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On Short Draws: Reykjavik Case

User Rating: / 3
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Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 05 March 2013

Winners of Reykjavik Open (left to right: Bassem Amin, Pavel Eljanov, Wesley So)

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I know better than FIDE or anyone else when the position is a draw.
Attributed to Bobby Fischer


Chess players are usually severly criticized for making short draws, because it is widely regarded to be a sign of lack of fighting spirit and carelessness about keeping the public entertained. Unsurprisingly, the final game from the recent Reykjavik Open between Pavel Eljanov (White) and Wesley So (Black) has received a lot of negative sentiments. It lasted only three moves:

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 1/2-1/2


Many people have expressed their disappointment in this course of events. ECU President Silvio Danailov snapped at this opportunity to remind everyone about his favorite Sofia rules:

http://www.pogonina.com/images//danailovsofiarules.jpg

Both Pavel Eljanov and Wesley So have commented on the game on Facebook. Their posts have received a high number of "likes":

Wesley So's post:

I do not understand what is wrong with taking a quick draw on the last round to secure a 2700 elo.... Havent I given the spectators 9 games of fighting chess already?

Pavel Eljanov was more verbose and posted the first of the following messages on Wesley's wall and the second - on his own:

1) Dear Wesley So, my sincere congrats to you with already official ELO 2701! It`s great that you became a hero in homeland! Please don`t pay attention to some cheap accusations of people who don`t respect our job and chess at all. We played 18(!) spectacular games for two and we don`t need to explain why game #19 was in 3 moves but not in 15 or something!

2) My final point about draw against Wesley So.

First of all I hope that`s clear for everyone that our game was not pre-arranged. Otherwise there could be much more moves and maybe some interesting stuff. I know a few simply brilliant pre-arranged draws between top grandmasters where no one from spectators even the thought that it was pre-arranged. In that case it might be a lot of praise to me and Wesley after such a finish but in fact from moral point of view it`s much worse. I`m totally sure that if in our game was 10 or 12 moves there would be no so enormous criticism. Probably we were wrong when he offered a draw and I accepted on move 3. We're not proud of it. But first of all I don`t see a big crime here anyway and nobody still didn`t prove me that 10-15 moves grandmaster draw any better in fact that 3 moves draw. Of course it looks more challenging to chess fans but this is more about emotions. I would like to point that other 18 games played by Wesley and myself was spectacular and two of them where awarded as the best in respective rounds: my game vs Cheparinov in round 5 and Wesley for the game vs Dziuba in round 9.

Now I would like to discuss the problem of short draws in general. Mr. Rogers writes that "short draws ruin tournaments" and "damage chess". I can`t fully agree with it. This is the same as to claim that diving ruin football tournaments. But somehow hundred millions of people still are fans of this sport. This is just the side of sport. Not the best one of course but our world is not ideal at all. In both case you can try to fight but you still never prevent it. In chess the problem is as follow: if two is happy with a draw so it will be a short draw in 90% of such a games. This is absolutely natural. This situation is not common in open tournaments but in qualification tournaments it`s very common. And it was just the case in our game in last round. I don`t know any active top player who never made such a short draw to secure some important achievement. I would like to bring some examples but first I would like to quote from the site chessvibes.com from the comment made by user Thomas Oliver:

"Even if it's bad for chess, the two players had done plenty of good things in the previous rounds. It's a bit like a football game where one or both teams tried hard for 80 minutes and not much happens in the last 10 minutes - because they are exhausted or because they don't want to run any more risks. Would a newspaper report focus on these last 10 minutes?

At least, all players should be treated equally under such circumstances. In the penultimate round of Wijk aan Zee 2011, Hikaru "always a fighter" Nakamura played a non-game against Kramnik (5.Re1 against the Berlin) to secure a quick draw. He was praised by a journalist fan (Mark Crowther) for "a very professional decision", and others blamed Kramnik for his opening choice. Nakamura had shown enough already in the tournament, but so have Eljanov and So in Reykjavik".

