I have been following 12th game in World Chess championship 2012, and I just could not understand why a draw was offered.

Is it that they can see 10 or more moves ahead and think of the ending or is it that they want to play it safe and fight another day?

3 Answers 3


There are two levels at which this can be answered, I suppose: what were the personal motivations for offering/agreeing a draw, and what were the objective features of the position that grounded the decision? I think you're asking mostly after the second, but I've read many comments lately voicing frustration with agreed draws in this match, so I hope you don't mind me giving an answer that speaks to the first level as well.

First off, the position after 21 moves was as follows:

[fen "r2r4/4bkpp/5p2/p1Bbp3/7P/1P1P1N2/P4PP1/R1R3K1 w - - 0 1"]

1. Bxe7 1/2-1/2

Here Anand played 22. Bxe7 and offered a draw, despite being a pawn up in material and having a significant time advantage (with still 18 moves left to the time control after what would have been Gelfand's obligatory recapture 22... Kxe7).

In the post-game press conference, Anand was asked if he considered trying to play on his time advantage at the end, using it to hopefully induce errors on Gelfand's part. His reply:

"After Bxe7 Kxe7, black's play is very easy. I didn't see any point in dragging it on from there."

In reply to a later question, Anand elaborated further on this and other agreed draws from the match:

"We only draw when it's obvious, at least to us, that the game is going nowhere."

One journalist spoke up for the amateur spectators, in the spirit of your question, asking why the contestants couldn't play out some more moves for the benefit of those who don't see why this position is a draw. Gelfand fielded that question, answering:

"First and foremost, here, we are competing in the match for the crown. We are not here purely to entertain spectators. Second thing, there are about a dozen professional, highly-qualified commentators, and with a little bit of effort they could explain to the thousands of spectators elsewhere the nuances of the game."

I think this is a fair point; his and Anand's job right now is to make chess decisions based on personal competitive interests, and not to explain the games either verbally afterward or by playing on in a position each recognizes as clearly equal, and offering no realistic prospects of an advantage for his side.

Which brings me to the second level of your question. I am not a highly-qualified professional, of course, but I think the concrete factors leading to Anand's draw offer are that, though he is a pawn up, it is a weak isolated pawn on d3, one which is hard to make use of, or to be rid of by advancing to d4. And his 2-to-1 pawn majority on the queenside is very immobile, with Gelfand's bishop and rooks having plenty of space and open lines to operate with and restrict Anand's pawns. Furthermore, Gelfand has not a single structural weakness in his position. In a nutshell, this is why Anand's extra pawn doesn't mean very much, and why Gelfand's play is easy enough in this position that Anand didn't consider the time factor to be terribly important.

  • Some has to be attributed to personality and style as well however. For example I couldn't imagine Fischer asking for a draw here with white against Spassky.
    – rgrinberg
    Aug 4, 2013 at 21:11

Both players played a solid game and were unable to gain an advantage. Trying to force an advantage where there is none to be found is asking for a loss at that level of play.

  • 5
    I do not agree at all! At example, the starting position is considered level. Right from the first move you try to force an advantage where there is none to be found. Very few players agree to a draw before the first move :) Usually you hope to play better than your opponent over the next moves. As long as there is life in a position it is quite justifiable to continue to play. Your answer is ignoring this point.
    – Ray
    May 28, 2012 at 19:15
  • See the GM analysis in the link, after move 21. Please support your opinion by providing analysis showing how this game had life left in it. It will be interesting to see, since at least two of the three GMs disagree with your assessment.
    – Tony Ennis
    May 28, 2012 at 19:59
  • 6
    You misunderstood me. Just change your answer to "The position had no life left in it" if that is what you really meant as an answer. Your current version of the answer ("Trying to force an advantage in a level position is suicide at that level of play") is too broad IMHO and hence wrong - see my comment about the starting position which IS level(and your analysis can't prove otherwise), but it makes a lot of sense to play on.
    – Ray
    May 28, 2012 at 20:56
  • I believe my statement is accurate as written.
    – Tony Ennis
    May 28, 2012 at 21:07

This is a very old question, but the reason is that this is an easy draw at that level, despite the pawn minus for black. The main reason is that black is quite active, and has a monster B on d5. The eventual pa4 move by black will most likely lead to the liquidation of the queen-side, or the Ra1 will need to remain passive to defend a pawn.

In addition, the Pd3 and Ph4 are very weak, as is g2 should the N move, and white wishes to bring his king to the center. Lastly, black may even consider Bxf3 leaving white with so many weak pawns, that one is sure to drop, and that would actually leave white fighting for the draw. Lastly, even black's king is better placed for the endgame.

in other words, there is plenty of compensation for the missing pawn, and both preferred to go to tiebreaks.

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