Poll to decide on one Tal Memorial participant

0 | Chess Event Coverage

The Russian Federation has opened a poll to decide on the invitation of one player for this year's Tal Memorial. Visitors to the RCF website can cast their vote and pick one from thirteen pre-selected players. The player with the most votes will be invited.

As we reported before, due to the announced dates of the FIDE Candidates Tournament this year's Tal Memorial will take place much earlier. The 7th edition will be held from 7 to June 19, 2012 in Moscow, Russia. Again, the tournament will be a 10-player round robin with many of the strongest grandmasters in the world.

On the website of the Russian Chess Federation it is reported that six of them have already confirmed their participation: Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Teimour Radjabov, Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana. Three participants will be determined later.

For the tenth player, a unique method will be used. For the first time in history, a player can be invited to a super tournament as a result of voting by the chess fans. In the lower right corner on all pages of the RCF website a poll has been put up with the names of thirteen pre-selected players. With the text "Whom do you want to see among Tal Memorial – 2012 participants?" the follow names are given:

  • Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
  • Wang Hao
  • Gata Kamsky
  • Ruslan Ponomariov
  • Mickey Adams
  • Anish Giri
  • Le Quang Liem
  • Judit Polgar
  • Alexei Shirov
  • Baadur Jobava
  • Emil Sutovsky
  • Luke McShane
  • Hou Yifan

The voting is possible untile 15:00 (GMT) on March 15. At the moment of writing, Hou Yifan (15,02%) and Alexei Shirov (15,80%) received the most votes.

Of course it's an interesting idea to invite a player based on a poll - in general it cannot be wrong for organizers to listen to the chess fans! However, it is known that online polls are not ideal.

To start with, open access polls may not have participants that represent the larger population due to selection bias. In this case, the organizers might want to pick the player who is most popular among "the Russian chess fans". However, not all Russian chess fans visit their website, or have access to internet between now and March 15th, or not at all.

Furthermore, online polls are known to be vulnarable for abuse. In many cases, polls have been hijacked by large groups, for instance coming from huge websites and forums. For instance, with our Dutch origin we could bring all kinds of arguments to make sure that all of our readers would vote for Anish Giri. Not everyone would listen to us, but it might be of strong influence.

Besides, we know that Alexei Shirov and Emil Sutovsky have already shared the link to the poll on Facebook, so that their friends will be encouraged to vote for them. There's nothing wrong with that, but are all the pre-selected players on Facebook? Or, to put it in more general terms: do all players have the same resources to mobilize their friends and fans? (Besides, another result is that non-chess fans will be voting, possibly giving the poll even more participants that do not represent the intended population.)

On top of that, many online polls lack good security to avoid people voting more than once. Usually polls are secured by either cookies (small bits of information stored at the voter's computer) or the registration of IP addresses, but a decent hacker will find his way around this. And in the case of the poll at the Russian Chess Federation's website, we can tell you that it's quite easy to vote more than once: just open the page on a different browser. We voted twice, in Chrome and Opera, and then we stopped trying...

To sum up, it's not completely clear whether the RCF poll is a fair and good system to invite a player, but it's certainly interesting.

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