It was almost six years ago when I, then writing at TWIC, came up with an idea to quantify and castigate "fightless" GM draws in Mig on Chess #116. Showing my usual flair for names that guarantee no one will take my ideas seriously, I called it "the Chicken Factor." It is a formula that analyzes a gamescore and produces a score for each player that says whether or not it was a fighting draw or a pathetic excuse for a game. (I made minor refinements published in MoC #118, see below with example.) ChessWise put my Excel Chicken Factor calculator online and it's still up.
The basic idea is to subtract the number of moves from total value of each player's pieces. I was surprised to find that the formula actually worked. It misread short, sharp repetition draws, but those are very rare and in the great scheme of things (a player's career or an entire tournament) would be statistically irrelevant. I had added a bunch of optional subjective factors, although I now think they are superfluous for the same reason. The original formula had modifiers based on color and the ratings of the players, so you got a bonus if you drew with black against a higher-rated player, etc. But these are cop-outs that go against the Chicken Factor ethos of promoting fighting chess regardless of color and rating points. No excuses!
I'm bringing this up because my vision for the CF may soon be realized. The laboriousness of calculating each game made it more of a joke than a tool. I said then that it would be truly powerful to have a PGN reader/calculator or to build it into database formats. Now that may actually be happening, so post your thoughts and suggestions.
The CF isn't an attack on chess professionals; I'm very much hoping to help them. Consider it an intervention to break the addiction to short draws. That addiction is harmful to the game, in this case meaning fan interest and sponsorship. I'm still in favor of move minimums, but the CF doesn't force anyone to do anything; it is an objective statistic. (Which is partly why I came up with it. Several GMs complained that I was too harsh in criticizing them for short draws. So the formula would do it for me.) You can even take it positively, as a method for rewarding those who fight hard in every game.
The Base Chicken Factor (revised and published May 1, 1999):
1) White starts with 10, Black with -10.
2) The value of the player's pieces in the final position minus the number of moves in the game. (The piece values are the commonly accepted Queen=9, Rook=5, Bishop and Knight=3, Pawn=1.)
3) Add the difference in the players' ratings divided by seven.
4) Apply the sliding scale penalty for draws of under 25 moves if necessary. (1-10 moves: add 45 points, 11-15 moves: add 30 points, 16-25: add 20 points)
The Full Chicken Factor (beginning with the BCF):
5) Subtract the number of consecutive losses the player had before the game in question multiplied by five.
6) Subtract five if the pawn structure in the final position was completely locked and five if it was completely symmetrical. (Subtract ten if both.)
7) Subtract 30 if the position had to be repeated due to imminent danger.
8) Subtract 10 if the player was in first or last place.
9) Add 10 if the final position does not leave behind known theory by at least five moves.
10) Add 30 if the player agreed to a draw in a winning position or subtract 20 if position was losing.
The Chicken Factor score-chart from Mig on Chess #116 remains unchanged, the basic concept is the higher the score, the more cowardly the player. In general, negative scores usually reflect hard-working draws, positive scores represent games that ripped off the fans and the organizers. Of course there will be exceptions, and I'd like to hear about them when you find them, so common sense can't go completely out the window!
Here's an example from last month's super-tournament.
Polgar,J (2677) - Karpov,A (2710) [B14]
Cat. 19 Dos Hermanas ESP (8), 16.04.1999
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nf3 Bb4 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bd2 Nc6 9.Bd3 Nf6 10.0-0 0-0 11.Bg5 h6 12.Be3 Bd6 13.Rc1 e5 14.h3 Be6 15.Qd2 Qa5 16.Bxh6 exd4 17.Nb5 Qxd2 18.Bxd2 Bb8 19.Nbxd4 Nxd4 20.Nxd4 Bxa2 21.Rfe1 Rd8 22.Bg5 Bf4 23.Bxf4 Rxd4 24.Bb1 Bxb1 25.Be5 Rd7 26.Bxf6 Bd3 27.Bc3 f6 28.Re3 Kf7 29.g4 ½-½
As White she starts with a score of 10
Add the value of White's pieces in the final position: 10 + 17 = 27
Subtract the number of moves: 27 - 29 = -2
Add the difference between their rankings divided by seven: -2 + (-33/7) = BCF -6.7
As Black he starts with a score of -10
Add the value of Black's pieces in the final position: -10 + 17 = 7
Subtract the number of moves: 7 - 29 = -22
Add the difference between their rankings divided by seven: -22 + (33/7) = BFC -17.3
This shows that it was a hard-fought draw, both players with negative Base Chicken Factors. If we look at the subjective factor checklist to find the Full Chicken Factor we only need subtract ten points from Polgar's score because she was in last place at the time of the game. This would drop her FCF score to -16.7, showing that the draw was equally worthy for both players.