Reactions to Milener's draw diagnosis

5/7/2008 – In his recent chess-3 essay Gene Milener claimed that chess variants like shogi indicate that the high draw rate in chess is due to insufficient piece power in the game. He then described a variant that would add piece power while being as close to chess as possible. Reactions to the essay ranged from interest to disdain. Here is a selection of feedback from our readers.

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A need for editing

To enhance the experience for the readership, a more active form of editing was needed when presenting the many draw debate letters sent as commentary to ChessBase. The task was assigned to me. It required numerous small judgment decisions, no doubt some of which are debatable or in error. I tried to give high priority to the needs of the world wide readership who cannot digest the growing reems of letters when all are presented in full length and with redundancies between letters.

Many of the letters shown in this article have been abbreviated, excerpted, paraphrased, or briefly quoted to reduce the length of this article. In a few cases an individual letter that covered multiple topics was divided into two letters.

An upcoming pair of related articles will categorize and summarize the best draw debate letters we have received over the past few years, plus add some new letters. The next draw article will examine the differing opinions about exactly what the draw problems are, if any. The subsequent article will outline those draw solution ideas that have received the most vocal and reasoned support during recent months and over the past few years.

Gene Milener, editor for this article.


Reactions to Milener's draw diagnosis

Do not invite players who draw too often – Mark Warriner, Richmond, Virginia USA
Regarding Gene Milener's article "A new angle on understanding the draw problem", I can not help but muse that a more esoteric and even perhaps accidentally supercilious article on an obscure issue has ever been penned. The author reaches an unparalleled level of ungestalt in something already exhausted. The solution is simple. Do nothing. Players that draw a lot won't (and don't) receive the same invitations as more exciting and adventurous players. 'Nuff said.

Arbiter rules there is no chess draw problem – Albert Frank (International Arbiter), Brussels, Belgium
There were already a lot of articles about the "draw problem" (there is no problem). I have sadly to say that Milener's article is the worse of all. Let's play chess, don't dream, thanks.

Fair First Move rule would eliminate choice of opening – Chris Bisanar, Tulsa, OK USA
I thought Gene Milener's article about his rules for Chess-3 was well thought-out and interesting, even if it is no more likely than any other solution to be acceptable (as it dramatically changes the rules). But I wanted to comment specifically on his rule 3, "Fair First Move."

While it is a common philosophical answer to the old fairness puzzle (how should two sons divide their inheritance? One divides, the other chooses...), it would be disastrous for chess. Though it might indeed balance out the W/L ratio for white and black, it would have the side effect that you would never again get to pick your own opening, not even once, for the rest of your days. It is entirely possible that a professional player might not get to play 1.c4 for the rest of his chessplaying career, for instance. I don't think balancing the results between white and black is worth that large of a sacrifice.

[Editor's comment: The FFM rule works better in Fischer Random Chess (chess960) than it does in chess where only one start position is ever used. But even in chess, an expert at attacking the Center Counter Gambit (or Scandinavian Defense, 1.e4 d5) might never get to play his attack. To pursue a tangent, are there any statistics for single round robin events that show whether the players with the extra White tend to finish higher and win more money?]

Cultural problem of unfought draws has created a vicious cycle that is anti-marketing – Nathan Solon, Montana, United States
Mr. Milener certainly didn't encourage readers to plow on by contending at the very beginning of the article that the draw problem can "never ever" be solved, but those who did were rewarded with some interesting theoretical insights. I agree that changes to the on-the-board rules are out of the question, but I think Mr. Milener may be too quick to dismiss all off-the-board solutions out of hand.

I would argue that (1) the draw problem owes to the culture, not the rules, of chess, and (2) the draw problem is closely related to the problem of marketing. Most chess fans don't mind draws as long as they're hard-fought.

In trying to bring chess to a wider audience, there is a chicken and egg problem: the high rate of draws makes the game even more boring than it already is to outsiders, and the lack of commercial interest means there is little pressure on players to produce entertaining contests. I think the best chance to solve the draw problem lies in changing the culture of chess so that participating in a sham draw would result in overwhelming disapproval from organizers, fans, and fellow players.

