Sunday, June 19, 2011

Chessplayers Are Not Always Honest!

So writes IM Greg Shahade, founder of the US Chess League and the US Chess School, writing on the USCF website, Chess Life Online. (
I could not help but think of a former chessplayer named Big Al Hamilton who said, "Everything's rigged." I read a fine book last year, The Fix Is In: The Showbiz Manipulations of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NASCAR by Brian Tuohy, which made me say to myself, "Say it ain't so, Joe."
He writes, "There is widespread and well known cheating that occurs in chess tournaments on a regular basis. I have personally witnessed and heard about dozens of such cases, and they continue to occur regularly, including some of the most prestigious tournaments in the world, such as FIDE World Championship Qualifiers. Trust me when I say that prearrangement of results is extremely commonplace, even at the highest levels of chess."
Greg has blown the lid on a dirty secret that everyone knows, but refuse to acknowledge, at least openly. He writes, "I believe a pure round-robin (every player faces each other player once) is a dreadful format for a serious chess tournament for two major reasons": 1.Chessplayers are not always honest!
Unfortunately, there is no second reason given. It will, presumably, be given in his next article.
The main reason a round-robin is "a dreadful format" is that it is inherently unfair because some of the players will have one more game with the white pieces. For example, not to detract from Hikaru Nakamura's win in Wijk aan Zee this year, but he was fortunate to have one more game with white than some of the other contenders. The only way for a round-robin to be fair would be for each of the opponents to play each other twice, once with white and once with black, making it a double round-robin.
Greg writes, "The predominant format of chess and chess tournaments have stayed approximately the same for the last thirty years, meanwhile everyone except the very top chess players in the nation, is unable to make a living from solely playing chess. You would think that rational people in this situation would say "Things haven't been working out for a while, maybe we should try something different".
I have been saying and writing the very same thing for years and have been pilloried for my efforts. Then again, I am not a titled player...
I have suggested a simple method to alleviate the unfairness, and, hopefully, diminish the cheating. That is to have different points awarded for a win with black as opposed to a win with white. The same for a draw with black versus a draw with white. If more points are awarded for a draw with black than the points given for the draw with white, then there will not be as many 'buddy-buddy' draws. Think of it, six players tied for first place going into the last round. Would you, with the white pieces, offer a draw to your opponent? I certainly would not!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But to live outside the law, you must be honest-Bob Dylan, from Absolutely Sweet Marie