Eliminating/discouraging draws

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John Foley
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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by John Foley » Sun Aug 28, 2011 12:53 pm

Geoff Chandler wrote:How about something that sounds totally stupid until you think about it.

Players are only allowed 2 draws per tournament.
This is not crazy at all. It is probably a reasonable profile of tournament chess in the future.

One way of achieving draw-restriction is to make offering draws increasingly unattractive. My suggestion is that, in the context of deferred draw acceptance, the first draw offer grants the opponent one grace move; the second draw offer grants the opponent two grace moves etc.

If the draw offer count were cumulative through a tournament then, by the end, the players would be reluctant to offer a draw lest their opponent have several grace moves i.e. the opponent could embark upon a sequence of moves without fear of losing.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Sun Aug 28, 2011 4:00 pm

John Foley wrote:
Geoff Chandler wrote:How about something that sounds totally stupid until you think about it.

Players are only allowed 2 draws per tournament.
This is not crazy at all. It is probably a reasonable profile of tournament chess in the future.

One way of achieving draw-restriction is to make offering draws increasingly unattractive. My suggestion is that, in the context of deferred draw acceptance, the first draw offer grants the opponent one grace move; the second draw offer grants the opponent two grace moves etc.

If the draw offer count were cumulative through a tournament then, by the end, the players would be reluctant to offer a draw lest their opponent have several grace moves i.e. the opponent could embark upon a sequence of moves without fear of losing.
How much of a difference would a couple of grace moves make, really? In most cases, the player still has to decide for themselves objectively whether the position is drawn or not. They would have to choose between nuturing a small advantage to a win, or playing a risky set of moves and at the end of that deciding whether to accept the still-valid draw or carry on with the risky plan. I would hazard a guess that at top GM levels, the results of unbalancing the position won't become clear for at least another 10 moves or so, so I think you have to be radical and say that a draw offer stays on the table until the end of the game. That really would discourage draw offers!

No, seriously, it is a very small change. Leave draw offers open permanently. I think you would instantly see a decrease in the number of draw offers. Or at least leave them open up to the next time control. For games without a time control, you would need to have draw offers left open permanently. You would also hardly ever get the position where someone would make a counter offer of a draw (it is simpler to accept the previously made draw offer that is still open), and you would never get the situation where people decline a draw offer and later lose (which is a pity in a way).

Are there any downsides to this? It doesn't eliminate short draws or arranged draws (you have to have other things in place to discourage that - link number of draws to prize fund and also appearance money), but it does eliminate the psychological tactic of offering a draw to find out what your opponent is trying to do. Or maybe make the process slightly more complicated in that player A initiates the process of submitting possible draw offers, and you have something like a sealed bid situation (both player A and player B submit their 'offers' independently) and if both players submit a draw offer, the game is drawn, but otherwise it carries on, but both players reveal whether they would accept a draw without the imbalance of one player revealing their hand first. Is there a practical way to do this (other than the tried and tested question "are you playing for a win?")?

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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by John Foley » Sun Aug 28, 2011 4:33 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote: How much of a difference would a couple of grace moves make, really? In most cases, the player still has to decide for themselves objectively whether the position is drawn or not. They would have to choose between nuturing a small advantage to a win, or playing a risky set of moves and at the end of that deciding whether to accept the still-valid draw or carry on with the risky plan. I would hazard a guess that at top GM levels, the results of unbalancing the position won't become clear for at least another 10 moves or so, so I think you have to be radical and say that a draw offer stays on the table until the end of the game. That really would discourage draw offers!
Towards the end of a tournament the leaders may have already agreed several draws and accumulated several draw offers. If each draw offer increments the number of grace moves, then the total may be a lot more than two grace moves. The question is how many grace moves would it take until the draw offer disincentive begins to bite. You mention 10 moves, but most literature on how far grandmasters look ahead are much fewer than this, unless it is a forced variation. It would in any case be a decision for the tournament controller to set the staring index at a level where it became meaningful.

But don't underestimate the value just one grace move. In a 1981 game between Kasparov and Karpov, Kasparov offered a draw and Karpov said "Play a move" before accepting.

