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Why There Shouldn't Be a Chess World Champion 284

An anonymous reader writes "An article at Slate makes the case that the time has come to stop crowning World Chess Champions. This week, challenger Magnus Carlsen is trying to take the title from reigning champion Viswanathan Anand. Despite currently holding the title, Anand is very much the underdog, which only serves to illustrate why the current system is broken. The article suggests measuring greatness the same way tennis does. Quoting: 'Here's what Carlsen should do: Beat Anand for the title, and then work with FIDE to institutionalize four big tournaments as chess's Grand Slams, simultaneously eliminating the title of world champion. Corporate funding for even major chess tournaments can come and go with frustrating regularity, meaning FIDE itself has to get involved. Perhaps the grand slam tournaments could be located in three cities permanently—Moscow, Amsterdam, and a Spanish locale such as Linares would be natural picks—with a fourth that would rotate from year to year. This would give chess the same clear and predictable yardstick for greatness that golf and tennis have instead of the extremely crude world champion benchmark.'"
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Why There Shouldn't Be a Chess World Champion

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @03:42AM (#45343063)
    America sucks at chess. Among the top 100 players, only 4 are from the US, and get this - none of the four were actually born in the US.
  • by _Shad0w_ ( 127912 ) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @03:54AM (#45343115)

    That would have been the Indians. Or the Italians and Spanish for the modern game, via the Moors who brought it from Persia.

  • by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:08AM (#45343161) Homepage

    It is not actually separated. Most chess is open. And there is no such thing as men's chess. There are special women-only tournaments as a response to there being 10-1 men in the sport, and a lot of sexist morons. So for a lot of women that is the only way for them to enjoy it.

    See also: []

  • by petman ( 619526 ) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:11AM (#45343167)
    They don't have separate men's and women's. The main FIDE rating list includes both men and women players. The thing is, there are just not that many highly rated women players. To put it into perspective, the current FIDE top 100 list contains only one woman - Judit Polgar, no. 58. So they created another list for women to make the game more competitive for women and increase women's participation. There are chess tournaments exclusively for women, but there are no tournaments exclusively for men. Women are free to enter the open tournaments.

    As to why there are so many more good men chess players compared to women? I don't know.
  • by LainTouko ( 926420 ) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:16AM (#45343183)

    And moreover, since Judit Polgar was capable of becoming a world championship candidate, it's proven that women can compete with men at the top.

    The problem is that chess, or at least, serious chess seems to be an almost exclusively male pastime, for reasons I can only guess at. This leads to there being very few women in the top ranks of the game, simply because there are very few women at all ranks of the game, which creates the perception that they can't compete. So people organise separate tournaments for girls because that's what you do in sport. And so girls learning chess only have a tiny pool of other people to practice against, so they don't get the broad range of experience that the boys do, and they imagine becoming women's world champion rather than world champion so they don't get the ambition boys do, and so the regular stream of Judit Polgars which we need to break this idea is suppressed.

    Segregation is a disaster for women's chess, but it creates a self-propagating vicious circle. It is its own explanation.

  • by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @04:21AM (#45343199) Homepage

    Because it is idiotic. The whole premise is. The young star challenging for the World Championship for the first time being the favorite doesn't tell us the system is broken... it tells us the challenger is a big rising star!

    And the Champion is one of only, what, only 6 people to have held ratings over 2800? This is not the 90s, Anand is not Khalifman, and everybody knows Anand is the clear Champion. And that Carlsen is the clear #1 player.

    We already have ratings that tells us who is the best. The World Championship is a title. Adding an extra series of tournaments and calling it a title is fine, but why would it replace the World Championship? And FIDE actually tried it, and it was a total joke and those "Champions" aren't considered real champions.

    These people should first learn some history about the chess World Championship before they tell chess players how our championship should be structured to better entertain the most casual observers. Because this is a long-argued topic, and there is a very strong consensus that the World Championship title has value, that it is not always held by the strongest player, and that it is normally achieved by winning a 1 on 1 match between a Champion and a Challenger.

  • Re: locations (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @06:45AM (#45343661)

    You do realize American Football is a very intellectual game and is probably the closest physical sport to chess. I very highly doubt you know anything about it. Each play is carefully choosen to outwit the opponent. The time between plays allows for that setup.

