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Background

Sometimes I face players who are much stronger than me and my first thought is, 'I just need a draw in this match' so I play "carefully"

My Current Strategies

Offer a draw

It almost always never works! Plus this also takes away the beauty in chess, fun.

Try closed positions

Sometimes I just aim for something like it. This strategy sometimes works until the moment I see a crazy Bishop sac somewhere to open up the position!

[FEN "*"]

1. e4 e5 2. d4 c5 3. d5 d6 4. c4 b5 5. a4 b4 6. b3 a5 7. f3 h6 8. h4 f5 9. h5 g5 10. g3 f4 11. g4 Nf6 12. Bxf4

Exchange Pieces

This strategy has another problem, the more pieces are exchanged the more the end game nears bringing about end game Stronger players will definitely be better in the end game than I am, so this strategy is actually a suicide.

Conclusion

Drawing in chess is hard. Maybe someone has an idea of a way to easily draw.

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    Become Anish Giri :P Jokes aside, it's actually quite hard. But keeping a closed position isn't your best option imo. Better players tend to do very well in closed positions. You want to trade off as much material as possible. – Don Thousand Feb 5 at 17:56
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    The best way to get a draw is to get into a clearly superior position, both on the board and on the clock, and then offer a draw. – bof Feb 6 at 4:34
  • If you're aiming for a closed position, then 1.e4 e5 2.d4 is not a good approach, because there is no guarantee your opponent will play 2...c5, he is much more likely to play 2...exd4, which leads to a wide open game. – bof Feb 6 at 4:36
  • By definition, it's not easy to get a draw either way if you are the (much) weaker player. There's no magical shortcut around that. – Annatar Feb 8 at 7:19
  • I don't think closed positions are more drawish than ones ones except for some ridiculously extreme examples. For instance in the French Defense, after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5, 3.exd5 is much more drawish than 3.e5 – David Feb 11 at 13:46
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The best strategy to try and draw against a stronger player is also the best strategy for all your games:

  • Play the position not the opponent
  • Try and aim for positions which you know and are comfortable with
  • Always try and find the objectively best move
  • Particularly important for weaker players - play prophylactically. When it is your turn always first ask yourself the question "What is my opponent trying to do?" and then "How can I stop their plans?"

Although all four are important the last one is the most important. If you counter all your opponent's plans and don't make any mistakes then you are going to get at least a draw.

Problems arise when you aren't good enough to work out your opponent's plans and when you don't recognise a mistake but if you are always asking then you are already one very big step ahead of the player who is not playing prophylactically.

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Play normally. Forget about your opponent's rating.

Both closing the position and trading off pieces will make it easier for a strong opponent, especially if you are doing it at a concession. They have better positional understanding and technique. It might make it seem like you were close to draw because the game lasted more moves or because it came down to pawn ending, but at the same time your opponent might not have had to work very hard.

Also, unless there is a specific reason that you only need a draw, again, play normally, wouldn't it be great to beat a stronger opponent?

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If you want a draw, you play for a win. If you want a loss, play for a draw.

If a weaker player offers me a draw, I'll ignore it - even see it as a weakness of confidence. But if we get to a complicated position where I think it's too risky, I might offer them a draw. Which they should decline.

Don't play for a draw unless the position is actually drawn, you gain nothing from it. You should also not accept a draw if you're in a better position even against a strong opponent.

In fact I will play on in a nearly drawn position against some weaker players, because they do mess up or overlook certain ideas that lead them to a worse position.

The only acceptable exception is a tournament situation where a draw is as good as a win. Then as the stronger player you may offer an early draw, but not as the weaker player.

If you play for a draw and take little risk, you're just giving the stronger player free reign to twiddle about until they find a good idea, all the while you're not generating adequate counterplay or threats. If you make the game only 2 results for them where they will either draw or win, you're making their play much simpler.

It's the equivalent of being in a boxing match and your plan being "just try to dodge the punches and move about the ring and protect your face at all times". You'll just get jabbed and jabbed until you make one mistake and you're KOed. Instead actually throw some punches so you have some shot.

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I have no idea why you think the 'crazy bishop sac' is a single bit good at all! You lose material for no positional gain whatsoever! Stockfish 10+ agrees. If this kind of pointless sacrifice is what you are going to do after getting a 'closed' position, you are going to achieve a loss, not a draw. As others already said, the best way to achieve a draw against a stronger player is to play correctly and towards positions you are more comfortable with, rather than trying to aim for closed positions for no good reason (especially given the example you showed here in which you did not play well at all).

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    @OwenKelvin: A failed demo is not a demo. If it is so hard to come up with an actual valid demo, then maybe getting yourself into such a position is not a good idea. – user21820 Feb 6 at 5:36

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