Magnus Voices Support for a Knockout World Championship Format

Magnus Voices Support for a Knockout World Championship Format

NM SamCopeland

Magnus just voiced his support for a knockout World Championship format via Facebook (post). It's an incredible position for the World Champion to take, and whatever one thinks of the notion, one must admire the integrity of the World Champion in supporting a system that is clearly not in his interest. Of course, a knockout format has been tried before and there were surprise victors in GM Khalifman and GM Ponomariov. In those years, world number 1 Garry Kasparov was not playing, and it was difficult to respect the format without his participation.

Personally, I support such a system and have for some time. The world championship format is time consuming, arbitrary (why are some major tournaments qualifiers and others not?), and overly favorable to the world champion. Ultimately in chess we have an ELO system that designates superiority in the long term. The world number 1 ranking is perhaps even more important than the world championship title. Having a yearly knockout event would be an exhilerating spectacle, and I for one would be proud to celebrate the world champion, whoever he/she is, based on the great achievement of triumphing in such a difficult competitive format.

Chess is the only game I can think of which has a biannual match format to determine the world champion. I think there is a reason for that. Many major games don't even have a world champion; instead they simply have major tournaments ELO rankings.

What are your thoughts? Are you in favor of a knockout, the current system, or something different?