Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bilbao Grand Slam Chess Final Tournament

The Bilbao Grand Slam Chess Final Tournament is presently going on. It has a wonderful field : Topalov, Carlsen, Aronian, Radjabov, Anand, and Ivanchuk. There are special features of this tournament. One is the scoring system: 3 points per win, 1 point per draw. Also the time control: 90 minutes for the first 40 moves and another 60 minutes to finish the game, with no time increment at all.
I presume the goal for these rules is to promote more "decisive" games, which would be supposedly of greater interest. At the time of this writing, there have been 15 games played, with 5 of decisive result. This 66.66% draw rate though is in line with the draw rates of other major grandmaster tournaments. However, there are more rounds to play, and it has been conjectured that the final rounds would have more volatile results--due to the scoring system.
A player somewhat behind in the standings might make riskier moves in order to win.
This leads to one of the main objections to the scoring system and the time control in this tournament: it would lead to riskier moves, and inaccurate moves due to time pressure; we should want to see, instead, the correct moves to be played.

The standings so far:

Veselin Topalov 9 points (2 wins, 0 loss, 3 draws)
Magnus Carlsen 8 points (2 wins, 1 loss, 2 draws)
Levon Aronian 6 points (1 win, 1 loss, 3 draws)
Teimor Radjabov 4 points (0 win, 1 loss, 4 draws)
Viswanathan Anand 4 points (0 win, 1 loss, 4 draws)
Vassily Ivanchuk 4 points (0 win, 1 loss, 4 draws)

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