Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Slugfest Chess

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The chess blog of Clint Ballard is new and brief and incorporates the provocative, the interesting, and the erroneous. The modestly named "Ballard Antidraw Point System" would be just another suggestion on the high pile of ways to make chess more "exciting" but Ballard, as he puts it, is putting his money where his mouth is by putting together a tournament using this radical scoring system. Dec. 10-11 on Bainbridge Island across the Sound from Seattle.

3 points for a win with black; 2 points for a win with white; 1 point for a draw with black; 0 points for a draw with white. [And zero for a loss with either color, in case you were wondering.]

There was an article on the event in his local paper, the Bainbridge Island Review, with more info. The direct link doesn't seem to work, but if you go to the paper's homepage and search for 'chess' it's the first item on the results page.

None of the slugfest articles seem to address the main problem with using such heavily weighted scoring systems in open events: cheating. A three point swing makes arranging results very tempting in the final rounds when thousands of dollars are on the line. It also makes pairings crucial because a player with more blacks has more potential points, a dramatic imbalance. Beyond that, giving black draw odds in every game turns chess into a circus, which is exactly what Ballard wants, boasting that White will have to "play like a madman." The less mad suggestion of giving black .6 for a draw and white .4 has been mooted many times.

I'll file this under the "fun variants that trivialize the game" along with shuffle chess. I'm still very much in favor of move minimums, which eliminate short draws (the real problem) and also produce more decisive games. Corsica/Sofia rules are a good place to start. There's nothing wrong with fooling around with goofy systems like "BAPS" in amateur events, especially if you're going to run your own tournament. I wouldn't want to see anything this radical widely implemented, but most of us would be entertained by seeing it as a side event at Melody Amber or Mainz, for example.


Mig wrote: "I'll file this under the "fun variants that trivialize the game" along with shuffle chess."

I agree with you that this scoring system is both bizzare and worse than than the problem it hopes to solve. That said, I do not not agree that shuffle chess is trivial. In fact, it may be the future of our great game, especially in the man versus machine arena.

0 points for a draw or loss with white?

So in a worse but drawish rook endgame, he has no real incentive to fight on except for spite and perhaps a certain ethical perspective?

Good point as well. Inferior endgames will just be resigned to save energy.

Shuffle chess is a variant that removes part of the game that some people don't like. You might think it's more fun, but it is less than the whole by definition. Eliminating openings is little different from eliminating the endgame because these too are technical and boring and reward knowledge and study instead of "talent."

i in fact love chess the way it is, and i like studying openings, and believe it a serious and fun part of the game. i just don't think shuffle chess is trivial, but a very viable way of continuing chess combat when the computer battle is lost.

Morning wrote: "0 points for a draw or loss with white?

So in a worse but drawish rook endgame, he has no real incentive to fight on except for spite and perhaps a certain ethical perspective?"

Mig wrote: "Good point as well. Inferior endgames will just be resigned to save energy."

Is this quite true? Denying your opponent, who may be close to you on the scoreboard, points, even if it gets you the same number of points (in this case zero) by fighting for a draw instead of resigning is still quite possible. it's still a a batty system though.

The Ballard Anti-draw Point System is a radical jump over previously suggested draw reliefs, e.g. the often-mentioned 0.6-0.4 system (which will never be adopted because it is so impractical). BAPS changes the nature of the game--henceforth WHITE MUST PLAY FOR A WIN. It's almost as if a new rule were added to the Rules of Chess.

What's wrong with BAPS? Mig correctly says that it gives black an advantage. I figure (but am not sure) that this advantage is far greater than the existing white advantage of having the first move. Also I agree with Mig that BAPS will surely lead to more conniving by the players in the final round(s) of a tournament. And there is the unfairness when a player has more blacks than whites.

What's right with BAPS is that it reduces the number of draws. But more important is the point mentioned earlier: the nature of the game is being changed because white must play for a win. A Blitz game is inherently exciting; for the first time nearly every slow game will be inherently exciting.

After mulling it over, I think that BAPS may fit in very well with the evolution of chess. It doesn't destroy the game but it adds to the tension. The players may not like it but the majority of spectators will love it. The almost guarantee of an assured "battle" is offset by the "unfairness to white" and the "conniving problem", etc. Yet I'm thinking that the price is well worth it.

I look forward to the results of the first BAPS tournament.

Theory is important because it takes awhile for players to learn how best to take advantage of a new system. I'm sure the test event will be interesting, but it won't expose all the implications of using this in something like the World Open.

I have a couple comments to make.

1. Like the first poster rockrobinoff, I completely disagree with Mig concerning shuffle chess (and I am assume shuffle chess to mean Fischer Random, since it makes more since then just a pure random shuffle, ie keeping castling). I think we can all agree that chess variants that change the rules (like rooks being able to jump over pieces and whatnot) "trivialize the game". But fischer random differs from chess in more subtle ways. The main difference is, of course, that there are basically no openings. Other than that, the only difference discernible to me is that in some positions, white's opening advantage is *slightly* larger than in others. This is no real issue as the difference is only slight and over time players get 50% whites and 50% blacks. So we can consider the difference to be the removal of the opening, which was Fischer's intent when he invented this system. There are so many opening variations that have been analyzed to the death! The Sicilian and the King's Indian are but two examples out of the myriad choices. Nevermind the fact that it takes a ridiculous amount of time to keep up with the changes, with a new wrinkle appearing every 15 minutes (and with information brought to us so quickly and easily now, keeping up with every wrinkle is all but impossible with the overload). And look what the Petroff has done to top-level chess in the past couple of years alone! It is the dreaded drawmaker.

Mig claims "Eliminating openings is little different from eliminating the endgame because these too are technical and boring and reward knowledge and study instead of 'talent.'"

Compare how we talk about opening players vs. endgames players. When someone is a great endgame player, what do we say? We say he has amazing technique, has an intuition for the endgame, is a superb endgame player. Now what do we say when someone is a great opening player? He does his preparation. He is a great theorist (read: he does good homework). I think the difference is clear. Especially in today's age, the difference between a great openings player and a great endgame player is enormous. It is the difference between study and talent. While the information age has had an effect on endgames, it is insignificant in comparison to the effect it has had on openings. Like rockrobinoff pointed out, I believe fischer random fits in quite well with the evolution of our game.

I might mention in passing that fischer random doesn't eliminate the opening. It eliminates opening theory. Right from move 1 you have to think for yourself and organize a plan for how to develop your pieces in the most optimal way. This is chess skill! So, far from trivializing the game, I think Fischer Random enriches it by doing us the service of maximizing the talent required to win.

2. The second point I'd like to bring up concerns White's starting advantage in normal chess, and I was reminded of it by the "amateur event" that BAPS will be tested in. It is this: I am not so sure that White's advantage is the same across all rating levels. Well, I'm almost certain of that, so let me be a bit more precise: White's advantage is inversely proportional to rating. This is not true for all rating levels. Let me explain first how I arrived at this conclusion (which I'm not 100% of by the way, but I'll throw it out there anyway). It is pretty much agreed that chess is a theoretical draw, with optimal play. Therefore with perfect play (or very high/infinite rating), White has no opening advantage whatsoever. At the other extreme now, we must establish our minimum above a certain rating since, below this certain rating play is relatively random, purposeless, and renders White's opening advantage meaningless since we can roughly define White's advantage as one of time and space, which imply White knows how to this advantage! It can only help if you know what to do. This is the basis for my argument. So if we look above this certain minimum rating, I think it is actually easier for Black to play. When I was younger and around a 1800-level club player, I had a higher winning percentage with Black than with White. It was small, but I thought it was interesting and significant. So I looked at more games from other players in my city and found the same result. I think the reasons for this are three-fold: firstly, with White you have to play your hand first and therefore Black has more information (I think this is mentioned by GM Mihai Suba). Secondly, weaker players make mistakes, that is why they are weak. So White has a bigger chance of making a mistake first, especially under the pressure to prove his 'advantage'. My last point ties in with this: I think the common view of the White advantage puts psychological pressure on White to prove this advantage (no one wants to lose, but losing with White is a little extra kick where it hurts). This psychological pressure on White makes him make mistakes, which can be exploited by Black. Combined with the extra information Black has at his disposal accounts for this small difference. Particular emphasis on the word small. Although significant, we're not talking big amounts here. There is no one shouting in White's ear that he is White and must win at all costs. It's a small psychological effect, but nevertheless present.

