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Dortmund 06 Final Round

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It seems like it only started yesterday but today is the final round of the Dortmund sprint. It's been something of a slow-motion sprint; think GM Steve Austin. Even beyond the 70% draw rate, the games have been tremendously conservative. I know not everyone can be Topalov or Morozevich or Shirov, but jeez, sometimes it has looked like they were afraid of their shadows. They have managed to build up some inertia toward the end. In rounds four and five Boris Gelfand played a total of 230 moves and came out with an even score. In round four Adams ground him down in a surprisingly difficult R+N endgame with two extra pawns.

Gelfand took revenge on Jobava the next day in a remarkable ending. Symmetrical four pawns versus four pawns and Gelfand used his better king to reach a winning queen and pawn endgame. Astounding! As for the Q+P vs Q, as well documented on ChessBase here, these positions are too arcane for the human mind, especially up against tablebase perfection. A similar thing happened in the Adams game. Adams actually allowed a theoretically drawn position near the end. To me these "errors" are useful reminders of how difficult this game can be. (Which is why I'm far more apt to criticize failures of courage than errors of calculation.)

I've come to the conclusion that Vladimir Kramnik wasn't in physical rehab during his six-month layoff. He was taking a hypnosis training course with bunch of out of work KGB guys. At the Olympiad in Turin Kramnik won some fine games while also receiving (inducing?!) several bizarre blunders. In round six in Dortmund, Jobava, perhaps in shock after losing that pawn endgame to Gelfand, tried to push some macho pawns against Kramnik and got a sound spanking, resigning in just 15 moves with white. Well, it was practically the only combination of the tournament so I guess we should try to enjoy it. Probably the shortest Dortmund loss ever. I remembered Anand hanging a piece against Kasparov in 92 for a 17 move loss. The database reminds that Huebner hung his queen (in a lost position) against Shirov in the same event and resigned on move 16.

The event has been a letdown for Levon Aronian, who has lost his last two games and will finish with a minus score. He was unable to impose his freewheeling game against the veteran grinders. Leko and Svidler lead with +2. Kramnik and Adams are a half point behind. Kramnik has white against Leko in today's final round while Svidler has white against Adams. On paper it should make for some fighting chess. We'll see.


Well should be interesting. Also interesting is if you have the comments back on!

Svidler - Adams has seen a 17 moves draw; rest of the games in play with Gelfand and Naiditsch having a clear advantage vs. Aronian & Jobava.
Kramnik is trying hard to beat Leko, we´ll see what happens...

I am sure Mig would say something to the effect that "Kramnik limped to another pathetic victory" regarding Kramnik's first place.

And he wins!!! And he wins!!!

Watch out Vesko, Vlad is coming for you!

In regards to Kramnik's win in the last round, it must feel somewhat like deja vu all over again to Leko. Kramnik continues to gain momentum and Topolov has been playing his best chess as of late, with contrasting styles, it looks to be a good one.

Absolutely amazing - Kramnik just simply has won on technique against Leko. It just looked like a draw then Leko is totally busted.

Hopefully, this augurs well for the World championship.

I was cheerign for Krmanik, but I do feel sorry for Leko. It seems everyone will want to be paired against him for the last round.

Mig does always seem tough on Dortmund so that is no surprise. I think last year the complaints started with when they picked the pairings.

It does seem odd to have a single round robin with and odd number of games. Both Svidler and Kramnik had an extra game with black. Why not invite another player?

Hail Kramnik, clearly on the comeback trail after recovering from his illness. Reminds me of Mig's article from years ago... "Be afraid, be very afraid."

Regarding the high percentage of draws at Dortmund -- at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the answer is "so near, but so-fia!".

Repeat after me... adopt the Sofia rules... Sofia rules... hard-fought games... Sofia rules... fewer draws... Sofia rules... fighting chess... Sofia rules...

Very pretty game by Kramnik! Gotta give it to him, when he does his minimalistic-victory thing, it's impressive to watch.

The BAP system will dramatically lower the draw percentage, probably to around 30%. It makes every game decisive without changing the rules of chess. It doesn't eliminate draws, just turns them into something like a field goal in football.

70% draw rate??

What is worse is that the games are not fully fought. In its current state, chess is not a sport. For it to be a sport, EVERY game needs to have a winner and a loser.

While some people say it is unfair that under BAP white doesn't get any points for a draw, that's something all players have to deal with equally. Just like in football,the defense can't score any points, but that doesn't mean they don't play defense as hard as they can.



"For it to be a sport, EVERY game needs to have a winner and a loser." Why? It is ok to have draws in sport. Do not like the discussion on draw precentage as it means nothing about the chess that was played. When Corus was on, Kamsky had the "best" draw percentage by simply losing 4 games right out of the opening while Mamedyarov was "worst" by saving 4 difficult positions in his first super tournament. Wrong und no sport is that the draw offer is allowed from the start. Should only be from move 30 on, which I like much better than "objective" referees as in Sofia.

ComputoJon: "Repeat after me... adopt the Sofia rules... Sofia rules... hard-fought games"

I agree, but I would go further than that if I was running one of these tournaments. The worst tendencies of the top echelon were on display at Dortmund with regard to openings, especially against 1. e4. What was seen were a bunch of boring, slow Spanish games (and a couple of Russians for good measure), since the top players have figured out this is the best way to 'dry up' the game and draw. They form their own safe little circle of theory.

