The Art of the Draw
The Art of the Draw
Usually, a draw means one of two things: either there weren’t enough pieces left for checkmate, or the winning player was careless in his final moves. But these aren’t always the case. In a hopeless situation, a draw can be artfully performed by the losing player, and at times, even forced. An obvious example of the latter is perpetual check. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re ready to resign:
- Don’t quit too soon. Just because you’re down in material doesn’t mean you’ve lost the game. I’ve resisted the temptation to resign many times after losing a rook or queen for “free”, and was then able to turn the game around for a win. So hang in there, at least until your fate is more obvious.
- Resignation is in immediate loss, so avoid it. No one is perfect, and it’s very easy to throw away a win by being careless. Instead, start looking for ways to stalemate.
- When looking for a stalemate, get rid of your pawns first! In order to achieve stalemate, you must have no legal moves remaining. This means that all of your pawns need to be taken or trapped, and this can be extremely difficult if you’ve lost a lot of material early in the game. Pawns are more difficult to stalemate than pieces because most opponents aren’t threatened by them, therefore they don’t mind leaving them scattered around the board as they close-in on your king.
- Look for ways to sacrifice your remaining pieces (knights, bishops, rooks, and yes, even your queen). The only way to trap a piece is for it to be pinned to your king, so all of your other pieces will need to go. This shouldn’t be difficult, because most players will gladly accept free offerings, just try not to make it obvious.
- When moving your king, not all squares are the same: look closely, and you may find a position that will be very alluring for your opponent—but would not be checkmate. Sometimes choosing between one square and another when moving your king will make the difference!
- Finally, don’t worry if your plan doesn’t succeed. If your opponent is skilled enough, there’s really not much you can do to stop it.
- On the flip side, when you’re winning a game, don’t be greedy. Try to leave you opponent at least one pawn or piece that he can move around in case you accidentally stalemate his king. This will protect you from making an embarrassing mistake!