So in my opinion, at one extreme is no advantage for either player, and at the other there is either no advantage or a slight advantage favouring Black. Since we so often speak of White's opening advantage, then, if you plot White's advantage against rating I think it would be some sort of parabola. There would be some optimal rating at which White's advantage is greatest. If I had to put a number to it, it would probably be somewhere around 2400 or 2500. I reason like this: there is a well-known problem in top-level chess (which BAPS is radically trying to solve): drawitis. This is because top level players are so good that when they play each other the White advantage can be neutralized most of the time and players do not make many mistakes. So the answer is under 2700. And since we define the White advantage in terms of time and space (and since chess skill can take advantage of being better in time and space), it must increase with rating if you start at the lower extreme. So my guess would be around 24-2500.

Sorry for typing out a friggin essay.

Ashton Anderson

First, note that the opening "problem" as you define it is for professionals. Amateurs worried about openings being played out need to liven up their repertoires.

That great opening players aren't given as much credit by fans reflects a lack of understanding of what it takes to prepared well at the top level, especially in the computer age. Creativity is paramount. It's amateurs who mindlessly memorize who think it's busywork that should be abolished. As for endgame players, many have been discarded as "mere technicians" over the years. Shuffle chess maximizes the effect of tactical talent, middlegame talent. It ditches the talent of hard work and opening creativity, which, as Topalov has recently shown, are hardly lacking.

The future could be balloted openings, as used in serious checkers, something I would much more readily embrace over eliminating theory altogether.

It only takes a few minutes with ChessBase to back up the intuitive guess that White's advantage (as percentage of decisive games won) slowly increases with Elo. This runs true even starting at the amateur level, though statistically black never wins more than white.

Even if we accept the theory that perfect play leads to a draw, it is a fallacy to then conclude that white has no opening advantage. It is demonstrably significant even if it is not mathematically decisive. Just a few points since I'm not sure exactly where your second point was going!

Right, I was talking about professional chess.

Perhaps your point about the lack of credit given to great openings players reflects a lack of undernstanding by the public is true. But saying shuffle chess ditches the talent of opening creativity is completely untrue! The creativity just happens to be at the board, which is where the game used to be played. Nowadays the first half has moved to the opening theoretician's laboratory. Personally, I think the talent of hard work that goes into opening theory belongs to the correspondence players. The way modern professionals approach the opening is the way correspondence players approach the game as a whole. In shuffle chess, the way players have to play the opening is the way they have to play the middlegame (i.e. think for themselves).

I wouldn't say shuffle chess "maximizes tactical talent, middlegame talent." like you do (what happened to strategic talent?). I would say it maximizes "talent". It does ditch the hard work that goes into today's opening play, but that hard work is more in the style of correspondence chess than OTB. And that is the whole point. We don't want correspondence openings in OTB chess. We want the same talent that goes into playing the rest of the game.

With my second point, I couldn't really check my 'intuitive guess' that Black has the opening advantage at a certain level of play because I don't have a database of games played by players rated ~1300. Did you check this low? I'm curious to know what the results are. By the way, although I didn't explicitly mention it at the beginning, my main point was really that is some level lower than top-level players where White's advantage is at a maximum. I'd like to know roughly where that is, although I think my 24-2500 guess seems reasonable.

I am assuming you are taking exception with my statement "Therefore with perfect play (or very high/infinite rating), White has no opening advantage whatsoever." What I meant is: if perfect play leads to a draw, then with perfect players sitting at the board white has no opening advantage (I guess I meant mathematical advantage). Consider 3x3 tic-tac-toe. At the start X can play in the center and by all high-level reasoning he has the advantage, controls the center of the board, has more possible ways to win than O, got to move first, dictates the tempo of the game, less ways to lose. But of course with optimal play the game is a draw.

I was in a hurry to wrap up my second point so there's no wonder you didn't know where my second point was going...originally the BAPS thing sparked my 2nd point. Since White's opening advantage changes with rating, and the BAPS system numbers stay constant, then obviously the BAPS system will work best on a small rating range.


[Just to add to the chaos...]

If I take a bye in a BAPS tournament, how many points do I get?

For example, if I were due white in the "bye round", do I get zero points for my bye?!

I checked 16,000 games between unrated players - unrated by FIDE at least. White wins 53% of the points in those. I strongly doubt there is any point at which black wins more than white, though it probably approaches 50-50 at the novice level.

It's an interesting idea to try and balance an advantage on the board with an advantage in the point system, but it's going to be unnatural, especially with such an extreme range. The .6 / .4 draw scoring is based on this compensation idea, are various armageddon concepts by giving black more time and/or draw odds.

Opening preparation requires talent. As you said, the ability to work hard is a talent. Why dispose of it? Talent and creativity are not synonyms. Shuffle chess places most of the emphasis one aspect of a well-rounded game. Not all, because endgames are preserved. Eliminating preparation is an overreaction to a problem that has been overstated for 80 years.

I disagree with the comparison to correspondence chess. GMs maximize their preparation for surprise, with a strong psychological element that enriches the game considerably.

Chess is not tic-tac-toe, which is trivially finite. It's a complex, dynamic game in which practical winning chances are what matter. And thank goodness for that.

I think it would only be fair if I could make a few points about my scoring system. Let me first say that if people are going to cheat, then no system will fix that and BAP assumes that people will not cheat. BAP does not cure unethical behavior, it cures drawish chess at the higher levels.

Also, I am NOT changing the rules of chess. I am NOT changing the rating system. I am NOT advocating that USCF/FIDE adopt my BAP scoring. ALL I am saying is that if chess fans don't like draws and chess organizers don't like draws, then can just use BAP. Games get rated like normal, so unless you are in the running for prize money, the incentive to just give up is the same as normal. Also, if you are in the running, why would you let your opponent get 3pts instead of 1pt. If a draw is the best you have, you will most certainly go for a draw, even as white.

BAP requires color balancing to trump other pairing rules (other than playing the same opponent). It is also best if there are an even number of rounds in a BAP tournament so there is exact color balance.

Currently, the stronger the players get the higher the ratio of white wins vs. black wins. Also, the higher the draw ratio. White wins more and more of the fewer and fewer decisive games. With 60% draws at high levels being common and a 25% to 15% white wins to black win ratio.

Basically, playing black is a clear disadvantage and while I was fixing the drawitis problem, I figured I would rebalance things. Depending on what the true draw rate is and what the true white win ratio over black is, BAP might be biased in favor of black, or not! For example, if under Slugfest psychology, only 25% of the games are drawn and white has a 2:1 advantage over black, then BAP is perfectly balanced.

Until actual tournaments are played with BAP, nobody can say what the true draw ratio is, but consider this. Currently, the stronger the players, the more and more it favors white to the point where how do as white is about twice as important as how you do with black. With BAP, instead of both forces going in whites favor, one is in whites favor and one in black's favor. As the players get stronger, draws happen more, this favors black under BAP. However, as the players get stronger, the white advantage gets bigger.

Do these forces exactly balance out? Of course not, but it will certainly be an interesting experiment and I am putting thousands of dollars of my own money on the line to see what sort of chess this creates.

Is BAP perfect? No, I am the first to admit that it isn't. However, the current scoring system is very biased toward white, so as long as BAP is roughly equally unfair as the current system, then I figure that is close enough. Given two roughly equally unfair systems, wouldn't you rather have one that guaranteed that EVERY game is hard fought?