I sign under almost every word.

I remember from the same tournament but next year 2012 a 12 moves draw by threefold repetition in last round game Aronian vs Radjabov. Levon also played brilliant chess in previous 12 rounds and secured clear first after "sleepless night" as I remember he admitted.

I remember the game of my compatriot the great improviser Vassily Ivanchuk from Gibraltar this year who made a draw in Exchange Slav 14 moves draw vs Le Quang. There where even rules 30 moves without draw offer they violated. But organizers decided wisely not to punish players and reach a compromise - agreed with Vassily about interview and lecture. As far as I can see from reviews the chess fans where happy after all.

We are all humans and our forces are not unlimited.

After the tournament I talked about our draw with main organizer of Reykjavik Open Mr. Gunnar Bjornsson who is also the president of Icelandic chess federation. He told me that he didn`t mind, has no claims for me and Wesley and satisfied with our performances during the whole tournament. Also he has no plans to invent Sofia rules. I agree with him as in open tournaments (unlike closed tournaments where Sofia rules fit perfectly) I don`t see a big reason to do it as there is always plenty of games to watch and usually fight is tough as this is kind of natural selection as financial conditions not so sweet like in super-tournaments and prizes are not so high. So after all I think that all accusations that we have not fulfilled our obligations to the organizers are far-fetched. Now I want to give a full quote from an article of Mr. Rogers:

"One leading chess journalist was ropable after the Reykjavik finish and declared that neither So nor Eljanov should be invited back to the tournament or other top tournaments - if they held the organizers and their fans in such contempt. Appeals that Eljanov and So were really nice guys cut no ice players had to be taught that their actions which damage chess, even though perfectly legal, can have consequences."

I would like just look into the eyes of this Mister X who believes that we deserved that our careers have been destroyed after one of the best for both of us tournament ever. My personal opinion that it`s very much in the spirit of repression in 1930s of the twentieth century in USSR.

I`m grateful to Mr. Ralph Stoever from Montreal who found in database an interesting information that Mr. Rogers - a very strong grandmaster in the past made two 5 and 6 moves draws in 1983 (year I was born) and 1985 against D.Johansen and J.Speelman in last rounds both. I checked and found also more then a dozen of games of GM Rogers in 10 moves and less that of course ended in a draw.

I propose to respect the work of each other and to focus more on the positive things in the chess world and beyond.


What is your opinion? Are short draws ok, or should this field be regulated somehow (Sofia rules, etc.)?



Comments (5)
1. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 02:24 05 2013 .
 
 
Much ado over nothing
Like it or not, draws whether short or longer are part of the game of chess. both players achieved a sporting result that were agreeable with them with their short draw. I do not see anything wrong and even surprised that GM Rogers (who I know and have a lot of respect for) should be so critical. Many chessplayers including myself, have done so to achieve our goal both monetary and results wise.
 
2. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 04:41 05 2013 .
 
 
Draws suck
I'll just use an old saying: A draw is like kissing your sister. I don't like them even though in chess they're a necessary evil. As for that short draw, I play to win and don't like it.
 
3. Written by Seth on 15:58 05 2013 .
 
 
Draws suck
I briefly skimmed parts of Eljanov's responses and hope to read them more closely when I get back. 
 
The letter seems a little weird. He starts off by implying nothing was wrong with what they did, then follows it up with "Probably we were wrong when he offered a draw and I accepted on move 3. We're not proud of it." 
 
So which is it?
 
4. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 11:04 14 2013 .
 
 
86166
An attention-grabbing discussion is price comment. I feel that you must write more on this matter, it might not be a taboo topic however usually persons are not enough to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers
 
5. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 20:45 14 2013 .
 
 
14217
This is the fitting weblog for anyone who needs to seek out out about this topic. You notice a lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really would want?aHa). You undoubtedly put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Nice stuff, just great!
 

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