Reports | March 02, 2012 8:59

Poll to decide on one Tal Memorial participant

Poll to decide on one Tal Memorial participant

The Russian Federation has opened a poll to decide on the invitation of one player for this year's Tal Memorial. Visitors to the RCF website can cast their vote and pick one from thirteen pre-selected players. The player with the most votes will be invited.

As we reported before, due to the announced dates of the FIDE Candidates Tournament this year's Tal Memorial will take place much earlier. The 7th edition will be held from 7 to June 19, 2012 in Moscow, Russia. Again, the tournament will be a 10-player round robin with many of the strongest grandmasters in the world.

On the website of the Russian Chess Federation it is reported that six of them have already confirmed their participation: Magnus Carlsen, Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Teimour Radjabov, Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana. Three participants will be determined later.

For the tenth player, a unique method will be used. For the first time in history, a player can be invited to a super tournament as a result of voting by the chess fans. In the lower right corner on all pages of the RCF website a poll has been put up with the names of thirteen pre-selected players. With the text "Whom do you want to see among Tal Memorial – 2012 participants?" the follow names are given:

  • Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
  • Wang Hao
  • Gata Kamsky
  • Ruslan Ponomariov
  • Mickey Adams
  • Anish Giri
  • Le Quang Liem
  • Judit Polgar
  • Alexei Shirov
  • Baadur Jobava
  • Emil Sutovsky
  • Luke McShane
  • Hou Yifan

The voting is possible untile 15:00 (GMT) on March 15. At the moment of writing, Hou Yifan (15,02%) and Alexei Shirov (15,80%) received the most votes.

Of course it's an interesting idea to invite a player based on a poll - in general it cannot be wrong for organizers to listen to the chess fans! However, it is known that online polls are not ideal.

To start with, open access polls may not have participants that represent the larger population due to selection bias. In this case, the organizers might want to pick the player who is most popular among "the Russian chess fans". However, not all Russian chess fans visit their website, or have access to internet between now and March 15th, or not at all.

Furthermore, online polls are known to be vulnarable for abuse. In many cases, polls have been hijacked by large groups, for instance coming from huge websites and forums. For instance, with our Dutch origin we could bring all kinds of arguments to make sure that all of our readers would vote for Anish Giri. Not everyone would listen to us, but it might be of strong influence.

Besides, we know that Alexei Shirov and Emil Sutovsky have already shared the link to the poll on Facebook, so that their friends will be encouraged to vote for them. There's nothing wrong with that, but are all the pre-selected players on Facebook? Or, to put it in more general terms: do all players have the same resources to mobilize their friends and fans? (Besides, another result is that non-chess fans will be voting, possibly giving the poll even more participants that do not represent the intended population.)

On top of that, many online polls lack good security to avoid people voting more than once. Usually polls are secured by either cookies (small bits of information stored at the voter's computer) or the registration of IP addresses, but a decent hacker will find his way around this. And in the case of the poll at the Russian Chess Federation's website, we can tell you that it's quite easy to vote more than once: just open the page on a different browser. We voted twice, in Chrome and Opera, and then we stopped trying...

To sum up, it's not completely clear whether the RCF poll is a fair and good system to invite a player, but it's certainly interesting.

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


mishanp's picture

Yep, Levitov wrote two tweets this morning. One was announcing LQL had been removed ("15,000 bots can be wrong :)") and the other was a reply to Natalia Pogonina (who'd questioned the idea of an internet poll):!/Pogonina/status/175850110595514368

"20,000 real people have visited the site in 48 hours. What's bad about that? :)"

Of course I'm not sure how many of those 20,000 read very much of the Russian content... although it's worth a read. It'd be good if they could make it bilingual - I know a translator who'd be happy to take the job! :)

roamingwind's picture

no good deed goes unpunished :-)

Mike Magnan's picture

Seriously, who cares? They're all good players.The decision to make the invatation a popularity contest is a trifle absurd if you ask me.

redivivo's picture

What a joke that poll turned out to be

Anonymous's picture

I like the idea of being able to vote for a player to be included in the competition. It generates publicity and keeps the chess fans engaged. It's too bad this time around it turned out to be such a bad IT fail. I hope they cancel this poll, install better voter software, (I know nothing is 100% secure, but come on) and start again.

Thomas's picture

I would primarily blame Le Quang Liem's fans, but such blatant and apparently organized abuse has been detected and doesn't have the desired effect ... . Maybe they can still check for multiple votes from the same IP address (if this has been logged) but in some cases it may be legitimate: several people using the same computer, what about Internet cafes? On the other hand, it's impossible to detect if the same person votes from several places.

I would see only two solutions:
- limit the vote to members of the Russian federation who have to give their membership number and maybe a password that has been provided.
- charge for voting: even if it's just 2 Euros hardly anyone would vote more than once or twice (but many wouldn't vote at all).
The charm of the procedure lies in its simplicity, the fact that it can be manipulated is then an unavoidable side effect!?

For me only one thing is questionable: publishing results while the poll is still ongoing - as it may affect future votes. For example, by now English chess fans know that Adams doesn't make a chance, but McShane does.

vance's picture

Le Quang Liem got removed from the poll, lol.
Type "Tal memorial 2012 Le Quang Liem" in google. There are tons of news about this voting contest on Vietnamese website including forums and newspaper.
No wonder he got like 15,000 votes in 24 hrs.
But still, it seems they are over acting, lol.

WorldChess's picture

Le Quang Liem is the best choise.
He has voted to increase the number of mutations for several reasons:
- First,the Vietnamese love chess very much (both chess & chinese chess)
- Second,The press reported heavily’s Vietnam focus on this poll
- Last, the Vietnamese is really unite. You can verify the fact that the vote for Ha Long Bay past


HiepKhachHanh's picture
test's picture

Currently Luke McShane is winning with 3849 votes.

With all due respect, but hasn't McShane quit chess. He just plays as a hobby now. Shouldn't the spot go to somebody who actually wants to make a living from chess?

Anonymous's picture

Luke hasn't quit chess, but he does have a full-time job. He plays competitively when time allows. Considering his FIDE rating is 2961 I'd say chess is more than just a hobby to him. I suspect that he is leading the vote because many of his fans would like to encourage him to play more often, plus he wouldn't normally get invited to top-level event like this. He played very well in London and it would be nice to see him play at an elite event again. That's why I voted for him.


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