It won't cure the common cold, but you won't have ANY white players playing a tame line of some quiet opening and agreeing to a draw after 15 moves in the final round of tournaments.

Keep in mind that I am not proposing that any rule of chess be changed, all I am doing is changing how the prize money is being allocated (and for purists, how each round is paired.

Clint Ballard

I am giving a 1pt bye for people who need to take the round off.

That is half the pts of a white win and the same number of pts as a black draw, so it seems to be the right amount.

It does mean that you use up a black round though, so you will end up play more whites and get to complain about that :)

Leko-Kramnik match.

Remember that stinker? Also, remember how Kramnik played in the last two game? It would actually have been an interesting match had all the games been played like the last two.

What percentage of games can a super-GM draw if they really wanted to? 70%, 80%, 90%? No amount of forbidding draw offers, etc. has any effect on this as both players can just trade all pieces and then agree to a draw as a formality.

The only way to eliminate draws as the MAJORITY of outcomes between GM's, is to make it so that nobody wants to draw.

Some have posted that 3pts is too much of a temptation that people will almost certainly cheat. This does not appear to be a rational comment. With BAP, there are more than twice as many points possible, eg. 10pts every 4 rounds. An average of 2.5pts per round, so getting a whopping 3pts is the equivalent of getting 1.2pts currently.

Assuming a linear increase in cheating due to the temptation factor, this would increase cheating by 20%. Not the super horrible disaster scenario as it is being represented as, even if it was linear.

Why someone who could get 2pts as white would throw the game to black is beyond me...

I admire your initiative Clint. I'm not all that upset by draws at any level..and I love positional chess as much as I appreciate tactical melee's....but I think you have the makings of an exciting tournament I'd love to watch as a spectator. My money's on Pupols! It'll be interesting to see how many confident "slow crush" masters stick to their normal style as white...and how successful they are as a result.

Cheating means being able to go into the last round knowing that if you arrange the game you can score three points while more of your competitors will score zero than they would with the usual system. That the *most* a known number of opponents can get is two points while an arranged game can produce three is an additional issue.

I'm not sure why balancing the color difference is an objective here; it seems a separate issue. Giving two points for a win with either color, a point for a draw with black, and zero for everything else would have the same effect of eliminating draws without creating so many complications with pairings and cheating, no?

Decisive games are definitely more entertaining than most draws to most chessplayers. But I don't see the elimination of draws as a goal that can be (or should be) neared while preserving the nature of the game. Chess as bloodbath is a markedly different game and I don't think demonizing draws is necessary or healthy. After all, if a draw is a natural result of a well-played game, anything that practically eliminates them can't be all that natural.

None of this is to say that it's not interesting, the way blitz is entertaining. Aggressive chess at a respectable time control is never a bad thing. Should be a good show, and people will be watching.

I don't like this scoring system. It's even more bizarre than the 3-1-0 system, which I don't like either. I hate any scoring system which punishes hard fought draws.

Consider this - In a double round robin tournament players A and B play two 80 move draws which are fought to the last pawn, whereas when players C and D play each other, they both drop a piece as White on move 10 and resign.
Under the 3-1-0 system A and B get 2 points and C and D get 3 points. That is bad enough, but under BAPS A and B get a point less.

Having said all that, it is always worth experimenting with these things, just to see what actually happens.

My favourite anti-draw system is the Sofia rules. Are these rules going to be tried again? The Sofia tournament was generally thought to be a success, so why not?

While I agree that gutless draws must be eradicated, I think the original proposal takes the wrong route. It's not the RESULT (draw) that we are fighting against, it the PROCESS (offering/accepting draw on move 18 with most pieces still on the board).

Let's take a step back and ask ourselves: why do GMs offer and accept early draws? Answer: because it's EASY and SAFE. Why work twice as hard for a double-or-nothing if you can get a half-point with no work or risk?

Well, how about changing the rules in a way that actually makes early draw offers RISKY and DIFFICULT, but doesn't affect games that are played to a truly-drawn conclusion? I therefor propose the following simple change of rules to combat early draws in dynamic positions:


That's all, really. Now, offering a draw in a position of dynamic equality puts one in a clear disadvantage - his opponent may press for a win for 10 moves at no risk. If the attempt doesn't work out - well, he'll accept the draw retroactively 10 moves later.

As for positions that are truly drawn - the draw-offer-recipient will most likely give up his right to play a few extra moves. And even if he won't, 10 more moves won't change anything. Of course, if the extra 10 moves DO change something, than it means the position probably wasn't drawn to begin with.

With such a rule in place, it's actually LESS RISKY to play the game out down to the last pawn than to take a chance with a draw offer.

I am strongly in favor of eliminating at least some types of draws. there are some draws that would be easy to rule out. for example. the stalemate.

if black has to move into check he gets a draw. lets make the simple rule change that black has to keep moving and it is legal to move into check. but then he loses the king. that really seems like the original purpose of the game anyway.

so now the king can be captured and black moves his king into check and loses his king and the game. voila. a draw has transformed into a win with very little change in the game.


instead of 3,2,1,0,0 pooints simply make it 4,3,2,1,0. then the draw with white is 1 pooint and a loss is 0.

simple problem simple solution.


Tommy, very little change in the game except brilliant game saving solutions involving stalmating pattterns. You could say that the flipside of that is brilliant game winning solutions involving forcing the king to move into check. However, you could also change how the knight moves, and make up lots of other brilliant winning patterns. But so what?

Alex Shternshain wrote:
" It's not the RESULT (draw) that we are fighting against..."
I very much fear that there are plenty of people who consider draws invidious, no matter how they come about.
Remember the recent Topalov-Anand draw from San Luis? I think we can agree that this was a heroic struggle.
And yet, when it ended, there were (amazing, but true, I assure you) plenty of voices on ICC who felt they had been cheated.
There are *indeed* many who simply cannot deal with the idea of a game that does not perforce lead to someone winning.
That these are almost without exception quite weak players goes without saying...

The 'eliminating stalemate' thing needs to be swatted down whenever it pops up. It's a solution beloved of people who don't stop and think for 30 seconds.

Eliminating stalemate completely changes the game. Notice that normal K+P vs K positions are now won for the P side; similarly, almost all endgamnes with material advantage are won.

If you don't like draws, play shogi. Really, it's a great game, and somewhat chess-like, and it's almost impossible to have a draw.

I think the Kramnik-Leko match was actually very interesting, and I think some fans have certain unshakable stereotypes that influence their interpretations of top players' games.
For example, they think "If it's a Leko game, it must be boring." Or, "Morozevich is playing, so this game must be exciting." etc. I am almost certain that if it had been "Anand-Topalov, Brissago 2004", then the public would interpret the games differently simply based on the names who are playing them. Let's please try to remain objective.

Another interesting point from the Kramnik-Leko match is this: White won two games; Black won two games.

Is White's advantage really so great I wonder...?

Giving black draw odds? Black gets only 1 point for a draw while everyone who wins with either white or black gets 2 or 3 points! Even with the black pieces, drawing will usually be a relatively poor result when compared to those of your competition.

In any case my main problem with the system is that white gets the same amount of points for a draw or a loss, that would create some silly chess. As much as I don't think that scoring systems shuold be avoided because of some idea that "cheating" might occur, in a situation where white will get the same exact score for a draw or a loss, it would be very hard to resist if your opponent offered you some incentive to lose the game in a dead drawn position. Why even bother trying to hold on?

I think that such a system does have some benefits but needs to be tweaked quite a bit. A white draw MUST be worth more than a loss, and I think this is indisputable.

Another very interesting idea that I've been presented with is that anytime you offer your opponent a draw, it remains constant for the entire game, or perhaps you could say for 5-20 moves. This means that if you decline a draw, you could accept it at any point in the future, thus it would be ridiculous to offer a draw in any situation that is not completely dead drawn, because now your opponent will have a free chance to beat you. I can basically guarantee that this would lead to less draw offers and draws, yet would not change or reduce the quality of chess in any way.