The tournament organizers should stipulate that no player can repeat his previous defense against 1. e4 or 1. d4. In other words, if you played 1. ...e5 your last turn against 1. e4 , you have to play another move (e.g. 1...c5 or 1...c6 or 1...e6 - these have names you can look up) the next time you see it. Thus we would get at least some variety in the games. You can go back to 1...e5 (or whatever) in the subsequent game, but you have to show some more chops before then. Seems reasonable that the 'top' players in the world can try and handle some different positions.

The players can bitch all they want about their rights in this situation, but they're not just playing for themselves, and no fan base is going to be built up around a Petroff theme tournament.The people who run the tourneys can say "hey, you don't have to play, we'll invite Carlsen or Morozevich or even Nakamura". These players are all more inventive, and if you watch ICC you'll note that their games always draw big crowds. In a rare lucid moment following his Japanese internment, Bobby Fischer said "No chess game is perfect, you always have to take a risk to win" (commenting on the famouns Na4!! in the Byrne "Game of The Century"). You can see what Carlsen and Nakamura are doing in this regard - bringing managed risk back to the game. Contrast that fighting spirit with Leko's failure to play the thematic Bxe6 against Gelfand's Najdorf in Dortmund, gaining three pawns for the piece and an attack on King. Would the attack be sound? No human could tell from such a distance, but you knew Peter Leko wasn't going to be the man to find out.

A perfectly played chess game is a draw and all the "fighting spirit" in the world won't achieve a decisive result if neither side makes a serious error.

Kramnik-Topalov will fight on this fall in any game where they see a chance to win but 60-100% of the games in our sport's showcase to the world will nonetheless end up drawn.

Keres is quoted in Fischer's book as saying that do defeat him you had to beat him three times, in the opening, the middle game, and the ending. Millions of published games and piles of computer analysis later, chess no longer has openings; the first new move often occurs deep into the middle game. Playing perfect openings, Keres would nowadays be "unbeatable".

In top-level chess there just is not sufficient opportunity for the superior player to demonstrate his superiority. Top-level chess is like playing ice hockey with a three-foot goal.

Are so many top-level games drawn because the players don't "fight", or do many top-level players not "fight" because, in the modern game, there's such a small opportunity to win?

There's a freshness and an excitement in playing over 19th century chessgames. The way to re-invigorate chess is not to change the rules, change the scoring, or change the time limits, or to flog players into playing out dead-drawn positions or choosing risky openings.

Chess will be re-invigorated and the "opening" will be brought back to chess when we implement Kasparov's idea of introducing a new opening position into chess every year.

From a practical perspective Greg's observations make sense in my mind. There are three players whom I follow regularly that are willing to take the risk and fight almost every game they play. Ouite frankly though, the consistency of their results are indicative of that style of play.

Gm's Shirov, Morozevich and Nakamura are the players of which I speak. All extremely strong and original players in their own right, but their consistency is anything but that.

In this age of chess where computers and mega databases now rule supreme, it must take a prodigious effort to "fight" in every game at the top most level of chess, and I believe there is a price to pay for that. None of the above mentioned players, however measured and gifted will win their share of Super Tournaments.

I believe it was the fighting chess player himself, GM Kasparov, who said some time back that the young Gm's of today play like accountants on wall street. An analogy that is certainly appropo for the vast majority of the top 20 or even 30 players today.

This has become the age of technique, and unfortunately, creativity must take a back seat for now.

Listing today's 'fighting players' and not including Topalov?!? You've gotta be kidding. VT is the top combatant in the world right now. Almost every game, there he is, playing nuclear chess... until the opponent blows up. Just ask Leko or Anand or Moro or anybody else. Topalov rocks.

I was pointing out various fighting players who will not become a world champion due to their inconsistency which can be attributed to their style of play. Topolov as current world champion is a given and still my choice to defeat Kramnik this fall, as I've already mentioned in previous posts.

REPLY TO: Clint, (Clint Ballard at August 6, 2006 15:26)

BAP is one of several systems that essentially gives less that 0.5 points to each player in a drawn game.

Unfortunately, concepts like BAP are unable to address the frequent draw problem in high media profile title matches, like the upcoming Kramnik-Topalov "Match World Chess Championship" event.

If a system like BAP gives each tournament player in a drawn game only say 0.1 points, is that really a 'draw' anymore, or is it a lot closer to 'two losses'? If BAP succeeds, perhaps it does so merely by re-defining the draw partly out of existence. The genuine on-the-board forces have not been corrected.

Using BAP would give tournament players reason to *play moves they correctly believe are inferior*. Therefore, it really only sets up a game of Dare (which player will take the unsound gamble first?). It even reminds me of the Prisoners' Dilemma situation. This would be highly distasteful to the concept of competitive sport.

Yes there are counter-arguments in favor of BAP, but causing more inferior moves is not an acceptable solution.

Gene Milener


Why guess about Clint Ballard's BAP system when you could look it up on the internet in fifteen seconds?

3-points black win
2-points white win
1-point black draw

I don't care for it either.


You hit the nail on the head about why BAP or any other system that penalizes any and all drawn games, should not be considered chess but a form of "fairy chess" (i.e. a variant, a different game played with the same pieces but different rules).

