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This has been asked about here but without auction:

  1. Would a classic full time armageddon tiebreaker be balanced?
  2. Classical Time Control Armageddon?

Part0 - History

  1. Afaik, there's been only 1 classical armageddon with (or without) auction in history:
  • 2010 US Chess Championship, won by Gata Kamsky
  1. And since then armageddon's have seemingly just gotten faster. The 2013 USCC armageddon (with auction) was 45 minutes base time + 5 second increment and then come on ... I don't think any armageddon besides those 2 really were even close to that.

But please feel free to let me know if there were.


Part1 - Introduction (all 4 points coincidentally involve Fabiano Caruana)

  1. What I understand is classical tests more calculation skill while rapid/blitz tests more intuition skill.

But if the point is to really test players on both skills, then tournaments could have a mixed time control match like the 2024 American Cup (games are unweighted) or the 2019 WFRCC (games are weighted) : Keep all your classical games, but add also rapid games. So, to me, when rapid is used only as a classical tiebreaker, they're not necessarily testing players on both skills but just doing something better than roulette. In a mixed time control, I think I find a rapid armageddon justified because the main set of games did have rapid.

  1. I think that wasn't much of a problem back in, say, Bobby Fischer's time even w/ the ridiculous hübner vs smyslov in the 1983-1984 candidates, settled by roulette, but with the increase in theory, classical chess has become more drawish, so rapid/blitz tiebreaks are more common. Afaik, there's been much talk over the last decade over using rapid/blitz tiebreaks for classical matches especially the world chess championship, most recently in the 2016, 2018 & 2023 world chess championships. Eg Susan Polgar said in 2018Nov after Fabi lost to Magnus Carlsen:

So many people think that the current World Championship format is unfair because Carlsen is too good in Rapid/Blitz. So how would you change it? There has to be a firm start/end date. It's not possible to have an infinite event. So what would be fair? Propose your suggestion! 😀

Therefore, classical armageddon might be an alternate tiebreaker (at least in knockouts because this could take forever to break round robin or swiss ties).

  1. In c-squared podcast (csqpod) w/ Hikaru Nakamura, around 1:02:18, Hikaru tells Fabi & Cristian Chirila that Hikaru wished they could keep tiebreakers in world chess championships classical somehow. Hikaru wanted, as I understand, classical sudden death, which I guess is a classical version of what happened in the 2023 World Cup. I believe this is extremely unfair because at least in blitz sudden death, white doesn't have that much advantage. But this can now work if they do classical armageddon or some other balance eg pie rule or 'semi-armageddon' where there are still draws, so players bid for white instead of black.

  2. In a later csqpod w/ Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, around 2:22 (or 27:53 in full episode), MVL & Fabi say they don't like 'super long armageddon's', and that's about the only direct discussion involving a superGM that I've ever seen on why armageddon doesn't happen in classical time controls.


Part2 - Possible compromises

  1. White needn't get 120min. White could have just 60min. It might not be rated, but it's still be classical.

  2. You may or may not have increment. Actually, I think increment is better. If you like rapid tiebreaks of 25min + increment 10sec, then you might still like 25min + increment 35sec. It's the same base time, just more increment. I think is an acceptable compromise.


Part3 - 2 possible issues:

  1. There isn't necessarily a way for this to be fair (even w/ auction?).

  2. It's somehow not fun to watch or something.


Part4 - Response to issues:

  1. (to 1st issue) While it's said armageddon is fair only if there's an auction, I think conversely it's fair if there's an auction. But well I could be wrong, hence this post.

  2. (to 2nd issue) Ian Nepomniachtchi: 'If you’re measuring everything with fun, you should probably go to the Brazilian carnival, not classical chess.' And if you wanted it to be fun because rapid is more fun than classical, then again, you could've done a mixed time control match from the start.

  3. (to both points) Or maybe fair/fun is subject to gradation. So tell me the cut-off. If armageddon w/ auction is fair/fun at anytime below some cut-off say 60 minutes, then I don't see why suddenly it's unfair or not fun at 60 minutes/ I think I read before someone said the cut-off can be determined based on 'draw rate plus black win rate' or something. Like somehow viewers (how would they know what viewers think if this hasn't really been done?) wouldn't like to watch an armageddon where a lot of time is given up. But I think the aforementioned increment could resolve this issue.

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    It is surprising that this good question is downvoted 3 times. Maybe the "introduction" part is too long, but that doesn't justify DV. If you DV-ed before edits, please reconsider the question in its current version.
    – Evargalo
    Mar 29 at 13:07

1 Answer 1

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The current brisk rapid Armageddon has the following advantages:

  1. It produces a decisive result in one game. That's the point of Armageddon
  2. The auction makes it fair
  3. It is quick. At the end of a long tournament the players want to go home not play more games of long chess.
  4. The quick time control with added variability due to the auction produces excitement.

A classical time control Armageddon has the major disadvantage of being slow. If white has an hour or more on the clock the game can go on for a long time. That means the players have to hang around that much longer and the games are less exciting to watch. Carlsen has already abdicated from classical time controls and only wants to play rapid and blitz.

Additionally the extra time is going to make the auction a bit of a farce. Currently there seems to be a natural limit for the bidding around the half mark. So, for a 15 minute game bids under about 8 minutes are uncommon. For an hour game the bids are likely to be under 15 minutes for the top players and the 4:1 disparity would make it look more like a circus act than a serious game of chess with one player blitzing out moves while the other takes their time, sometimes a lot of time, maybe even more time for one move than the other player has for the whole game.

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    Well, 2010 USCC was 2:1, so I don't think your under 15min is right. Why not at least test it out?
    – BCLC
    Mar 29 at 3:36

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