Oh I see someone "Alex Shternshain" has already suggested the idea I wrote about, in that draw offers remain on the table for more than just one move. I think the idea really has a lot of merit and should be investigated further.

Oh I see someone "Alex Shternshain" has already suggested the idea I wrote about, in that draw offers remain on the table for more than just one move. I think the idea really has a lot of merit and should be investigated further.

The following is the white win, draw, black win percentages for games between 100 rating pt ranges.

Rating,1-0, 1/2, 0-1
20XX, 38%, 30%, 32%
21XX, 39%, 30%, 31%
22XX, 37%, 35%, 29%
23XX, 34%, 40%, 26%
24XX, 32%, 47%, 22%
25XX, 28%, 54%, 18%
26XX, 28%, 55%, 16%
27XX, 28%, 57%, 15%

Games between computers have percentages much closer to the lower range, so that indicates that GM's are not playing in a way to maximize the number of wins, but rather to minimize the number of losses.

With current incentives, this is the logical thing for strong players to do. In a tournament, it is customary for it to be a competition where players do their best to win, but with draws being the MAJORITY outcome, risking a loss is a big deal, so we get the draws.

BAP will free players to play for a win, because they have nothing to lose by going for a win.

Tell me it isn't more fun to play two attacking games and winning one and losing one, versus two play it safe draws where nothing is risked, but you have to play for hours and hours to not lose. Is that really fun? Chess is game. Games ar supposed to be fun.

The problem is that even in a totally drawn position there is absolutely no incentive for white to draw. White can just decide to resign for amuesment or to be nice to their friend in a position of R+3 vs R+3, because a win or draw gets them zero points. There needs to be a way for a draw to give you something, or else the system is impossible to produce reasonable results.

No, as pointed out above there is the incentive of preventing a competitor from scoring two more points. Black gets three if you resign, one if you hold on and draw. Whether or not this is sufficient incentive when you'll get zero isn't clear. The format also matters. If your opponent is a tail-ender in a round-robin, save your energy. But yes, the ability for white to throw two points to his opponent with no change in his own score is definitely a concern.

Concerning the "draw" dispute, I would like to relate an event which happened to me some 40 years ago.
I was playing in a low level tournament (the highest rated player was grade A).We had two hours for 40 moves and then adjourment,and giving the secret move in an envelop to the Arbiter.
This was the last day of play and after play there was to be the closing ceremony. I had a bad position when we adjourned but during "after game" analysis I found a way to get a draw by giving up my Queen for two Rooks. We resumed play and it went as I wanted, I offered a draw which was categoritly refused but as it was getting late, the Arbiter decided to put up the decision to Moshe Czerniak (then an IM who played for the Polish team at the 1939 Olympiad in Buenos Aires together with Naidorf).He was the honor guest for the prize giving ceremony.
He looked over the position and agreed for the draw.
Now let's go back to "drawitis". When two players agree for a short draw, they do this because they know that each will get 1/2 point, if the position would be looked over by an "ideal Kasparov" may be the result would be different, not according to their previous wish. We do not have an "ideal Kasparov" but we have the most impartial Arbiter possible and that is the COMPUTER.
For proposed draw under ,say, 30 moves put the position OTB to three computers, each with a different program, for instance Junior, Fritz and Shredder and let them analyse the position in the mode "Shoot Out" like in the Fritz program (I think that Junior and Shredder have a same mode, may be under another name.
The decision is reached in two way:
1. Its a draw if the three computers give each a different results.
2. Its a win for the color that at least two computer agree upon.
To conclude, this way players do not know in advance what will be the result of their short draw.

Regards, Moshe

Clint Ballard says: "Games ar supposed to be fun."

Yes. And I'll tell you what the fun in chess is for me: playing the strongest players I can, and doing the best I can against them. I'm happiest when I'm one of the lowest-rated players in a tourrnament, with no chance to win a proze but every opportunity to test myself against masters.

When I sit down against an IM or a GM, I know I'll usually lose. But sometiems I won't--I'll almost never win, but sometimes I can nick them for a draw.

Your system takes what should be a thrilling achievement--drawing against a much superior opponent--and turns it into worthless garbage.

That's not fun. If I were playing just for money, I might care if my opponent got one point or three against my zero; but playing for fun, that's meaningless. That's why, as I said on your blog, I wouldn't play under your rules if someone paid me. Try something else.

Mig I know there is the incentive of not allowing your opponent to score 2 points, but I figure that if it's the very final round it won't matter anyway, as if they have the same score as you, they will beat you with 1 point or 3 points, and of course the last round is the most important one for such things.


What is with the white has no reason to draw theory??? I think what everyone is missing is that BAP introduces some tournament dynamics into the current game.

Games will be rated the same as it is now. Drawing against a higher rated player gains exactly the same number of rating points. Will anybody really just toss 8 or 16 rating points just because they won't change their standing to get prize money? Certainly if they are not in the running for prize money, this won't have ANY difference at all, so it is completely illogical that it would change the behavior of a person out of the prize money hunt.

For someone in the running for prize money, then presumably they are playing against someone else who is also in the running. Giving the opponent 2 free pts is not logical. Unless of course cheating is involved. BAP is an anti-draw pt system, not an anti-cheating pt system.

Between the people who are in the chase for the prize money and those who are not, I think that covers most people!

The ONLY thing the scoring system changes is determining who gets the prize money. It does not change the rules of chess, it does not change the rating system, it will hopefully change the psychology of people who want to win prize money, eg. professionals. No more drawish Petroffs that are blitzed out in 2 minutes, a few "new" moves beyond completely known theory, trade a few more pieces agree to a draw. Does that behavior really deserve any prize money??

The whole issue about a hard fought draw being worth something. In competitive sports (I am treating tournament chess as a competitive sport here, don't flame about the scientific/artist sides of chess. BAP does not deal with those aspects, only the sporting aspect) there is almost always a winner and loser and this makes it so that people will invest time in following it, watching it, getting emotionally involved. NO sport will become very popular if over half the time, the result is unclear. People want to know who is better, who is best.

Don't we want to have a clear world champion? We don't want to have 2 people tied for world champion, or 10! That means that each and every game needs to be as decisive as it can be. At least, lets get the GM's draw percentage down to 40%, preferably 25%.

We cannot mandate this. GM's by their nature are very smart and no amount of rules that prevent the draws that spectators don't like will work. The only way is to make it illogical to want to draw, while at the same time minimize rampant silliness/cheating.

I claim that BAP is the SIMPLEST point system that achieves all this. To be mathematically correct with current percentages (needs to be adjusted when we find the true draw percentage), the pt system would be something like 0.5 pts for white draw, 0.7 pts for black draw, 2pts for white win, 2.5 pts for black win. That's the rounded numbers. Good luck explaining that scoring system to the TV audience.

Also, for lower rated (below expert), BAP is used as the tiebreaker and traditional scoring will be used at the Bainbridge Slugfest tournament.

Yes, although there will be more cases where depriving your opponent of points will matter than cases where it won't matter. But the mere existence of cases where it won't matter is what matters. (Today's word: "matter.")

This, along with Ed's point, shows how the system discards how a draw with white can be an achievement for various reasons. Basing it entirely on the fact that white has an initial theoretical and statistical advantage discards many sporting and human elements.

There are various ways to accept draws and still work to decrease them and encourage fighting chess or to at least provide a necessary decisive result if one is needed. The .4/.6 point split is one and it certainly isn't that complicated. Don't be afraid of fractions, they don't bite.

BAPS also introduces some wild point swings. If one player wins a few blacks he could be two or three points ahead. That different games produce a different total number of points seems chaotic, although we'll have to see it in action to confirm how relevant this is. I just don't think the color imbalance is so important that you should have three players with two wins, two draws, and two losses each and one has seven points, one has six points and another has five.

