Draw by agreement
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 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 (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). In international chess, the French word remis is an offer of a draw.
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 chess players and fans 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).
- 1 Etiquette
- 2 Practical considerations
- 3 Grandmaster draw
- 4 Steps taken to discourage draws or short draws
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
|This article uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.|
Although draws may be offered at any time, those not made as outlined in article 9.1 run the risk of falling under article 12.6 which states: "It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever. This includes unreasonable claims or offers of a draw." This rule is applied with the arbiter's discretion: a player loudly offering a draw while his opponent is thinking may well suffer a time penalty or even forfeit the game, but it is unlikely that a player would be penalized for, say, offering a draw in a lifeless position when it is not their turn to move (Schiller 2003:26–27,30).
There are certain behavioural norms relating to draw offers not codified in the FIDE laws of chess, but widely observed. For example, many consider it bad manners for a player who has offered a draw once to do so again before their opponent has offered a draw. Such repeated offers of a draw have also sometimes been considered distracting enough to warrant the arbiter taking action under article 12.5.
It is bad etiquette to offer a draw in a clearly lost position (Benjamin 2006:30), (Krush 2011:54), or even when one has no winning chances but the opponent still has winning chances (Burgess 2000:461). Garry Kasparov regularly criticizes grandmasters who offer a draw when their position is worse (Peterson 2009:36). But such offers are sometimes used as psychological tricks. The position in the diagram on the right arose in the game Samuel Reshevsky versus Fotis Mastichiadis, Dubrovnik 1950. Reshevsky played 24.Nd2?, and saw at once that he is put into a very bad situation with 24...Nxf2. Thinking quickly, he offered his opponent a draw, who was busy writing down the move in his scoresheet. Mastichiadis, a minor master, was so happy to get half a point against his illustrious opponent that he did not pause to examine the position before accepting the offer.
The rule about the procedure of offering a draw was violated in a 1981 game between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. Kasparov moved 17. Ra2 and offered a draw. Karpov instantly replied 17... Be7 and then said "Make a move!", which is a violation of the rule. Kasparov moved 18. b5 and then Karpov accepted the draw (Kasparov 2008:32).
I offered a draw, not realizing it was bad etiquette. It was Petrosian's place to extend the draw offer after 67...Rxg6+ [...] 68.Kxg6 Kb1 69.f8=Q c2 with a book draw (Fischer 2008:31). (See queen versus pawn endgame.)
Sometimes practical considerations are taken into account. In 1977 Viktor Korchnoi and former World Champion Tigran Petrosian played a twelve-game quarter-final Candidates Match to ultimately determine the challenger for the 1978 World Championship. After eleven games Korchnoi was leading by one point, so he only needed a draw in the final game to advance to the semi-finals. Korchnoi, as Black, was winning this game but he offered a draw after 40 moves. According to Edmar Mednis, it was "gentlemanly and the practical thing to do" (Mednis 1993:206–7). Korchnoi went on to unsuccessfully challenge Anatoly Karpov for the World Championship.
A "Grandmaster draw" is a draw in a few number of moves, usually without much battle, usually between high-ranked players. British expert P. H. Clarke talked about the positive aspects of a short draw:
Unless you are of the calibre of Botvinnik – and who is – you cannot hope to play at full power day after day. The technical draws are a necessary means of conserving energy. As such, they contribute to raising the standard of play rather than lowering it (Evans 1970:85–86).
All of the games of the second Piatigorsky Cup were annotated by players, including the short draws. Their comments on two short draws follow (Spassky versus Petrosian and Reshevsky versus Portisch), followed by comments on some other short draws.
Spassky versus Petrosian
Boris Spassky wrote:
The present game once again demonstrates how grandmasters play when they do not care to win. Of course, it is not an interesting spectacle for the onlookers. However, if chess enthusiasts could find themselves in the positions of the grandmasters they would not judge them so severely. (Kashdan 1968:119–20)
Reshevsky versus Portisch
Lajos Portisch wrote:
Here Reshevsky offered me a draw, which was accepted. Is this a grandmaster draw? I do not think so. Reshevsky had consumed most of his time, and had only 30 minutes for the remaining moves. On my part it would have been pointless to rely on his time trouble as I saw that after 17. dxe5 Nd5 18. Bxe7 Qxe7 19. Nxd5 Bxd5 20. Be4, the draw is evident. In such a strong tournament and against such outstanding players it would not be wise to try to win a game of this kind. One could only lose energy. Neither side had any advantage, so why try to force the issue? (Kashdan 1968:52)
Averbakh versus Fischer
In the 1958 game between Yuri Averbakh and Bobby Fischer, the players agreed to a draw in an unclear position where White is a piece ahead. Asked about the draw, the teenage Fischer said "I was afraid of losing to a Russian grandmaster and he was afraid of losing to a kid." (Evans 1970:86) Averbakh stated that Fischer offered the draw and that each player had only about ten minutes to make the 19 or 20 moves before time control.
Karpov versus Kasparov 1984
Draw agreed on Black's proposal: with the resulting complete symmetry, the fighting resources are practically exhausted.
