I am excited by the imminent start of Chess.com's Pro Chess League. The announcement of the teams today showed that some of the best players in the world are participating. Carlsen, Caruana, Nakamura and So are all taking part in a tournament featuring over 100 Grand Masters. The first stage will be taking part in January and February and then the second stage will begin.
The event will be played on the chess.com server at a rate of 15-2 and this is where my disappointment starts. The Pro League asked for submissions from teams representing cities from all over the world. So when I looked through the team lists that were announced today I was expecting to see a Melbourne team, built around the MCC allegro. I would have thought a team that was based around IM Izzat, IM Morris, FM Baron, IM Dale and FM Puccini would have been a great team, and the young players would have earned some valuable experience.
The format of the event is a match round robin which means that you enter a team of 4 each week, and all your team play against every member of the other team. So if Melbourne was against a team with a strong GM, then every one of our team would get to play them. There would have been a good chance that a Melbourne team would have been in the Orange section of the draw that included Carlsen's Norwegian team. It is even possible to draft in some outsiders, as for instance Mamedyarov has been brought in to the San Jose team, while one of the London teams has Aussie GM David Smerdon and IM Justin Tan in their ranks.
Anyway I'll be bringing this up with the Allegro players. Allegro is played every Saturday at the MCC, and is a great opportunity for both newish players and those with experience to play a full tournament in a day. The 7-round 15 minute format gives enough time for player to have decent games, but the games don't drag on. I was bought up on a steady diet of 30 minute chess when I was younger, so I can heartily recommend faster time controls for both fun and improvement!