Suppose I'm playing in a small, 6-round tournament. I win the first five rounds, which also guarantees at least a share of 1st regardless of the results of the last round. What are the ethics of play in the last round? Say the opponent comes to the board and offers a draw before making a move. He judges he's not likely to beat me, so a draw is a good result for him. He's of the opinion that since the result doesn't matter to me, I might as well accept. Should I accept? What if the opponent plays a few moves, and offers a draw in a position I assess as better for me, but still has a lot of play left in it? What if the opponent offers a draw in a position in which he is dead lost?

If I take the draw, I insulate myself from a potential blunder. I also guarantee I win the tournament, not just share first. However by not beating my opponent, I give him an undeserved half-point and more prize money, and it's not fair for my opponents in the first five rounds who had to play me when I was incentivized to win.

Is there some kind of convention for this kind of situation?

  • 2
    Life is not fair and unfortunately deals like this are made routinely. – Ywapom Jan 5 '18 at 22:59
  • 4
    @Ywapom But that doesn't make it ethical or legal. – D M Jan 6 '18 at 1:37
  • I think when you need draw in last round, there is nothing unethical offering draw early. When you don't need it at all and you are dominating rapid event, I would consider unethical not to play last round. – hoacin Jan 6 '18 at 8:29

USCF rule 14B6 states that "it is unethical and unsporting to agree to a draw before a serious contest has begun".

Also, according to USCF rule 20L, manipulating results is not only prohibited, "severe sanctions" are called for, which might even include revocation of the offenders' USCF memberships.

According to rule 20J, even discussing the possible results with your opponent is improper.

You are not, however, required to ignore the crosstable. There's nothing wrong with taking a draw to ensure a tournament prize - provided you don't collude with your opponent.

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