Monday, September 14, 2009

Grand master draw

In chess, a draw by (mutual) agreement is the outcome of a game due to the agreement of both players to a draw. A player may offer a draw to his opponent at any stage of a game; if the opponent accepts, the game is a draw. The relevant portion of the FIDE laws of chess is article 9.1. The vast majority of drawn chess games at the amateur club/tournament level and higher are draws by mutual agreement rather than the other (technical) ways a game can be drawn (stalemate, threefold repetition, fifty-move rule, or impossibility of checkmate) (Schiller 2003:26-27).

The FIDE laws state that a draw should be offered after making the move and before pressing the game clock. Draws made at any time are valid, however. If a player makes a draw offer before making their move, the opponent can ask them to make their move before deciding. Once made, a draw offer cannot be retracted, and is valid until rejected. A draw may be rejected either verbally or by making a move (thus the offer is nullified if the opponent makes a move). The actual offer of a draw may be made by asking directly "Would you like a draw?" or similar, but players frequently agree to draws by merely nodding their heads (Schiller 2003:26-27).

A draw by agreement after only a few moves (usually before much battle has been done) is called a "grandmaster draw". The name is a misnomer because grandmasters are not more likely to draw this way. Some people believe short grandmaster draws or even all draws by agreement are bad, but attempts to stop or discourage them have not been effective (Hooper & Whyld 1992).

Steps taken to discourage draws or short draws

Although many games logically end in a draw after a hard-fought battle between the players, there have been attempts throughout history to discourage or completely disallow draws. Chess is the only widely played sport where the contestants can agree to a draw at any time for any reason.

Because such quick draws are widely considered unsatisfactory both for spectators (who may only see half-an-hour of play with nothing very interesting happening) and sponsors (who suffer from decreased interest in the media), various measures have been adopted over the years to discourage players from agreeing to draws.

[edit] Only theoretical draws allowed (Sofia Rules)

The respected chess trainer Mark Dvoretsky, writing in a column for the Chess Cafe website, suggested that agreed draws should not be allowed at all, pointing out that such an agreement cannot be reached in other sports such as boxing. Although some have claimed that outlawing agreed draws entirely requires players to carry on playing in "dead" positions (where no side can reasonably play for a win), Dvoretsky says that this is a small problem and that the effort required to play out these positions until a draw can be claimed by repetition or lack of material, for example, is minimal. He also suggests that draw offers could be allowed if sent through an arbiter—if the arbiter agrees that a position is a dead draw, he will pass the draw offer on to the opponent who may either accept or decline it as usual; if the arbiter believes there is still something to play for in the position, the draw offer is not permitted.

The very strong Sofia 2005 tournament employed a similar rule, which has become known as "Sofia rules".[10] The players could not draw by agreement, but they could have technical draws (stalemate, threefold repetition, fifty-move rule, and insufficient material). Other draws are only allowed if the artbiter declares it is a drawn position.


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