It's OK to reject a Draw...

Sep 19, 2016, 10:48 PM |
Let's start with a little puzzle...
Ok, so not too exciting as puzzles go, right?  Well, this move did compel White to resign, but what's more interesting I think is what led to this end game.  This resignation came about 40 moves after a draw was offered by White.  
Consider this position from earlier in the same game:
This is at 28 moves in, and to this point White had really been controlling the flow of the game. This is about where White offered a draw, and then again a move later... both times I rejected the draw offer because what I saw was a winning position for Black! I knew it would take time and would require careful maneuvering, but hey this was a tournament and I wanted that trophy!
So, what do you see? Who do you think has better chances here?  I rejected both draw offers because I believed Black was better (and perhaps that's why White offered in the first place).  I noticed that most of the pawns were still on the board, I had a Knight, and White did not.  The Pawns I could use to "close" the board more than it already was, and neutralize White's bishops, allowing the Knight to dominate.
Here's an annotated sequence of how the game progressed from this position:
A few years ago I had watched some tutorials on Chessmaster where Josh Waitzkin referred to the "Principal of Two Weaknesses".  I don't know if he coined that himself or learned it, but it was the first place I had heard it, and it certainly helped me win this game.  In the end, White could not defend both sides of the board.
So, kudos to my opponent here.  He was rated lower, but still gave me fits in both games against him.  He was a challenging opponent for me.
I wanted to share this game because I get the sense a lot of players don't want to play through to the end of a game.  Whether through disgust at how they got in a position or impatience at working through the intricacies of the end game, I see a lot of resignations or draw offers very early in games, or when the outcome is very much in doubt.  Have confidence in your knowledge of positional pay and tactics, and have faith that your opponent is not perfect and prone to error, just like you and me!