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Many world champion games are drawn, and people in the general public think that is disappointing. Not to debate that opinion here, but the question seems to be out there. So what would a rule change look like to get rid of most of the drawn games in tournaments? Especially those agreed upon rather than those forced. What has been proposed?

What consequences would come from giving zero points to both players who draw? Or to punish the party who proposes a draw by a reduced score? Draws can be forced, and the players could "agree to force" a draw, so it's not apparent to me how it would work out.

  • Some sort of random pairing before round doesn't hurt chess logic and should help make games more interesting. – hoacin Aug 5 '17 at 6:26
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    Flog the loser of every game. In case of a draw, flog both players. That should do it. – bof Aug 6 '17 at 11:22
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Possible solution for the World Championship match: always playing a tie-break before the classical phase.

In case, the main phase (12 classical games) is not drawn, the tie-break will be of no importance for selecting the world champion. Simply, the winner of the classical phase is always declared the world champion. Only if classical phase ends in a draw (6.0 – 6.0), the – previously played – tie-break is decisive.

The key idea is that a tie-break loser will have stronger incentives to play aggressively (offensively) than now. Already before the first classical game, he will be certain that without winning at least a single game out of 12, it is impossible for him to become the champion.

The incentives would be the strongest in the 12th game if after the 11 games the result is 5.5 – 5.5. To have championship chances, the tie-breaker loser will have to risk playing for a win.

The idea described here is a direct analogy to the solution proposed in the literature for soccer (see References below).

References:

Carrillo, J. D. (2007). Penalty shoot-outs: Before or after extra-time? Journal of Sports Economics, 8, 505-518. (link)

Lenten, Liam JA, Jan Libich, and Petr Stehlík. "Policy Timing and Footballers' Incentives: Penalties Before or After Extra Time?." Journal of Sports Economics 14.6 (2013): 629-655. (link)

  • Brilliant! Seems to be the smallest change imaginable, yet it gives the proper incentive. – LocalFluff Jan 16 at 18:12
  • Many people within the world of professional chess, including Magnus Carlsen himself and his second Laurent Fressinet, have opposed the idea the having tiebreakers prior to the match on the basis of it being seemingly artificial. – ATLPoly Jan 17 at 15:27
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Tried systems are to award 3 points for a win and 1 for a draw, not being able to offer a draw before move 30, and only being able to draw with the consent of the arbiter. There has been a long discussion about giving black 0.6 points versus white's 0.4, due the the advantage of the first move. There is also Fischer's suggestion of not counting draws in matches.

I have suggested on splitting the point in a ratio derived by the difference in rating. For people with <= 75 points difference, the point is split evenly. 75-150, the point is split 0.6-0.4, weaker and stronger player respectively. There could also be a variance based upon which color was played. This should give the stronger player more incentive to play for a win, however it also gives the weaker player more reward for playing for the draw.

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    Rewarding weaker players for draw, that's a nightmare. – hoacin Aug 4 '17 at 21:28
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    Rewarding the weaker player for playing a good game. As I said, the problem is this "reward." However, this also means that the weaker player would still play up as the reward for scoring more points. – Fred Knight Aug 5 '17 at 1:50
  • "...due the the advantage of the first move" one has to be very careful here as this still has to be demonstrated. – gented Aug 7 '17 at 20:08
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    @Annatar Notice that White having a higher winning rate than Black by no means implies "first move advantage" (in precise sense) because 1) if this were the case than there would be no Black wins at all or 2) the statistics that you are looking at are not at best play. Either one of the above invalidate your claim. – gented Aug 8 '17 at 9:02
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    @GennaroTedesco And "first move advantage" as used by the chess community refers to something else (that everyone involved understands, btw). Just like "pieces" do not include "pawns" in chess lingo, too, and I bet your theoretical definitions would disagree on that one as well. I'm out of this pointless discussion. – Annatar Aug 8 '17 at 10:15
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So what would a rule change look like to get rid of all the drawn games in tournaments?

It wouldn't look like anything to do with chess because the question is one which displays ignorance of the laws of chess.

There are many situations where a draw is automatic -

1) Stalemate

2) Insufficient mating material

3) Five fold repetition

4) 75 moves without a capture or pawn move.

All of these instantly end the game according to the latest FIDE Laws of chess and in these cases the result is a draw.

What consequences would come from giving zero points to both players who draw?

This shows tremendous disrespect to players who fight long hard games which end in draws because the players are evenly matched.