When Clint and other advocates of rule changes say things like, "It makes every game decisive WITHOUT CHANGING THE RULES OF CHESS," they are either lying or stupid. Since I find it hard to believe anyone could be THAT stupid, I believe Clint is simply lying. He must know that his system does "change the rules of chess," but since he is out to promote his system among chess players, he chooses to deny a fact he knows to be true.

Would any of you say that it wouldn't constitute a rule change in football, or soccer, if winning were re-defined as the team that scored the FEWEST goals, instead of the most goals? It wouldn't be a rule change in golf if the winner was redefined as the player who took the MOST shots to finish the course?

Changing the definition of an outcome -- and in chess a draw is one of 3 possible outcomes -- IS changing the rules. That is consistent with Gene's observation that using BAP would induce top chess players to "play moves they correctly believe are inferior." If the objectives change, the nature of play (i.e. the principles by which good moves are distinguished from bad ones) inevitably changes as well -- which ultimately turns chess into a qualitatively DIFFERENT GAME. So how is that not a rule change?

Like I said, no one could possibly be so stupid as to think it isn't a change of rules.

Clint argues that his system doesn't change the rules of a single game of chess (how the pawns move, whether a stalemate is a draw, etc.) but simply how the result of that single game is scored in tournament standings.

Awarding the win in a single game of soccer/football to the team who scored the fewest goals, or the golfer who took the most shots are obviously rule changes WITHIN a single game. A more accurate comparision of BAP use in conventional pro sports would be awarding a hockey team, say, five points for a win and one point for a tie IN THE LEAGUE STANDINGS. The rules governing a single hockey game would not change, but you'd probably see teams pulling their goalies much earlier in tied games.

Under the BAP system a single game of chess would continue to be played under the same old rules. But BAP would impact the strategies for playing that single game of chess within those old rules. (You'd "pull the goalie" more often.) That's Clint's entire point.

[Clint appears to be a civil gentleman and I hope he won't insult me if I've innocently misunderstood his argument.]

Greg, your explanation amounts to semantics that lack significance.

If stalemate is considered a different outcome than in real chess (i.e. white if he delivers stalemate is treated the same as if he were checkmated) and you don't consider that a rule change, then logically you would have to consider a change in scoring CHECKMATE as not a rule change either.

So let's say, award 2 points for a win by checkmate, but award 3 points for a win on time. (Or alternately, award 1 point to a player who is checkmated but zero to a player who loses on time.) You're saying that wouldn't be a rule change?

At least Clint B. is trying to do something to actually reduce the high draw rate problem. I wonder...

QUESTION: What rule change would you (dear Reader) be willing to make in order to reduce the draw problem? Would any rule change be unacceptable, no need to even read it?

A pretend example: Suppose allowing the king to castle thru check was found to greatly reduce the draw problem: would you vote for to that rule change? Or what if draws were reduced by limiting pawn promotion to Q only, and barring promotion to N B R: would you vote for that rule change? What about en passant? And so on.
(Obviously I know such rule changes would not reduce draws, but that is not the point of my question. Pretend they would reduce draws.)

BETTER QUESTION: More generally, which rules in chess could you live with changing, IF it were proven they would reduce the draw problem?

Gene Milener

Yes, you're right.

Under BAP a drawn game is no longer really a draw, it's a black "win". And that is a significant rules change.

(A traditional white win is a double-win. And a traditional black win is a triple-win.)

I'd much rather play black, Black is really "ok"! ....

When comparing normal chess results with more complex scoring alternatives such as BAP, things are more comprehensible if you adjust the 0-1-2-3 scoring system by dividing everything by 3. Then it's easier to see what is comparable to what.

So it becomes, a black win is the same as now, a full point. A black loss or white loss is also the same, i.e., zero. A win with white is worth only 2/3 as much as now. A draw with black is worth 1/3 point, instead of 1/2 point as now. And a white draw is the same as a loss.

I'm not proposing this as a change to the Ballard system; rather, what I just outlined IS the Ballard system (i.e., its economic equivalent -- or "congruent", if you prefer the language of trigonometry).

First of all, I think that while I don't agree with Ballard, he is willing to put his money (although I don't know where it all came from) where is mouth is too. I think the system has some problems when played in a vacuum and I think the system has some problems becuase it is not played in a vacuum. If we ignore the USCF rating of these tournaments and hence rating incentive for players, I think it's strange that someone can choose not to fight for a draw from an inferior position as white (especially as white) for reasons other than it would affect the overall tournament results. I mean I guess this is true sometimes when the player with white is playing up a half point score group and needs a win for a shot of a prize. I also think, despite Clint's claims, the color problem becomes more severe. Imagine a 6 player round robin. Players 1 and 2 are the top seeds. Player 1 has white against player 2 in the first round, but has 3 overall blacks while player 2 has 3 overall whites despite his first-round black. Let's players 3 through 6 are significantly weaker than players 1 and 2. So player 1 chooses the strategy to play for a draw from move one against player 2 in round one and does so successfully. Both players win the rest of their games and player 2 loses the tournament 11 points to 10 points doing nothing wrong other than failing to win against a strong player as black when his opponent was determined to draw.

