Chess Death by Draw

Yesterday, Monday, August 25, both games in the World Cup had finished by the time I made it to the website. Andreikin-Tomashevsky was agreed drawn before getting out of the opening, while the other ‘game’ between Vachier-Lagrave and Vladimir Kramnik lasted two moves longer, a draw being agreed after White played his sixteenth move.
I surfed over to the website because I am a chess fan. As a fan I was disgusted the number of moves in both games combined did not even reach the number of moves, forty, that has been considered the end of the first time control as long as I have been a fan of chess.
I have been a fan of baseball and other sports during my life. In each and every other sport I have heard players thank the fans, with many saying things like, “Without the fans we would not be here.” I cannot recall any Grandmaster saying anything of a similar nature. Can you? When games are finished before getting out of the opening it is insulting to the fans of the Royal game.
It has been proven in millions of games over the last two hundred years of chess that the player with the player moving first has an advantage. It is considered a small victory for the player with the Black pieces to draw the game. The game of Go has a rule, Komi, that addresses the problem. Komi means points are added to the score of the player with the white stones as compensation for playing second. Because of this rule a draw in Go is an extremely rare occurrence.
I have previously suggested chess adopt such a rule, with Black scoring slightly higher for both a win and a draw. It would not only cut down the number of draws, but also compensate the player having the extra Black in a tournament with an odd number of rounds. For example, if two players win all of their games in a tournament, but one has Black three times, while the other has the white pieces three times, the one having the extra Black would win the tournament. Thus there would be no need for any kind of tiebreaker.
In a tournament such as the World Cup where both players play both colors equally the added bonus would be meaningless. After seeing the truncated games yesterday I mentioned to the Legendary Georgia Ironman an idea to prevent the early draw. What I proposed is that if the score is tied after two, or four, or more, games, the loser of the match would be the player who agreed to the earliest draw with the White pieces. For example, in the games yesterday, Andreikin agreed to a draw after playing his fourteenth move. That would mean that if all the other games were drawn in fifteen moves or more, Andreikin would lose the match. Had there been such a rule in place it would have obviously influenced Andreikin to continue playing.
The Ironman, after cogitating, complimented me on an “original thought,” saying he had never heard of such a proposal. Since, as I have heard all my life, there is nothing new under the sun, I cannot believe someone has not previously had the same thought, and made the same proposal. The Ironman mentioned looking at the games yesterday with one of his young students. The boy, new to chess, told Tim he did not understand why the players would agree to such an early draw, asking why they would do such a thing? Tim said he had no answer for the lad. The young emulate the professionals, whether it be baseball, basketball, chess or Go. Are short draws something the chess community wants the young players to emulate?
During the game still ongoing game between Kramnik and Vachier-Lagrave today Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam discussed the lack of fans watching the games in person with his cohort, GM Nigel Short. Dirk mentioned the “…hundreds of thousands of fans watching via the internet.” How many of those fans, like me, were disgusted by the two early draws yesterday and have not come back today? Why would any potential sponsor spend any money to advertise on a moribund website? Draws agreed before getting out of the opening, or right after the opening, kill interest in chess. Without interest, there will be no chess.
Advertising brings billions of dollars to maimball. Imagine what would happen to the sport if, after the first quarter of the Super Bowl, it were announced that because the score was tied, and since the teams had the same record coming into the game, the coaches had decided to declare the game a draw. How many fans would then tune the game out?

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2 thoughts on “Chess Death by Draw

  1. orlando Cano says:

    That ‘s one of the reason why the Chess will never be an olympic sport,,being the others pre arranged results and the new electronic cheating.You forget about to repair the impossible and better teach us pure and enyoible chess.I think there will be a lot of Bacon to keep this page going on.canorodo.

  2. Mike Mulford says:

    Interesting thought. However, at the very least I would tweak it by considering only draws less than 40 moves. One should not lose a tiebreaker for agreeing to a draw on move 62 when the other player held out to move 63. You also would have to consider the law of unintended consequences. If a sharp “legitimate” draw of 30 moves is played in game one, this proposal effectively forces the white player to play to win even a totally drawn position if the game reaches move 31. Then the principles of chess cease to apply.

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