First draw agreement modifies the rules and players continue the game (with diagonal pawns) – Shashank Shekhar, West Lafayette, USA
The article was interesting. Still, I think that most of the suggestions cannot be implemented either because they will be unacceptable to the players or because they are too far off from the real game of chess. After reading this article, another idea struck me which is based on his recommendations. Once the players have agreed for the draw, then they should continue with modified rules under which the pawns can move diagonally. As long as the two sides have sufficient number of pawns, they will not risk going for a draw.

Favors more than .5 for drawing as Black or as lower ratedRafa Casaní, Valencia, Spain
To avoid too many (un)fought draws, here's a system based on unbalanced point-splitting. The point is split up from 0.510 to 0.700 points, according to this table:

1. Both Players / Same Rating: 0.510 for Black.
2. Rating Difference 1 - 10 points: 0.510 plus the number of points, in favour of the lower rated.
3. Rating Difference 11 - 190 pts.: 0.521 - 0.700 in favour of the lower rated player (a draw is still a draw, after all).
4. Rated Player versus Unrated: 0.700 in favour of the unrated player.

[Editor's comment: If Black can get more than .5 for a draw, would that make a safe draw even more of a goal for Black than it already is today?]

Go counts stones, let chess count pawns – Luis Bolaños Mures, Jiménez de Jamuz, León (Spain)
I have been thinking a lot about draw problem in chess, and I agree with Gene Milener that the only possible cure for it lies not in a scoring change, which would be artificial and evasive, but in a fundamental change of chess game rules. So I finally came up with a solution which, in my opinion, is not very invasive, and involves some mechanism inherent in the game of Go, where every position, at any stage of the game, implies a winner and a loser. My proposal is as follows: At the end of the game, if FIDE rules dictate a draw, victory will be assigned to the player who keeps more pawns on the board in the final position. If the tie persists, the game will be won by the last player whose pawns have outnumered the opponents' during at least one ply. In the unlikely case that no player has ever captured a pawn along the game, victory will be assigned to Black.

Congratulations for holding the best chess web site in the world!

[Editor's comment: If something should be counted at the end to make an otherwise drawn game decisive, would it be better to count time remaining on the two clocks, instead of counting pawns?]

Anatomy of an annual Fischer Random Chess idea – Greg Koster, Chicago

"However, I estimate that FRC would have only a modestly lower draw rate, perhaps 50% instead of 60%. By itself FRC is an insufficient solution."

Where does Milener get his estimate that FRC would have a 50% draw rate? Ideally, your "new" game should not invalidate any existing chess literature. After 150 years of serious chess, we now begin our games at move twelve, move twenty, move thirty. Kasparov's solution is best: introduce one new FRC position into the game every year. A new FRC position would force players to begin the game at move one, leading to a greater potential for errors and thus a higher percentage of decisive results. Current middle-game and end-game chess literature would be just as useful as before. Current opening books would be useful for the games played with the "classic" opening position. And new books would be written for openings derived from the new FRC position.

[Editor's comment: In the 1920's both Lasker and Capablanca said that the chess openings had been so deeply studied that chess was beginning to die a "draw death" (not an unfought draw death).

... these great players felt that chess had been essentially worked out, ... and (most amusingly) that 'detailed' opening theory was responsible for the increasing drawishness of chess. Little did they know! (Watson's "Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy", page 93.)

Today a computerized century later, the extreme depth of opening theory would seem surreal to Lasker and Capa. Yet the draw rate has not changed much since they ruled. FRC would cause a big decline in opening theory compared to theory's state in the 1920's. But we have already seen that a big growth in opening theory depth did not correlate with a change in the draw rate.

In any case, maybe the FRC compromise described by writer Koster has a brighter future than full Fischer Random Chess (chess960). The compromise would allow the grandmasters to create new opening ideas in sudden abundance, whereas randomly choosing among 960 start positions before each game makes such creativity implausible. Somebody call ChessTigers and get Hans-Walter on the case. Should the annual positions be announced each December, or be pre-announced far enough in advance that chess book authors and publishers could have new opening books ready in time?]

