Llucmajor Open 2017
I am currently on the wonderful island of Mallorca, playing the Llucmajor Open. This is the reason for the absence of new posts as it’s never easy to write during a tournament. I will try to give an overview of the open and my games when it finishes.
The Moscow Grand Prix is also underway. The start looked very much like the previous Grand Prix in Sharjah, a lot of (short) draws and uneventful play, and this is what I wrote for the March issue of British Chess Magazine:
“When a lot is at stake the result is the only thing that matters. That means losing is to be avoided at all costs. This further translates to a draw being a rather good result. In absence of any restrictions, like the Sofia rules, which prohibit draw offers, the players found it very convenient to make a lot of them in a small number of moves.
Draws are an inherent part of the game of chess and they can be exciting and instructive. It is the draws that are not played out until the end, agreed when all the pieces are still on the board, that bother the public. Yet I still find it unfair to criticise the players. They are there to get a result. They do what they best see fit in order to make it happen. They follow the rules of the competition. If they think a quick draw is enhancing their chances, they will try to make it. They are not there to please anybody, they are there to qualify and will do whatever is necessary. Short draws included.”
But then things livened up and there were a few rounds with several decisive games. This shows that these things often happen arbitrarily – if in Sharjah they were happening throughout the whole tournament, then in Moscow, in spite of the players still being in a “safety-mode” state of mind, more games were won and lost. Let’s see how it goes on. For the time being Ding Liren and Mamedyarov lead with 3.5/5. With this result Mamedyarov crossed 2800 on the live rating list!
The games in Llucmajor start at 8.30pm, so I am writing this at 1.23am, still waiting for the pairings to come out. Perhaps it’s time to sign off…
Re your comments from the BCM piece on the propensity for draws:
Couldn’t it also be said, given the distribution of prize money *and* the fact that only two Candidates tournament places are available, that there is – or should be – a significant incentive to strive for wins?
It can be said, of course. My impression is that the gains of a win are much smaller than the losses from a loss – hence the players try to keep it very safe and if a chance appears then to pounce, rather than create chances and risk losing (and winning!) Sticking around 50% a player is still within a chance, -1 is already too far behind. Something along the lines of “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.”