The forging of Iron into Steel

12/11/03

So you want to own the Chess World Championship Title?

   The process that selects a challenger should be similar to the forging of iron into steel. In order to make steel you take strong iron and put it under tremendous pressure and heat. The end result is steel. The last man standing is worthy of the challenge and the right to be champion. You want your champion and challenger to be steel.

Hereís what you have to do:

1)      You must respect all the past players who earned the right to be World Champion. They are: Steinitz, Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, and Kramnik. You canít put anyone in this list who does not deserve to be there.

      2)      You must preserve the rich tradition of the man who beat the man who beat the man. This is the only way the title should change hands, the noticeable exceptions were Alekhine dying and Fischer retiring.

      3)      You must hold the championship on regular intervals. I believe the three-year cycle is best.  

      4)      You must have a rigorous process to select a worthy challenger. FIDE over the years had perfected the process. FIDE organized the 1948 tournament of champions after Alekhine had die.  This Tournament had the 5 best players in the world playing a four game match against each other. Botvinnik was the clear winner and the new champion.  FIDE gradually changed the process to select a challenger. At first it was a candidate tournament, the top players in the world played each other. The winner would face the World Champion in match play. 

   
FIDE perfected the process in the mid 1960ís. The process had to expand because the number of talented players around the world increased and FIDE needed to allow all the talent to have a chance to fight for the world championship. The new process consisted of zonal tournaments with the top players from each zone competing in an interzonal tournament. The top finishes along with the loser of the last World Championship qualified to play in candidate elimination matches.  This process produced the following challengers Spassky, Fischer, Karpov, and Kasparov. Each one of them went on to defeat the world champion in match play to become champion, with the noticeable exception of Karpov, who was proclaimed champion due to Fischer retiring. 

   
You can tell you have a great process when things donít go according to plan. In 1975 Bobby Fischer refused to defend his title. So the challenger Anatoly Karpov was proclaimed the new champion.  Karpov did not justify his title by winning all those tournaments in the 70ís.  He was a worthy champion because he was the last man standing after the rigorous candidate selection process. Karpov tied for first in the 1973 interzonal, he then proceeded to win the following 3 candidate elimination matches:   
              a)      Defeated Lev Polugaevski (5.5 Ė 2.5)

b)     Defeated ex World Champion Boris Spassky(7-4)

c)      Defeated 2-time world champion contender Victor Kortchnoi(5-4).

            So there is no question, Karpov is a great player, a worthy challenger and champion. He was forged into steel by the process. He reaffirmed this by winning all those tournaments in the 70ís and 80ís.

       5)      Finally you need  the final showdown to occur between challenger and champion (well when possible). This should be a match of 20-24 games, a true test of strength. Draw odds going to the champion.

  To do anything less devaluates the world title and dilutes it. A strong process is good for chess. It is important for Chess that the World Champion be a truly great player.

 

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