The Stalemate

     This issue came up during  Chess FM's broadcast with Tony Rook and Mark Diesen. It was during game 5 of the Kramnik vs. Leko world championship. There was a suggestion for changes to the stalemate rules. The suggestion was to change the scoring in chess to award ĺ points for a stalemate and ľ for being stalemated. The reasoning is that if you canít make a legal move you should be penalized. So lets award the player giving stalemate ĺ points. Under the current rules, the stalemate is considered a draw. Both players split the point and are award .5. 

The point that people are missing is, they seem to focus on the scoring of the game, the end result. Was it a win, loss, or draw? In my opinion, itís not the result that makes chess entertaining. Itís the moves, the position, and the fight that keeps us entertained. Itís the suspense of knowing a player has a pawn advantage and not knowing if itís a win.  The end result is the CHERRY on top. I think this suggestion is the kind of back woods proposal that Yermolinsky warned us  about on MIGís site.

     Under this stalemate rule, game 5 of the world championship would probably have ended on move 23 in a stalemate agreement. Both players probably would probably agree to a stalemate decision with Leko gaining ĺ points and Kramnik gaining 1/4. This game, if played out correctly will certainly end in a stalemate.  Most king and pawns vs. king and pawns endgames would probably end in stalemate agreements. This would probably be the same for all rook endgames as well.  Iíd have to throw out all my endgame books. 

     The stalemate rule would drive the concept of gaining the opposition to near extinction. Why should players with the advantage of a pawn in an endgame, play a long endgame for a ľ point more. If they know at worst itís a stalemate and ĺ of a point. Why work hard for that ľ point.  Single pawn advantage endgames require fine technique, that technique would rarely  be necessary any longer. The result of this rule change would be either a win, loss , or stalemate. Fans would grow behind the trend to Ēend the stalemateĒ. Lets leave the basic rules of chess alone. Let us try to remember that itís the moves, the positions, and  the players behind this creativity that make chess exciting. Lets reward winning chess games. Give white 1.1 for winning, black 1.2 for winning and lets leave the stalemate as a draw and score all draws as .5.

 Stalemate is a defensive strategy and not luck. How many points does Larry Evans deserve for this game? 
 Larry Evans proving my point.  
 Leko vs. Kramnik game 5 - 2004 world championship. Change the stalemate rules and we might have missed this grind.