Two old Soviet proposals that might work for online tournaments: "Anonymous" and "Elimination Swiss"

Two old Soviet proposals that might work for online tournaments: "Anonymous" and "Elimination Swiss"

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I've been reading the old Soviet chess magazines a lot lately, not only out of interest, but for work as well. There, I found, among other things, a couple of interesting proposals for tournament formulas, one of which was even implemented.

1. The Anonymous Tournament

The first one, which remained only a "proposal", was published in the 64 magazine in 1926, under the header "We Have to Eliminate the "Outside Influences" on the Chess Players".

"Professor L. A. Velikhov [Lev Velikhov was a political scientist and writer who was considered an "enemy of the people" but allowed to teach and publish his writings on municipal building and self-governance until 1938, when he got arrested and soon killed in the Stalinist purges] from Novocherkassk points out that the playing of even outstanding, world-famous players is often influenced by the factors that do not directly correlate with their playing "strength" and talent. These reasons can be different: the fear of the stronger player (Marshall's awe before Capablanca and Lasker is well-known), the personal dislike of one's opponent, the adaptation to the opponent's style, the possibility of peaceful "dealings" (such as agreeing for a draw in an unclear position) that depends on both players' tournament positions, etc. We often see all the above factors in play at the tournaments.

To make the tournament results correspond more closely to the players' strength, Professor Velikhov proposes to arrange an "anonymous" tournament: 1) the draw should be made in secret, so that no player knows the numbers of other players; 2) Black and White should play over different boards in different rooms, the moves are relayed through staffers, with pairings kept strictly secret; 3) the game results are only published after the tournament ends.

Technical difficulties make L. A. Velikhov's proposal all but impossible to implement in a large tournament. However, it would be interesting to try it out in practice in a small competition."

Online tournaments can be more or less easily anonymized, so a "Velikhov Anonymous Tournament" might be an interesting grandmaster competition.

2. The Elimination Swiss Tournament

This formula was actually implemented in a Moscow mass youth tournament in 1927. The tournament featured about 900 players and was played largely like a regular Swiss tournament, but with a caveat: the player who lost a game or drew two games was eliminated. Might also be interesting format to try online - perhaps easing the elimination threshold a bit, to "1.5 points lost" (three draws, or one loss and one draw, or two losses). This formula may even be used for something like "Mass Tuesday" here at - a competition where titled and untitled players play together, but those who don't play well get quickly eliminated.