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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Proposed anti-Draw Solutions

      In a recent article I read Andrey Chitatelsky of Moscow wrote of a couple of proposals to deal with the spate of draws in top level competition. He pointed out that draws decrease chess' appeal as popular sport and commercial endeavor. Not only that they take away the appeal of the game for the average player.   
       One idea is to play the rapid and blitz games before (not after the classic games) so that the player who wins the rapid match has the advantage right from the start.  The result of this is a draw is to the advantage of the winner of the blitz match.  This way the loser will be forced to try and win.  No more quick draws so they can take their chances in blitz.  This does not eliminate draws, but reduces fast draws without a fight.
       Another involves something really, really important to today’s professional players…money.   Half of tournament prize fund is divided among winners of games finishing with a result.  So a player, who scored +4 -4 =4, gets 4 times more money than those who scored +1 -1 =10. This idea is for elite tournaments. Aggressive players would receive more money and this should increase tension in tournament as players try for a bigger payday by winning more games.
      The most radical solution is to treat draws as wins for Black.  The logic behind this is that chess is so developed on the highest level that white has a significant advantage. If there wasn’t any difference between loss and draw, white could play risky and select sharp positions instead of boring, risk free positions with small advantage.  As Chitatelsky points out, this idea only works at the elite level.
       He also suggested that eliminating draws would be good for advanced chess because White loses very seldom in advanced chess and most games are very boring. But if White was forced to think about winning it would lead to interesting games and attempts to win. This may be the case on the elite OTB level, but I don’t think advanced chess is all that popular among the world’s elite players at this time and to impose such a rule on correspondence players (almost all of whom play advanced chess anyway) is not a good idea because most of them aren’t in the same class as the world’s elite OTB players.
      Chitatelsky makes an interesting observation that modern day chess at highest levels is “becoming strange sport without competition nature, which is very unattractive to wide audience.”  I know what he means…I really haven’t been interested in watching GM play, even at the world championship level, for years.  Most of them are so boring I wouldn’t care if they all give up chess and left it to us rating challenged amateurs to play the game for nothing but the fun of it.

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