Even in even-rounded swiss tournaments there are problems with colors. Let's consider a tournament with players 1 through 16 ranked in that order. In the first round player 1 gets white on board 1. So in the first round all the higher rated players win, the standings are:

2 3
4 3
6 3
8 3
1 2
3 2
5 2
7 2
9 0
10 0
11 0
12 0
13 0
14 0
15 0
16 0

Now in round 2 we already have somewhat of a problem which I imagine is not so atypical for swisses. All of our players with 3 points (who should be paired) are due white. So what we would typically do is pair the higher rated players with their due color. However, we are not so assured of self correction, especially for a shorter 4 round swiss so in this second round with closer matchups, let's say we see draws in the games where the higher rated player has black and wins where the higher rated player has white. Our standings are now among the top 6 players:
2 5
4 5
1 3
3 3
6 3
8 3
so now 1 and 3 are due white, but 6 and 8 are even stronger due white. So we pair this next round:
4 - 2
6 - 1
8 - 3 and the stronger player wins on all 3 boards

the standings are:
2 8
1 6
3 6
4 3
6 3
8 3

So now even if player 1 wins last round, he can do no better than tie with 2 who has the benefit of having black. So player 1 finished 3.5/4 and player 2 finished 3/4 (player 1 won the final round) and they tied. What did player 2 do to deserve to tie for 1st with a weaker score? So your system rewards decisive results, but gives no reward for holding a draw with black. I mean I think objectively there's no question that player 1 had the better tournament. Two examples where the player who played best by any reasonable standards either doesn't win or only gets a share of the victory.

TO: jegutman
Nice analysis about the pairing problems.

Hey, thanks for all the thoughtful discussion! I am at the US Open, so if you are here too, I would be happy to explain in person.

Anyway, if you feel that 70% draw rate, games that go 3 to 10 moves beyond known theory, etc. are fine. Then there is no problem.

However, if you can imagine a world where EVERY game is played by GM's to win, or at least one side really doesn't want a draw, then presto! Instantly the draw problem goes away. By "draw problem", I mean the ones where neither side took a chance. Both sides are content with a draw, a draw results. Very boring don't you think? If not, then there is no problem.

If there is a problem then SOMETHING has to change, or the problem cannot be fixed. I might have the logic messed up, but it sounds reasonable that if we do have a problem, then something needs to change.

Mathematically, BAP is the smallest change to the point system that solves the draw problem and also addresses whites advantage and is simple enough for everyone to remember. At the recent GM Slugest Qualifier, Nick Raptis CHOSE to have two whites and one black, instead of the other way around in the tiebreak round. Even though the points system favors black, you have to draw to get a single point and if white doesn't want to draw, it is much harder to draw. [I asked Nick why he chose two whites vs. two blacks and he said he knew he could win with the two whites, and felt that 4 points via white was better than the potential of 6, which could easily become 2 points as black]

All these predictions of making bad moves, tournament pairing problems, etc. are simply predictions that have not come true. The quality of chess remains as good, if not better. It forces masters to convert an advantage to a win. They are masters, they won't over press and lose a draw trying to win. At least I haven't seen that in the games that have been played so far.

As far as some tournament pairing problems, these are only theoretical and I can come up with nightmare theoretical pairing problems for all swiss tournaments. Additionally, if you believe that white is slightly better and that the reason GMs win twice (or more?) as white vs. black is that white has a real, tangible advantage, then EVERY swiss tournament with an odd number of rounds is giving about half the players a distinct advantage and the other half a disadvantage.

How on earth is that fair?

So, BAP isn't perfect. BAP changes the chess that is played. BAP doesn't eliminate the draw, just makes it illogical for both players to want it before the game starts.

No nightmare scenarios have come true. GM Slugfest in October will demonstrate the type of chess that is possible every round, by every player in every tournament.


There either is or isn't an excessive draw problem among GM's. If you think there isn't a problem and that 70% draw is fine, when similar strength computer programs have half the draw rate, then we clearly can't change anything to fix the problem that doesn't exist.

However, if you would like to see every game played, I mean really played, then something has to change.

BAP isn't perfect, but none of the nightmare scenarios have come true. BAP changes how the players play, that's kind of the point. However, it does not change the rules of the game in any way, just how the tournament is paired and prizes given. Even the current rating system is intact, so I am not sure why some people think the change is so drastic.

Chess that is played doesn't have any greater number of errors and every game is a battle. Will it be a win? Can black hold a draw and get the point? Sure, the point system is not exactly calibrated, but at least it is simple enough to remember, it solves the excessive draw problem and it is better that any other system that I know of to address this issue.

The reason is that if two GM's want to draw, or better stated, really don't want to lose, then a draw is nearly certain. BAP eliminates the desire to draw for white. Black can want it all he wants, but it take two to do the draw tango.

Also, the tournament pairing is a bit more of a challenge, but at least a BAP paired tournament gives everyone equal whites and black. I argue that current odd number of round swiss tournaments is giving about half the players a significant advantage and the other half a significant disadvantage. [I am talking strong players, where white wins significantly outnumber black wins]

While perfection is a nice goal to have, I much prefer an actual solution to the excessive draw problem (or unfought game problem) with some theoretical potential of unfair pairings, etc. as opposed to the current system where we know all the players get a different number of white and black and the draw percentage is around double what it should be.



