Dear draughts organizers: match!

This message serves as a source of inspiration! For organizing a match!

In my draughts career I have played more than 20 open tournaments so far and virtually all of them used the same format: one big group of draughts players in a Swiss system. Of course this is the best solution for such a big group, but for comparing strengths of (top) players, this is not most suitable, because of the irremovable chance factor. And regardless of how much I like playing tournaments, this tournament format has started to bore me a bit..

In draughts magazine ’Hoofdlijn’ in the evaluation of Heerhugowaard Open 2014 I have broke a lance for the return of disappeared round robin tournaments (Bijlmer, Seaport Masters, Tallinn, Zaporozhe, etc. etc.). In this format all players have the same opponents so the ranking is more meaningful. A downside is that a serious sponsor (or a serious amount of sponsors) is needed to attract interesting, strong players.

match Schwarzman-Georgiev

The last match, Schwarzman versus Georgiev, for the World Title (2013)

That’s why I want to propose a different competition format: a match! To organize an interesting match, a giant sponsor contribution is not necessary, but still it is a good – or even ultimate! – form of contest. Furthermore it is a small effort for an open tournament to put up one more board, while the gain can be large! Within this format there is a lot of space for interesting variations. My inspiration has its root in ’Schaakfestival Groningen’ (chess tournament, with two theme matches apart form the open tournaments), which I visited in December, and from the DuWo draughts tournaments organized between 2003 and 2007. A few possibilities:

  • Simply two strong players (e.g. top 10 on FMJD rating list)
  • Talent vs GMI or ’upcoming vs ’established’
  • Duel between ’new’ and ’old’ generation top players
  • Champion – challenger match, in which the winner of the open tournament challenges de ’champion’ like (not yet…) the match for the world title
  • 3/4/5/6 players competition, where a free player comments on the game(s)
  • Etc.

The listed examples are suitable for men, but also for women; among women nowadays an interesting battle between generations is taking place. It would be nice to have a contest more often than the yearly EC and WC. Perhaps a man-vs-woman-match can be thought of?

An important goal for a match (and for any draughts event) should be: promotion of draughts sport. Provided that the opponents are well-chosen, this will produce a series of interesting, hopefully unique games, so other draughts players can enjoy them! While most top players cannot afford to lose in the Swiss system and therefore have to play rather safely, this consequence doesn’t exist in a match. When one of the players in a match has a lead, he can still be pushed to play for a win by rewarding a larger victory proportionally. By the way: in case a duel produces only draws, doesn’t have to mean it is boring. Nowadays a lot of ways have been invented to force a decision.

Furthermore, a match can be reported by the press easily, more easy than a Swiss tournament, in which the ranking and pairings are hard to understand for laymen. Moreover, the choice of players (a local hero or otherwise interesting person) can produce an interesting story.

Finally, a match is also suitable for experiments; just two people have to agree on the rules: the players! As an example I mention an alternative playing rate: the ’chess system’ with e.g. 2 hours for 50 moves, followed by a Fischer with 30 minutes + 1 minute per move.

So, I see a lot of opportunities/possibilities for a match! Hopefully this will appeal to organizers who want to tackle this idea. A good thing is that organizations are free to choose whoever they want and are able to decorate the match solely to their (and the players’) wishes. I am curious about the first match. Groenendijk-Vatutin? Machtelinck-N’diaye? Georgiev-Ndjofang?! Boomstra-Shaybakov? Sadowska-Golubeva? Just fantasizing.

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