The 19th Alekhine Memorial in Voronezh, as in the previous three years, opened with a FischerRandom Chess (FRC) tournament. This year it attracted a record number of players - 56 (including 12 grandmasters), ie. just over half the number in the main event. However, I must say that this number is not much higher than the previous years - in 2013 there were 52 participants.
Voronezh is perhaps the only place in Russia where you can play "serious" FRC, albeit with a shorter time control. For this (as well as for the entire festival) the organizers deserve a big thank you. Personally, I know of only one similar Russian tournament - it is held in St. Petersburg as part of the festival "Petersburg Summer", but a total of four prizes only, with the entrance fee of 700 rubles, is not the best way to lure players. And the time control (10 + 3) is a bit short for FRC, where it is necessary to think seriously from the first move. In Voronezh, we played with a time control of 15 + 3, although, in my opinion (as I mentioned in an interview last year), the most interesting thing would be to play at least a half-hour game.
Before the opening, the permanent director of the Voronezh Festival, Alexander Raetsky, asked me to make a little speech. I am not a big fan of appearing on stage, but to refuse was uncomfortable, and I shared with the audience my vision of the situation. I repeat this below with some amendments.
First of all: we are not talking about how to eliminate (or, as it is now accepted in Russia, "ban") classical chess and move totally over to FRC. The question, of course, does not arise. I would like only to be able from time to time to play in tournaments at FRC. Unfortunately, there is almost no such possibility - despite the fact that there are a great many traditional chess tournaments (maybe too many?).
It is obvious that among the players there are many supporters of FRC, although there are also clear opponents of this, in their opinion, "blasphemous" and "unaesthetic" game. In any case, the general interest in them is no less, and is likely to be higher, than in bughouse, for which coaches often ruthlessly scold their young students and in which recently in Loo the championship of Russia was held, with a substantial prize fund. The number of those who are more and more sick of constantly memorizing ever-growing computer opening variations, those who wish to diversify their lives to include FRC tournaments, is gradually increasing. For example, recently I was pleasantly surprised to see the opinion of Alexey Dreev.
But the leadership of the Russian Chess Federation - both past and present - is clearly not interested in the development of this version of our game. Personally, I have the impression (perhaps wrongly) that the Russian Chess Federation is more willing to organize the championship of Russia at suicide chess or tiddleywinks than FRC. For example, recently in St. Petersburg, where the championships were held in blitz and rapid chess, there was every opportunity - it would just have meant extending the program of the competition by one day. I am sure that everyone would have benefited from this. But, apparently, the RCF considers bughouse a more important game ...
Therefore, if we wish to see tournaments finally appear, it is best not to wait for the tide to come in, but to show enthusiasm and efforts in organizing such events ourselves, even on a local club, and amateur level. If you have a tournament room (this is the main condition!), this is not so difficult, even if you have no experience of organization - as I had none in February last year, when I, with the support of colleagues and using facilities kindly provided to us for a couple of spare days by the Begovaya chess education center, organized a small round robin. Not only I have very fond memories of this tournament, but, judging by the reviews, the other participants do too - but, alas, this year, some objective and subjective circumstances prevented a repeat of the successful experience.
The difference with the usual tournaments is only in the fact that it is necessary to draw lots for the starting positions and announce these to the participants before each round. This is not difficult, as I and Sergey Grigoryants, winner of the Moscow tournament, already noted in our joint interview (available in Russian - CN). There are many free programs available for selecting the starting positions and plenty of ways of broadcasting them, from simply announcing them before the round, to showing them on a big screen.
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When in Voronezh in 2015 I looked at the neighboring games, sometimes I was envious - how come the others managed to get such interesting positions, while all I have is symmetrical trash? (As a result of my poor shape, I hope - A.D.) I think this proves that every FRC player is the architect of his own happiness. In almost all starting positions, even at first glance the most unattractive, one can find a way to play the opening to your liking, although "it is possible" does not mean "it is easy." True, there are some exceptions - for example, the initial position with the bishops in the corners, where the fianchetto (and often the exchange of both bishops) cannot be avoided. Such a position seems to me the least interesting. However, this is only my opinion, and besides, a number of known opening variations in normal chess result almost by force in much stronger simplification.
By the way, I will disappoint those who think that you can play FRC how you like: if you are out of practice, and have forgotten how to calculate variations or even how to play the endgame, FRC will not help, but rather be even worse - you will not be able to fall back on regular theory, and guarantee yourself an easy life, even when in bad shape. However, those who withdrew from active play and are now doing something else, but definitely do not want to leave chess, will find it a lot easier, I think, to come back and play FRC. Of course, they will not manage without some advance training (such as in calculating variations), if they are ambitious, but they will not have to spend a lot of precious time trying to re-grasp the theory of openings that computers in six months or a year have advanced a great deal.
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In Voronezh, Dmitry Bocharov won, scoring
Dmitry is a frequenter of the Voronezh Festival, but in the FRC has played only twice, because of the overlap of the tournament calendar. Last year, he took second place with the same score. The fact that there was an opportunity to add another item to his program he does not regret and he told the organizers after the close:
"I really like it! On the one hand, it is difficult, but on the other - this is a nice complexity. It is interesting, when you start to think at move one. The whole process consumes you, and you do not think about it being hard ..."