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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by Richard Bates » Sun Aug 28, 2011 6:53 pm

John Foley wrote:
Christopher Kreuzer wrote: How much of a difference would a couple of grace moves make, really? In most cases, the player still has to decide for themselves objectively whether the position is drawn or not. They would have to choose between nuturing a small advantage to a win, or playing a risky set of moves and at the end of that deciding whether to accept the still-valid draw or carry on with the risky plan. I would hazard a guess that at top GM levels, the results of unbalancing the position won't become clear for at least another 10 moves or so, so I think you have to be radical and say that a draw offer stays on the table until the end of the game. That really would discourage draw offers!
Towards the end of a tournament the leaders may have already agreed several draws and accumulated several draw offers. If each draw offer increments the number of grace moves, then the total may be a lot more than two grace moves. The question is how many grace moves would it take until the draw offer disincentive begins to bite. You mention 10 moves, but most literature on how far grandmasters look ahead are much fewer than this, unless it is a forced variation. It would in any case be a decision for the tournament controller to set the staring index at a level where it became meaningful.

But don't underestimate the value just one grace move. In a 1981 game between Kasparov and Karpov, Kasparov offered a draw and Karpov said "Play a move" before accepting.
There may be some sort of limited merit (assuming you believe that there is a problem) in the idea of a "grace move" before acceptance of a draw offer. But really i don't think you've really thought through the rest of it at all. Leaving aside the fact that your "proposal" puts a rather heavy burden on the accuracy of the recording of draw offers, how on earth are two players supposed to go about "legitimately" agreeing draws in totally dead drawn positions if whoever offers the draw is given a penalty. Just play on forever until someone gets utterly bored and hungry and cracks? Not to mention that it will just result in a large number of draw offers in the last round on the first move. If both players have 10-15 moves "grace" then the best solution is to get the draw offer in early before the theory runs out!

What many people forget when putting forward arguments on "reducing draws/draw offers" is the law of unintended consequences. They too often make the mistake of forgetting that a draw is often a fair result of an game between evenly matched players and well meaning ideas can sometimes paradoxically increase the chances of draws. One example of how this can materialise is the Sofia rule between players of different strengths. Without the Sofia rule, a stronger player can often take excessive risks in pursuit of a win (even playing what they know are inferior moves) - knowing that there is a reasonable chance that if it goes wrong their weaker opponent may accept a "psychological" draw offer. Implement the Sofia rule and the potential safety net is removed. It becomes too dangerous to take the "excessive" risks and the game peters out into a draw far more rapidly.

Geoff's "10 minute thought" proposal could have similar unintended consequences. In a standard Swiss tournament a strong player may get into trouble against a weaker player in an early round. Because of the obvious disadvantage of having had early draws once the business end of the tournament arrives it could be in their interests to lose rather than fight hard for draw (early results are often pretty irrelevant to eventual tournament results, especially in long tournaments - hence the concept of the "Swiss gambit"). Nobody should ever promote an idea which makes losing more advantageous than drawing.

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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Sun Aug 28, 2011 7:39 pm

Is there any merit at all in the idea that draw offers can't be retracted and remain valid until the end of the game? I know that would massively discourage any draw offers at all, but the distinction here is between the psychological effect of draw offers (those made in unbalanced positions) and offering a draw in a dead-drawn position. What would be an unintended consequence of such an offer? Well, apart from someone going on an all-out attack and ending up in a losing position and then accepting the draw offer? Do note, though, that the person going on an all-out attack and ending up in a winning position would be rewarded with the full point, hence no-one would be silly enough to offer a draw in an unbalanced position, hence the positions on the board would get played out in full. Actually, I suppose that one unintended consequence is that people would play more cautious chess and more draws would (eventually, after more moves) result. Going on an attack would be too risky, as you can't bail out with a draw offer if you mess up the attack.

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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by Richard Bates » Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:00 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Is there any merit at all in the idea that draw offers can't be retracted and remain valid until the end of the game? I know that would massively discourage any draw offers at all, but the distinction here is between the psychological effect of draw offers (those made in unbalanced positions) and offering a draw in a dead-drawn position. What would be an unintended consequence of such an offer? Well, apart from someone going on an all-out attack and ending up in a losing position and then accepting the draw offer? Do note, though, that the person going on an all-out attack and ending up in a winning position would be rewarded with the full point, hence no-one would be silly enough to offer a draw in an unbalanced position, hence the positions on the board would get played out in full. Actually, I suppose that one unintended consequence is that people would play more cautious chess and more draws would (eventually, after more moves) result. Going on an attack would be too risky, as you can't bail out with a draw offer if you mess up the attack.
IMO the desire to eliminate "the psychological draw offer" is part of the problem. Psychology is a massive part of chess. To try and eliminate the psychological draw offer (and in the case of this idea - the draw offer almost full stop) would IMO significantly diminish chess as a game, a battle between two minds (and i write as someone who to my regret is overly susceptible to receiving such offers - but i recognise that as my own psychological weakness that is something to overcome if i want to become a better player). It may not be something appreciated by the spectators, but as far as i'm concerned - Tough. Stop spectating and try getting enjoyment by playing instead.

