I remember reading in some YouTube comment that Chess960 will lead to less draws or something. There was a comment response saying that it seems about the same. Then the original commenter replied in a correction that it may actually about the same but in Chess960 the draws will be 'fighting draws' and that compared to standard chess there will be less 'draws by theory'.

Question: What are the meanings of 'fighting draw' and 'draw by theory' ?

Guess: Draw by theory means 'quick draw' ?

After watching and reading more about David Howell re Hikaru Nakamura, I kinda suspect 'draw by theory' means exactly 'quick draw'. And then 'fighting draw' just means any draw that isn't 'draw by theory'. Then again, I'm assuming 'theory' here refers to opening theory (instead of, say...endgame theory?)

However, I have read about situations where openings are analysed all the way to endgames, so I don't think draw by theory refers to just quick draw. Maybe draw by theory is a superset of quick draw.

  • 2
    I think we're in a false dichotomy here
    – David
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 21:56
  • @David which is?
    – BCLC
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 22:01

2 Answers 2


You are right in the fact that the "draw by theory" refers to (mostly) the opening theory. One of the big criticisms of classical chess is that the starting position has been analyzed very extensively and a player has, if they so want, choices of opening theory that lead almost guaranteed to a draw (thus "draw by theory"). These lines often revolve around avoiding any chance of initiative and active play for the opposing side while sacrificing any chance on a win on your own side until a balanced endgame situation is reached. One could make the example that the French exchange variation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Defence#Exchange_Variation:_3.exd5_exd5) falls into this category.

On the other hand, chess960 offers too many starting positions to reliably memorize at least one such line for every starting positions. When presented with an unknown starting position, both players have to rely on their skill and understanding of the game (as opposed to memorization techniques) to get the most out of the game. While this might not result in a different draw rate at higher levels, it will result in what many people would describe as a more interesting game ("fighting draw").

  • Thanks QueensKnight. re paragraph 1: what about berlin? re paragraphs 1 and 2: do you have any sources or something?
    – BCLC
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 22:02
  • 2
    @QueensKnight: Can you edit the following in? What you describe is the "loose" meaning of "draw by theory" - positions that are simply equal, with no chance of "unbalancing". A more "tight" would be known theory variants leading to a forced move repetition. Being accused of that is factually being accused of cheating, and thus the two meanings never should be conflated. Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 13:26
  • @HaukeReddmann hell with that. you post an answer of your own XD
    – BCLC
    Commented Nov 6, 2021 at 14:28

This is more like an extended comment than an answer...

Actually, "draw by theory" can have two meanings.

First, it's what QueensKnight already described - the theory is very deep, all deviations have been handled and are no good for the deviator, and the end position is not much to play on, since there are no "imbalances". (For example, a position can be technically = if White is materially, but Black positionally better. Or think of the Berlin Wall, which is rock solid drawish, but surprising ideas like b5!! kept popping up, since we have the imbalance pawn structure vs. bishop pair.)

On the other hand, "draw by theory" can also mean well known variants which end up in a forced repetition of moves (e.g. remember the famous game Hamppe-Meitner? That one is busted by computers BTW...). If you are accused of that, effectively you are accused of cheating! (Fun fact: I was kiebitzing in a youth tournament. Two delinquents just ended their game which was Hamppe-Meitner. Me: nudge nudge wink wink mode "Oooh, Hamppe-Meitner!" They: I didn't do anything mode "Who???" They were sooo lucky I wasn't the arbiter...)

A very interesting post on draws, be them theoretic, cheated or fighted out.

  • thanks Hauke Reddmann. re the immortal draw Hamppe-Meitner that you saw, this sounds like very disadvantageous for black. why wouldn't they just do berlin or something to get a quick draw?
    – BCLC
    Commented Nov 7, 2021 at 8:58
  • It's disadvantageous for black only after the computers shredded it ;-) (At the age where I read it in a book - 50 years ago? -, all analyses said both sides can't deviate. This of course is beneficial when them lil stinkers don't really trust each other ;-) Commented Nov 7, 2021 at 16:41

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