Macieja on the new ECU tie-break proposal

PeterDoggers
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Macieja on new ECU tie-break proposalTwo months ago there was heated discussion regarding the scoring system used at this year's European Individual Chess Championship. During the ECU Extraordinary General Assembly in Aix-les-Bains a new proposal was suggested by the ECU Board, to set the number of wins as the main additional criteria in case of a tie. Polish GM Bartlomiej Macieja is very sceptical and sent us an open letter.

Early April we published a first report about the tie-breaks used at the European Championship in Aix-les-Bains. There, at the closing ceremony there was much confusion among the top finishing participants about the way the organizers dealt with the tie-breaks for the World Cup qualification spots. Especially the calculation of the first tie-break rule (Performance Rating) was controversial.

Soon after the tournament, Danish GM Peter Heine Nielsen decided to file an official protest, as he was one of the players who missed World Cup qualification because of the tie-break system used in Aix-les-Bains. This protest was rejected by the ECU. Admitting that their calculations were flawed, the ECU’s main argument for rejecting was that the Danish grandmaster should have protested ‘in due time’.

Polish GM Bartlomiej Macieja is very sceptical about a new proposal from the ECU, and sent us the following open letter.

During the ECU Extraordinary General Assembly in Aix-les-Bains a new proposal was suggested by the ECU Board to set the number of wins as the main additional criteria in the case of equality of the number of scored points in the European Individual Chess Championship.

There are different approaches possible regarding additional criteria. For instance, some of them tempt to encourage players to play more active, to reduce the number of boring draws, trying to make a tournament more interesting for spectators. Giving a huge privilege to the number of wins is the most popular example of such an approach. It works well in some tournaments, mainly small (closed) organised for show.

However, the European Individual Chess Championship belongs to a different group of tournaments (mainly official championships), in which the most important is to sort players after the last round according to presented chess skills, measured by achieved results in all games against concrete opponents. The key rule is that a player who played better should be placed on a higher position than a person who played worse. Please note that in show-events it can be more adequate to sort players according to who played more interesting.

The European Individual Chess Championship is a massive event with hundreds of participants of different levels. The differences between an average level of opponents can be huge, thus cannot be ignored. Two draws against 2700 players are statistically more difficult to obtain that a lose against a 2700-player and a victory in the following round against a 2400-player. The theoretical prove of the above mentioned sentence is already known for a few decades and the practice confirms it.

For this reason an officially proposed by the ECU Board idea to privilege so drastically in the European Individual Chess Championship a player with a higher number of wins in the case of the equal number of scored points doesn't sound reasonable for me, as it doesn't meet the main requirement - it doesn't sort players according to presented chess skills.

I would like to point out one more huge difference between exhibition tournaments and the European Individual Chess Championship - in the first case, players are being paid for their participation (and their costs are covered) while in the EICC the majority of players has to pay for themselves. The costs of participation are high, thus players who come don't need an artificial motivation to try to show their best. The main group of players fights for a qualifying spot for the World Cup, some come to fight for title norms, some pay to gain experience. There are also some weaker players who come as tourists, but the proposed change of regulations will not influence the way they want to play.

For the above mentioned reasons, I hope the ECU Board will reconsider its recommendation, so the players will be sorted according to presented chess skills. Let the best in a tournament be announced a winner!

Best regards Bartlomiej Macieja


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