--Transforming drawn games into one-point-black-wins/white losses immediately renders much of chess literature, not to mention tens of thousands of classic drawn games, obsolete and useless.

--The extension of opening theory deep into the middle-game has destroyed a once-rich spawning ground for the errors which are essential to achieving a decisive result. Introduce one new opening position per year into chess.

Introducing one new starting position each year would

Oops. Ignore the fragment.

Or, every year, force players to wear an eye patch while listening to a Britney Spears album.

Talk about some decisive games!!

About BAP: I've been thinking about it and I think I realized what bugs me the most about the BAP system in that it's truly anti-draw not as much pro-fighting. The fact is that a draw and a loss being equal for white works somewhat well for this. Like the sofia rules I think are good at not being anti-draw and being more pro-fighting in that the players realize they're going to have to sit through a long game anyways so they might as well be fighting the whole time searching for the best tries. But I think it's clear that in chess a draw with white is a better result than a loss with white so in essense BAP rewards stupid chess. Having trouble beating the marshall? Play the king's gambit. I mean if we wanted to reduce draws we could just as easily have every tournament be a rapid tournament too with sofia rules, nobody has to be there for that long, there's nothing to take too seriously and the quality of chess will be boring. I think there's already a lack of appreciation for technique, especially among US chess players so let's play what I like to call "David Zimbeck" style of chess. You either mate, or you lose...

Actually BAP strongly encourages black (if he's a thinking person to try to play the most drawish, dryest lines possible as this will enocourage white to play excessively risky lines where black will often be able to get (if prepared) an objectively better position. In fact this is why I love to play "fighting" players. I'm well prepared, I dont' think about the result of the game for the most part with black I just try to play good moves.

I agree, Josh.

I'll add that when Clint mentioned earlier that one player in his "BAP slugfest" tournament chose 2 whites and 1 black in the tie-break round instead of the reverse, I rolled my eyes. Somebody might have chosen it, but that doesn't mean his choice was rational -- in fact in this instance, using BAP, I'm pretty certain that player's choice was NOT rational. Whether he ultimately succeeded or not, under reasonable assumptions of expected results he shot himself in the foot taking 2 whites in a 3-game playoff scored with BAP. I ran a little of the math but am not going to repeat it here.

A few related points: Sofia rules, and even the more extreme version of banning ALL draws by agreement, clearly are not rule changes (while BAP IS a rule change). Therefore restricting draws by agreement doesn't damage chess -- or at worst, doesn't damage chess to anywhere near the degree that Clint's or other variants that penalize ALL draws would do.

I personally have no problem with chess the way it's currently played, even by "stock-exchange-chess" GMs. I guess that's because even though I'm a fish myself, I'm an active OTB tournament player and view myself as a player, not a fan.

I used to think even the Sofia anti-draw rules were misguided. But after this year's M-Tel event I'm inclined to think they might actually be working, and doing good. Of course attributing causation is tricky in any activity (for instance, almost no one but me thinks the U.S.'s stepped-up security measures since 9-11-01 have any value in explaining why there have been no significant attacks on U.S. soil in the nearly 5 years since; I guess it must be al Qaeda has a bigger beef with Spain and Britain and Arab countries than they have with Americans, huh?). But if one believes the Sofia rules had any impact at all on the way chess was played there this year, the clear conclusion is the rules succeeded in achieving their objective. And I see no downside.

Finally, getting back to BAP, aside from all the other criticisms, I think you'll eventually see one problem (boring draws) replaced with another, maybe even worse one: "White resigns."

Clint himself, when asked on another thread some months ago about whether people playing White might resign as soon as it's clear they can't win a position, cited 2 incentives to play on in such cases: 1) Deny the opponent 2 free points (i.e. the difference between a Black win and a Black draw), and 2) Avoid losing rating points (since the BAP system has no effect on rating calculation; a White draw in BAP is scored the same for ratings as a White draw in a conventional tournament).

If the BAP system came into wide use, I think those incentives often, perhaps even usually, would provide insufficient motivation for the white side to play on in even positions that lacked important offsetting imbalances (such as opposite-wings castling with queens and rooks still on).

Denying your opponent extra wall-chart points makes competitive sense in a Round Robin or in the late rounds of a Swiss System if both you and your opponent are in the running for a prize. Otherwise, in a big Swiss one gains little from holding down the opponent's score if it won't benefit your own score in any way.

As for the rating incentive, there are many players -- including even a few professionals, I would guess -- who don't care about rating points. And as we all know, there are even some who are quite pleased to see their own rating fall.

So if the incentives to play on with white when you're almost certain to end up with 0 don't hold up, then the guy playing white would and should resign under BAP, for the same reason they agree to a bloodless draw now -- to conserve time and energy for the next round. Or for other activities more pleasurable than playing out a dead position, OR EVEN BRILLIANTLY SAVING AN INFERIOR POSITION, and still getting a big fat 0 on the wall chart.

So, if the BAP became common, I figure somewhere down the line we'd see people complain about premature resignations (by white) as loudly as people complain about premature draws at present.

Early white resignations??

I do not know a single game that has been played with BAP where white resigned prematurely. There have been three BAP based tournaments, so that is over 100 games played. NOT A SINGLE EARLY RESIGNATION BY WHITE. Why do you ignore what has actually happened and substitute some sort of theoretical silly behavior and then condemn BAP for it??

