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Imagine a situation where a team of top Grandmasters would face another team of top Grandmasters over a single chess board and play a series of games. Would the games always end in a draw? Would having a team instead of an individual player eliminate errors or would (other) errors inevitably arise?

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    It's not an answer, but Kasparov vs The World might give you some ideas as to what can happen. Dec 27 '13 at 14:38
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    What I can say for sure is that the game will end in a draw unless one of the two sides wins. Jan 12 '14 at 9:53
  • Deep Blue was suppossedly being changed while facing off against Kasparov. Thats 1 GM vs at least two. Kasparov ended up losing the second match. Jan 9 '15 at 13:43
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I think that the draw rate does not have to be higher than games between individual Grandmasters. In a team versus team game, a small mistake will be severely punished. Most probably, grabbing the initiative will become more or less decisive. The opening battle will be very interesting and shape the rest of the game in a decisive manner. The type of positions that will arise in the games will depend to the team composition (the playing style of the players in each team). A team with players that prefer sharp and complex middlegames will probably have good chances to win the match. Adding a time control to the mix will make sure that a draw will not be a simple task for either team.

The probability of making a mistake will become lower. At the same time, the probability of noticing a mistake made by the opponent team will become higher. The ability to keep an initiative will increase. The ability to win endgames with a small advantage will increase. At the same time, having a time control will have an important effect. Also the exact rules will have an important effect, concerning the use of helping materials (books and engines). If using books and engines will be forbidden, the risk of making mistakes or becoming surprised in the opening will increase. It would be very exciting to see such a game with the normal time controls (90 min / 40 moves, 30 min / the rest of the game with a 30 second increment / move). The teams would have to show an excellent ability to communicate efficiently and make solid decisions at short time intervals. Probably they would not be allowed to have a demo board and would have to discuss the position in their heads. This should also increase the risk of making mistakes. All in all, longer time controls => less mistakes and higher quality of play.

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These kind of games are called "consultation matches" and, although rare today, used to be much more common. The teams usually consisted of just two players each for the obvious reasons. Getting agreement between more and more players becomes more and more difficult.

Between 1958 and 1964 the BBC had a weekly chess programme on the radio which featured several of these matches. The tapes of the programmes have long been overwritten with other programmes but some of the programmes were written up in a book by Terence Tiller called "Chess Treasury of the Air".

Here are some of the results -

Alexander & Golombek 0 - 1 Clarke & Penrose

Bisguier & Penrose 0 - 1 Golombek & Gligoric

Fischer & Barden 0.5 - 0.5 Penrose & Clarke (adjudicated by Euwe as they ran out of time - 8 hours!)

Gligoric & Penrose 0 - 1 Tal & Golombek

So, not many draws there, although the main aim was probably entertainment for the listening audience.

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It mostly depends on time limit. If you give them opportunity to take a lot of time for thinking, it would be a draw. If you give both sides standard time control (2 hours for each side), the result would be unpredictable, because discussions between GMs may take a lot of time.

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  • What makes you sure that a draw would be guaranteed, if the teams have a lot of time ?
    – Peter
    Mar 20 '15 at 9:20

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