Thursday, 2 August 2007

Armageddon Chess - Is it fair?

You could easily substitute Armageddon Chess for its football equivalent the penalty shootout. Everyone agrees it's awful that it should decide a tournament, everyone says they hate them, they're only good for the following things and that's provide low quality drama, suspense and a brief adrenalin rush, usually at the expense of quality play.

I've just finished watching the Biel tie-breaks on the playchess server and after all blitz games were drawn we ended up with Onishcuk/Carslen in an Armageddon game, simple rules White gets 5 mins, Black gets 4 mins, White must win and Black only has to draw. Which to his credit Carlsen played brilliantly and is now declared the tournament winner.

Isn't this a bit shallow though, surely it's almost impossible for White to force a win. If Black plays the opening safe White will inevitably be forced to play sub-standard moves in his quest for the point, after all isn't chess about the position on the board and not a pre-determined outcome.

Is there an alternative to these games, well yes in short, noone wins outright, the tournament is simply tied and winnings shared equally. What's the disgrace in having a tournament finishing with players tied 1st equal? Absolutely nothing IMO.

I enjoyed Biel even though the players were some of the lower echelons of the elite, but Carlsen, Radjabov and Onischuk played excellent stuff and whilst Judit Polgar wasn't her sparkling self, she was still very solid. I therefore think it a crying shame that this sort of chess can be the differentiating factor.

Oh well, let's hope this situation doesn't arise at Mexico for all our sakes.


Tom Chivers said...

I missed nearly all of the tournament - I've had such busy week unfortunately. I don't think I've seen one complete game yet.

I'd hate to see something serious - like a World Championship - decided by Armageddon. But if it's just the title of tournament winner, I guess it's good for the sponsors, and doesn't take long.

Who would you take in the Armageddon game? I'd take white, I think - and go for the sharpest stuff after 1.e4.

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