    You keep watching that sissy garbage of yours. Ill stick to a real sport.

  • Re:locations (Score:5, Informative)

    by jmac_the_man ( 1612215 ) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @08:21AM (#45344003)
    Gridiron football is called "football" because the ball was classically 12 inches long. (They shortened it to make the forward pass easier about 100 years ago, so the modern football is 11 1/2 inches.)

    Association football is called "football" because it's played on foot, as opposed to polo, which is played on horseback. The name was originally given derisively; it implied "poor people ball."

    In the 1850s, the word "soccer" meant "a member of an association." A 19th century soccer star popularized its use to mean "the game played by members of an association football association."

  • Re:locations (Score:4, Informative)

    by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @09:13AM (#45344243)

    Why should all three locations be in Eurasia? Fuck that.

    Why should the US baseball finals be called "the world series"? Why should the US rugby-ripoff-for-sissies-in-padding-who-need-a-rest-every-twenty-seconds be called the same name the rest of the planet had long been using for a completely different game? Fuck that, in the wrong'un.

    Ah yes. I love when British or Aussie wankers like you post that. Allow me to educate you out of your ignorance.

    Imagine, if you will, that the MLS (Major League Soccer - the top US professional league of what the rest of the world calls "football") announced that it was the greatest team in the world and that the EPL champion was a bunch of chumps who it could easily defeat. You would laugh. Rightly so. What European league do you think MLS is probably equivalent to? Maybe the French league?

    The fact that you don't know due to your ignorance is that the best players in the world in baseball play in the USA in MLB. The gap between MLB and the best other league, which is Japan, is probably akin to the gap between MLS and the EPL. So there actually are no other leagues/teams that can realistically claim to be world's champions. That's why it's called the World Series - it truly is the best of the best. There are players in MLB right now from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Asia. The cream of the cream play in MLB. They don't toil in the other leagues. Again, the only other professional league that has a decent number of MLB quality players, and it's probably only 1-2 per team, is the league in Japan. I'm deliberately ignoring the top minor professional leagues in the USA as the best of those players will be in MLB eventually, but explaining how that system works would take more time than really necessary.

    If you don't like American football and prefer rugby, that's your business, but rugby is actually a pretty crappy sport. If the US cared about it at all, and we do not, we would own the entire world in the sport. I have zero doubt about that. In fact, I wish that someone would field a team out of our best professional football rejects and compete internationally.

  • Re:locations (Score:5, Informative)

    by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @10:51AM (#45345023)
    Actually, gridiron football is called "football" because it derives from the same sport as association football does. If you go back and look at the sport as it existed before organizations started codifying the rules you will discover that different towns played the sport differently. Association football chose to adopt (and adapt) the rule sets from towns that minimized the use of the hands. The various rugby variants adopted (and adapted) rule sets from towns that emphasized carrying the ball. Both variants of the game were called "football" because they were played on foot, rather than on horseback. I have never seen a good explanation of how gridiron football evolved from the rugby variants, although I am sure it has something to do with the introduction of playing on fields laid out with yard markers.
  • Re:locations (Score:4, Informative)

    by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Wednesday November 06, 2013 @11:19AM (#45345283)
    Actually, there is a very pragmatic reason that the U.S. dominates most sports it cares about. It has almost three times the population of the next country with a comparable average per capita income. In addition, the U.S. is ethnically more heterogeneous than any other country on the planet. These two factors mean that for any given activity the U.S. almost certainly has as many or more people with the inborn ability to excel at any given human activity and the money to make it worth their while to develop that ability IF sufficient numbers of people in the U.S. have an interest in that activity. This does not mean that the U.S. is better than other countries, it just means that the confluence of factors leads to there being people in the U.S. who can excel at an activity and there being, potentially, enough money to attract the best from elsewhere. No other country currently enjoys that combination.
    The EU comes close to providing a similar environment, but it has greater cultural variations between its various parts than the U.S. does, at this time. In those instances where its interest in an activity crosses all, or most, of its internal borders, it is able to develop a similar position on the world stage that the U.S. does in baseball and basketball (that is, develop world class competitors and attract the best from the rest of the world).

The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the fabricator and impossible for the serviceman.