I wasn't sure if Clint Ballard is a genius or misguided, until I ran into the following quote from him:

"NO sport will become very popular if over half the time the result is a draw"

HAHAHAHAHA....hahaha...rolling on the floor.... can't stop... HAHAHAHA...ok, now that I overcame the fit of hysterical laughter...

Clint, would you like to go to a packed soccer stadium anywhere in Europe, South America or basically anywhere in the world save for USA and tell 20,000 rabid soccer fans following the match and screaming for their teams that a sport with 50% draws just CANNOT be popular? They will probably laught at you as hard as I do... unless they're too busy cheering for their team to even hear you.

So, in all seriousness, my argument is this: Draws themselves are not a problem. We should have no beef with a drawn result unless there is an actual game of chess behind it. It is the short non-game draws that need to be adressed, and I believe that my proposal (see above, also a variation by Greg Shahade) adresses them nicely.

As for BAP, that could be very exciting, exhillarating, fascinating, interesting, and 1000 other adjectives, but IT WON'T BE CHESS ANYMORE. We want to popularize chess, yes, but only as long as it's still chess, and not something else.

I wasn't sure if Clint Ballard is a genius or misguided, until I ran into the following quote from him:

"NO sport will become very popular if over half the time the result is a draw"

HAHAHAHAHA....hahaha...rolling on the floor.... can't stop... HAHAHAHA...ok, now that I overcame the fit of hysterical laughter...

Clint, would you like to go to a packed soccer stadium anywhere in Europe, South America or basically anywhere in the world save for USA and tell 20,000 rabid soccer fans following the match and screaming for their teams that a sport with 50% draws just CANNOT be popular? They will probably laught at you as hard as I do... unless they're too busy cheering for their team to even hear you.

So, in all seriousness, my argument is this: Draws themselves are not a problem. We should have no beef with a drawn result unless there is an actual game of chess behind it. It is the short non-game draws that need to be adressed, and I believe that my proposal (see above, also a variation by Greg Shahade) adresses them nicely.

As for BAP, that could be very exciting, exhillarating, fascinating, interesting, and 1000 other adjectives, but IT WON'T BE CHESS ANYMORE. We want to popularize chess, yes, but only as long as it's still chess, and not something else.

I don't understand the point that using BAP to determine prize money in tournaments somehow makes worthless the pride of drawing against a higher rated player, or the rating points gained.

Why do people play chess?

If you play for fun, BAP does not reduce the fun, personally my theory is that it makes it more fun.

If you play for rating points, BAP does not change that at all.

If you play for any reason other than money, BAP does not change chess at all.

Only if you are playing for the prize money does BAP change things. Who here reading this actually plays professionally? Would you refuse to play in a million dollar winner takes all tournament because it uses BAP?


Since I am funding the Slugfest, it is my money, so I certainly have the right to distribute it how I want to. However, what I am hoping for is that people will realize that it will really liven up the games played and steer high level chess tournaments away from the drawfest that it is now.

Maybe the people who are complaining about BAP actually like to play for draws?


P.S. I have a math degree from Caltech, I am not afraid of fractions. I would imagine that the most fair point system would be based on a large number of factors that include opponents, colors played, how convincingly the game was won, if the opponent blundered, opponents results, opponents recent strength, etc. It would take a computer program to determine who is ahead. Ever hear of the BCS system of ranking college football?

However, the TV audience will have a hard time with an overly complicated point system. BAP is as simple as 1-2-3, Those are the first three numbers and I want to use them. Given that constraint, what I came up is provably the optimum point system. 100% fairness is NOT the goal. The current system is biased, as long as BAP has about the same bias in either direction, that is close enough.

A rebuttal to Alex, who does not seem to be current with soccer stats, or the fact that in America soccer did not work at all on TV until they came up with the shootout at the end of a tie in regulation. (kind of like a game of speed chess to decide a winner in the event of a tied tournament game) NFL has overtime, but if there is no score in OT it is a tie game. Happens, but not enough to matter much. That is the key. Ties happen, ok fine, it happens, but it has to be kept to a minimum to make something into a popular televisable sport.

I admit I am not a fan of european football, but I think the FIFA World Cup is a typical popular tournament. From their website taking a typical section's standings:

10, 2, 0
9, 0, 3
8, 1, 3
5, 1, 6
2, 3, 7
2, 1, 9
1, 2, 9
37, 10, 37

A draw percentage of less than 12%. Would the FIFA World Cup be anywhere as popular as it is now if the majority of the games were tied and they didn't have a shootout tiebreaker?


P.S. I do have a fair amount experience with the US TV business.

Hold on... you do not want to introduce fractional scoring BECAUSE IT'S TOO COMPLEX for the audience to follow, yet you expect the audience to sit and be interested in a game of CHESS? Isn't the logical fallacy evident?

To Clint and all the people with the lofty goal of making chess a spectator sport like colledge football, three words: give it up.

Chess is not a spectator sport NOT because of draws, of opening theory, of endgames, or somesuch. Chess cannot be a spectator sport, at least not on the level of football or baseball because chess is hard.

A kicker places the ball between the goalposts. A good move? Sure. Topalov places a bishop on d5. A good move? Darned if I know. Even the GM commentator following the game probably doesn't know, not at once, at least. Audience gets no instant gratification of the "oooh, he messed up" or "oooh, what a great play" variety. Not a spectator sport. Period. And forcing chessplayers to become performing monkeys under the uber-cruel "white draw gets nothing" system will not change it.

But, it's your money, feel free to spend it as you wish.

No televised sport allows draw offers. Anything like that would lead to screams that the game was fixed! What sport allows the teams to stop playing before the game is over? Even resigning is not allowed. People pay money to attend sports events, people invest time to watch sports events. These people are the ones that will FUND the future prize funds. They have the money, so the golden rule applies.

The masses want a fight. they want drama, excitement, a photo finish, but always a winner and a loser. Tournament chess as it stands now is DOA as a TV sport. That is what I am trying to fix. If the drawlovers don't want to play in the bigmoney Slugfests I will organize, then that's fine. I want to produce 30 minute TV shows of a specific tournament, like they do with poker, but the current product is broken.

If the game is really so dead drawn, it won't take much effort to blitz out the required moves to achieve threefold repetition, lack of material, etc. Why is it that people don't agree to draws in speed chess (as much)?

We need to modify a famous quote to account for chess, "It ain't over, till it's over, unless the players agree to a draw before it's over"

Maybe we just need to educate the American TV audience about how chess is unique and that having the majority of games tied is fine, letting players play for 10 minutes in the decisive round of a tournament, no problem.

Clearly the American TV audience is misguided, we need to change the way 300 million TV viewers think. OK, how do we do that? Can you figure out how to explain to the masses why it is ok for top level chess to be drawn the majority of time and for them to spend the time needed to follow a game with the extreme likelihood that it will be a tie?

I couldn't figure that one out and figured it was much easier to change how prize money was allocated and influence the decision process of a thousand people.

Alex, I understand how pessimistic you are about chess being able to succeed on TV, but when they solved how to profitably televise poker, it opened the door for chess to succeed on TV.

Poker did not work until two very significant things happened. The poker camera where people could see the hole cards and the percentage chances of winning, with audience friendly commentators who mixed in basic poker education with explanation of what was going on.

People could finally see the poker players bluff other players or get called on it with nothing. Having the no limit betting where anybody can get eliminated or double their stack at anytime and big money tournaments certainly helped, but currently you have televised poker of many different types, not all of them knockout tournaments.

Given that poker can work. Given that millions of adults in the US used to play scholastic chess so at least know the basics. Given that chess is used by sports broadcasters all the time in the context of "the coaches are playing a game of chess against each other".

We actually have the real possiblity of getting chess to survive on TV. Won't even get womens golf ratings, but it should get more than pro bowling ratings.

With computer displays of the current eval, and the moves that should be made, people CAN follow the game as well as they can follow poker.

