I had a game on chess.com that ended in a draw by agreement. Is this a real draw? If not, what are my best moves as Black?

Computer analysis on chess.com suggested this continuation, “39. Qe2 Rf7 40. Nf3 Qc7 41. Ra2 Bf8 42. Qc2 Rd8,” saying that "Black has a moderate advantage".

[FEN ""]
[Event "Live Chess"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2015.05.06"]
[White "fianwhatto"]
[Black "bigother"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "1432"]
[BlackElo "1400"]
[TimeControl "10|0"]
[Termination "Game drawn by agreement"]
[WhiteToggles "0%"]
[BlackToggles "0%"]
[startply "77"]

1.c4 d6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Nf3 g6 4.e3 Bg7 5.Be2 b6 6.O-O Bb7 7.d3 Nf6 8.e4 Nc6 9.h3 O-O 10.a3 Nd4
 11.Bg5 Qd7 12.Nxd4 exd4 13.Nb5 c5 14.a4 a6 15.Na3 h6 16.Bh4 g5 17.Bg3 Rfe8 18.f4 Nh7 19.f5 f6 20.Bh5 Re7
 21.Bf3 Bc6 22.b3 b5 23.a5 b4 24.Nb1 Qd8 25.Nd2 Qd7 26.Bg4 Qd8 27.Bh2 Qc7 28.g3 Nf8 29.h4 Nd7 30.h5 Ne5
 31.Be2 Qb7 32.g4 Rd7 33.Bxe5 dxe5 34.Bf3 Re7 35.Qe2 Qc7 36.Qf2 Qb7 37.Rfe1 Qc7 38.Bg2 Qb7 39.Qe2 1/2-1/2

4 Answers 4


This is a dead draw.

There are no sensible piece sacrifices for either side.

There is no plan that isn't easily parried (Black could gang up on the a5-pawn with Qd8 and Bc7, but white just doubles the rooks on a1 and a2. White could try to invade with the knight to b6 and d5, but black would just go Bxa4 when the knight turns up on a4.)

Black isn't better here and black isn't worse. There is just nothing any side can do.

Edit: I think I'll expand on this a bit, because for some reason the concept of a dead draw seems to be hard to grasp.

Positions are usually evaluated based on best play by both sides. That can be tricky because there are positions that should be equal or even favourable for one side, but in practice are more promising for the other side.

But in the given position the level of play needed to hold a draw against best play, is very, very low. To put it differently: A 1500 player would have no trouble holding this position with white against Magnus Carlsen. The fact that a computer engine gives a small plus for black doesn't mean black has any advantage whatsoever. It just means that engines aren't yet able to understand completely blocked positions and other kinds of fortresses very well.

Let's go back to our fictional 1500 player. The only thing he has to do is keep e4 and a5 well protected and there is nothing Magnus Carlsen will ever be able to do. Now e4 is already over-over-overprotected. Let's say Carlsen comes up with the cunning plan to attack a5 via Qd8 and Bc7 and our 1500 player isn't sharp enough to double the rooks quickly. Now the a5 pawn falls …

r2q2k1/r7/p1b2p1p/b1p1pPpP/1pPpP1P1/1P1P4/R2NB3/1R1Q2K1 w - - 0 1

1.Rba1 Bc7 2.Ra4 Bxa4 3.Rxa4

Black is a pawn and the exchange up. Possibly the computer will give a even better score for black, but the facts haven't changed: This is still A DEAD DRAW.

  • Carlsen would simply sacrifice a piece to open up the game and still beat the 1500-lad with a piece down, but your theory is fully correct.
    – downhand
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 9:30
  • And he would sacrifice which piece and where? Commented May 8, 2015 at 9:46
  • I'm sure he'll find a way, he'd beat me with a rook down.
    – downhand
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 9:48

In reference to Chessbrain's answer. I guess this will also answer your Question.

  1. Black's Bishop is not bad as it is the only minor piece that can attack the only vulnerable white pawn on a5, where as white can not defend it with any of its minor pieces. Knight has no square to defend it, And the other minor piece is white bishop. (Although, The rooks are sufficient enough to defend it with proper play)
  2. Black's White Bishop is the most favourable minor Black piece that can sacrifice itself to capture pawns and gain a breakthrough.
  3. Here you are quite right. Usually in closed positions knights are stronger than bishops. But also in this position what is to be taken into consideration is, if white ever plans to create a breakthrough, then his first sacrifice has to be his knight, and if he does so then the knight is off the board. Note that White Bishop can not sacrifice itself as all the Black pawns are on black square except a6 but obviously there is no way white bishop can attack that. If white wants to breakthrough without giving his knight, then sacrificing a rook is too costly to gain any compensation.

Taking all this into consideration, its black who has more chances of creating a breakthrough if White messes up something for ex: his vulnerable a pawn, or gives 2 of his centre pawns for our bishop. But overall with perfect play its just a draw though Black has an advantage of around half a pawn (-0.6 : computer checked)

Related Info: This videos might help you understand similar positions and how to create a breakthrough.

  • Black's bishop is bad, by definition. "Bad" doesn't mean it can do absolutely nothing; it means its own pawns are on the same color as it.
    – D M
    Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 17:21

In this situation a draw is preferable for black in my opinion, for a few reasons.

  1. Black has a bad black bishop

  2. Black's second bishop is not as useful as it is also blocked, and most likely will never get a chance to move

  3. White has a Knight, which in this position if black ever thought of sacrificing a piece would make that knight an overwhelmingly powerful piece in a closed position game.

If black)you) ever wanted to break this stand, you would have to sacrifice a piece in a position where white has more pawns pushed up your side than his.

As White however, a risky play is possible, which of course against correct play would normally result in a loss. But white is the only one with the option to actually sacrifice a piece for a potential attack (even though I would recommend against it).

So long story short, leave it at a draw, in this game black has a less favorable position than white, so a draw is a good conclusion. And in chess a draw for black is considered much better than a draw for white... Since white usually has the advantage at the start of the game, so a draw as black is not a disaster. It is as white however :P

  • As you have said, the position is mostly draw. But I am sorry to not completely accept your reasons and say it is not completely true. I couldn't explain everything in the comment section. Please refer my answer and tell me if I there is anything wrong, I'll surely correct myself if needed. :) Commented May 6, 2015 at 14:48

There are no legal pawn moves The rooks are useless without open files. The dark square bishop could move to d8 but that's easily defended. The only option is to sac the light square bishop for two pawns but that could take some maneuvering.

It's pretty much drawn.

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