How to Improve at Chess: Tip #11 - Don't skip the draws


When I downloaded games in PGN, or I searched a database to play through games, I usually wanted games in which White won, or Black won... I wanted resolution one way or the other, but not draws. So I would skip over draws. It took me a while to realize that I was missing out on a lot of good stuff. So, let's see the benefit of going through drawn games.

1. A draw is only a result. I have escaped with a draw here, when I should have lost. The same goes for GM games, somebody may have missed a winning sequence of moves or they may have been in time trouble and offered a draw. Thus, if you skip draws, you may be missing out on winning lines.

2. A draw is also part of a life story. You don't always win or lose, sometimes you draw. That's just a fact of life. Denying to look at this is denying a fact of life. In addition, if you are studying somebody's games, you will not know the complete player until you play through his/her drawn games. Why did he draw? May be hard an inferior position from the Opening and fought to the end to secure a draw. May be he just needed a draw to win a tournament and he chose a drawing line.

3. Drawn games can be life savers. By looking at draws, you learn what type of things/moves/positions result in a deadlock. These show you things to avoid if you want to press for a win, or things to adopt if you are playing a very strong player and you want to come out with a half point.

4. Learning strategy and tactics. Games are usually drawn because neither side has a positional or tactical advantage convertible into a win. Usually tactical draws are short and sweet. Don't miss out on those! Draws from "positional stalemate" are a good instruction on how to play strategically. They are usually long and tedious, but study of these games is very beneficial. If not for learning about Chess, may be for the stamina required to tough it out through a long game.

5. Learning how to play with Black pieces. Since it is believed that being Black has an intrinsic disadvantage, and there is no way to avoid being Black, you might as well learn how not to lose as Black. Draws are a nice way to see what Black does to reach an equal game. After this understanding, you can progress to how to win with the Black pieces.

So there is a tip: Play through drawn games; don't skip 'em!

For tip #12 click here. 

For tip #10 click here.