White had used 99 minutes; Black had used 51 minutes (Kasparov 2008:167–68).
Keres versus Petrosian
In 1962 a Candidates Tournament was held in Curaçao to determine the challenger to Mikhail Botvinnik in the 1963 World Championship. There is good evidence that Soviet players Tigran Petrosian, Paul Keres, and Efim Geller arranged to draw all of the games between themselves. The twelve games played between these three players were all short draws, averaging 19 moves (Timman 2005:25ff).
This diagram shows the final position from the shortest one – only fourteen moves were played. This was in the 25th of 28 rounds, and the final game between Keres and Petrosian. Bobby Fischer charged that Petrosian accepted a draw when he was winning and Jan Timman agrees. Petrosian went on to win the tournament and win the championship from Botvinnik (Timman 2005:185–86).
Tal versus Botvinnik
In the 21st of 24 games of the 1960 World Chess Championship between Mikhail Tal and Mikhail Botvinnik, Tal only needed a half point to win the title, so he got to a position where Black had no winning chances, and quickly agreed to a draw.
Polugaevsky versus Tal
- 1. d4 Nf6
- 2. c4 e6
Polugaevsky offered a draw. Tal explains
I played 2...e6 and Lev offered me a draw. I accepted, although for decency's sake we made a further 12 moves or so, and the question of first place was put off until the last round. (Tal 2003:338)
Kasparov versus Karpov 1986
Before the 20th game of the 1986 World Championship, Kasparov had just lost three games in a row, which evened the match score. Kasparov had White in the 20th game, in which a draw was agreed after 21 moves. White had used 1 hour and 11 minutes; Black used 1 hour and 52 minutes. Kasparov writes "In the 20th game we decided in the end 'not to play' (i.e. to aim for a short draw) [...] A typical grandmaster draw, although one can understand the two players – each fulfilled the objective he had set himself before the game." (Kasparov 2009:201,205) Kasparov did not want to lose a fourth game in a row and Karpov wanted to draw as Black.
Kasparov versus Smyslov
Kasparov had this to say about one of the games of his 1994 match against Vasily Smyslov: "It all ended in a 'planned' draw, and I was not exactly delighted with such a pre-programmed result." (Kasparov 2011:469).
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.
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". The players could not draw by agreement, but they could have draws by stalemate, threefold repetition, fifty-move rule, and insufficient material. Other draws are only allowed if the arbiter declares it is a drawn position.
Also known as the "Sofia-Corsica Rules", the anti-draw measure was adopted in the Bilbao Final Masters and the FIDE Grand Prix 2008-2010 (part of the World Chess Championship 2011) did not allow players to offer a draw. The draw had to be claimed with the arbiter, who was assisted by an experienced grandmaster. The following draws were only allowed through the Chief Arbiter:
- Threefold repetition of position
- Fifty-move rule
- Perpetual check
- A theoretical draw
No draw offers before a certain move
In 1929 the first edition of the FIDE laws of chess required thirty moves to be played before a draw by agreement. This rule was discarded when the rules were revised in 1952. In 1954 FIDE rejected a request to reinstate the rule, but it did state that it is unethical and unsportsmanlike to agree to a draw before a serious contest had begun. FIDE stated that the director should discipline players who repeatedly disrespect this guideline, but it seemed to have no effect on players. In 1962 FIDE reinstated a version of the rule against draws by agreement in fewer than thirty moves, with the director allowing them in exceptional circumstances. FIDE had the intention of enforcing the rule and the penalty was a loss of the game by both players. However, players ignored it or got around it by intentional threefold repetition. Directors were unable or unwilling to enforce the rule. In 1963 FIDE made another attempt to strengthen the rule. Draws by agreement before thirty moves were forbidden, and the penalty was forfeit by both players. Directors were to investigate draws by repetition of position to see if they were to circumvent the rule. The rule was dropped in 1964 because it was decided that it had not encouraged aggressive play (Harkness 1967:50–52), (Just & Burg 2003:xxiv).
In 2003, GM Maurice Ashley wrote an essay The End of the Draw Offer?, which raised discussion about ways to avoid quick agreed draws in chess tournaments. Ashley proposed that draw offers not be allowed before move 50.
The 2003 Generation Chess International Tournament in New York City had a rule that draws could not be agreed to before move fifty (draws by other means, such as threefold repetition or stalemate, were permissible at any stage).
Replay the game (gladiator chess)
In the very first international round-robin tournament in London in 1862, drawn games had to be replayed until there was a decisive result. A similar format, called gladiator chess, was introduced in the Danish Chess Championships 2006.
Proposed cure for severe acute "drawitis" by FIDE officials Eliminates draws completely by forcing a fast time control game to be played after a draw to ensure there is always a winner and a loser. One potential issue for this proposal is that both players can quickly agree to a draw in the tournament game and then play a speed chess game to decide things. The FIDE 128 player tournament has seen many matches where the two tournament time control games are drawn and advancement is decided by rapid (thirty minutes for a game) or blitz (five minutes) games.
