Thursday, January 23, 2020

The World Chess Championship: Separating Pros from the Amateurs

The World Chess Championship is an event used to determine the world champion in chess games. The event allows both eligible men and women to compete for the title. There is also a separate event for women, where players vie for the title of Women’s Chess Champion. For several years, the World Chess Championship has produced a number of World Champions.

Birth of the Championship

Although it was believed that the official world championship was held in the year 1886, where two leading players of chess played a match, those events were held in an informal basis. It was not until the year 1943 when the FIDE, an international chess organization, started administering world

Going back in 1886, there were several unofficial champions that started with Wilhelm Steinitz; Wilhelm competed against Johannes Zukertort. However, there were other several players who were regarded as the strongest and most famous in the world that extends back hundreds of years beyond the two. More so, these players were also considered as the world champions during their time and include Ruy Lopez de Segura, Paolo Boi, Leonardo da Cutri, Alessandro Salvio and
Gioachino Greco.

In the remainder of the nineteenth century, world championships were held in an informal basis. The matches were initiated by players who would look for financial backing for a match purse and challenge the reigning world champion; whoever beat the reigning champion would be the new world champion. The systems had no formal qualification procedures. Still, this old tournament system produced several world champions who were the strongest of their day.

FIDE-controlled events started during the year 1948, where the reigning champion, Alexander Alekhine died and threw the chess world into chaos. Because of his death, the informal system was not suitable enough to find for methods of producing a new world champion since there was no one to challenge with.

During that time, the Soviet Union, regarded then as the most powerful chess nation, joined the FIDE to become a part in the process of selecting a new world champion. The FIDE organized matches in the year 1948 between five of the world’s strongest players, namely Vaisly Smyslov, Mikhail Botvinnik, Paul Keres, Max Euwe, and Samuel Reshevsky. Mikhail won the tournament and was declared the new world champion. FIDE then continued to organize world championships thereafter.

The System for the World Championship

Because the informal system was not suitable enough to be used for untimely events, like the player’s death, a new system was introduced to determine how a player can qualify for the world champion title. The new system starts with the world’s strongest players being seeded into Interzonal tournaments. Eventually, the players would be joined by other players who qualified from several Zonal tournaments. The leading finishers of the Interzonal tournaments would qualify for the Candidates event, which was originally a tournament and later transformed into a series of knock-out competitions. The player who won the Candidates tournament would qualify for a match with the reigning champion for the championship title.

If the reigning champion loses the matches, he will be given the chance to play in a three-way event three years later. The event would include the former champion, his new successor, and the next challenger, who is qualified to challenge the new world champion. Currently, the world champion title is being held by a player named Viswanathan Anand, who won the World Chess Championship in 2007.