Why do you just assume that people will resign a drawn position? Are you saying that you give up so easily when you are playing in a tournament?

In a lot of sports, there are games where one team cannot score any points at all. It's called defense. Just because they can't score, doesn't mean they don't play hard. Even when the game is already decided, you are supposed to keep on playing hard. Please don't assume that people will someone let the tournament pairing system totally dominate how they play chess.

That is a very extreme assumption and inaccurate in 99% of the cases. Do you like losing? Drawing is better than losing. If you don't care about losing and base your decisions on the tournament pairings, then you are probably the type of player that withdraws the moment you won't be able to win prize money.

Granted, there are a few players like this, but the vast majority of players play chess for the chess. Not the prize money.

What BAP does is to allow the white side to make the speculative sacrifice that they are not sure will work, but also not sure that it won't work. It frees you to play the chess you want to play, instead of being afraid to lose the draw.

After all, what games are you going to remember most when you are done playing in tournaments? The games where you played it safe and got a draw, or the ones where you made a brilliant sacrifice and won?

BAP maximizes the number of brilliant wins you get. It also makes you a stronger chessplayer by teaching you how to win.


P.S. I have 4 wins against masters (sacrifices in all 4 of them and also in my one loss) at the US Open due to my slugfest style. Granted, I threw away a draw I had against a 2380, but after sac'ing my rook for 3 pawns in an endgame I didn't want to settle for a draw. Again, tonight I declined a draw and risked getting mated to avoid a perpetual check and gave back all the material advantage I had. I could have easily lost, but I ended up winning when my opponent fell into a mate in 4, though I think I would have just queened a passed pawn anyway.

You can ask the dozen+ people that were watching if it was more exciting to see the decisive finish vs. the typical perpetual check that most others would have accepted.

"By this wise prejudice we are taught to look with horror on those children of their country, who are prompt rashly to hack that aged parent in pieces, and put him into the kettle of magicians, in hopes that by their poisonous weeds, and wild incantations, they may regenerate the paternal constitution, and renovate their father’s life." -- Edmund Burke, Reflections on the French Revolution.


All your arguments are hot air except the first one, the practical experience with your system.

And as for the practical experience, I do not know the circumstances. Perhaps all the BAP tournaments were Round Robins. If entry was by (your) invitation only, and the prizes and other arrangements were favorable, then moral suasion (i.e. the fear of not being invited to your next event) may have discouraged anyone from prematurely resigning a no-winning-chances position with White. Or perhaps, 100-some games still being a very limited sample -- equivalent to less than two small (30-player), short (4-round) Swisses -- maybe no "dead" positions arose at all. (If the latter, then that in itself could be a plus for your system. But clearly it's premature to conclude that, especially without looking at all positions in every game.)

If much more experience is accumulated with BAP, in open Swiss System tournaments, and it is found that almost no one ever resigns with white in an even or slightly inferior position, then this particular potential defect I foresaw in BAP will be laid to rest.

Until then, the entire exercise of thinking about how BAP affects people's play is by nature speculative and theoretical. So when you belittled my logical inference about incentives that BAP creates in a certain plausible chessboard situation as "some sort of silly theoretical behavior," you are showing that either you are so emotionally attached to your system that you don't wish to step back and think objectively about potential minuses along with the pluses, or that logic just isn't your cup of tea.

It may well be the latter, if your comparison of playing out a no-win position with white in BAP (i.e., either the position is dead-drawn or you're inferior and have no potential counterplay, so are certain to end up with 0 unless your opponent hangs a Rook) with the job of the defense in football or another sport, is any indication of how you think. I won't waste any words arguing that point, since I'm sure all Dirt readers worth talking to who read your comment, already saw the obvious fallacy of that comparison.

"Even when the game is already decided, you are supposed to keep on playing hard." Although part of the same paragraph as the irrelevant "even though they (defensive team) can't score, that doesn't mean they don't play hard" argument, this is essentially a different argument. This is really an argument against resigning a LOST position; but it's relevant here, since BAP doesn't distinguish between a loss and a draw for the white side.

Yes, in televised sports, the losing team does play out the game to its scheduled end. It's in the players' contracts with the team owners, and more important, it's in the league's contracts with the TV networks that carry the games. As to whether two NFL teams locked in a 42-17 struggle with 5 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter do actually keep on playing "HARD"....well, I will leave it to the regular NFL-watchers on this blog to weigh in on that question.

Most of us don't like losing. Most of us who play chess seriously enjoy playing a hard-fought game to its logical conclusion. By penalizing hard-fought draws, you not only don't reinforce those widely held feelings as you seem to believe; you achieve precisely the opposite -- YOU OBVIATE THEM.

This is true for both sides, white and black. It is most obvious for white. What in chess is a draw, in the wholly different game you invented called BAP, is a LOSS! So resigning a hopelessly drawn position in this game called BAP is no more cowardly or blameworthy -- let alone "silly" or "theoretical" -- than resigning a hopelessly lost position in chess.

You say that BAP frees the white side "to make the speculative sacrifice that they are not sure will work, but also not sure that it won't work." It doesn't free them to play recklessly; it forces them, since what would be a draw in chess is a loss for white in BAP. That is what's behind the Edmund Burke quote I used to lead off this comment. And it's also the best possible proof that BAP is a different game than chess because it has different rules that fundamentally alter the nature of play -- AND THEREFORE SHOULD NOT BE ELIGIBLE TO BE USCF-RATED.

