19 June 2020

A Blockbuster Online Event

In last week's post, The Switch to Online Chess, I finished saying,

Back to the second chart above, the next issue of TWIC (TWIC1326 06-Apr-20) saw the first significant increase in the number of online events. I'll cover that in the next post in this series.'

TWIC, of course, refers to 'The Week in Chess' by Mark Crowther. Re 'the second chart above', I'm repeating it here for easier reference. It shows the number of online events reported by TWIC for the online play sites over a period covering eight weeks.

According to that chart, TWIC1326 reported three events for both Chess.com and Chess24.com. One event for each site -- 'PRO Chess League 2020' and 'Banter Blitz Cup 2019' -- was another report on ongoing events that had been mentioned in the previous edition of TWIC, TWIC1325. The other events were mentioned in the introduction to TWIC1326: -

The announcement of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational which takes place from the 18th April on Chess24 will surely be the first of many major events taking place online. This is a tremendous start with 8 of the world's top players including Carlsen himself playing a Rapid Round Robin Matchplay followed by a final knockout phase. A few days later the 1st Abu Dhabi Super Blitz Challenge was announced as taking place on the 15th April on Chess.com. Magnus Carlsen plays the semi-final of the Banter Blitz on Chess24 tomorrow against Sanan Sjugirov.

In fact, both of those events were reported twice in TWIC1326 -- once for the event itself and once for the regular, weekly section titled 'Forthcoming Events and Links' -- thereby inflating the count in my chart. The introduction continued,

This week's issue has a mixture of online and computer events along with some final catching up with tournaments that took place before the international coronavirus lockdowns. In addition I give the games from the last correspondence world championship, I'll look to add a few more of the very most important events in that area too. A number of events have been moved to the back end of the year, October and beyond, I'm not even sure normal chess will be able to resume then. I think we'll see a lot of interesting events online. I'd like to see a classical tournament tried out - maybe a 6 player 10 round event - just to see the problems and new possilibities such an event might have.

The main TWIC report for the Chess.com event said,

The 1st Abu Dhabi Super Blitz Challenge takes place on 15th April. Nakamura, MVL [Vachier-Lagrave] and Grischuk are among the players already signed up. 11 round swiss followed by 8 player KO to decide the winner.

The report for the Chess24.com said,

The Magnus Carlsen Invitational [MCI] is an online tournament hosted by chess24 which takes place April 18th to May 3rd 2020. With over the board chess suspended for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus crisis this is a welcome new event. The concept is one similar to one Carlsen advocated in 2018 for the World Championship - a number of rapid games in one day rather than a single classical game.

The format is a Match Round Robin of 8 players meeting each other once over four 15 minute + 10 seconds a move games, if this mini-match is tied 2-2 there will be a single decisive Armageddon game. The top 4 will play in a knockout final stage to decide the winner. The prize fund is $250,000 and a star studded field will compete alongside Carlsen - the remaining players are yet to be announced.

The announcement for the MCI was blockbuster news that made the non-chess press take notice. The switch to online chess was suddenly noteworthy, especially in a coronavirus pandemic where most sports events had been cancelled or postponed. Not everyone was pleased, however, about the MCI. I'll cover that in my next post.

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