This issue came up on
Chess Fm on Friday 2/18/2004. The show was covering the Linares
tournament. Tony Rook was hosting with IM Malcolm Pein, James Coleman,
and Chris Duncan of Chesscenter.
The issue of what to do about the draw came up during the show’s
coverage. An Interesting suggestion was made that Chess should use the
same scoring system as Soccer (European Football).
3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and zero points for a
loss. Now this is an interesting concept. However Soccer is different
than chess. In Soccer to determine who moves first, they toss a coin to
determine whom kicks off. In the second half the other team receives the
ball. So there is no opening advantage in soccer like there is in chess.
In soccer no team has an initial advantage. One team gets the ball
first, and then in the 2nd half the other team gets the ball.
Chess is a different sport. The first move is an advantage. This gives
white the initiative. In top-level chess whites goal is to keep this
initiative and build small advantages and hopefully win. Now blacks goal
is to equalize, in other words to dissipate whites initiative. Giving 3
points for a win will certainly give white more incentive to win, after
all white does have the initial advantage of the first move. However
this will cause black from a psychological point to fight harder to
draw, why should black, with the disadvantage of not having the first
move, take chances and go for a win.
Chess is an exciting game when both
sides go for the win. The key here is to give black the incentive not
just to equalize but try to win. Giving black 1.1 points for winning and
leaving the current scoring intact can accomplish this. So white winning
is 1 point, a draw for both sizes is .5. I have heard arguments for
giving black .6 points for the draw, this will only encourage black to
draw more. Since chess is a
draw when played correctly by both sides, no side should be penalized
The draw is one of the things that keeps this great game of
chess exciting. The draw
allows an opponent hope in positions where he is losing or down
material. The draw keeps the fight alive. There are many ways to draw in
chess being down a whole piece. The king with knight or bishop cannot
mate a lone king. Even in bishop of opposite color ending where one side
has pawns and the other doesn’t can be drawn. In certain positions a
player can build a barricade preventing the other side from breaking
through. A lone king can even draw being down a bishop and rook pawn in
certain endgames where the lone king can cover the queening square and
the opposing bishop cannot.
The draw is good for chess. It keeps the
game alive. It keeps the fight in the game. Now all we need to do is
give black incentive to go beyond equalization and try to win. Giving
black 1.1 points for the win could do just that. Of course this is not
going to fix all the problems with the draw, after all you need two
opposing players with the will to win. Certainly there is nothing wrong
with a hard fought exciting draw.