Stalemate as a win would dramatically reduce the draw rate – Todd Kloos, Portland, USA
If you are willing to make on the board changes to chess, I think the simplest and easiest way to decrease the draw rate is to make stalemates a loss for the side to move. This has the advantage of not increasing the complexity of chess or changing the moves of the pieces while still dramatically reducing the draw rate and it is arguably more logical than having stalemates end the game in a draw.

[Editor's comment: Would this reduce the draw rate by a "dramatically" large amount? Can anyone calculate a specific numeric prediction?]

FRC would lower the draw rate, but desiring decisiveness is for kids – David Valovage, Fargo, ND, USA
Chess-3 does not solve the problem for chess. As Mr. Milener said, "... on-the-board rule changes are an oxymoron for chess. Thus, the high draw rate problem in chess can never ever be fixed." I agree, and I believe that those in the chess-has-too-many-draws camp should migrate to one of the veritably infinite variants of the game. Let them vote on a public forum what this might be.

Are we to propose a chess variant and request/force chess professionals to switch careers? What kind of consensus about either "draw problem" can be gathered from the professionals? Chess is still popular. I own multiple boards and books. I even own the Dragon Chess and Four-Way chess variants. I find well-played draws as just as exciting as decisive games. I don't need the cliché winner-loser satisfaction I found when I was eight years old to make a game worthwhile. Draws in standard chess are not a "problem". Switch mediums if you disagree because the draw rate can only be lowered by changing games. Our research into the game has made low-draw tournaments into a pipe dream.

Then again, there's always Fischer Random Chess. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Milener that FRC would not lower the draw rate by a large portion and request to see his reasoning for this as he did not provide any. He submitted that FRC produced different middle games than regular chess, so....? Doesn't that mean we're exploring new ground in chess? With the same board and pieces no less?

There is plenty of piece power – Kung-Ming Tiong, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
The lengthy article by Gene Milener presented some important discussion on some on-the-board aspects of chess. In the article, Mr. Milener argued that the occurrence of draws in chess is due to the fact that the power of current chess pieces is limited and he went on to suggest that this undesirable situation can be overcome by introducing new pieces with increased power into the game. Conceptually, this is a valid and successful way of increasing the complexity of the game and by this, increasing chances for both sides to create more tactical and strategical opportunities during a particular game.

This insight, however, is faulty for these reasons:

  1. In terms of result, it introduces a chess-like game (read, just another chess variant) which, as recognized by many readers, is not the outcome which we want to see in trying to address the problem of grandmaster draws. It just kills the chess we have loved for so many years. Many readers have in one way or another proclaimed: "We do not want to fundamentally alter the game."
  2. In terms of concept, it is flawed in the sense that it assumes the power of current chess pieces is to blame for the high draw rate in chess. This assumption, although seemingly quite valid, is not a true picture of draws in chess (which is explained in the following text on game theory and Elo).

Chess either has two possible outcomes:
1. one of the players has a strategy that guarantees he wins
2. each player has a strategy that guarantees at worst a draw

A difference of 100 Elo points means statistically, the stronger player will have a 64% chance of winning compared to 34% for the weaker player. It would not be difficult to see that up to 50-60% of draws as an outcome is perfectly predicted by the Elo itself(!). In a deterministic game like chess, it would be statistically absurd to expect differently the outcome as these would be considered an anomaly in the statistics itself. So perhaps the idea of inviting players with slightly lower Elo ratings but who plays imaginatively (or perhaps speculatively) would increase the number of decisive outcomes, as pointed out by some readers, e.g. GM John Nunn, ChessBase, November, 10, 2005.

