Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tournament Formats

I touched on this subject when talking about the British Championship, and I have just been invited to voice my opinions on this subject for the benefit of my club, the MCC. Of course, the format of a tournament depends on the type of tournament, the venue, the participants or likely field, the fees and prizes, and the cost to the organisers.

Currently, the MCC run a variety of events, though not many formats. On Monday evenings, FIDE rated tournaments are held. These are mainly 9 round swiss tournaments, though there is also a 7 round swiss, and the final tournament is broken down into round robin groups. The MCC runs 15 minute 7 round swiss tournaments on Saturdays, and these happen virtually every Saturday of the year. There are some weekend tournaments, again run on a swiss system and always FIDE rated and there are some special events such as blitz marathons (twice a year I think) and the Skittles (an elimination blitz where you are given points at the start of the tournament dependent on your rating, the higher rated getting the least points. As soon as you lose your points, you're out).

These tournaments run on the whole pretty successfully. However, the MCC is open 7 days a week which means there is a lot of time the club could be offering more. But what? Events that I would certainly like to see would be:

- more round robin tournaments
- matchplay events (possibly a yearlong tournament based on the mini match knockout format)
- team events (a couple of weekend jamborees could prove popular)
- tournaments with adjournments (yes, I miss this, and with everything in one venue, it is no hassle getting back to play at a later date)
- problem solving (another weekend event!)
- thematic tournaments
- quads (possibly 3 30 minute games in an evening)

One thing I would caution, however, is offering too much chess. In Melbourne, there is only so many chess players and we already have a number of clubs offering events. I am of the opinion that we are nearing saturation point for tournaments in Melbourne. As an example, I ran a free endgame group every Wednesday for about 2 years. The group was designed to help players to improve this part of their game through discussion, practice and playing from preset positions. The group was ardently followed by a small group, but never really caught on by many. The question is 'how much can you expect an amateur player to commit to the game per week?' From my own perspective I can really only give one night a week, and a few weekends. I have directed my work commitments so that the main Monday night tournament chess is free for me. Could, or would I do the same for other times of the week? Perhaps, but not often and I guess that many others with heavy work commitments and family commitments (let alone other interests besides chess!) would be in a similar position to me.

I think it is a great thing that the MCC is canvassing its members to see what they want. I also hope we get some exciting initiatives. How about a Scheveningen tournament between our club and another club? How about email matches with clubs from around the world? How about a club blitz ladder based on time handicaps?

Good luck guys :)

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