I think the logical fallacy is yours. Just because you can't see how the problem can be solved, everybody else should just give up. Isn't it just possible that somebody, namely me, could figure out how to make chess as popular as professional bowling?


P.S. Maybe you have a philosophical problem with there being a million dollar prize fund chess tournament every weekend that also happens to be on TV?

Where is the industry that will bankroll all this development? There is a transitional period from obscurity to being sponsored by Budweiser and GM. This period has traditionally required local or directly interested sponsors. These are the people who sell bowling balls and run bowling alleys, etc. The sales of chess sets and chess software is a fraction of this, although it has been significant in sponsoring chess events and still is. But it would require a major investment leading to a change in scale of revenues to be anything like bowling or poker (casinos, online gambling), let alone golf.

Clint, even you seem to agree that the problem is the "premature draw offers" and that if they were eliminated the draw percentage would go way down. What do you think about a rule that penalizes someone for offernig a draw.

Forcing a draw offer to remain on the table for 5-10 moves definintely does that, as it gives an opponent a free shot to win, thus totally discouraging draw offers. A rule like this, combined with a rule that outlaws draw offers before move 25, could be a good solution as well. To be honest, I enjoy watching "dead drawn/equal" positions get played out, and I enjoy playing them out myself. The players should have less control over when the game ends.

If strict rules were taken tomorrow, almost none of the top players would stop playing. Some would stop, but then there would be another crop of players who would win all the money and they would benefit, and probably those who protested such rules would return.

As you may know, we instituted a rule in the New York Masters that no draws were allowed before move 40 for the top boards. This rule helped quite a bit though not completely (There were still maybe 3-5 games in the series of tournaments which "may" have been prearrangeddraws), but overall it helped a lot and definitely reduced the draw %, and of course there were no immediate draws, which are the biggest problem.

Clint Ballard wrote:
"Poker did not work until two very significant things happened. The poker camera where people could see the hole cards and the percentage chances of winning, with audience friendly commentators who mixed in basic poker education with explanation of what was going on."

So, you're saying that poker became popular on YV _without_ any changes to how the game itself is played.

I just had a really odd idea. I think this would make ties very unlikely, and cut way down on early draws--practically eliminate them in Swisses:

Base the scoring for a draw on the rating difference between the players.

You could give each player his opponent's win probability as his score in a draw. Take a draw against someone a hundres points lower, get only about a third of a point.

If players are tied going into the last round--the higher rated player is _not_ going to be happy with a draw.

Don't tell me that counting up the fractional points is too complicated for people to understand, either--take a look at the NASCAR point system sometime.

I like this. I'd try playing in one of those. It wouldn't even have to be free.

Clint, with all due respect you're starting lose me. You're starting to sound more and more like Vince McMahon...the purveyor of short attention-span pro-wrestling. What's next? A healthy dose of tits and ass? Grudge matches in which the loser of a blitz contest gets a few strokes from a Singapore cane? Hair vs. hair chess matches might draw swell ratings..but eventually it's gonna start looking like a degrading circus..and certainly nothing Nezhmetdinov or Tal would've taken part in. When I piped up earlier on this thread I was under the impression that you were more of a fan of aggressive chess than a promoter with ambitious plans to drag the game down to the level of a TV friendly hotdog eating contest. Good luck with your initial tournament anyway.

Ed, I like your idea of different values given to draws against different players. Kind of along the lines of the person with the highest tournament performance rating winning.

One problem with the performance rating approach is that being paired against a lower rated player actually hurts. In order to fix this, players would need to be the one that actually chooses their opponents.

That is another thread entirely, but it all relates.

A straw man proposal is to let the top ranked player choose their opponent, iteratively until the round is paired. That way no player can complain much about pairings, as the pairing process becomes another strategic game!

However, given the controversy my simple BAP system has generated, I wanted to delay this until later tournaments.

I don't think you need to fix it! Being paired down only hurts _if you draw_. So it becomes really urgent to beat the players you should beat.

I think that could also be good for TV, since many early-round "mismatch" games would become "must-wins" for the higher-rated player.


ACF is already pumping in millions of dollars and if we as a community can improve the product, I am sure more benefactors could be found.

While not wealthy, I do have some amount of funds to invest in experiments like the Slugfest and I am even planning on making a pilot :30 minute show and airing it to see if it gets any traction.

I am not in this to make a profit and it will be a tremendous success if we can get a self-sustaining tv supported chess show. The USCL could very well become such a success. It has the elements of geographical competition, etc. However, as long as chess at the top is essentially a drawfest, I don't see how chess on TV will work at any level.

The Kasparov-computer match on ESPN2 did ok, but when the draw was announced, there was mass confusion and it setback chess on TV for years. Granted the reason for the interest in that was the man vs. machine aspect, but I think what we can use to grow a modest base of fans are the ex-scholastic players and parents of the current scholastic kids. A lot of parents know that their kids are playing chess, take them to tournaments, get coaches, etc, but have very little idea of what is going on.

I am 100% sure that these parents wouldn't need much prodding to watch a :30 minute chess tournament show, it just has to be a little bit of Hollywood, but really it will be mostly about educating people about chess. There are many excellent chess personalities that can bring the game alive. Yasser's commentary on San Luis allowed thousands of players to get the context of what was going on that otherwise would have been lost on most.

When I see poker players making millions of dollars and chess players making hundreds of dollars, something in me says that it is not right and maybe it can be changed. I was hoping for some support from the community, but it seems I am now being called names and next thing you know I am right there with Don King.

Does anybody else share my vision about a world where you could tune into channel 164 and see a weekly chess program about your favorite chess team and professional chessplayers could actually make a decent living at it, maybe we would even get to where top coaches could get compensated at 10% the level of what poker players do?

Most of what is needed now is time, not money. A good screenplay format that can be used to present chess in an exciting way, excellent commentary (Yasser?), a crazy local organizer (me) to prove that it won't be the end to chess as we know it by changing to BAP, video editing of the raw footage. I can get the pilot on the air and measure the audience results.

Like Greg said, assuming this works, all the good players will be participating even if they don't like some of the details. I agree with Greg. The only problem is creating something that works on TV, while preserving the current game as we know it mostly intact. In my opinion, all that we need to do is adopt BAP or something close to it BAP2 and get the right TV format.

Are there any lurkers out who actually want to help make this real? If we don't try, I can guarantee that we won't succeed. However, the odds are against us, we are up against the incredible TV survival threshold of men's pro-bowling. I think the women's pro bowling league didn't survive on TV.

For a sport to thrive, it needs TV dollars. Once we can prove the ratings are there, then it won't be hard to get the advertisers. I can take care of that. All the advertising needs to pay for would be the organizational costs and not the prize fund. The prize fund is self-financing, explained below.

How many people do chessplayers know? Could we as a community get the people we know to watch a chess show? We get one shot at making a first impression and aggressive fighting chess full of sacrifices has a much better chance of capturing people's imagination, than games where all the pieces are traded off and a draw agreed to, or even ending up in a draw, regardless of how hard fought it is.

The problem is that we are still debating on how specifically should we allow draw offers. I can tell you for sure that TV audience would not want to even really know that such things exist. I can edit those games out of the :30 minute show, but if the final round in the tournament comes down to 4 top players and they all agree to a draw within 10 minutes of the round starting (like it did this weekend at a FIDE rated local tournament I played in!!) it would be hard to edit that out and explain to the audience that after watching for 25 minutes, everybody decided to quit playing and they all agreed to draw and split the prize money. Do you think they will watch the next week's show??

With that scenario possible and actually being the most likely, I cannot justify investing the time and money I expect this will take to get it off the ground, as it won't fly. Hence, BAP was born.

poker tournaments are self-financing for the most part. The players themselves pay a $10,000 buyin to get a chance for the millions. The problem is that chessplayers currently cannot make that sort of buyin, so the first step is to get the professional chessplayers financially to the point where they can easily pay for the $10,000 buyin out of pocket. Local tournaments would then be able to be held where the buyin is $100 and the winner gets the $10,000 buyin, travel and lodging paid for. Even smaller satellite tournaments could be held where the entry fee is $5 and the prize is $100.