Need only a move count minimum – Paul Franklin, Germany
With great interest I have been following the debate about (short unfought) GM draws. There have been very many "solutions" proposed and some make a lot of sense, especially those who aim for a longer duration of a game and harder draw offer rules. Now in the latest article on that subject, it was stated that by tightening the draw offer rule, the percentage of draws only marginally changes. Well, so what? Checkers was solved as a draw, and though it may never be solved, it is likely that chess is a draw as well. So drawing lies within the nature of the game. The only thing worth aiming at are indeed the short unfought draws. And those can be efficiently battled by opting for a minimum of played moves (30? 40?)and/or tougher draw offer rules. Drawing lies withing the nature of a game. 55% draws? So what, if they are played draws and not talked draws.

Thank you for covering the topic in depth.

Favors shuffle similar to Hochberg's Pre-Chess – Herb Cronin, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania USA
Gene Milener's "Chess-3" answer to unfought draws substantially changes the game of chess. Instead let me offer the only chess variation that appeals to me. My variation on the game also deals a blow to the mindless memorization of thousands of opening lines.

Start with an empty board. Each player alternates moves, placing the 16 pieces anywhere within the player's first three ranks. Pawns can not be placed on the first rank (but can be doubled up – for example: on a2 and a3). Bishops must be placed on opposite colors. Once all the pieces are placed on the board the game proceeds with the normal rules of chess (castling is still permitted). I suspect there would be few draws.

[Editor's comment: An earlier form of Cronin's shuffle chess was named Pre-Chess. Pre-Chess was proposed by Bruce Hochberg and Pal Benko in Chess Life magazine in November 1978.]

Make a draw worth 0 points – Robert, Tualatin, OR
Gene Milener ignores the obvious. Not counting draws at all in the scoring requires no rule changes while greatly encouraging playing for a decisive result. When a loss becomes no more damaging to one's score than a draw then one has no reason not to play for a win. Since more players would be playing for a win, and drawing is likely to cost you a full point in the standings, accepting a draw under any circumstances dictated by current tournament placement would become much less desirable or effective as a means to an end; even in the later rounds and particularly if you're leading the field.

[Editor's comment: A draw would be better for you than a loss, because it would prevent your opponent from getting any points. So under this proposal, taking big risks to turn a drawish position into a win might be unwise.]

Third occurrence of position should be a loss – Mark LaRocca, Billerica, MA, USA


Mark LaRocca (from Boston-Blitz.com)
 

First, let me say that changing chess into a different game, i.e., Chess-3, is not the solution to the draw problem. If you want to play a different game, go ahead, just don't call it chess.

I believe the solution to the draw issue is simple. Change only one rule, so that a three move repetition is not a draw, but a loss for the side repeating for the third time. As a side effect, many stalemate type positions would become wins. However, you might add that if one side has no mating material, the stronger side can repeat, in order to win K+P vs K endings.

In combination with this, draws are simply not allowed to be offered or accepted. You must play until the game ends in a win/loss/draw. So, if opponents play 13 moves in a well known opening, they must continue without repeating moves until there is a conclusion, no agreed draws allowed. Simple.

Switch from mate to capture of king – FPC, Limoges, France
In a recent article, Gene Milener proposed a new solution to lower the high draw rate. A very simple (but with huge consequences) modification of the rules can address that problem: the objective of a player is not to checkmate the opponent, but to capture his king. It is no more illegal to make a move which places or leaves his own king in check. Consequences:

  • Most endgames with one pawn up are now easy wins (KP vs K is a win if the pawn can't be captured). Many other endgames turn into win.
  • Rare and special winning positions can turn into draws. For example, in the following position the game would end as a draw by stalemate if White now moves Ng5-f3+.


    8/8/8/6N1/8/6pp/5prk/5Kbr w - - 0 88

[Editor's comment: The idea is that after 1. Ng5-f3+, Black cannot make any move. This ends the game as a stalemate before White can complete the winning capture of Black's king.]


