Knockout (Matches) vs. Round Robin

Different players perform differently when playing in knockout matches vs. round-robin tournaments.

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Former challenger to the world chess crown, Boris Gelfand, when asked if anyone can beat Magnus Carlsen in the near future:

In matches, in general, anyone could. Carlsen is, of course, the clear favourite, but many would have a chance. As for tournaments – he wins the majority of them. Nevertheless, there are still contenders for his crown. I’m cautious in my predictions.

Perhaps, a majority of top grandmasters would agree that holding a tournament in a knockout (matches) format would yield a totally different result than when usually held in round-robin (or Swiss-system) format. That’s because different players perform differently between the two formats. Sometimes, a certain player acts as an Achilles heel against a particular opponent, but performs poorly when slated with the rest of the participants.

Thus, I think it would be interesting to follow tournaments that incorporate both formats. Maybe a round robin in the early stages that ultimately culminates in four-way knockout matches? Don’t you think?

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