20 January 2009

Chess960 World Championships

2008 CCM Poster It's time to take a break from the posts related to the chess960 database, of which the most recent was Undefended Pawns in Chess960 Start Positions, and tackle some other aspect of Fischer's variant. After putting together Chess960 @ Chess Classic Mainz, an overview of past events at the premier chess960 festival (Chess Classic Mainz, CCM), I've been wanting to go into more depth on CCM's history.

The original pages describing CCM events since 2001 have been archived on the Chesstigers.de domain, making it easy to select key facts and highlights from each year. In this post, I'll focus on why certain players were selected for the main chess960 event each year.

In past years the main chess960 event at CCM was a match featuring two (or more) of the world's top chess players (traditional chess, SP518), but the main event for the year 2008 was a four player women's championship. I haven't been able to determine if this was a one time event, if the overall and women's championships will be held on alternate years, or if there is some other pattern planned for the future.

  • 2008 Proposal • 'Rapid Women World Championship: Kosteniuk, Alexandra / World Champion; Zhukova, Natalia / Qualifier 2006; Cmilyte, Victorija / Qualifier 2007; Lahno, Kateryna / Invitation'

  • 2007 Proposal • 'FiNet Chess960 & Rapid World Championship; Participants in both tournaments; Anand, V. Rapid Chess World Champion; Aronian, L. Chess960 World Champion; Bacrot, E. Winner FiNet Open 06; Kasimdzhanov, R. Winner ORDIX Open 06.'

  • 2006 Proposal • 'Peter Svidler, Chess960 World Champion, vs Levon Aronian, Winner of Qualification-Open 2005' • 'Clerical Medical Chess960 World Championships; Women: Alexandra Kosteniuk vs Elisabeth Pähtz; Juniors: Arkadij Naiditsch vs Pentala Harikrishna; Seniors: Vlastimil Hort vs Lajos Portisch'

  • 2005 Proposal • 'FiNet Chess960 Weltmeisterschaft; Peter Svidler, Chess960 Weltmeister, vs Zoltan Almasi, Gewinner des Qualifikations-Open 2004'

  • 2004 Chess Classic Mainz • 'Two press conferences started off the Chess Classic Mainz. Vishy Anand, his challenger Alexei Shirov, WNCA Chess 960 world champion Peter Svidler and the winner of last year´s Chess960 Open, Levon Aronian joined organiser Hans-Walter Schmitt and the mayor of Mainz Jens Beutel. Schmitt was proud to tell that the Chess960 Open has attracted more players than last year.'

  • 2003 Chess Classic Mainz • 'Judit Polgar is the name of the challenger of Chess Classic Champion Vishy Anand in a classical 8-game rapid chess match. At the same time, Peter Leko and Peter Svidler will play the first Chess960 World Championship Match. Both world-class players will also play in a unique Chess960 simultanious exhibition on Wednesday.'

The year 2003 also featured a couple of articles describing the early years of chess960 at CCM.

  • Judit Polgar challenges Anand; Chess Classic Mainz: First Chess960 World Championship Match between Leko and Swidler by Hartmut Metz • 'On 13 August 2003, the Chess Classic will officially be opened by Jens Beutel, Mayor of Mainz. The chief of the capital of Rhineland-Palatinate state will surely once again participate in one of the simuls that start at 4.30 P.M. The next day the favourite brain child of Hans-Walter Schmitt starts: the Chess960 Open (in which the initial position is determined by drawing lots) is slated to attract more than last year’s 131 players. The 51 year old has proclaimed this competition to be the "official world championship qualification". Peter Svider won the first tournament of this kind gaining 9:2 points. Simultaneously with the duel between Anand and Polgar, he will play against Peter Leko. The world championship candidate in classical chess, who will meet Kramnik in their world championship final in May or June, in 2001 already proved his talents in Chess960. In a dramatic match, Leko beat the number four in the world rating list, Michael Adams, with 4.5:3.5. Between 14 and 17 August he will meet a challenge from the winner of last year’s strong open tournament which was dominated by 30 grandmasters amongst the first 32 places. Schmitt intends to take advantage of the favourable situation and join forces with the world chess elite in order to set up a world Chess960 association.'

  • A pleading for Fischer’s ideas - say "Yes" to Chess960
    by Hans - Walter Schmitt [long] • '"Experts are playing for experts", with breakneck speed, the two world champions Ponomariov and Anand are playing the 21 opening moves of the Najdorf variation in the Sicilian Defense. The time used so far is 16 seconds on one side, 21 seconds on the other side -- one observer in the tournament hall sighs protestingly "The organiser should make them play slower in the opening -- there’s no chance of enjoying the game". Despite grandmasters Yussupov’s and Lobron’s commentary via headphone, despite a video screen 4 times 5 meters in size as in a cinema, despite the directly visible players on stage, the ordinary chessplayer sitting comfortably in his chair understands nothing at all.'

I'm crossing my fingers that CCM, especially its chess960 events, will survive the current global economic slowdown. Are we sure to see a 2009 edition?


r_i_d said...

Hi! I'm new to chess960, having always resisted his apparent strangeness, until I played my first move in a game I created myself on Facebook after winning another game of classical chess. I thought, "This is getting boring, choosing a certain line, playing it while hoping to stay with the book, sometimes actually checking the book..." Etc. Then I saw the option "Chess960" and I decided to give it a try at last.

The fun began right away.

"Look at this position! You can do this, you could do that..." Etc. Nothing to do with any book. My mind was free to play again.

Ah! The pleasure of nameless opening moves!

This is how I came to your page. I like what you do. The questions, the analysis, that's all very interesting! But don't take it too far. We (!) don't want 959 new opening books! ;-)


Deep Mikey said...

Very good comment! :-))

But to Mr. Week's article(s):

Being a Chess Tiger and a member of the Chess Classic Team I can probably help you (all) to learn a little bit more about the so called "Chess Classic (Mainz)". ;-)

The real history goes back to 1994, where the 1st Chess Classic took place in Frankfurt and had its climax in 2000 when the complete Top 10 of the world ranking list came to compete.

In 2001 then the Classic moved to Mainz (CCM1) and became the biggest rapid chess event worlwide. Serial winner of the Rapid World Championship is Viswanathan Anand, who is a Chess Tiger as well by the way. Actually he has won the title nine times en suite and he will naturally try to defend it this year again versus Levon Aronian, Arkadij Naiditsch and Ian Nepomniachtchi.

The other main event is the Chess960 Rapid World Championship, where Levon Aronian will defend his in 2007 won title. You are wrong if you think that the women's championship in 2008 was the first and only one! In 2006 Alexandra Kosteniuk played Elisabeth Paehtz in match and became the 1st female Chess960 World Champion! But last year Aronian was not able to join the Chess Classic and so we decided to organize the women's event instead. You have to be very flexible in these busy times! ;-)

The other events during a Chess Classic are:

The huge ORDIX Open (traditional chess; SP 518)

FiNet Chess960 Open

5. Livingston Chess960 Computer WCC with Rybka, Shredder and two still not qualified engines

Mini-ORDIX and Mini-FiNet Open for players U16

Simul with Aronian (40 boards, SP 518)

I hope, that was helpful. As I already mentioned in an other comment: There will come an english CCM9 page very soon!