A magnificent view of St. Petersburg at sunset
It looks like the chess world is moving fast towards quicker time controls. There is a hunger for rapid and blitz chess. FIDE, the wholly renovated governing body of Chess, with a swift move, moved the Rapid and Blitz chess Championship to St. Petersburg, giving a strong signal. No venues will be allowed if any of the players are denied a Visa to enter the guest country. Such an initiative is a big step ahead, considering that last year one of the favorites, GM Hikaru Nakamura, boycotted the Championships because of the ban of some players.
But that's not all! FIDE Director General GM Emil Sutovsky just announced the introduction of additional prizes for the World Rapid and Blitz Championships; the total pool for the best-combined result is 150,000 USD. The Championships will be held from December 25 to 31.
Everything seems to point to a general switch from Classical to Rapid & Blitz. Some years ago, IM Greg Shahade in his blog unleashed hell by affirming that the future of chess is much shorter time controls. The vast majority of those who commented his provocative post were scandalized by the idea that the noble art would become an over-the-board race, where theory and deep thinking would count less and less.
But then chess got televised, taken by the media that are trying to make it a watchable "sport." And of course, watching someone staring at a chess board for hours doesn't sound like anything you can make interesting for the general public. And now our IM Shahade comes up with what is a quite interesting idea to make chess more enjoyable. Of course, enlightening commentary can help. The recently concluded World Championship Match is a good example. Popular GMs such as Peter Svidler, Judit Polgar, Yasser Seirawan, and the hilarious, witty and smart comments by Grischuk, made the long hours spent waiting for a move a bit more bearable.
GM Alexander Grischuk was able to show all his comedian talent during the World Championship match
But this is not what can attract people who are not chess players.
The only way to spectacularize a "still" life is to make it fast and furious.
Carlsen himself says that he wishes more Rapid and Blitz important events will be available to top GMs. And the World Champion confirmed his participation to the Championships in St. Petersburg:"I was thrilled to hear that the Rapid & Blitz World Championship will take place this year as well, between Christmas and New Year, and I’m looking forward to traveling to St. Petersburg to fight for those titles.".
It's not a "revolution" that will take place overnight, but the direction is there, and probably the future of chess is going to be much faster.