Match Chess


Following on from the Topolov v Anand World Championship Match, WGM Natalia Pogonina wrote a brilliant article on about Chess Matches. This was a long yet highly interesting article, the salient points of which are relevant to this suggestion are:

  • The difference in strategy and preparation/ style etc between Tournament Chess and Match Chess
  • How crucial it is to a chess player's development
  • How thrilling and interesting this whole side of chess is

For those of you who don't know about the article I'm referring to, it's well worth the read:

Anyway, the point of this suggestion is that Match Chess is a very interesting and important aspect of chess that most of us don't get to experience. After all, this sort of competition only really appears in GM level events. Most of us will never reach those heights. I think this is where can help.

Currently, in most events you play a "Match of 2" against your fellow competitors. That is, in Team Matches, in Tournaments etc you play once as white and once as black against everyone in your group, or the person you have been paired with in your match. Now, if the group size is a maximum of 2 (a straight head-to-head KO tournament) you're almost there; you effectively play a 2 Game Match against A-N Other player in each round, until you lose a match and are eliminated.

However, I think we can go one better. Simply put, what I am proposing is that we have two categories of tournaments; one being the type that exists at the moment (I am not proposing we scrap anything after all); the other being Match Chess Tournaments. These would be straight head-to-head Knockouts (so probably the TD would set 8, 16, 32 or 64 entrants), but the TD would have discretion on the match length; say, any even number between 2 and 12. So if you were in a tournament of 8 with the Match Length set to 6, you would have to win through three best-of-6 matches to win the tournament. I would suggest that everything else about the tournament would be the same as the others, except for one thing: the TD would have the discretion of whether the pairings were set by the standard method or random draw. The reason for this is that if the top player is automatically paired against the top of the bottom half, there could be a mismatch if the tournament was Open rated. In 6-Game Matches there'd be a lot of Four-Nils. There isn't that problem in 2 Game Matches because even if the underdog gets nothing, (s)he still takes it to the final game of the match. However, in closer rated events (such as 1800-2000), the seeding system would still produce interesting matches as there is always a chance an 1800 could score against a 2000 and give the favourite a run for his/her money. That is the basic suggestion; it is customisable. For example, may (if they were to adopt this suggestion) give the TD the option of varying the match length as the the Tournament progresses; 4 Games Round 1; 6 Round 2 etc, but that's further down the line.

I realise there may be a number of players who like the idea of playing the odd Match but wouldn't really want to commit themselves to a tournament. That is easily accomodated - it would just require a "Match Seek" option, which would be like "Open Seeks" except that the length of the Match would be specified on the challenge, and a match of that nature would be played.

It is always rather interesting to watch matches (I enjoyed keeping tabs on Topalov v Anand), and I would like the experience of playing in them. Currently the best I've done so far is a 6 Game Match against one of my chess computers, or a friend who lives up the road from me (4-0 being a frequent result).

I'd be interested to hear from the staff if this is something they will give serious consideration to in the future (or indeed if they have considered in the past), and also from the community. I can't be the only one that reckons it's a good idea.


Any news or updates on this subject?




Well I have no news or updates; won't really consider it (however good an idea it is) unless they get enough interest - why would they? They're not going to go to all that extra work of redesigning and adding to the site just to accomodate the whim of a few members that might like to play Match Chess.

Let's see if we can get more interest and input from the wider community Smile


It would be so cool to play a match against someone.

Too bad it's not available.