Johann Rosenthal (photo by Pufichek)

Adding more piece power might not lower the draw rate – Jonathan Rosenthal, Zollikon, Switzerland
I'm quite confused by some of Mr. Milener's arguments. In the beginning he says "On-the-board rule changes are definitionally impossible" but goes on to bring an on the board suggestion. He claims the problem is the amount of draws that occur in hard fought games and goes on to suggest lowering the amount of these draws by adding more power in the pieces. Here are reasons I don't like this suggestion:

1. Adding more power does not necessarily lower the draw rate. I tend to get the feeling most strong amateurs (or at least someone with 2250 ELO like me) are lost as soon as they exchange queens against someone like Ulf Andersson. The additional energy can also increase defensive resources. For example, in puzzle #1 the solution is wrong since after 1. Jd5 black can reply 1... Qe6 because of 2. Jc7+ Jxc7 and 2. Jd6+ Jxd6.

[Editor's comment: The variations that include 2... Jc6xc7 and 2... Jc6xd6 are illegal in chess-3, because they are captures instead of just enhanced movements.]

2. It changes too much of the chess feeling. True if you go through modern GM games it tends to be difficult to find any direct combinations, but you generally must play very different since you suddenly have to avoid some otherwise positional exchanges and will have to evaluate many combinations differently ("Bh7+ will have great winning chances because of the additional mating chances" or "I can't sacrifice my T because then I would end up a R+p vs. T endgame").

3. A lot of fans wouldn't mind if 75% of the top level games ended in a draw as long as every game looked something like that.

Orange you glad lemons are sour? – L. Haynes, Northants, England
Having just read your latest article on "A new angle on understanding the draw problem" I am somewhat baffled. That Chess-3 clearly isn't a solution but an alternative isn't of great comfort to people who love chess and don't want to see its demise (which must be the almost everybody who uses this site). How do you make a lemon less sour? Eat an orange. Do you see what I'm getting at?

Withholding invitations is working well – Johan, Copenhagen
One word: yawn. So the guy proposes new rules. There must be thousands of chess variations already in existence that have failed to replace the standard game, why should we give his random musings much thought? I don't get it. Draws are a part of chess. The Sofia rules are the best way of minimizing short draws in standard chess, though really the economical incentive (a drawish player will not be as easily invited to the highest level tournaments) is already working very well.

Extend the draw offer, try other small changes – David Nijdam, Antwerpen, Belgium
I read the article about solutions on lowering the draw rates in chess. I'm no professor, but the author is in my opinion creating a whole new game, if he implements his set of rules. That's an easy way: just change the game. I thought the discussion was to keep chess as it is, and then take measures to lower the draw rates?! I cannot believe these proposals. Create a new game, call it chess-3, organize seperate tournaments, and that's it. Move on.

Let's hold on to the KISS-principle (keep it simple and sane). Try making little changes like readers have suggested before, and see what the result is. For instance, try the idea of accepting an offer for as long as ten moves, a draw offer can only be made after having played 30 moves, the player offering a draw can be summond to play five moves blindfolded, restrict his time if a player offers a draw, elo-penalty, etc. Let's see what the result is.

I love the chess game as it is. If there are no satisfactory solutions to this blown-up problem I would like to see one thing done: no changes.

Eliminate stalemate, allow king to move into check – Bram Cohen, San Francisco, CA
Gene Milener missed by far the simplest rules change to reduce the number of draws in chess: get rid of stalemate. Stalemate greatly complicates the rules, and does nothing but produce excess draws. Elimination of the rule that a king can't move into check is a nice simplification, and results in clear wins in some situations which clearly warrant it, such as king and pawn versus king.

Rapid/blitz tie-break games do not affect the long game – Mirik Suleymanian, Richmond VA, USA
The last article about the draw problem is Gene Milener's. With all the respect to the analysis he presented I can not agree with some of his points. Also I didn't understand what his solution is? I mean practical solution. The easiest thing in this world is to critique what the others say, but the hardest thing is to offer better solution.

One of the critique is related to the suggestion I made (may be others too, I don't know) of Blitz tie-break. I don't think that is the best solution, but that is one of the solutions. Here is what he said:

"Blitz Tie-Break: When a long time control game ends in a draw, play Blitz games until one is decisive. This does nothing to improve the long game, the only game we care about."
I don't understand why we should care only about the long games. In that case why nowadays we have a lot of Rapid, Blind and Blitz tournaments? Or they are not chess, or they are different kind of chess, or there are no masterpieces in rapid and Blitz tournaments, or draws in those tournaments are all hard fought. In my opinion the problem is more general, for all kind of chess, be it long, Rapid or Blitz.

