Draw!: The Art of the Half-Point in Chess
by Leonid Verkhovsky
The Luck of the Draw!? We have all seen games and perhaps even played them in which a difficult or lost game is salvaged by a brilliant drawing combination. In the early 1970s, Soviet International Master Leonid Verkhovsky collected some of the most fantastic draws ever played. You will be captivated by combinations and threats, as inexhaustible imagination in defense and attack counterbalance each other. The chess prowess of one player is basically in equilibrium with the mastery of his opponent. Both are playing for a win, both send their chess armies into close combat, and peace sets in on the chessboard when it practically becomes empty after a long and fierce battle. You will also delight at the spectacular “saving draws,” when, although in a difficult position, a player finds all possible (and impossible!) resources to make a draw. Example are drawn from the praxis of world champions and outstanding grandmasters, as well as from the games of lesser-known players. Of special interest is the research made by the author regarding stalemate, that special exception in the rules. The book is crowned with an interesting chapter in which the author addresses the drawn games of the world”s top players. “I am sure that all those who love and cherish our ancient game will appreciate this wonderful book. Mikhail Tal
The above was found during a search for books about the draw in Chess. The book is the #804 best seller in Board Games at Amazon. There are seven reviews, with six awarding the book five stars and one giving it four stars. (https://www.amazon.com/Draw-Half-Point-Chess-Leonid-Verkhovsky/product-reviews/1936490811/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_show_all_btm?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=all_reviews)
You now know as much as do I…
The games presented in the previous post cause me to reflect about the bane of Chess, the draw. Players have different opinions about the draw. An example would be a legendary Georgia player who is invariably happy because he did not lose. I have always thought of a draw as one half of a loss. Having played every sport while growing at a Boys Club there was an often heard expression, “A tie is like kissing your sister.”
In Chess the winner receives one point; the loser zero. Players who draw a game receive one half point. Let us use a four player tournament as an example. Player A and player B battle on board one, while players C & D fight on board two. Player A beats player B, while the game on the second board is drawn. Board one receives a total of one point as one plus zero equals one. The second board also receives one point, as one half plus one half equals one. One point is awarded on each board. How can that be if it is true that “Everyone loves a winner?”
The answer is simple. If a draw is one half of a win, then only ONE HALF POINT should be awarded to the players on the second board. Thus, one quarter point for each player. This would increase of a win, which means one would have to think long and hard about passing out that “buddy-buddy” draw, especially in the later stages of a tournament.
What kind of practical effect would this have on Chess? An example would be a nine round tournament in which two players are tied for first having won all seven games. Player A loses in round eight while Player B draws his game. Player B then passes out a draw, but player A wins his game. Player A would have a score of 8-1, winning the tournament as player B would finish with a score of 7 1/2!
This simple rule change would create much more fighting Chess, making “group hugs” much less likely.
Back in the day there was a player who was called “The Drawing Master.” Robert Pruitt was an expert player from Alabama. We played in several tournaments, but never sat across the board from each other. I can recall one tournament in which he drew all five games. That would be a total of 1 1/4 points under the proposed rule change. Someone said he drew as many as he won, and could possibly have become a NM if he had only won a few of his many draws. As one wag put it, “You play that guy and you know you’ve got a draw in hand!”
Chess needs to put the emphasis on winning.