Freestyle Chess is Coming Home!

By Arno Nickel (TD)

After a long break since 2017 – some surely remember the Ultimate Challenge tour - we are happy to offer attractive freestyle chess again.
The decision did not come by chance, but we think that in view of the extremely high draw rate in all pure engine tournaments the human factor should get more weight again; both in the “good” and in the “bad”. Good: intelligent use of technology (strategic foresight and effective use of resources); bad: incorrect use of technology (incorrect assessment and ineffective use of resources including incorrect operation).
To make sure that it won't remain a one-time event (followed by another long break), we decided to follow an old plan of me to set up a permanent league system consisting of at least two, but probably even three classes (and depending on popularity even more classes) and similar to other sports competitions as an annual season with promotion and relegation mode.

League System starting in 2022

The division into classes envisages 15 players each competing in a double-round tournament - each against each with both colors - on seven weekends, Saturdays and Sundays. Two games will be played per day with a time limit of 60 minutes per player per game and 30 seconds increment per move. There will be a one-hour break between games for recreation, but the players can shorten it by mutual agreement if they wish. Important is: all moves have to be entered manually, an automatic game with an engine is not allowed.
For the players this has of course advantages and disadvantages, which are evaluated individually differently. This strengthening of the human factor will be good for tournament chess as a whole, even if it means that for the first time the human part of tournament performances will become more visible again and the interaction between man and machine will come more into focus.
Until further notice, basically and with some exceptions our existing freestyle chess rules apply, which everyone can read on infinity chess.com:
http://infinitychess.com/Page/Public/Article/DefaultArticle.aspx?id=78 . Surely there will be an update before tour start.

Qualification tournament in 2021 (starts on 13th November!)
In order to make the division of the classes sportive and fair, we will first hold a qualification tournament, which will take place on three weekends spread over the months of October, November and December 2021 with a total of 11 rounds according to the Swiss system (also with the time mode 60m+30s).
In the event of a tie on points, the ranking will be determined according to our tiebreak rules, i.e. there will be no play-offs. However, in recognition of previous achievements as Freestyle winners, whose names are yet to be listed up for all, and also as winners of the Engine Master tournaments, it is foreseen that in case of a tie in points, they will receive a scoring bonus which will be the first criterion for the ranking. Freestyle Master (1st-4th place) = one-time bonus +2, Engine Master (1st-2nd) one-time bonus +1. If someone was among the first winners in both competitions, then he can reach the maximum of +3 bonus points. In case of a further tie, the subordinate tiebreak rules (Buchholz, Sonneborn-Berger, number of black games, etc.) will decide.


(guaranteed, hopefully increadsed later!)

To make the tournaments, which require an increased commitment of the players in contrast to the pure engine tournaments, additionally attractive, cash prizes are planned, which so far are privately donated by me to get the thing going. I would be happy if with time and with the expected popularity of the tournament series, others will also contribute financially as sponsors, not only to relieve the burden on me, but to further increase the incentive for everyone. Regular reports and game analyses should help to strengthen the freestyle community and make it internationally known.
In order to guarantee the continuity of the tournaments, it is necessary that everyone pays a moderate entry fee, of which he gets back a part (the regret money) after the end of each tournament, if he has not missed a game negligently or given it away in an unfair way. We have practiced this before, and in principle it worked well.

Overview on important details

Here's an overview of all the important details again. Tournament registrations will be possible in the usual way by setting up a tournament room in a few days on the Infinity Chess server. There also the account for entry fee transfers will be announced.
Before registering, please consider carefully if you will be able to play all the dates. It will be exceptionally possible, if the players agree, to play games before the official date, but this regulation can naturally not apply before the 1st round and even after that, as already said, only as a rare exception.

Freestyle Chess League 2022

  • Three classes with 15 Players each

  • Top division named „Champions League“

  • Further divisions named B and C

  • Relegation and promotion (last 3 and top 3 players)

  • Double Round Robin = 28 Matches by each player

  • 60 min per game + 30 sec per move (!)

  • Centaur mode only (!)

  • Prizes:
    (guaranteed, hopefully increadsed later!)

    • Top division: 1st 3000 $, 2nd 1500 $, 3rd 750 $, 4th 400 $

    • B division: 1st 1000 $, 2nd 500 $, 3rd 250 $, 4th 100 $

    • C division: 1st 500 $, 2nd 250 $, 3rd 125 $, 4th 50 $

  • Start fee:

    • Top division: 150 $ (incl. 50 $ forfeit money)

    • B/C division: 100 $ (incl. 50 $ forfeit money)

  • 7 Weekends (Sat/Sun) like:

    • 26.-27. February 2022 (4 matches)

    • 9.-10. April 2022 (4 matches)

    • 21.-22. May 2022 (4 matches)

    • 25.-26. June 2022 (4 matches)

    • 3.-4. September 2022 (4 matches)

    • 22.-23. October 2022 (4 matches)

    • 19.-20.- November 2022 (4 matches) new!

Qualifying tournament.

  • 11 rounds Swiss System

  • 60 min per game + 30 sec per move (!)

  • Centaur mode only (!)

  • 3 Weekends (Sat/Sun):

    • 13.-14. November 2021 (3 matches)

    • 11.-12. December 2021 (4 matches)

    • 15.-16. January 2022 (4 matches)


  • Prizes:
    (guaranteed, hopefully increadsed later!)

    • 1st 1000 $, 2nd 500 $, 3rd 250 $, 4th 150 $, 5th 100 $

  • Start fee:

    • 100 $ (incl. 50 $ forfeit money)

contact: infinitychess@t-online.de
also please cc to: arno@infinitychess.com

October 18, 2021