Different scoring systems
Adopting new point-scoring rules akin to football, where FIFA has adopted a system that gives three points for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss. This system discourages draws since they would only be worth two-thirds of their current value. The "3-1-0" system was adopted by FIFA after various football leagues around the world had used it to reduce the number of stalling draws. This was used in the Bilbao 2008 tournament, and in Lippstadt 2003.
At the 1964 FIDE Congress, the Puerto Rican delegate proposed that a win be given four points, a draw be given two points, a game played and lost one point, and no points for a forfeit. This had been suggested previously by Isaac Kashdan, but was not implemented (Harkness 1967:52).
The BAP System was designed to make it undesirable for one or both players to agree to a draw by changing the point value of win/loss/draw based on color played: three points for winning as Black, two points for winning as White, one point for drawing as Black, and no points drawing as White or any loss. Only one tournament (Bainbridge Slugfest tournament games) has been played under BAP, so there is not enough data to make firm conclusions. However, there were no short draws in the Bainbridge Slugfest and all the draws were fighting draws.
There have been proposals that certain kinds of draws should be worth more points than others – for example, awarding only half a point for an agreed draw, but three-quarters of a point for a side delivering stalemate (one-quarter of a point going to the side who is stalemated). As of 2005, these proposals have not been widely adopted.
In the previously mentioned 2003 Generation Chess International Tournament, players agreeing to premature draws were to be fined 10% of their appearance fee and 10% of any prize money won. In a similar vein, the tournament organiser Luis Rentero (best known for organising the very strong tournaments in Linares) has sometimes enforced a rule whereby draws cannot be agreed to before move thirty.
- Petrosian vs. Fischer
- Petrosian vs. Korchnoi
- Normally a "technical draw" is not a draw by agreement and is due to the impossibility of checkmate.
- Converted from the book's descriptive chess notation 17. PxN N-Q4 18. BxB QxB 19. NxN BxN 20. B-K4
- Averbakh vs. Fischer (1958)
- Karpov vs. Kasparov
- Keres vs. Petrosian
- Tal vs. Botvinnik
- Kasparov vs. Karpov 1986
- Sofia rule Chessdom, 2007
-  Bilbao Final Masters 2009 regulations
- Grand Prix Regulations, section 4.4, FIDE web site, accessed May 2, 2008
- 1862 London Tournament, Mark Weeks' Chess Pages
- The draw problem – a simple solution, by John Nunn
- Benjamin, Joel (December 2006), "The Best of 'Ask GM Joel'", Chess Life 2006 (12): 30–31, retrieved 2006-12-13
- Burgess, Graham (2000), The Mammoth Book of Chess (2nd ed.), Carroll & Graf Publishers, ISBN 0-7867-0725-9
- Evans, Larry (1970), Chess Catechism, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0-671-20491-2
- Fischer, Bobby (2008) , My 60 Memorable Games, Batsford, ISBN 978-1-906388-30-0
- Harkness, Kenneth (1967), Official Chess Handbook, McKay
- Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1992), The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-280049-3
- Just, Tim; Burg, Daniel B. (2003), U.S. Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess (5th ed.), McKay, ISBN 0-8129-3559-4
- Kashdan, Isaac, ed. (1968), Second Piatigorsky Cup, Dover (1977 reprint), ISBN 0-486-23572-6
- Kasparov, Garry (2008), Modern Chess: Part 2, Kasparov vs Karpov 1975-1985, Everyman Chess, ISBN 978-1-85744-433-9
- Kasparov, Garry (2009), Modern Chess: Part 3, Kasparov vs Karpov 1986-1987, Everyman Chess, ISBN 978-1-85744-625-8
- Kasparov, Garry (2011), Garry Kasparov on Garry Kasparov, Part I, Everyman Chess, ISBN 978-1-85744-672-2
- Krush, Irina (September 2011), "Let's Talk About Draws", Chess Life: 34
- Mednis, Edmar (1990), Practical Bishop Endings, Chess Enterprises, ISBN 0-945470-04-5
- Mednis, Edmar (1993), Stragetic Chess: Mastering the Closed Game, Dover, ISBN 0-486-40617-2
- Peterson, Macauley (March 2009), "Kasparov's Curriculum", Chess Life 2009 (3): 34–39
- Schiller, Eric (2003), Official Rules of Chess (2nd ed.), Cardoza, ISBN 978-1-58042-092-1
- Tal, Mikhail (2003), The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal, Everyman Chess, ISBN 1-85744-202-4
- Timman, Jan (2005), Curaçao 1962: The Battle of Minds that Shook the Chess World, New in Chess, ISBN 90-5691-139-2
- FIDE laws of chess
- Chess Cafe archive page (Previously included a downloadable .pdf file of Dvoretsky's article "Draw?", but this seems to have disappeared by May 2007)
- "Issues on the Chess Table: Short Draws", by Mark Weeks
- Sofia draw rule
- Interm report on Sofia tournament by Chessbase
- Sofia 2005 final results