Short draws - I love 'em!

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Are draws, or even quick draws, a problem? You might think so if you read the endless strain of articles on ChessBase (creating their own hype, they've decided to call it 'The Great Draw Debate') and elsewhere about the so-called 'problem of short draws'. It sometimes feels like a real crusade.

By Arne Moll

Are you a chess player? Then honestly ask yourself a question: how often have you seriously rebuked yourself for proposing or accepting a (short) draw? I must admit that there have been rare moments when this has happened to me. For example, I recall offering a draw in a completely won position against GM Viktor Kupreichik. This was silly, of course, but even then, I was much too happy with the result to ask myself such painful questions. Usually, I offer or accept a draw for good reasons, and never think about it twice. (The only occasions on which I really think about it afterwards is when I have unjustly refused a draw offer and eventually lost!) I suspect most chess players have similar feelings. We all grew up with draws, and accept them as a part of the game itself. It's when others make draws, that many people start complaining and see problems.

When you think of it, drawing has many hidden advantages for any chess player. There are moments when I am even proud of a well-timed draw offer. They can be very useful in inferior positions (for example right after the opening) against weaker opponents, or in superior positions against stronger players. They can be theoretically important. They can be cleverly prepared repetitions. And short draws can even do something that, for me, no other aspect in chess can: they make me feel like a 'professional'. Personally, I always feel extremely smart when I drily manage play a correct and methodical draw against an opponent of equal strength. Look at me, playing like a real pro! It can be deeply satisfying.

And this brings me to an aspect of (short) draws which I have never heard yet: making a quick draw is extremely difficult! In my opinion, it's completely inappropriate for amateurs to complain about. Try it yourself. Making a quick, correct draw is something only very strong chess players can do, and we can all learn something from it. After all, making correct moves is the most difficult aspect in chess.

Recently, I tried to make a 'quick draw' against someone from my club whom I don't like playing against. The game was indeed drawn after 20 moves and I was of course rather pleased with it. But when I came home and looked at the game with Rybka, it turned out my (and my opponent's) play was full of small inaccuraries. The 'correct' draw vanished before my eyes. No doubt, this clever strategy would not have worked against a stronger opponent. A valuable lesson!

I don't know about you, but for me, it's the apparently 'boring', 'stereotyped' moves that GMs automatically, almost casually make, that always impress me most. Dazzling brilliancies, complex endings - it's great for the spectators, but as a chess player I prefer to learn from the small moves that are never commented upon in analysis, and from the small draws that are never analysed at all. I sometimes even try to copy them. It's to no avail, of course, but at least I have tried.
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