That's odd

Aug 19, 2009, 1:11 PM |
How has it come to be that a weekend tournament has an odd number of rounds? Since it is a fact that the player with the White pieces has an advantage, it would seem only logical to have an even number of rounds, would it not?
Some years ago the irrepressible tournament promoter Thad Rogers decided to try a four round tournament in Atlanta. Much grumbling was heard about not having enough rounds to determine a clear winner. As I recall, it transpired that there was a clear winner in every section! Because the players realized there were fewer rounds the games were particularly hard fought and there were fewer draws. In spite of this, the experiment was not tried again. Tournaments soon had a Friday night round, followed by two games on Sat & Sun. That was changed to an opptional first round on either Friday night, or Saturday morning. As time went on it became obvious there were not enough players for the Friday night round, and sometimes for the Saturday morning round, oftentimes with only one player in a section, who would receive a full point bye because of not having an opponent in his section.
It has further devolved to faster time limit games in the early rounds. As one delegate said to me at the recent US Open, "G/60 in the US Open is an abomination!" The reason given for the faster time limit games is to get more players to attend. Unfortunately it has not worked out the way it was intended.
It comes down to quality versus quanity. More chess does not translate to better chess. An odd number of rounds gives an advantage (theoretically) to the player having an extra White. Since quanity has been given preference for some time, maybe it is time we gave some consideration to quality chess.