Here is another point he made:

"Nor do I like replacing draws with an immediate subsequent Blitz tie-breaker game. The goal is to produce a better long time control game, yet this Blitz proposal encourages players to quickly draw the long game and go directly to the brief energy-saving Blitz game."

First of all the goal is not to produce a better long time control game, but to produce all kinds of better games, including Rapid and Blitz. The second part of the critique is hardly understandable. What chess player in his mind will quickly draw the long game with white to play Blitz with black? Everybody knows that Blitz is some kind of lottery where anything can happen. If we make an analogy with Soccer, it is the same to say that the hosting team will make a quick draw in game for the energy-saving penalty kick. That is unimaginable. Thank you very much.

Draws can be beautiful – Jean Hebert, Montreal Canada
Personally I find this so called "draw-problem" utter non-sense. The well played draw is just as important (and often beautiful!) a part of chess as the mating combination. Adding new pieces or changing how they move would be complete sacrilege!

Sofia solves the unfought draw problem, prize money could reduce other draws – Luke Peristy, Canada
Gene Milener has completely missed the point. The problem is not draws. The problem is unfought draws. As far as I'm concerned, the Sofia rules take care of this problem quite nicely. If we want to see more fighting spirit in addition to banning early draws, why not something that doesn't change the nature of the game. Monetary incentives for wins, bringing back brilliancy prizes, changing the tournament scoring system, not inviting Peter Leko (just kidding!) etc., would, in my opinion, be preferrable to changing the nature of chess.

Players should prove their draw against Fritz – Robert Vineggary, D.C., USA
Milener disregards the crux of the problem. If two players want to draw, they can do it in any chess variant as easily as they can in chess proper. Odd that a Microsoft man would overlook our newly acquired technical resources. I say, let the grandmasters declare a draw whenever they desire. But then make this result subject to "confirmation." Confirmation would require each player to resume his final position against the toughest available computer. The draw result could then be overturned for either or both players. This solution should work great and even better as technology continues to advance.

Draw death and Fritz dominance are mutually exclusive – Danny Purvis, Columbia, SC, USA
Gene Milener proposes yet another chess variant. Unnecessarily, because there is no problem. The two alternative futures that once depressed chess players, draw death and computer dominance, are mutually exclusive. Further, the latter alternative has already happened, and - surprise! - it's not so bad after all.


ChessBase articles on unfought draws

A new angle on understanding the draw problem
08.04.2008 – Some people say it is a serious danger, others say it is not. Gene Milener, who works for Microsoft by day, believes that the problem of unfought draws is an artifact of the high draw rate among hard-fought games. In a remarkable essay he examines other games and explains a different perspective on how the high draw rate problem could be addressed. Must read.

Reader feedback: the great draw debate continues
27.03.2008 – "I propose," writes one reader, "that a draw proposal should reduce the time at your disposal to 30 minutes, so you receive a great penalty at the beginning of the game, decreasing to no penalty when you have only 30 minutes or less (at the end of the game)." These and many other imaginative proposals have reached us in the past weeks on a problem that is occupying the thoughts of our readers.

Unfought draws – reader feedback
20.03.2008 – Last week we published an article of the perceived problem of unfought "grandmaster draws" in professional chess. Kung-Ming Tiong, a mathematician and logician at School of Science and Technology, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia, put together the arguments presented so far, and his analysis of their conclusions. Today we present further imaginative proposals from our readers.
 

Unfought draws – mathematical, logical and practical considerations
14.03.2008 – The problem of short "grandmaster" draws is one that has occupied our readers for some time. A number of proposals have been made, some quite ingenious, to force tournament and match players to be more aggressive, risk more and go for wins. Today we bring you a comprehensive analysis of the current state of the debate, by a mathematician and logician in Malaysia. Long interesting read.
 

