I'm not a serious chess player, but I heard that about 80% of professional chess games end as a draw.

In other similar abstract strategy games, such as Shogi and Janggi, when it is impossible to checkmate, they evaluate pieces value and determine the winner (in a professional game).

Why does chess not adopt this way?

  • 1
    This question is very similar to this one: chess.stackexchange.com/questions/1412/… ... and the answers there can also be applied here: It's tradition, and it adds strategical elements (fortresses etc.)
    – Annatar
    Nov 20 '18 at 13:08
  • @Annatar Well I think it's bit different. Yes stalemate is unique to chess and it adds some strategic taste, but there also are endgames which would has no possibility of stalemate and would end as draw. These games can be win/lose if chess adopt the value win/lose.
    – Septacle
    Nov 20 '18 at 13:11
  • Oh I see your point. It's a tradition...
    – Septacle
    Nov 20 '18 at 13:17
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    @Septacle Correspondence chess is not what most people think of when they talk about chess - see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correspondence_chess As for draws making the game boring, well as you can guess I just disagree.
    – Ian Bush
    Nov 20 '18 at 14:12
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    It is 80% for the world championship for correspondence chess. It's also in the same neighborhood for the classical chess world championship. But for high-level classical chess it's more like 50%, and for amateur chess it's much less.
    – itub
    Nov 20 '18 at 14:12

First of all let's put the numbers correct.

The 80% draw ratio is for correspondence chess, not something that the average person would associate with "chess".

In regular top level chess, the draw ratio is around 50%.

In either case, most games are not played out until a postions when it is impossible to checkmate, but rather most draws are agreed draws, i.e. draws in a position that could in principle be won by either player through checkmate.

If I understand your proposal correctly, you want to get rid of draws completely by evaluating dead positions (that cannot be won by either player, not even if cooperating) according to the piece value.

I see several difficulties/issues with this approach:

  1. You'd have to decide what to do with perpetual check, stalemate and the 50 moves rule.
  2. What do you do with positions that are equal/drawish with equal material but that are not dead draws (i.e. either player can still checkmate)? Forcing players to continue until dead draws could lead to very long (and boring) games, similar to what we see with some games under Sofia rules.
  3. Positions where it is impossible to checkmate are pretty rare. Basically only King vs King or King and one minor piece vs King (and a few exceptional/constructed cases). In the large majority of positions checkmate is possible if players cooperate. So the proposed change would not alter much.
  4. If players in the dead draw position would have equal material it would still be a draw.
  • 4. This is the easiest to resolve. We can give second player fractional points (like 0.5) in addition. This way is done in Go and Janggi.
    – Septacle
    Nov 20 '18 at 23:44
  • 1. I'm sorry I was not clear. I didn't say I'd like to eliminate draw. Stalemate can remain as it is and other exceptional cases likewise, but for the perpetual check and 50 moves, they are part of technical draw. We can forbid them (player who make such move loses).
    – Septacle
    Nov 20 '18 at 23:47
  • 3. 'if player cooperate' well you know we don't need to consider that. We need to consider only cases when 'the defender plays perfectly'. We would need a referee there.
    – Septacle
    Nov 20 '18 at 23:50
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    @Septacle 3. But human defenders do not play perfectly. Chess is not solved, by far. Otherwise, we could declare every single game drawn on move 1, most likely.
    – Annatar
    Nov 21 '18 at 7:05
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    @Septacle 2. If comparison of piece value were entirely optional (agreement by both players), noone would use it. Or rather, only the "stronger" side would use it to bully the weaker one (a comparison offer basically amounts to saying out loud "I think you lose, don't you want to resign?").
    – Annatar
    Nov 21 '18 at 7:18

Because it would change the way the game is played. No way I would sac for a perpetual or even sac in general unless I have a clear cut win because bailing out to a draw from a position of superiority is not good enough.


Chess pieces don't have a proper value, that depends on the position. A passed-pawn could be a weakness or a queen-promotion opportunity. A pawn next to promotion is stronger than a rook. Knights are not inferior to rook when it attacks with the queen etc etc etc

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    I assume the concrete value of the pieces of Asian chess variations also depends on the position. Conversely, we already use average values in Western chess informally, too (pawn = 1, minor pieces = 3, rook = 5, queen = 9 is the most common).
    – Annatar
    Nov 20 '18 at 13:00
  • @Annatar Judging from static values is not fair. Do you want to save a pawn-down rook endgame?
    – SmallChess
    Nov 20 '18 at 13:01
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    Of course it's not fair. But it could be done just as easily as in the sibling games.
    – Annatar
    Nov 20 '18 at 13:04
  • @Annatar Well, sure, FIDE could change the rules of chess to make it unfair. But why on earth would anybody want to do that? Nov 25 '18 at 17:13

As far as I know, chess was invented as a metaphor to war. In war, you had the possibility of a trench warfare where neither side could make any progress, i.e. in war you could draw.

If chess adopted eliminating draws, it would lose the capability to model an interlocked battle in which no side can win.

  • 3
    This is getting off-topic but I wanted to note that trench warfare, at least the modern kind leading to "stalemates", most notoriously in World War I, is more recent than chess. :-)
    – itub
    Nov 23 '18 at 18:14

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