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The Problem of “GM-Draws”

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Reuben Fine (USA, 1914-1993).- One of the strongest chessplayers in the world during the 30’s and 40’s in the past century.


In the past, chessplayers prepare for tournaments analysing at home. They use magazines and books. Once they were given the start list for a tournament, they gathered all the information concerning their opponents, study their styles and the openings/defences they played. In the openings they studied the different variations and looked for some improvement -a new move- to apply against this or that rival. Sometimes the move was totally new, on other occasions, it was a forgotten move played decades ago which, by some reason or another, had remained buried under tons of games or theory lines. In 1978, Karpov surprised his World Championship opponent Korchnoi with the following novelty: Karpov (White):  1. e4  e5  2. Nf3  Nc6  3. Bb5  a6  4. Ba4  Nf6  5. 0-0  Nxe4  6. d4  b5  7. Bb3  d5 8. de5 Be6  9. Nbd2  Nc5  10. c3  d4  11. Ng5!!? (today known as the Baguio Variation). These variations could be used in one game because a refutation may be found later, or if the investigators found ways to counter it, it might enter the realm of normal Chess theory with the “discussion” continuing moves later. You know the process. Evidently, the stronger the chessplayer, the better analysis he was able to do the more new moves he would find to apply on his unaware opponents who would be confronted with problems in the very opening.

Kasparov was one of the players who based his approach to Chess in constantly doing this type of work. He studied theory, but devoted all his energy to uncork novelty after novelty to catch all his opponents on the hop. (But he had a team of analyst constantly working for him,…)

Today it is not a matter of personal talent. The intrussion  (I will employ this word many times in these posts) of the computers, strong programs that make no tactical mistakes and disclose the opponents’ ones has made that all chessplayers are working with the very same tools on the very same opening variations, so everybody is armed to the teeth BUT with the same weapons. Even though this does not imply that new moves can be found, it seems clear that with the same people working on the same lines the final outcome is an increase in the number of drawn games. And more with the “narrow” repertoires used today -because the principle of “safety first” is the order of the day (not too many Slavs and Semi-Slavs?. Come on, there is life beyond these boring -sorry: personal opinion- lines…)

To fight against this disease : too many GM-draws in a few moves with no fight at all (by the way I have witnessed GMs spending 45 minutes to agree to a fightless draw in a few moves simply to spend two hours -!!- analysing the game outside the playing hall as if they had played a masterpiece…shame on all who do it), some methods have been tested -receiving names like the “Bilbao” or the “Sofia” systems”  , places where they were used. One of the solutions is to forbid draw offers before move 30th or 40th, or allow the arbiter to decide if the game can be called a draw or not. In most cases, players have managed to dribble this “bothersome” requirement and fightless games remained fightless games. Another attempt was that of making the players to replay the game. Whenever an attempt is made, one has to consider that two players may agree to play 40 stupid moves to get the desired draw while a draw in 20-23 moves may be a dramatic struggle…

The system of  giving 3 points for a victory and 1/2 for a draw as in soccer seems to drastic and penalises draws full of fight, altering the spirit of the Chess competition… So no solution.

Some people share the idea that the best way is not to invite those players too inclined to GM.draws…The problem is that organizers want the best chessplayers and sometimes those peaceful souls are among them…In any case, it would be better a tournament with many 2680  ELO GMs ready to draw blood in any encounter than a list of those nearing 2800 ELO points ready to sweat for a few minutes before moving to the analysis room…with a draw in their pockets.

I would like to mention a personal experience: I like working with books. Some of them contain lines nobody takes into consideration today. In the analysis made by IM E. Neiman on the ANAND-MORENO  game played in Corcega some years ago, he wrote: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 5. c3 f5 6. ef5 Bf5  7. 0-0 Bd3  8. Re1 Be7 9. Qb3!? N. So for an author of chess books , magazine articles  and practical player with the IM title, this was a novelty

WRONG: this line appeared in a game played in 1961(!!) between Geller and Lutikov, USSR Ch.Ch. 1961. : Perhaps this happens because today’s players only know how to use databases and programs, while in the good old days we had to work with Euwe’s books… Perhaps most of today’s professionals have not open a good old book in their lives, thinking that everything is in the computer guts. On the other hand there is too much reverence for what titled players say and write, but let me tell you that most CC players may know much more about theory  than professionals who need the money to live (leaving apart the best of the best, of course). Chess has also its share of “mediocrity” as in any other field… So, let me  include a piece of advice: check everything by yourself and don’t believe in absolute truths said by IMs or GMs.

The following game received a price. And it was a draw!:

W.: A. Karpov  (1/2)

B.:  G. Kasparov (1/2)

London (WCh.), 1986 .- Best Game Prize shared by both players.

1. d4  Nf6  2. c4  g6  3. Nc3  d5  4. Bf4  Bg7  5. e3  c5  6. dc5  Qa5  7. Rc1  dc4  8. Bc4:  0-0  9. Nf3  Qc5:  10. Bb3  Nc6  11. 0-0  Qa5  12. h3  Bf5  13. Qe2  Ne4  14. Nd5  e5  15. Rc6:  ef4  16. Rc7 Be6  17. Qe1  Qb5  18. Ne7  Kh8  9. Be6:  fe6  20. Qb1!  Ng5  21. Nh4!  Nh3:!  22. Kh2  Qh5  23. N7g6:  hg6  24. Qg6: Qe5  25. Rf7  Rf7:  26. Qf7:  Ng5  27. Ng6  Kh7  28. Ne5:  Nf7:  29. Nf7: Kg6  30. Nd6  fe3  31. Nc4  ef2  32. Rf2:  b5  33.Ne3  a5  34. Kg3  a4  35. Rc2  Rf8  36. Kg4  Bd4  37. Re2 Be3:  38. Re3:  Rf2  39.  b3  Rg2:  40. Kf3  Ra2:  41. ba4  Draw.

W.: R. Fine (1)

B.: M. Botvinnik (0)

AVRO T. (The Netherlands) 1938

1. e4  e6  2. d4  d5  3. Nc3  Bb4  4. e5  c5  5. dc5  Ne7  6. Nf3  Nbc6  7. Bd3  d4  8. a3  Ba5  9. b4  Nb4:   10. ab4  Bb4:  11. Bb5  Nc6?!  12. Bc6:  bc6  13. Ra4!  Bc3:  14. Bd2  f6  15. 0-0  0-0  16. Bc3:  dc3  17. Qe1  a5  18. Qc3:  Ba6  19. Rfa1  Bb5  20. Rd4!  Qe7  21. Rd6  a4  22.  Qe3  Ra7  23. Nd2  a3  24. c4  Ba4  25. ef6!  Qf6:  26. Ra3:  Ra-a8  27. h3  Rfe8  28. Nf3  Qb2  29. Ne5  Qb1  30. Kh2  Qf5  31. Qg3!  and Botvinnik resigned.

W.:  Alekhine (1/2)

B.:  Botvinnik (1/2)

Nottingham 1936

1. e4  c5 2. Nf3  d6 3. d4 cd4  4. Nd4: Nf6  5. Nc3  g6  6. Be2  Bg7  7. Be3  Nc6  8. Nb3  Be6  9. f4  0-0  10.g4 d5  11. f5  Bc8  12. ed5 Nb4  13. d6  Qd6:  14. Bc5  Qf4  15. Rhf1  Qh2:  16. Bb4:  Ng4:  17. Bg4: Qg3  18. R1f2  Qg1  19. R2f1 Qg3  20. Rlf2  Qg1  Draw.



Written by QChess

July 12, 2012 at 7:25 am

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