Batavia Amsterdam Chess Tournament Fights Against Draws With Blitz Before Classical
An image of the Batavia tournament in Amsterdam. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Batavia Amsterdam Chess Tournament Fights Against Draws With Blitz Before Classical

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
|
100 | Chess Event Coverage

The upcoming dMP Batavia Amsterdam Chess Tournament (March 1-10) will experiment with a revolutionary format. In this 10-player GM norm tournament, the players will play a blitz match before each round that will decide on the score in case they will then draw their classical game.

Each time a top level tournament (or match!) has a high drawing percentage, many chess fans lose interest and start debating ways to do something against it. The 2019 Altibox Norway Chess tournament (June 3-15) is the first top-level event that took action: this year, players who draw their game will play an Armageddon game right after, forcing a decisive result. 

See our news post: "Norway Chess New Format: Armageddon After Each Draw"

However, the Norwegians won't be the first to experiment in 2019. A similar idea will be tested at a round-robin event in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on the first 10 days of March.

It's the 11th edition of an annual GM norm tournament held in Cafe Batavia in central Amsterdam. (See for instance our news reports on the 2017 and 2014 editions.) The participants for this year are GM David Arutinian (GEO, 2552), IM Arthur Pijpers (NED, 2490), GM Simon Williams (ENG, 2471), IM Stefan Kuipers (NED, 2455), IM Max Warmerdam (NED, 2450), IM Koen Leenhouts (NED, 2443), Rick Lahaye (NED, 2411), GM John van der Wiel (NED, 2394), FM Jasel Lopez (ARU, 2388) and FM Felix Meissner (GER, 2378).

Amsterdam Batavia Chess Tournament playing hall
The playing hall of the Batavia tournament. | Photo: Lennart Ootes.

Instead of one classical game per day, the players will play a blitz tiebreak first (consisting of two or three games), followed by a classical game.

  • The winner of the classical game will get 2 points.
  • The loser of the classical game will get 0 points.
  • Only in case of a draw in the classical game, the tiebreak will be in effect: 
    - The winner of the tiebreak will get 1 point (which is still half of a classical win).
    - The loser of the tiebreak will get only 0.5 point.

The main aim of this format is that two players cannot share points equally: one will get more than the other. Another advantage, according to the organizers, is that they will mix blitz and classical chess in one tournament, while maintaining the importance of classical chess.

What does each round look like?

  • 13.00: blitz game 1 (5 minutes + 3 seconds increment)
  • 13.15: blitz game 2 (5 minutes + 3 seconds increment)
  • 13.30: (in case of a tie) armageddon: white has 5 minutes, black has 4 minutes, with a 3 second increment after move 60. Black has draw odds.
  • 14.00: classical game (40 moves in 90 minutes plus 30 minutes for all remaining moves with 30 seconds per move from move 1)

Note that both the classical games and the blitz games will be rated for FIDE ratings. Only the classical score will count for IM and GM norms.

Co-organizer and well-known chess photographer Lennart Ootes provided some background:

"I invented this system in November 2017 as a way to do something about the high percentage of draws in top events. The main idea is to find a system where a tie (draw) is not possible anymore, but classical chess remains the decisive factor. I'm very excited to test it out, and hear from the players afterward."

Lennart Ootes
Lennart Ootes. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Ootes says he was impressed by Rustam Kasimdzhanov's suggestion from 2011 to play, in case of a draw, a rapid game with reversed colors to force a decision (and in case of another draw, another, even faster game, and so on).

"It's too bad this has never been tested properly," says Ootes. "At Norway Chess we will finally see something like it, but there are some difference with our system. In our case, the players can earn 2 points but in case of a draw, the maximum score is 1.5. Besides, the tiebreak is held before the game, which hopefully makes it less interesting for players to steer the game to a draw. Besides, it's easier to organize."

Ootes wonders why some tournaments such as Wijk aan Zee don't really have a "draw problem" while others such as Shamkir do: "A perfect system doesn't exist. The chess world should experiment more, and learn from it!"

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