Draws: Are you a Draw Artist? An introduction

Draws: Are you a Draw Artist? An introduction

| 24 | Strategy


This is my first article on and I thank you for reading! Now let's begin:


- a mutual agreement to end the game and split the point.

- result: 0.5 point given to each side

- can be attained by offer, three position repetition, 50 move rule, or TD intervention (insufficient winning chances)

The above is what I believe to be a practical definition of the term "draw" in chess. Perhaps every chess player knows this, and has had draws before, but I believe that this is a subject that is not discussed often enough in books or chess training.

   There are several reasons we offer or accept draws:

*******************The Drawing Factor****************************************

  1. A draw would clinch first place in the standings and thus it is economical to sacrifice a half point in order to not risk losing first place.
  2. Our position is worse so a draw is a nice result
  3. Fear. Our opponent is stronger than us and probably will beat us
  4. We're just plain freakin' bored of the position


I argue that all of these "reasons" have subjective value and may perhaps most of the time are not justified at all.

Regardless of the correctness of the above statement I would like to say something that I will repeat many times in the future articles of this series:

You can not win a game if you draw!

It's that simple. For the 4 reasons given above for why you might want to draw, this is the one reason why you shouldn't draw, and it's a pretty good one, actually. Why do we play chess? I think that whenever we are considering a draw offer we should ask ourselves this question, as it may help guide us to consider what "really" matters. I personally play to win - and thus logically draws get in the way of that!

Let's look at an example:

In this position, I am playing with the White pieces. My opponent, who was in first place at the time, offers a draw. His justification is clear: he is in first place and a draw with me would help him get nearer to clinching first.

If we evaluate this position a little bit, we can see that Black has doubled c-pawns but perhaps it is quite even, as it is difficult to see a clear plan for White. Nonetheless, what is clear is that White should not lose this game, he would not risk anything by playing on.

However, what I did went against that logical thinking. I accepted the draw. Why? That's quite simple: I was afraid of losing. I made an irrational judgment given that my opponent was in the tournament lead and let that sway me into thinking that I would most probably lose this position if I played on.

I am not very proud of this decision, and it still haunts me today! (half-kidding).

Before I make any conclusions, let's first look at another example, with a better thought process:

This is game 2 of USA player Hikaru Nakamura's match with D E Cori Tello. He had already won the first game of the match, so a draw in this game would already allow him to advance to the third round of the World Cup. However, in this completely equal opposite colored bishop ending, he decides to play on against his lower rated opponent.


**The thinking**

Should I draw???

  • If I do then I can rest and go to the next round of this tough tournament!

Why shouldn't I draw??

  • a draw against a much lower rated player would significantly take away from my rating points
  • as contradicting as it sounds, playing on is not really "risking" not going on to the third round because the position is actually "risk-free" as the position is very equal and I can bail out with a draw at any moment
  • I love playing chess, and there is still interesting play in this position!

Of course I made it sound like Nakamura SHOULD have rejected a draw, but of course if he just taken a draw that would have been justified as well.
Instead, because he decided to play on, he was rewarded with the full point. Perhaps half a point seems like a tiny gain to many of us, but this insistence to win is in my opinion one of the (many!) things that separate world -class players from us mere mortals.

In these two examples, both cases featured equal positions, but the heroes of both examples left the table with very different moods. Nakamura probably went home feeling quite satisfied and perhaps even proud, whereas the I went home asking myself the question "What if I played on..." many, many times. After this game I vowed to play each game with no regrets - play for the love of the game!

I will end this introductory article on the following quote by I believe Bent Larsen:

Fortune favors the Brave

Stay tuned for the next article!


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