Monday, May 24, 2010

Draw odds armageddon

The sporting world is filled with tie-breaking techniques.

Many sports simply play extra time, with or without the "golden goal" (also known by the grimmer "sudden death"), and sometimes with the added fillip of a minimum victory differential (e.g., in tennis).

In baseball, at the highest level, the extra time is without bounds, and may stretch for hours, while other sports tend to limit the extra time and then either admit a draw or switch to some other mechanism, like a shootout.

But here's a most unusual tie-breaking technique, somtimes known by the colorful phrase "draw odds armageddon", that is being practiced this week in the United States Chess Championship, in St Louis, Missouri:

The base time for the game is 60 minutes+ 5 second increment. It will be a draw odds game (Black wins on a draw.) The Players will both bid on the amount of time (minutes and seconds, a number equal or less to 60:00) that they are willing to play with in order to choose their color. The Player who bid the lower number of time chooses his or her color and is allowed the amount of time they bid; the other side shall receive 60:00 time. If both Players pick exactly the same number, the chief arbiter will flip a coin to determine who shall choose their color.

At the top levels of chess, having White is a significant advantage, but if you bid too low in order to gain the first move advantage, the combination of the time shortage and the draw odds scoring could be your downfall.

We'll find out tomorrow if it's Shulman or Kamsky who takes White, and what the outcome is.

Meanwhile, don't miss this chance to replay Yuri Shulman's gorgeous and spectacular queen sacrifice victory over up-and-coming Hikaru Nakamura. The winning move will take your breath away.

1 comment:

  1. The time thing could get very precise. In Go 'komi' is a number of stones that the weaker player has at the start as a handicap against the stronger player. Because it is numerical you can work out the handicaps quite precisely. Maybe that could eventually happen in chess, with time being the variable.