Main     Article 7A46 by Richard Pavlicek    

Chess Follows Suit

— Breaking News —

[29 May 2015, Paris, France] Chess players were stunned today when the World Chess Federation (FIDE) announced a major rules change in sanctioned events, effective January 1, 2016. Following the FIDE annual meeting, a spokesman for the governing body addressed a throng of reporters in a press conference at the Hotel Prince De Galles:

“I am pleased to announce the FIDE Board of Directors has finally agreed to a rules change that should be beneficial to chess aficionados everywhere. As you well know, tournament chess is slow-paced. With the standard time control of 40 moves per player in two hours, a typical game lasts over four hours, which is not only a burden on the players, but on the officiating staff and spectators as well. We have long searched for a viable solution and now have one, thanks to the initiative of a fellow mind-game organization, the American Contract Bridge League. Chess and bridge have had an excellent relationship for many years, and it can only get better.

“To resolve time constraints, the ACBL conjured up a masterful change in its most prestigious event, the Vanderbilt Cup. Held annually since 1928, this knockout team contest typically lasts a week, with daily matches of 64 deals, subdivided into four segments of 16 deals each. One might consider 87 years of tradition to be an inviolable precept, but as of March 2015 all matches are cropped to 60 deals, with segments of 15 deals. Absolutely brilliant! Players now have a little extra time to relax between segments, officiators get longer dinner parties, and spectators, if nothing else, can enjoy a happy hour plus 10 minutes! Hats off to this bold and beautiful decision.

“So how does this relate to chess? Very simple. Chess has always endured the problem of complexity, which is the underlying cause of all slow play. Sixteen white pieces and 16 black pieces produce an estimated 4 tredecillion positions, which even the most powerful computers can’t fathom, let alone the human mind. Therefore, neatly in line with the ACBL’s ingenious ratio, each player will now begin with 15 pieces. Much debate this past week was over which piece to eliminate. Final consensus was the queen’s knight pawn, because it will have minimal impact on strategy and greatly accelerate play by allowing an immediate fianchetto of the queen’s bishop.

“We express our sincere gratitude to the American Contract Bridge League for leading the way, brightening the future of both organizations for generations to come. This ends the official announcement, and I will now take questions.”

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© 2015 Richard Pavlicek