I prefer playing chess. As a result, when I watch pro events, I far prefer watching chess. That's why I'd have zero interest in watching a BAP tournament, any more than I'd want to invest any time solving helpmate problems. Yes, I might someday take up shogi or go, I think those are great games -- but I'd know that in doing so, I was taking up a different game than chess.

By the way, the comments you made about your own games and playing style are no more relevant to the questions being discussed, than the example of the defense team in football.


My assessment is that chess has ZERO chance as a mass market TV sport in its current state. The NHL eliminated the possibility of ties as 11% was too high a percentage for the US TV market. they used a shootout system akin to using speed chess to decide championship games.

Since we can't eliminate draws from chess, we need to make draws decisive.

So, given those two requirements that we have to make every game decisive, eg. somebody has to get 0pts and we have to keep draws, please propose a better solution than BAP. You are not proposing a solution at all, you are just saying you don't like BAP. Well, I don't like 77% draw percentages.

I claim that BAP is that minimal change from the current game. BAP does change chess. Whether you consider tournament pairing rules a rule of chess or not, is really not the point.

You seem to have the opinion that there is nothing wrong with the current state of chess. If so, how do you explain that we lose 99% of chessplayers from the time they are in 6th grade to when they are 30 yrs old? Ever wonder why the romatic era of chess in the 1800's was so exciting? Back then a draw was NOT worth half a point, I think that was first done in the 1895 swiss tournament.

There is a BIG problem. BAP paves the road to solving that problem. Isn't it time for a theoretical novelty in tournament pairings? The first since 1895!?


P.S. Note that I am not saying that BAP will make chess successful on TV. I am saying that BAP is a pre-condition and gives chess a chance to succeed on TV. TV sports will boost cashflow into chess a hundredfold. NOT making a small change to the game so it can have than chance is a BIG mistake.


First off, you are right that I am not proposing an alternative solution; I favor the status quo.

As I said before I am a amateur player not a fan, so it bothers me not at all if the GMs exhibit no fight in some percentage of their games. (Rest assured they won't be looking for a quick easy draw when they play me, lol.) And it delights me to see GMs or anyone else play hard-fought, sometimes brilliant, games that end in draws -- which represent a far higher proportion of drawn games I've seen than one would think reading all the comments where draws are villified.

I can't quarrel with the logic of your latest comment. I've seen many opinions about whether chess could be telegenic, and I have my own opinion as well, but on this occasion I will defer to your opinion that it can never work on TV if a split point is a viable option for players.

I like chess. A lot. While I'd like to see chess become more popular and even be successful on TV, that isn't near the top of my personal chess agenda, as it is for you. Therefore I feel no inclination to save chess from itself.

Your agenda is different. Still, I have a degree of sympathy for it (making chess work as a spectator sport, hopefully one with commercial potential), and now I have a better understanding why you're going at it the way you are.

I do wish, though, that you'd be more honest in your choice of catch-phrase to summarize BAP's difference from chess. If I understand BAP correctly, it is absolutely inaccurate and misleading to call it solely a change in "tournament pairing rules," as you just did and have done before.

As you know, the USCF allows TDs tremendous leeway about pairing methods, along with time controls, tie-breaking systems and other details of how tournaments are run. The rules of chess itself, on the other hand, are sacrosanct: I don't believe the USCF will rate a tournament whose rules of play were anything different from chess-straight-up. No rating of bughouse, no rating of "thematic" tournaments where each game begins from a specificied opening position, and so on.

Therefore, if I'm right in assuming your BAP events are USCF-rated, then you have a vested interest in (mis)characterizing BAP as a change that affects only pairings, and does not alter the rules of play in any way. As I understand it, BAP redefines the objectives of the game. By "objectives," I mean the entire matrix of possible outcomes of an individual game (white win, white draw, white loss, black win, etc.), and the rewards and penalties (in terms of tournament score) associated with each possible outcome. As I explained in detail higher up on this thread, if changing the objectives isn't a rule change, then I don't know what is.

Ergo, tournaments scored using BAP should not be eligible for USCF rating, any more than bughouse tournaments should be rated.


Since it is legal for two players to decide to play a rated match of 1 game, it is perfectly legal for a group of players to decide to play in a BAP tournament. It can always be rated as a set of one game matches that just happens to be paired according to BAP. Unless you want to prevent people from being able to play one game matches, BAP is here to stay at least in the NW where I hold the occasional tournament.

If you checkout the performance of NW players in general at the US Open, they are doing better than expected. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

Since you are not a master, I think that explains your objections a bit more. BAP is designed for master vs. master games, not for amateurs. It only makes sense for amateurs in that it is practice for when they become masters.

What you don't seem to understand is that as white, from move 1, the draw is in pocket. White has to earn the win. For black, nothing is in pocket. black has to earn the draw. Even if white makes a blunder and drops a tempo (that's the master equivalent of dropping a pawn), white is now playing black so is still in the game.

Given that assumption, which is proven by tens of thousands of master games, how is it fair that white gets any points for not losing the draw??