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:18 pm

Indeed, Richard. This obsession that some have with "spectators" - and how they should even be put before players - is detrimental to the game :twisted:
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:47 pm

Richard Bates wrote:IMO the desire to eliminate "the psychological draw offer" is part of the problem. Psychology is a massive part of chess. To try and eliminate the psychological draw offer (and in the case of this idea - the draw offer almost full stop) would IMO significantly diminish chess as a game, a battle between two minds (and i write as someone who to my regret is overly susceptible to receiving such offers - but i recognise that as my own psychological weakness that is something to overcome if i want to become a better player). It may not be something appreciated by the spectators, but as far as i'm concerned - Tough. Stop spectating and try getting enjoyment by playing instead.
Oh, I agree entirely that psychology is and should be a big part of chess. But if you are going to eliminate draws, do it with a simple change, not the complex changes being proposed. And removing the psychological element of draw offers wouldn't eliminate psychology in chess completely. If you change this slightly, imagine a game where you have some draw offer marker by the board (a bit like the doubling die in backgammon). Instead of making a verbal draw offer, you would move the draw marker from a neutral point to your opponent's side, and from that point on, your opponent is free to accept a draw on subsequent moves until you move it back to the neutral point. i.e. a draw offer remains open until the person who made the offer retracts it (on their move, of course). The player with an open draw offer would also be free to reject it at any point as a show of confidence. Now that would open up a real psychological minefield! :D (though you would have to limit the number of times this could be done - do it a second or third time, for instance, and the draw offer is permanent.)

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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by John Foley » Sun Aug 28, 2011 10:09 pm

Richard Bates wrote: how on earth are two players supposed to go about "legitimately" agreeing draws in totally dead drawn positions if whoever offers the draw is given a penalty.
If the draw offer is made in a position which is regarded as drawn by the opponent then the offer will be accepted and there is nothing to worry about.

However, if the draw offer is made in a position in which the opponent believes they might be able to gain an advantage, then the game continues for a number of grace moves during which the opponent gets a risk-free chance to try to find an advantageous line. This mechanism is designed to ensure that only legitimate draw offers are made i.e. those justified by the position.

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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:58 pm

John Foley wrote:However, if the draw offer is made in a position in which the opponent believes they might be able to gain an advantage, then the game continues for a number of grace moves during which the opponent gets a risk-free chance to try to find an advantageous line. This mechanism is designed to ensure that only legitimate draw offers are made i.e. those justified by the position.
It's certainly rare at amateur level, possibly even at IM or GM level, that players really have a clue what's going on, particularly if short of time. An optimist might evaluate a position to be half a pawn better and thus decline a draw. A pessimist might think he was half a pawn worse and thus accept.

Arbiter's struggle to understand play at the best of times, would they really be able to evaluate games for false draw offers?

I'm not sure I understand a draw offer "justified by the position". I might offer a draw in a totally won position because I've overlooked the winning trick, equally I might offer a draw, not because the position is drawn, but because I might lose on time by continuing.

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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by Michael Jones » Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:26 am

Geoff Chandler wrote:How about something that sounds totally stupid until you think about it.

Players are only allowed 2 draws per tournament.
After that any draw is counted as loss.

I wonder. Would you still get players burning up their draws after 12 or less moves?

Two players going into the last round with the pack breathing down their neck.
Both on a draw = a loss situation....sounds juicy.

Craziest idea I've in the last 10 minutes. But do ponder on it for one minute.
If such a rule was in place would that not jazz things up a bit.

No good of course for match play (give me another 10 minutes)
but in tournaments....knowing a draw is a loss....that would be fun.
With all due respect Geoff, I do indeed think that sounds totally stupid (even after having thought about it). Suppose it's the last round of a tournament, a player has already used up his 'quota' of draws, and gets into a (much) worse position. Under normal rules, he would obviously still have an incentive to do his best to draw the game, since the half point thus gained might well make a difference in the final standings. Under your proposal, if his opponent was on close to the same score as him then the player would still have the incentive of preventing him from winning in order to boost his own position in the crosstable, but if he was well above or well below him, the opponent's score from the game would make no difference at all to the first player's ranking, and if he had no chance of winning he would have nothing to gain by attempting to draw. That hardly encourages 'fighting' chess.

