winner is the team which wins the final match, and eliminates the last player on the opposing team.
As it turns out, the Russian's are running away with the match, as Sergey Karjakin has turned into a one man wrecking queue. He has dispatched his first 4 opponents (Wei Yi, Ding Liren, Ni Hua, Yu Yangyi) and only needs to beat Wang Yue to complete a clean sweep. Even if he now loses, Wang Yue has to beat the other 4 Russian players to win the match!
Despite what seems to be a somewhat shorter match than the organisers anticipated, this format may be worth repeating. One tweak, which has been used in the USA, is to rank the teams in order of rating, and start with the lowest rated players first. This at least has the advantage of stretching the match out, as opponents are more likely to become harder to beat, rather than easier!

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