That would be like a game where you can choose to score a point and prevent your opponent from scoring more than one point with each move. As long as you take the safe point, you are guaranteed the draw as you cannot lose. If the other side tries to go for more, he loses. Check with some GM's if you don't trust me. If white wants to avoid losing, he can and black can only create a loss for himself by trying to force things. You might disagree with me, but then you have to explain why the win percentages for white are so lopsided and why it gets more and more lopsided the stronger the players get.

Think of basketball at the end of the game where they start fouling players and shooting free throws. Is that really what basketball is? If you have 99% free throw shooters and the other side does too and you can force the entire game to be shooting free throws, but you get one more shot than the other side, well can you see any TV audience for that?

That's what chess is turning into. Back in the 1800's, draws were not worth half a point. In fact, if you drew, they made you play another game entirely! Draws basically didn't count at all other than zapping energy. With that as an incentive, it created the romatic era of chess.

Imagine if all the super-GM's did their best to win each and every game, because it was logical to do so? Would chess be more fun to watch?

Do you remember that game where Topalov had black and only needed a draw to win the tournament and he sac'ed a rook for pawns and won? Was that better than playing the Petroff or something like that?

My vested interest is not financially motivated. I haven't charged entry fees to my BAP tournaments, and I have spent thousands of dollars to fund them. I just don't want to see Kasparov accepting a draw in the deciding game of the match against the computer right after the unclear exchange sac. Remember that? It was on EPSN2 and it made the game a tie, the match a tie and the general population got a taste of the draw problem. Kasparov would have been insane not to accept the draw though as the financial equation was all setup for him to accept the draw.

We get what we pay for and tournament organizers and sponsors are financially motivating strong players to draw against each other and win against the weakies. We miss out on seeing the giants clash against each other in must win games, other than the occasional rarity.

Chess can be an epic struggle of GM vs. GM every game, if only BAP was used...


Clint, I don't think anybody's arguing against the goal of BAP which is to encourage people to fight harder in their games, this is certianly good, but I think this idea of punishing a draw is the concern. Do you remember the game Anand-Morozevich in a french defense where Morozevich unleashed a novelty with a strange g5!? move? The game ended in a "GM draw" with morozevich having 2 pawns on the second rank being down a queen for the exchange (not for a Rook, for an exchange!). I mean you talked about an example where you avoided a perpetual check and risked getting mated, I think if Anand had done that in this game that risk would become a reality. I mean I think I gave you an example where white can still play for a draw from move one and it make sense for his tournament situation.

Honestly though, I admire that you at least try to find a solution, we have differing opinions, I personally don't like the downsides of it, however I should not be one to complain too much. I think it still needs some work though, I think its simple scoring is too simple. I guess it comes down to answering a fundamental question: Is 2 wins and a loss better than 2 draws and a win? I mean spectator-wise, I have no problem with a drawn game, but obviously I prefer to see a fighting draw. I think there are other ways to encourage fighting chess that don't require this, my problem with BAP is that it assumes certain types of chess are better than others. Under BAP going into a += engame is this huge risk as white because you might draw whereas playing the Berlin defense as black is great as your opponent probably has to overextend and risk losing. You complain about openings like the Petroff, but I think you actually encourage black to play openings where black buckle's down for the draw forcing white to sometimes play not just "risky" moves, but outright bad moves to play for a win. I think you dream of more sicilians and King's indians, but I think you'll get more Petroff Defense's and QGAs.

So my ideas for improving BAP:
Make the differences much smaller between BAP and regular scoring. Your scoring represents a view of the total number of decisive games played, but I think most of the draws your complaining about would split more even among decisive results if played out. Look at the US Championship this year? Was there a huge problem with draws? I sure didn't see it, I think the 30 move rule + using tiebreaks to determine winners was effective in making people play. Were there additional problems with this? Of course, it's always give and take. Were there many good games played? The answer is yes and I think this is what people were looking for. My biggest problem with the US Championship this year was determining the winner of a classical time control championship with rapid games, but then again, BAP doesn't really change the incentive to win or draw in an even-gamed match.


I would like you to explain that "wt always has the draw in the pocket"-theory to the participants of the San Luis tournament, where (_if_ I remember correctly) almost half of the decisive games of the first round were won by black, at least two of those by Topalov. :o))

Christiansen-Topalov or Fishbein-Topalov, were such a pairing to come about (in chess not BAP, of course), I hardly think it could be fairly said that "White has the draw in hand."

No disrespect to Larry C. or Alex F. if they happen to be reading this, but facts are facts and 250-300 rating points are 250-300 rating points.

Of course I accept Clint's broader point about White's opening advantage. Some people on other threads here proposed remedies for that. But if you like chess and want to comment on a chess blog, as opposed to a fairy-chess blog, there is no need to even think about a "remedy" for White's opening advantage. Just design matches so they have an even number of games, and (as much as possible) tournaments to have an even number of rounds, and when there is an odd number of rounds, design pairing and color-assignment rules that minimize the inequity.

There is no need to redefine chess into a different game (by redefining its objectives), in order to counter or offset Black's disadvantage for any single game in isolation. Rather, the remedy for that inequity in one game is that the player will get White in his next game in the same event.

In fact it seems that the high draw rate among GMs might suggest that they don't feel that color is such a big issue since one of them will have black next round against a lower rated player who will have a "draw in hand".

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