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    @LocalFluff Just of out interest, where do your assumptions on players come from? "Guys like Carlsen don't seem to have the slightest interest in playing chess": in the latest super tournaments like Sinquefield Cups, Norway chess, Gibraltair and all the rest there has been plenty of wonderful games of chess: I don't know where you get that idea from. – gented Aug 7 '17 at 14:34
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    @LocalFluff The last world championship was full of interesting and instructive games; that they all ended up being drawn doesn't make them any less valuable. To be honest I'd rather see a precise drawn game (that you can learn from) than a decisive game where players tend to make mistakes just for the sake of over-trying. – gented Aug 7 '17 at 14:43
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    @LocalFluff I'm saying that it is false that the super GM "refuse to play chess" and that a game being draw is less interesting than a decisive game. – gented Aug 7 '17 at 19:53
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    @LocalFluff It's funny that you mention Carlsen of all people. This guy is known for "kneading" games to victory that most others would have judged a clear draw. – Annatar Aug 8 '17 at 9:05
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    @LocalFluff I mean, I get it, there ARE a lot of games that end in a draw after half an hour and 20 moves, and those sure are disappointing. But you seem to indifferently lump them together with all those draws well deserved by both sides after a fierce battle, and that's not cool. If you want to see blood every ten minutes, chess might just not be your sport. – Annatar Aug 8 '17 at 9:15
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You can incentivize any behavior by providing the appropriate reward function. It is hard to select proper rewards (and even harder to persuade other people to adopt them). One example would be to give a slight edge for a win: 1.25 for win, 0.5 for a draw.

Another approach to make draws less likely is to start from a list of predefined very unbalanced positions. For example in checkers which had very high percentage of draws on the highest level, the game started not from the start but from a random position from a predefined list.

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The 3-1-0 system (3 for a win, 1 each for a draw) has been used but IMO it unfairly penalizes the player of Black. At strong GM level it's difficult to win with Black if the opponent only wants a draw.

My suggestion is to modify the 3-1-0 method by giving Black 1.5 for a draw. This is equivalent to changing the normal 1-0.5-0 system by only giving White 1/3 for a draw.

It wouldn't be at all suitable for Swisses but for the invitational all-by-all events I think it would be very positive. There would be much more onus on players with White to play for wins and risk-taking players would be rewarded.

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In Rudolf Spielman's book I have once read his proposal to introduce the following rules for scoring a single game:

1) mate to opponent: 7-0

2) opponent king left alone 6-1

3) stalemate to opponent king 5-2

4) draw by repetition 4:3 for black, 3:4 for white

With this scheme the score of each game is never equal for both partners so somebody always wins. In particular White is discouraged from a draw by repetition because he gets less than Black in this case.

  • That was a hundred years ago, right? Wouldn't such rules be unnecessarily intrusive on the way chess is played? A king alone classically blocks the opponent's pawn. That's much of what end games are about. And giving incentives to players to stalemate or repeat might not reduce the number of draws, but change their whole strategy. The idea that someone always should win is appealing. Soccer players don't agree on a tie and walk away from their audience after ten minutes. It's a game. One wins. – LocalFluff Aug 4 '17 at 19:21
  • Soccer players agree to a draw after running up and down a field many times. – Fred Knight Aug 5 '17 at 1:51
  • @FredKnight Yeah, threefold repetition. Chess is an action game compared with the couple of dozen of men walking around in the park during a so called badmint... I mean soccer game. Failing to mate the goalie from 10 meters distance by kicking the ball 10 meters above the goal. Extraordinary incompetence. And they do this for a living! – LocalFluff Aug 5 '17 at 7:01
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    I wrote the answer from memory but perhaps 2) and 3) should swap places. After all, stalemating the opponent's king is in fact like capturing it on the next move so perhaps it should be more valuable than achieaving K+B vs K. – DrCapablasker Aug 5 '17 at 7:51
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One way to get rid of draws is to have all games be Armageddon games. Basically, when you play under these rules, a draw is counted as a win for one player, and the other player is given a time advantage as compensation.

  • I fear that would change game play too much. It would actually make the one who wins by drawing, do everything he can in order to (force a) draw. Maybe causing even more draws! – LocalFluff Aug 7 '17 at 19:19
  • @LocalFluff The other person would be doing the opposite though. – ericw31415 Aug 7 '17 at 21:07
  • Yeah, but it would be a play about getting or avoiding a forced draw somehow. It might put even greater focus on draws. And we all want to see that king mated, don't we, isn't that what the American revolution was all about! – LocalFluff Aug 7 '17 at 21:50
  • @LocalFluff I see what you mean now. The way I interpreted your question, was how to get rid of complications due to drawn games. My answer would get rid of those half points. – ericw31415 Aug 8 '17 at 17:35

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