With two layers of satellite tournaments at $5 and $100 and a $10,000 buyin for the big annual tournament, it would take 100 finalist players to make it a $1 million tournament. I am purely copying what poker has proven will actually work.

Gee, how could we popularize chess to the point where we would have tens of thousands of players playing in the satellite tournaments? Of course, it is TV.

Now imagine a world where 100,000 people are playing in satellite qualifiers. How strong would the winners be? Any current tournament player would really have a giant advantage against the general public, but with that big of a number, it will be the general public that will be the majority of the tournament players!


much less than half of poker games end in a draw, so it didn't need to be fixed.

Regarding being paired down being unfair, I mean that between two top players, one plays against a 2100 and another one against a 2200. Both win convincingly. Using tournament performance, the one who beat the 2100 is now 100 pts behind even though either top player would most likely have beaten either of the 2100 or 2200 players.

The only solution to this I have so far is to make the tournament pairing done by the players themselves. That way, the top player can pick how strong of a player he will play against, balancing the chance of not winning against the strength of the opposition. A new twist to chess tournaments that some will say makes it just like Olympic diving competitions and will completely ruin chess as we know it. Next thing you know, we will make the lose of games have to do a double tuck inverse reversed upside down whatchamacallit

If rating points are assumed to be an important for white, enough to fight for a draw in an inferior endgame, why wouldn't the same thing be true in taking a draw instead of going crazy for a win? This occured to me when I was going over the games from day two of the first round in the FIDE World Cup. Many players who lost with black in the first game stopped well short of playing to the bitter end with white the next day despite facing elimination and with nothing to rest up for. There were even quite a few short draws in this situation and only a few games that struck me as out of the ordinary aggressive. This is normal in KO's.

So there is a professional element of common sense: I'm never going to win from this position so why not save a few points. And I think most pros will realize their best chance of winning is to play the same way they always play. I'm sure it will affect play on occasion, but I'm afraid that the professionals seem to be more conservative than we might hope, even with nothing to lose (but a few points).

Clint: I think we're talking past each other a bit. My suggestion is that ratings only be considered in scoring draws: win is always 1, loss is 0, draw--depends on who you were playing. So if a player complains that his opponent is too low rated, the answer is 'just win, baby!'

Right now, players contending for prizes mostly complain that they get harder pairings than their opponents, so thi swould also tend to balance that out.

I like the idea that some people have suggested that draw offers should remain 'on the board' for 5-20 moves (though I still prefer draw offers to be banned completely). There must be some disincentive to stop people offering draws.

Everyone criticises the 10 move draws, but I think a bigger problem are the games that are agreed drawn just as they get interesting (such as the famous Kasparov-Fritz game). There is nothing worse than following a game for over 3 hours, it reaches an exciting position, and then it just ends with a draw because both sides think they are worse. It was great during the Sofia tournament because you knew this could never happen.

I need to proofread better. "...harder pairings than their _rivals_".


I think you have come to the same realization that I have, that BAP won't change chess as we know it into an entirely different game. It makes no sense to go for a win when there just isn't one there, that only leads to losing, which is still bad under BAP.

However, IF there is a chance of winning, then it REALLY makes sense to go for a win! That is the mathematics behind BAP.

Let's postulate that GM's will rationally calculate when they should go for a win and when they should settle for a draw, even when the smallest difference is in favor of one decision, then that is what they will do.

First as white, on the "material" basis of the prize money, drawing and losing are the same, but other than for the last round, the "positional" factor of opponent's tournament standing makes drawing better than losing. Even in the last round, drawing is better than losing due to rating points, which would be an even smaller factor than the "positional" factor, but still a factor and we must assume that the logical thing to do is for GM's to always want to draw over lose as white. There is also what I think might be the biggest factor of all, eg. "I can't lose to this guy!" :)

So while white is in kind of a must win situation, he really should play like he usually does and prevent black from going down drawish paths. I think that would be the only real change for white's play, eg. instead of trading queens and seeing if a win could be ground out in a R endgame, maybe Q's stay on the board even though there is a chance that black could counter attack. A 40% chance of draw with 30% chance of win is worth more to white than 70% draw 10% chance of win.

Now, the really interesting thing happens as black! If black estimates that he could get a position with a one third chance of winning and no chance of drawing, or playing it safe be sure he could draw, it has the same BAP outcome! So a 100% draw, 10% chance of win is not as good as 10% draw 34% chance of winning. Those 3 big points will look very tempting to black if the position has any sort of life in it. But, black does have the full point draw to lose, so he can't go too far either.

My prediction is that the changes BAP will induce will be subtle ones that at first won't really be that noticeable, other than the complete abandonment of drawish paths and easily agreeing to draws on white's part. However, when you analyze the games played a bit more, the equation that a draw is worth different amounts than traditionally and different amounts for either side, will make avoiding draws the rational thing to do, even at the cost of increasing losing chances as long as winning chances are increased also.

That is why BAP is an anti-draw point system. Of course, proof of this will be at the Bainbridge Slugfest and I am trying to get a live broadcast feed setup for it so everyone can see for themselves. I will of course have a tournament report and expect that the last round will especially be lively. If not, then BAP will need to be revised.

Clint it feels like the lineup for your tournament would not be the type to take quick draws anyway, so I don't think it would make as big of an impact as usual.

Also whats the logic for the score system not being 1-2-3-4 instead of 0-1-2-3?


Pro Bowling gets better television ratings than women's golf, currently running about 885,000 households on ESPN. Pro bowling is owned by Rob Glaser (the Real Networks exec), and has been redesigned for television. I think you'd find the following article very interesting:


(Note the emphasis on personalities.)

It's the reason USA Today picks up forums like the following;


Anyway, I think you'll find the bowling story interesting because it's a venerable sport that was completely redesigned just a few years ago. Very little of the play was changed, but the way the players and events were presented was. And their television ratings have been rising in each of the last three years.


Thanks Duif! Great article. I had known this, but had forgotten. Look at the details:

"The numbers, which Glaser likes working with so much, have never looked better. TV ratings are climbing; 775,000 households watched pro bowling on ESPN last year, up 25 percent from two seasons ago. Viewership among 18- to 34-year-old males - the demo that makes or breaks most pro sports - is up 80 percent-plus. More people now watch the PBA than the National Hockey League.

As viewership has grown, advertising has followed. Starting from nothing, the PBA has racked up more than a dozen major brands, including Bayer, Geico, and Miller Brewing. The retooled Web site, PBA.com, gets 300,000 visitors a year to see streaming video via Glaser's Real media player. And more people than ever are interested in becoming pro bowlers. PBA membership - which requires an average score of at least 190 - is at an all-time high, up more than 75 percent from five years ago. Purses have skyrocketed. Five players topped $1 million in career earnings last season"

I think the key thing here, one that I did not fully appreciate until now is that 700,000 HH makes it a MAJOR league sport! Everybody here has heard of the NHL, they must have less than 700,000HH. Notice it says 700,000HH in a year, not every month, and certainly not every week.

IF we can get 100,000 HH loyal viewers for a chess show and if each person on average could convince 4 other households to watch IN A YEAR, chess could get past hockey. I don't know about you, but I think I could convince at least 5 households each year.

Greg, your USCL seems like the best vehicle for this as it has the weekly league aspect. Would you sell the USCL for $5 million? :)



At the higher levels of chess, drawing with black is considered a minor victory, which must mean that giving up the draw as white is a minor defeat. If it is a minor defeat, why should it get any points?

This really is the fundamental qualitative basis for BAP. Why reward a minor defeat, which also happens to lead to critical US championship final round games to effectively not be played and makes chess as a sport DOA. [As an aside, maybe this is why the Olympics give chess no chance to become an Olympic sport. How can it be a sport when you can't even tell who won or lost half the time??]

