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How to reduce draws in chess

  • #1

    Modern chess has too many draws, often players will recite 10-20 moves of well known theory and agree on an early draw. Of course computers are partially to blame for this. Also if we want more spectators they usually want to see a winner. For chess to be more popular it must appeal to spectators. So here are my suggestions to increase decisive results in chess and make it appeal more to spectators:

    Firstly of course the obvious one that has been used before- ban draw offers. The players know endgame theory, they can blitz out the endgame if the result is obvious. This also has the effect of spectators being able to see the finish of a game. (incidentally banning resignation for similar reasons would also be interesting, if there was a way of doing it so as to prevent deliberate poor play to lose quickly)

    Make stalemate score as a half-win, i.e. ¾-¼. This makes many endgames that are drawn currently (K+PvK, K+N+NvK,K+B+wrong-rook's-pawnvK etc) the stronger side would be able to score a half-win. Spectators would like this- there is a winner! Most current endgame theory remains useful (although there is a lot of new stuff too) so this doesn't seem too radical. 

    Now here is a more radical proposal: Start the game with only pawns on the board- the pieces start beside the board! White begins by placing a piece of his choice in any empty square on his first rank, Black does likewise. They take it in turns to place pieces like this until all the pieces are on the board; then they begin the game.

    Suddenly there are many more possiblities in the opening! Opening theory would consist of the first few piece drops, by the time all the pieces are on the board the "book opening"s would be over and players think for themselves more. This also has the effect of giving black compensation for his disadvantage of having to move second- by moving second in the piece placement stage he can base his opening array on where white places his pieces and will be able to get a superior piece placement in return for his moving-second disadvantage.

    I am sure this would lead to many more decisive games However this completely overturns current opening theory so the change would probably be not well received.It's quite drastic, but not unlike fischerrandom so it may be good to see in occasional tournaments like we see chess960 tournaments- it has the advantage over chess960 in that there is no luck involved with the choosing of the start position!

    Maybe modern chess is ok currently but the amount of draws is only going to get more, not less, so something needs to be changed sometime. what do you think :)

  • #2
    echecs06 wrote:

    They are tons of good reasons why people draw in chess!

    Yep, that's why I'm not suggesting things like 3-1-0. my suggestions don't penalise people who have played a long game to it's natural conclusion of a draw. 

  • #3

    Banning draw offers and resignations  is not a good idea. Why should Anand and Carlsen have to waste their time going through the formality of playing through an obviously drawn endgame? Or force Aronian to prove he can win with King and Queen vs. King? I don't mind the Sofia rule to stop the quick draws, but that's as far as it should go.

    Your idea to give half-wins doesn't really make sense either. With a King+Bishop+Wrong Rook's Pawn vs. King, or King and 2 knights vs. King, the side up in material can't force a win, so why would that person get an extra 1/4 point?

  • #4

    In my games, my opponent and I decide on a draw because

    a) our only good moves are to play a repetition, and if we don't than one side will weaken his position/lose material/etc.

    b) the position will draw in a few moves by repetition/trading/etc anyway

    c) we have followed standard theory and we know that with best play from both sides in the postition, we will end up with an equal/drawing position/etc etc etc.


    All of the above are natural reasons to have a draw, and I believe that players should definitely be allowed to offer draws. It just speeds things up. In fact, with your idea of 'having more spectators', they would be happier to just see a handshake than to sit watching a long, boring ending, sometimes 40 moves, just to end in the predicted draw.

    As for your new chess idea: It's interesting, but I don't see it largely catching on. If you preach it, I'm sure you'll have plenty of supporters, and perhaps a few tournaments organized, but that'll be about it. I don't see any chess variant, whether it be Fischer random, or something else, becoming anywhere near as popular as chess.

    Finally, I doubt that idea of half wins catching on. The whole point of those endings being draws is because the opponent can't be checkmated! Chess is about marching your soldiers across the battlefield, storming the enemy castle, and ultimately assassinating the king. Just because one side ends up with more material doesn't mean hey win. If they can't defeat the other king, it's a draw. There's nothing either person can do.

  • #5

    No need to throw opening theory out of the window. Here is an interesting idea though that I'm not sure has been suggested. There cannot be a draw offer until one side has 10 points worth of material left or fewer (using the 9 5 3 3 1 method). If repetition in a tournament game (big tournament with sponsors), a 5/0 sudden death match occurs until there is a winner. Whoever had white in the classical game gets black to start the sudden death. 


    Don't do away with stalemates either, as that would take away the fighting spirit when you are on defense or down. 

  • #6

    U need to put yourself in the shoes of professional chess players. If they could avoid lossing in a tournament, they will have a higher chance of winning the tournament and increasing rating. Its much easier to play safe when your lunch money is at stake :P

  • #7

    whats the problem with the 3-1-0 system?

