What is a Qualifier?
What does the word qualify mean to you? That’s a question of great importance in regards to the 2021 Bullet Chess Championship. In the tournament a number of players compete to play for $25,000 in prize money. This group of competitors is broken into two parts.
One group, made up of those who are considered the best bullet chess players in the world, are prequalified into the Bullet Chess Championship finals.
The rest of the players are required to enter four qualifier events. In each of these, the top four players of a 20 round Swiss tournament advance to a knockout stage with the eventual winner gaining qualification for the Bullet Chess Championship.
That all makes a lot of sense. You don’t want the best players in the world knocked out before the final which is streamed on various outlets including Twitch. They are the personalities who draw the viewers.
So, that leads us to our question. What does it mean to qualify for a tournament? You’re probably wondering why I’m even asking this apparently simple question. I ask because the Bullet Chess Championship organizers apparently don’t know the answer. Read on.
Prequalified Players Enter the Qualifier
Here’s where the tournament organizers made what I consider to be an egregious error. The first group, those already with a place in the final tournament, played in the qualifying tournaments.
What? You rightly exclaim. That makes no sense. What if they win? Good question. During the first two qualifiers none of the exempted players made it into the top four of the Swiss so it was a moot point. However, in the third qualifier a fellow named Hikaru Nakamura, who is widely considered the best or near best bullet chess player in the world, won. As might be expected.
I assumed if a prequalified player made it into the top four, the next best player moves forward. Nope, the prequalified Nakamura went into the knockout and defeated both his opponents. The final was pointless. Whoever played Nakamura qualified because Nakamura is already qualified. If that sentence makes sense.
Why I think it is Horribly Wrong
In my opinion there is no way the prequalified players should play in a qualifier. It’s right there, in the word. Such players have an enormous advantage in that they don’t have any pressure on them. In addition, every game such a player wins or loses in the Swiss affects who makes it to the final four.
In the knockout stage it’s the same thing. No pressure, if they win in the semi-final then another player, desperately trying to qualify, is knocked out and the player who wins the other semi-final is automatically qualified for the finals even if they lose.
What moron thought this was a good idea, let alone a fair one? I’m a chess fan and I’m triggered!