Drawn games becoming more widespread in chess

Woman chess grandmaster 18-year-old Qiyu Zhou (pronounced Chee-you Jo), an Under-14 World Chess Champion, represented Canada at the Chess Olympiad starting from 2014. Recently, she published a study in relation to the number of draws contained in high level chess and which may be responsible for a decline in sponsorship. Zhou contends the number of draws in chess games have increased over the years. (Photo: Chessbase)

We witnessed recently, a series of draws in the classical games of the World Chess Championship Match. The classical games give a player adequate thinking time. Last week, at the semi-finals of the London Chess Classic, we experienced a repeat of the draws we saw at the World Championship Match. And those draws were effected among some of the most pre-eminent grandmasters of our time.

The question is: Should a classical chess match be determined by Rapid, Blitz and Armageddon games? As we are accustomed to say in chess, something is wrong and unusually funny with such a move. I, in addition to some others, believe the classical games should provide a result in the classical format. 

Fabiano Caruana (left) and Hikaru Nakamura, American chess grandmasters, shake hands at the start of the London Chess Classic tournament recently. The knockout tournament represents the semi-finals of the Grand Chess Tour among Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Levon Aronian and Nakamura, all eminent grandmasters. (Photo: Lennart Ootes)

We have the Rapid and Blitz World Championship Matches played separately. Incidentally, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen is the world champion in all three formats. So why should a classical World Championship Match be settled in a Rapid format? I am positive the World Chess Federation (FIDE) considered such matters before allowing the classical mode to tampered with. Previously, the number of games used to be stretched to 24, instead of 12. The chance, therefore, of creating a new champion, or the former one retaining his title, would be truly positive, if not overwhelming.

When Capablanca faced Alekhine for the World Championship title in 1927, the first player to accumulate six victories, draws not counting, would be declared chess champion of the world. But such a scenario could take months and was not feasible. That, perhaps, was one of the reasons why FIDE altered the format. I still prefer the 24-game championship when Fischer opposed Spassky and Karpov faced Kasparov.

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