There is also mathematical justification behind BAP. BAP is the smallest change to the current scoring system that achieves its objectives.

If you doubled traditional scoring, I don't think even devout traditionalists would complain. That would be 1 pt for draw, 2pts for win. By simply taking the 1pt that white would get for a draw and giving it to the black win, it creates a 3:1 ratio of black win vs. draw and an infinite ratio for white win vs. draw.

Within the same color, BAP certainly achieves the primary goal of disincentivizing draws.

Of course, the big controversy is that when looked at from the different colors, it is very different. Now a black win is worth 50% more than white win, but it turns out that a black win is probably more than 50% harder to get at the GM level, so if anything this is a good thing.

The one thing that really seems to bug some people that a hard fought draw by white ends up with nothing and this just seems unfair, but with a 1-2-3 system there are no numbers left to assign to a white draw, so 0 is all that was left.

In order to give value to white draw, we would need to use a 1-2-3-4 system or higher. Assuming we assign 4pts black win, 3pts white win, 2 pts black draw, 1pt white draw, let's see what we have:

black win is now worth double black draw. Same as it is now, no anti-draw effect from black's standpoint. White win is worth three times white draw, so there is the 3:1 ratio for white. While this is good, what this really means is that BAP has a 3:1 ratio and infinite ratio vs. 2:1 ratio and 3:1 ratio for 1-2-3-4. BAP would therefore have a lot more powerful anti-draw effect.

Looking at the color differences, black win is worth 33% more than white win. Black draw is worth twice white draw. White win is worth only 50% more than black draw. THIS is the fatal flaw of 1-2-3-4 as it makes a black draw worth MORE relative to white win that currently. This is the opposite of what BAP is trying to do.

Certainly the fact that a black draw is worth double a white draw is much closer than BAP's infinite ratio, but when normalized to current pt system, on an additive basis we are really talking about the difference between 1/2 pt difference and a 1/3pt difference, or a 1/6th pt difference in the value given to a white draw relative to black draw. Also, 1-2-3-4 sure seems to undervalue a white win relative to black draw. With a 60% draw percentage and 25% white win percentage, a white win is worth at least double a black draw. Certainly a lot more than 50% more than a black draw. In 1-2-3-4, black win is worth only 33% more than white win and while this is true at the lower levels, up at your level it is closer to 50%.

So, on this analysis BAP has one arguably unfair result out of 6 possible ones.

1-2-3-4 is slightly better with a 1/6th normalized pt less difference between black draw and white draw, but has a really bad effect of actually increasing the value of a black draw relative to white win compared to current system, no increased incentive for black to win over draw compared to current system and doesn't completely remove the white biasing in the current pt system.

All that math aside, in general the simplest solution that solves a problem is usually the best (Occam) and the pseudo-draw odds white is giving is guaranteed to push white to squeeze every last winning chance before settling for a draw.

I guess I could have continued up the number scale and there probably is the ideal set of numbers that reflects the 0.5pt white draw, 0.7pts black draw, 2pts white win, 2.5pts for black win that at the current win/loss/draw percentages would not be color biased, but I KNOW that the true draw percentage is not 55%, so why spend a lot of time on a 1-1.35-4-5 pt system when it is wrong in the first place?

Add to this fact, I only had so much time to come up with a new pt system and the primary goal was not to make it 100% unbiased, rebalancing was a secondary objective.

from a TV perspective, I think BAP is a bit more marketable than a 1-2-3-4 system as people want to know who won and who lost, not how the pts were allocated between them and if nobody got 0 pts, who is the loser?

I guess, intuitively that is what I feel, that in every game, somebody has to get 0pts for it to be most marketable on TV. BAP is the simplest, if not only, system that does this and it is certainly the closest to the current system.

Oh, and BAP didn't require me to change any rules of chess, or make players agree or not agree to do this or that, or require keeping track of which move which player offered a draw (on all tournament boards??), or setup computer analysis for all boards, etc. Players can do what they find is most appropriate for them in each game and most of the time it will be the same as it is now, just no taking draws when you have a reasonable chance to win, even if that means you risk losing.

All in all, not bad for sacrificing the true value of a white draw. gotta give up something to be able to solve all the other points and since all the players would play in big money BAP tournaments, what is the real problem with BAP? It sure seems to solve the drawitis problem.


P.S. I got confirmation from the local tournament co-winner that he indeed would have not accepted the draw and played on for more than 10 minutes had BAP been in effect. So for that one person in that one tournament BAP would have achieved its goal.


The draw problem is not why the Olympics didn't accept chess. They didn't accept it because it's not a physical sport. You can look up the history of this issue.

In terms of TV, decreasing the draw percentage may help a little, but I hope you understand that it will not magically make chess popular. As long as the viewers have no clue what is happening in the game and have nothing else to pay attention to, they might as well be watching a sitcom in Swahili.

The real problems with BAP, as I see it, are that

1) Black has too big an advantage over white.
Since a draw gives white nothing, black can just play solidly for a draw in every game. Then white is likely to overpress and lose at some point. Say, if white has a choice between two moves, of which one leads to a 100% draw, and the other will lose 95% of the time but win the remaining 5% when black makes a very bad mistake, white will usually HAVE to choose the second move, as the first is guaranteed to give ZERO points.

You may say that white might prefer to draw to deprive the opponent from getting points, but that logic only works when there is just one competitor (maybe two) in your point group. When you are in a big group, which happens most of the time in tournaments, it doesn't matter if you give some points to just one person.

2) There is not much point in defending worse endgames, even with black.

3) If the prizes are big, there will be a lot more collusion than there is now.

All of that said, as long as you act as a sponsor, running tournaments with BAP is an interesting experiment.

Black win is worth 3 times a draw, instead of 2 times as it is now.

Mathematically, black would be more likely to go for a win under BAP.

Keep in mind that in a 4 round tournament everyone gets a chance at 10 pts. You can earn 6pts as black.

Currently, how you do as white is about 50% more important that how you do as black because white scores almost 60% of the pts.

With BAP it will be closer to 50/50, so all the time spent as black will count just as much as with white.

We are 10 days away from the Slugfest, and the actual games will prove (or disprove) BAP's effectiveness

Clint, I admire your effort to give chess a different spin. Unlike everyone else, you're willing to put your money where your mouth is. And if it doesn't work, then at least we can say we learned something. Without experiments like this, all the theoretical discussions stay just as they are - theoretical. Personally, I think the most attractive idea mentioned in this thread is by far the suggestion of letting draw offers stay on the board for 10 moves or so. This has a direct effect exactly where we want it - against fightless draws, not draws in general. But anyway, give BAP a shot and we'll see how it goes! If nothing else, it promises to be very

Ashton Anderson

I agree that having a draw offer stay for a long time is a very promising way of dealing with draws that does not change the nature of chess in any significant way (and changing the scoring system really does that, which makes at least me very uncomfortable).

I think the draw offer should stay valid for all the rest of the game, not just 10 moves. First of all, this would be a stronger deterrent against draws; second, it will make the enforcement simpler, especially in time trouble.

Of course, this rule will not change anything in the case when the opponents agree to a draw informally before the game (which happens all the time in last rounds of tournaments, at least among higher-rated players). This can be dealt with to some extent by giving out prizes based on tiebreaks and disallowing early draws.

Also, since last rounds are especially notorious for quick draws (because most players either don't care about the tournament anymore or are happy with the prize they would get with a draw), how about having a special prize or prizes for the most interesting last round game? In the U.S. Championships something on the scale of, say, $500 - $1000 would probably do it.


I like the idea of a Most Exciting game prize and the Bainbridge Slugfest has that. My twist on that is that both players (win/loss/draw) will share the prize.

Over the decades, the games that we all remember most are the decisive ones. Since it takes two to create such a game, I thought it made sense for both players to share the prize.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on November 26, 2005 1:57 PM.

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