The problem of draws – feedback from our readers
04.01.2008 – The perceived problem of too many unfought draws in chess has led to a number of imaginative cures being proposed, involving the modification of the rules of the games, the scoring system and the prize distribution. Over Christmas we presented a particularly clever one: let the draw offer stand for the rest of the game. Here are reactions to this proposal and new ideas. Long interesting read.

The problem of draws – a Christmas solution
29.12.2007 – It is perhaps not appropriate to take up the subject while a tournament in Moscow is registering the lowest drawing rate in recent memory. But the question of quick, unfought draws still occupies the attention of our readers, and many have sent in new and imaginative proposals. One is so clever that we advocate trying it out immediately. The first organiser to do so gets to name it after his city.

Chess, football and the Bilbao Rule – Part II
15.11.2007 – The debate on the perceived problem of too many – unfought – draws in chess, and what to do about it, continues. The letters pour in and we keep receiving extensive, well thought through proposals that attempt to create incentives for playing to win. Josu Fernández presents closing arguments for the Bilbao System, while Serbian GM Dragan Solak tells us why he thinks it cannot work.

Chess, football and the Bilbao Rule
08.11.2007 – The discussion and the search for remedies for the perceived problem of short draws in chess continues. Josu Fernández, a Spanish organiser, sent us a report on the effects of the Bilbao 3-1-0 system on the football league in his country, and on what this means for chess. Other readers too have submitted thoughful papers on the subject. Again, it is a long interesting read.

The 'Bilbao Draw' – how it doesn't solve the problem
28.10.2007 – Chess fans and organisers all over the world are worried about the problem of too many draws in chess. Actually: about pre-arranged or unfought draws. Many remedies have been tried, including threats, prohibition and, most recently, the Bilbao system of awarding three points for a win and one for a draw. Is that the solution? No, says one astute reader and points to a possibly fatal flaw.

ACP Survey: what the players think about draw offers
22.03.2007 – In February the Association of Chess Professionals asked its members what should be done to combat short, unfought draws, which are often perceived to be the bane of chess. The ACP published a questionnaire, 171 members replied.

ACP Survey: What do you think about draws?
11.02.2007 – Short, unfought draws are the bane of chess fans. That at least is the public perception. The Association of Chess Professionals (ACP), which has 227 members, has launched a questionnaire to find a remedy.

Embracing Risk in Tournaments
14.12.2006 – The issue of playing style is not normally given much consideration in chess. In an interesting article computer scientist Darse Billings maintains that it is an important factor in the probability of winning. A player who tends to win or lose games has a significantly better chance of success in a tournament than a player who draws a lot of games. Read and consider.

The draw problem – a simple solution
10.11.2005 – Recently Ignatius Leong and Leung Weiwen made a very radical solution to the problem of too many draws in chess. This led to a vigorous debate amongst our readers – we bring you a selection of their often very interesting letters. But we start off with the voice of reason: John Nunn analyses the problem and proposes a much simpler solution.

A Cure for SAD (Severe Acute Drawitis)?
03.11.2005 – Draws, draws, draws – the problem has always faced chess, and it seems that there is no clear way to solve it. However, Ignatius Leong and Leung Weiwen, both of Singapore, offer a radical new proposal that would decide every game of chess in a sporting fashion. Will it catch on?

Draws forbidden in Super-GM tournaments
01.04.2005 – When a bunch of world class players get together for a tournament the danger is that there will be a lot of draws. A new organiser who is staging a Super GM event in Sofia, Bulgaria, has come up with a new idea: ban draw offers. The participants have to play on until the arbiter says they can stop. Will this become a fixed feature in chess events?

Short on draws
18.03.2004 – "I know that with perfect play, God versus God, Fritz versus Fritz, chess is a draw," writes Nigel Short, who describes a deadly disease called Severe Acute Drawitis. "Those afflicted with SAD display an uncontrollable urge to offer or accept premature peace proposals." Read about it in Nigel's highly entertaining Sunday Telegraph column.

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