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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by John Foley » Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:40 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:Arbiter's struggle to understand play at the best of times, would they really be able to evaluate games for false draw offers?
A merit of the deferred draw approach is that there is no need for an arbiter to be involved. It is self-regulating.

Of course, it will always be the case that people may from time to time offer a draw in the mistaken belief that the position is equal. These occurrences will cancel out over time and no harm done.

However, frequent misguided or spurious draw offers will result in more losses as the opponent may be able to take advantage of the grace moves. The net result is that fewer draw offers will be forthcoming.

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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by Richard Bates » Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:24 am

John Foley wrote:
Roger de Coverly wrote:Arbiter's struggle to understand play at the best of times, would they really be able to evaluate games for false draw offers?
A merit of the deferred draw approach is that there is no need for an arbiter to be involved. It is self-regulating.

Of course, it will always be the case that people may from time to time offer a draw in the mistaken belief that the position is equal. These occurrences will cancel out over time and no harm done.

However, frequent misguided or spurious draw offers will result in more losses as the opponent may be able to take advantage of the grace moves. The net result is that fewer draw offers will be forthcoming.
Your "idea" was that a player increases the amount of "grace moves" available to their opponents as they make "false" draw offers throughout the tournament. I was saying that nobody would ever be able to offer a draw however "drawn" they judge a position because they would be penalised if their opponent declined it. So games could go on for ever (or until 50 move rule kicks in or whatever)

Extreme example: game comes down to RvR. If either player offers a draw the other player will decline knowing that they will draw anyway. Player with R has the penalty of a grace move added to future draw offers. So every time a position comes down to RvR the two players will have to play out until the 50 move rule kicks in.

In practice of course draw offers would return to being verbal offers only (with no indication made on the scoresheet), and it would do nothing to combat the only genuine perceived problem - the short mutually agreed draw.

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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:26 am

Richard Bates wrote: In practice of course draw offers would return to being verbal offers only (with no indication made on the scoresheet), and it would do nothing to combat the only genuine perceived problem - the short mutually agreed draw.
Isn't this an issue which was resolved at the time of the 1950 World Championships? At the time, Bronstein complained that Botvinnik was offering draws we he (Bronstein) was thinking. So they came up with the rule that you play the move, offer the draw and press the clock. If a draw is offered without playing a move, the opponent had the right to see the move before accepting or declining. It don't think it's realistic to go beyond that. Once you do, you run into jokers who would use a sequence like

A plays move and offers draw
B puts piece on prise (deliberately)
A takes piece
B accepts draw

At a guess, I wonder whether the playing rules in some competitions lead to more draw offers. If a game is to be brought to a premature end by adjudication or paused for computer analysis in the case of adjudications, is it more likely that a draw will be agreed before either of these occur? Equally will players take a draw if they have a distaste for a clock bashing last five minutes in a play to a finish league.

There is in fact one example of grace moves already in place. I refer to 10.2 claims with an arbiter present. There are circumstances where a player offers a draw, the opponent declines, but the draw may still be awarded by the arbiter after seeing a few more moves.

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Re: Eliminating/discouraging draws

Post by Geoff Chandler » Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:49 pm

Hi Michael

It was ever so slightly tongue in cheek. However:

"...a player has already used up his 'quota' of draws,"

No sympathy. It is their fault they have used up their quota of draws.
They should stop playing 'lost bottle chess' and get on with it.

Idea No.2:
(just came to me after 10 seconds thought)

Once a player has reached 2200 they are only allowed to draw 50 games
thoughout the rest of their playing career. Then every draw is a loss.
After 4-5 years everyone would be a Bent Larsen which would not be a bad thing.

Plan A to Idea No.2:
Wait 4-5 years then appear playing the most boring chess under the sun
and scoop 50 wins by drawing against the listed Not Allowed to Draw Crowd.

That is the problem of the Draws sorted.

Next Grades:

Abolish the numbers and use colour codes like the do in Judo.

Under 1400's must dress entirely in White.
1400-1600 Yellow
1600-1800 Orange.
1800-2000 Green
Etc...etc...right up to the GM's who must be dressed head to foot in Black.

I am Geoff Chandler, the guy who put the exitement and colour back into chess.

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