Tuesday 25 August 2015

Quality versus excitment

Chess as sport or chess as art? Those that favour shorter time controls line up in the first camp, while others (including me btw) think that quality games are produced with slower time controls.
An interesting data point in this debate occurred in the second round of the 2015 Sinquefield Cup. Caruana v Carlsen saw both players starting with 0/1, and so a loss for either of them would almost doom their tournament. For most of the game Caruana held an advantage, but at the cost of most of his time. It is important to note that for the events of the Grand Chess Tour, the first time control is simply 40 moves in 2 hours, with an additional hour added after that, along with a 30s per move increment (from move 41). So with Caruana running short of time, salvation would only happen once he played move 40.
It turned out that Caruana did get to move 40, but only by playing a 1 move blunder which lost on the spot. By all reports the finish of this game was very exciting for the spectators, but as a distant observer it just looked like Carlsen got very very lucky. I am not knocking Carlsen's win by the way, as he took advantage of the situation before him (and his play contributed to Caruana's shortage of time). It is more that the trend of chess has been to move away from these 'sudden death' types of games (with the introduction of clocks with increments), and to see it become part of top level chess again is a little jarring (at least to me).

Caruana,Fabiano (2808) - Carlsen,Magnus (2853) [C78]
3rd Sinquefield Cup 2015 Saint Louis USA (2.4), 24.08.2015

1 comment:

Garvin said...

I think you need to take into account where the tournament is being played. In USA, guillotine finishes are still used very frequently, so often that they are almost the standard time control (at least in the first time period).

But in Europe, if not the rest of the world, they have moved to increment play for most time periods and time controls.