I received an email
from a reader on 7/25/2004. He makes some
interesting comments about my take on the Adams interview form
Issues raised by the email:
1) does the World
Champion really NEED to be the best player in the world? Personally, I
think too much has been made of having the top-ranked player & world
champion be one individual. Why can't the world champion be ranked #4,
2) I think the paradigm needs to shift away from systems like
'boxing' (where egos and personal vendettas reign supreme and
affect the scheduling of possible match-ups), and move toward systems
like 'tennis' (where the organization of tournaments and matches are
predictable and fall outside of the influence of 'who' is #1 at the
3) getting reliable sponsorship
and scheduling for
world championship cycles. Sponsors don't want to invest in a system
that isn't reliable, and might or might not be regarded as 'the' world
championship as a number of world championships have been in the past.
Does the world champion need to be the number 1 player in the
No, but we have to respect the process of how the
champion got there. The situation with FIDE today is that any one in the
top 1/3 of the draw can win the KO. Also when we do get a top player who
wins the KO, like Anand did in 1997
we are always left with the question of he didn't beat Kasparov or
Kramnik. Anand won both KO's with
only 8 wins against 6 opponents. That test is not tough enough. Ponomariov
won 12 games against 7 opponents when he became FIDE KO Champion in 2002. Kasimdzhanov won
15 games against 7 opponents to become FIDE KO Champ in 2004.
We also have to remember this KO includes 128 players. So a lot of
the players are not world championship caliber. There are numerous other
issues with the FIDE KO as a world championship process. The FIDE KO
is nothing more than a tournament. You should not become a classical world
champion by getting hot during a 3 week tournament.
Now if you look at the
successful runs of the true Champions:
won 27 games in his failed attempt in 1966, he won 17 in his successful
run to the title.
2) Fischer won
38 games in his successful attempt in 1972.
won 20 games in his successful attempt in 1975. Even though no world
championship match took place, he still won a lot of games.
had to win 27 games in his successful attempt in 1985, this includes
both world championship matches in 1984-the aborted one- and the 1985
We also have to remember these champions won games against
the top 20-25 players in the world. During the World Championship glory
1966-1993, there were times when the champion was not the number one
player in the world. In 1972 Bobby Fischer was rated higher than Spassky,
but no one should have felt Spassky was no longer the world champion.
After all Spassky road to the title was the toughest. Also during 1984
Garry Kasparov was rated higher than Karpov, however no one should have had
a problem with Karpov being world champion. He twice successfully defended
his title against the best of the rest, Victor
Kortchnoi. Karpov also had an incredible tournament record.
Do we need to get away from boxing paradigm ? ( where egos and personal
vendettas reign supreme and affecting the scheduling of possible match
Hangin's take :
and chess are close cousins, they can both trace their champions back thru
history in man who beat the man contests. Chess needs to preserve its rich
tradition. It hold value. The champion will inspire many fans to take up
the sport. In fact boxing should follow the chess paradigm of the 1966-1993
period. Boxing rankings are arbitrary to a degree. Title matches are
arranged by promoters. During chess' hey day, 1966-1993, no promoter
decided who the champion would play. FIDE created a process that allowed
the best of the rest to fight it out in zonal, interzonal and candidate
matches. Only the strongest, toughest, and hungriest could make it through
this tough process. It was a forging
of iron to steel. It assured the toughest challenge for the title.
As far as personal vendettas and egos, if Victor Kortchnoi can
sit down across from Anatoly Karpov in three world championship matches,
1974, 1978, and 1981, they can be overcome. Ruslan Ponomariov
was a case of a young person having too little success too soon. He
blew a great opportunity.
Judge the system to decide who should be world champion, on the following
1) media coverage of the process.
2) the champions they produce. It
needs to produce proud champions that every one can respect.
3) how the system works when it breaks
down. When Bobby Fischer refused to defend his title, Karpov step in.
Anatoly Karpov proved he was a worthy champion, not by dominating
tournaments in the 70's, but by his hard road to win the right to
challenge for the title. Karpov great tournament record only confirmed his
4) how many new fans are inspired by the
world championship match.
getting reliable sponsorship and scheduling for
world championship cycles ?
We need to get
back to the old system after Reunification.
FIDE should break up and open up this process so
that more sponsors can bid. Spread this process and the cost over time and
geography. Spread the chess love around. Allow cities or countries with up
and coming chess talent to host a part of this process. Allow the local
people to root for their homeboys and homegirls and see some of the
international chess stars. A good World Championship process is like a
fine wine; let more people take a sip.
Spreading the process over time and geography will bring more young fans
and media coverage into this great game. In the long run, more money will
be raised for these events. Make the process more affordable for sponsors
around the world. Showcase your great talent around the world. Yasser was
right, a properly run World Championship process is the Crown Jewel of
Chess. The process needs to enrich the players, promote the game around
the world, introduce new fans to this great game, and finally, to find a
worthy proud World Champion.