Time for FIDE to drop the World Champion title?
The World Champion Title: An Anachronism?
When Steinitz decided one day that he was the ‘World Champion’ way back in the 19th century, he started, perhaps unknowingly, a tradition that would do a great deal to promote the game over the next hundred years or so.
Memorable matches such as Lasker-Tarrasch (1908), Alekhine-Capablanca (1927), Alekhine-Euwe (1935/37), Botvinnik-Tal (1960/61), Fischer-Spassky (1972) and Karpov-Kasparov (1984/85/87/90) attracted the imagination of millions of non-chess players.
Today, however, the world has changed so much. There are computers. There is the internet. Especially, we have the ELO system now to rank our top players. The chess world has moved so far beyond what it was even 20 years ago…
We also have elite tournament circuits (super tournaments) that clearly establish the best player or players.
I think it is time for chess to align itself more like other major professional sports, such tennis or golf: where ranking is the ONLY criteria that matters when it comes to deciding who is the ‘best’.
World Championship matches of recent years no longer can compare with the past matches. They are becoming more boring than ever. It is difficult to imagine attracting a new public like was once possible. Sponsors are hard to find. MSM shows increasing indifference. The internet amplifies the embarrassment of matches when they become mere draw-fests.
Regardless of who wins in Caruana-Carlsen, their ELO’s will carry most weight in the court of public opinion. Both players are enormously respected sports stars.
I think it is time for FIDE to start debating this issue. The World Champion title today is an anachronism. A mere tradition. It is superfluous in today’s chess world; more so when we already have the ELO.
The title of World Champion, in itself, is today of much less prestige and importance than in the past. What say you?
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