The Secrets Of Prearranged Draws In Chess
GM Serper tells you some stories about prearranged draws.

The Secrets Of Prearranged Draws In Chess

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Prearranged draws are the reality of chess. You might hate it, you might fight it, but if two players want to make a draw, they will find the way to do it.

Sometimes such players just agree to a draw before the game and when the game starts they try to trade pieces as quickly as possible to reach the desired result. There are designated opening variations that help you to achieve the goal quickly and efficiently. Like this one:

You can find about 1,500 games like this in the database. Don't get me wrong, I had my own share of prearranged draws, so I would be the last person to criticize players. It is just a fact of life...just like rain, which exists regardless if you like it or not. Some people are even happy when it rains:

For some people to agree to a draw and play the boring moves that trade piece after a piece is as exciting as a visit to a dentist's office, so they become creative. International Master Albert Kapengut was a long time friend and second of Mikhail Tal. In one of his articles Kapengut tells a story about the Interzonal tournament in Amsterdam 1964.

Mikhail Tal and another legendary player GM Leonid Stein agreed to a draw and created an exciting little game in a very topical theoretical variation, which they were supposed to reproduce the next day. When the actual game started everything went according to the plan. The grandmasters imitated deep thinking and the position on the board promised a lot of blood. When Tal was walking, waiting for the opponent's move he was suddenly approached by GM Ludek Pachman from Czechoslovakia.

"Congratulations, you got him!", said Pachman. "What are you talking about," asked Tal, who was really puzzled. Before Tal could say another word, Pachman shot a long line that was winning for Tal. That was the exact line Tal and Stein decided to play! 

mikhail tal chess

Tal via Wikipedia.

Pachman was one of the best opening experts of his time, so no wonder he knew the refutation of the variation, but what was Tal supposed to do now? Meanwhile Stein played his move and Tal went for a deep thought. How was he supposed to explain toPachman that he didn't play the winning move? Finally, Tal found a fantastic "justification" and played a different move. Stein was really puzzled and also furious that Tal broke their agreement, so he also went for a deep thought. Tal tried to save the situation and offered a draw, but by now Stein was so mad that he refused the offer.

At that point the real game started and fortunately ended a draw. Of course after the game everything was cleared and the friends went to a hotel to play some friendly blitz. Here is the game:

As you can see even prearranged draws by Mikhail "The Magician" Tal were exciting!

The world champion Tigran Petrosian was another giant of the game and also Tal's chess antipode. Here is a story behind one of his prearranged draws.

In the last round of the 1975 Soviet championship, Tigran Petrosian, who was leading the tournament was going to play Lev Alburt, who was dead last. The outcome of the game didn't really matter for Alburt since he would be dead last anyway, but the game was extremely important for Petrosian. In case of a win he would be clear first and in case of a draw he would at least tie for first. True to his careful style, Petrosian decided to eliminate any risk and offered a draw before the game.

Alburt replied that while the game didn't matter for him, two of his friends, GMs Vaganian and Gulko, were half a point behind Petrosian, and therefore Alburt wanted to ask his friends, since his decision would affect them. So Alburt went to Vaganian and Gulko and said: "Petrosian offers me a draw and as you can understand, I am dead last, so I want it to be over as quickly as possible; I want to go home. But if you tell me to play for a win, I will do my best, you can even prepare some line against him and show me."

"Run!" Vaganian and Gulko didn't let Alburt finish, saying "run and take a draw before Petrosian changes his mind!"

"But I am playing White," said Alburt, who felt offended.

"White, schmite, take a draw!" was his friends' final verdict.

So Alburt went to Petrosian and they decided on the exact moves they were going to play the next day:

As you can see, many prearranged draws have their stories and secrets. The next time you see a very exciting draw that features adventures and multiple sacrifices, like this game, for example...

...check the database, and you might find a dozen identical games as well as the original game played almost 150 years ago!

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