  • #8
    pellik wrote:

    If you always play it safe your lunch money will never be at steak.

    That, sir, is brilliant.

    As for the OP, I don't think spectators enjoy watching dead draws or K+Q V K endings, however some tournaments do have rules against draw offers before a certain point (e.g. move 30) so that nobody can take an easy draw without actually playing a game.

    Also, I like the idea for the variant!  I don't know if it will catch on, but it does seem like a nice idea/ change of pace.

  • #9

    The premise is flawed.

    Spectators would rather see a fighting or interesting draw than a dull routine win any day of the week.  If they wouldn't, they lack understanding and appreciation of the game and that is a different question. 

    Also, while attracting spectators and interest in general is a desirable outcome, if we have to bastardize the game to do it, what is the point? 

  • #10

    There is no point in doing this to chess, it would ruin the beauty of it, that has been done for 1000 of yrs. Taking all that knowledge, and tearing it down. 

    You know, instead of doing this to chess, just make a chess variant.

    And the part about dropping the pieces, that similar to 960, but both players can choose where to put the pieces

  • #11

    Draw offers should be abandoned, let the players play it out. Ofcourse they can still agree to the repetition of moves rule. But still this would take away most early draws.

  • #12

    draw rules need to be checked, as i experienced one match where no matter to play game as it went to 410 moves, yes as my opponent not accepted my draw offer and he is upper in rating so he dont wanna draw also by repitation so 10 min match went to a 410 moves...

    i suprised as draw rule says if not pawn moved and not pieces captured after 50 moves it draws, but in my case it didn't happen???

    check the game  http://www.chess.com/livechess/game?id=342449246

  • #13

    So you say 50 games of Kasparov-Karpov match were boring? :)

    @Vivinski, they can play 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.Ng1 Ng8...

  • #14

    I had two games recently OTB that were drawn and they were amongst the best I have played.  One was a miraculous draw against a much higher player and the other was also against a higher player and I confess I took the draw as it was round 9/9 and I was really tired although ahead positionally.  The concept of abolishing the draw I could understand from the second game - I can see why I should have been forced to play on and win if I could but in the first game it was a miracle I had held him and forced the draw.  The reward for the great play I exhibited was half a point.  No matter how many quick draws you eliminate with a change, you would still be creating injustice for those players who earn some sort of result against the odds.  I think Fischer said something once like "Draws don't count" - that's fine to say but in games between unequal players there is a challenge to both sides - the lesser player to hold and the higher player to dominate and avoid the draw.  If you award other than a fair split of points for a draw you remove that incentive.  In another recent game I was over 200 points higher so took it upon myself to avoid the natural and obvious d5 in a Sicilian, which would have opened the game and possibly been more drawish; played instead a slightly inferior d6 to keep the game more positional and play to my strengths.  This is what the higher rated player has to do - vary a little to keep it alive.

  • #15
    MSC157 wrote:

    So you say 50 games of Kasparov-Karpov match were boring? :)

    @Vivinski, they can play 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.Ng1 Ng8...

    Isn't black just better after ng1?, ofcourse they can make the draw if they really want to

  • #16
    Vivinski wrote:
    MSC157 wrote:

    So you say 50 games of Kasparov-Karpov match were boring? :)

    @Vivinski, they can play 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.Ng1 Ng8...

    Isn't black just better after ng1?, ofcourse they can make the draw if they really want to

    Yes, he is. I mean just in highlighted case...

  • #17

    The draw "problem" is often exaggerated, not least by Chessbase. Yesterday they had an article comparing short draws in chess with players throwing games in badminton, and the comparison is not just quite strange, the article also exaggerates a lot, for example on fighting spirit:

    When little/none is displayed in a 10-15 move draw for example, it’s called: 1) strategy, 2) conserving energy for the battles ahead, 3) regrouping one’s confidence if one had not been performing very well until then, etc.


    But looking at the latest top events there isn't one single game that is even close to fit that description. In Tal Memorial, Dortmund and Biel the shortest draw was Carlsen-Kramnik in Tal Memorial. The game was 23 moves long and quite exciting. Carlsen went wrong in the opening, played a risky line, and Kramnik used up so much time that he decided to go for a repetition. But considering how few these often discussed draws in 10-15 moves are, one can but wonder if they really are that much to complain about.

  • #18

    Ari14: That game was crazy! he reall thought he could advance that pawn?

  • #19
    echecs06 wrote:

    They are tons of good reasons why people draw in chess!

    I quite agree.

  • #20

    In OTB games certain squares should be mined, without either players' knowledge. After a few explosions and the odd lost digit, perhaps draws would not seem so dull...

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