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Chess Variants at SportAccord World Mind Games 2014

10/08/2014

Here’s a quick explanation of the 3 disciplines making up the chess tournament at the SportAccord World Mind Games 2014.

BASQUE

For most of us, that single chess game is hard enough at times. Now, try to play 2 such games at the same time!

That is the reality of the Basque system of chess, an innovation to try and make the spectator component of chess that much more entertaining, and this is a version that finds pride of place at the World Mind Games.

Still not a FIDE discipline, the Basque system of chess involves two players facing off against each other, dividing their attention over 2 simultaneous games of chess across 2 boards. The player playing with white on one board plays with black on the other and vice-versa. A true test of the concentration and computing power of a player, the Basque system has games over 20 minutes and each player gets 10 seconds per move. Try dividing that time over 2 boards!

BLITZ

Highest ranked players at WMG 2014:

Men- Levon Aronian (4)

Women- Anna Muzychuk (2)

Another crowd-pleaser is blitz chess, where a player gets anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes to finish a game. Standard chess rules apply and each player has to hit the plunger on the clock next to them on the table with the same hand that is used to move the piece. Failure to hit the plunger results in automatic award of the game to the opponent. Players also win if their opponent’s flag falls while the clock ticks, indicating that they took too long to consider a move. It is a variant of chess that tests the speed of thinking and computing power of a player’s mind, and has its detractors in those who consider the sanctity of chess as a game of ideas. Nevertheless, it has achieved great popularity amongst the younger generations and the category will see some of its finest proponents in Levon Aronian and Yifan Hou at the World Mind Games 2014.

RAPID

Highest ranked players at WMG 2014:

Men- Alexander Grischuk (3)

Women- Koneru Humpy (2)

Slow enough to satisfy the purists but fast enough to engage chess fans, rapid chess is similar to blitz but slower, with games lasting 10 to 60 minutes. Time increments may be allowed per move of up to 10 seconds. One way in which a player may win is if they point out an illegal move by an opponent. Challenges are allowed to the players when they stop the clock and call for an arbiter to deliver a binding judgement.

All 3 disciplines will award a combined 18 medals to the participants. Here’s to some exciting action from the 64 squares!