Dennis M's Chess Site

This is a blog for chess fans by a chess fan. I enjoy winning as much as anyone else, and I've had a reasonable amount of success as a competitor, but what keeps me coming back to the game is its beauty. And that, primarily, is what this site will be about! All material copyrighted.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The (Fun) Prearranged Draw

Flipping through some of the games in the supplementary database of the latest issue of Chess Today (if you subscribe, be sure to tell them who sent you!), I came across several very short, very dull draws. Clearly the players didn't feel like fighting that day, for whatever reason.

I won't here address the issue of the propriety of so-called "grandmaster draws," but my feeling is that if you're going to play a phony game, really go all the way with it. Give the spectators something to ooh and ahh about, or to confuse them, make them laugh - SOMETHING!

Example 1: The exciting fake

In my high school years, I was regularly paired a good friend of mine in both scholastic and regular USCF tournaments, and because we were (a) friends, (b) had a good deal of mutual respect for the other player's abilities and (c) could generally achieve (a tie for) first place even after giving up half a point, almost all of our games concluded peacefully.

However, our draws were not coma-inducing banalities like this: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.cxd5 cxd4 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Bf4 Bf5 7.Bd3 Bxd3 8.Qxd3 Bd6 9.Bxd6 Qxd6 1/2-1/2

Our pet draw was far more exciting: a sharp line of the Najdorf Sicilian, with White pushing for a kingside attack and Black working mightily to exchange off White's pieces before any real damage could be done, culminating in a perpetual check. Sure, we cribbed it right out of the then-latest and greatest book on the Najdorf (the old RHM Press volume by Geller, Gligoric, Kavalek and Spassky), but the spectators didn't know that!


1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 b5 8.O-O Be7 9.f4

Nowadays the far more dangerous 9.Qf3 is the main move.

O-O 10.e5 dxe5 11.fxe5 Nfd7 12.Qh5

12.Be3 is more dangerous and became popular in the mid-80s, but Black can equalizes.


And here 12...Nc6 might be good for an edge.

13.Be3 Bb7 14.Rf2 Nxb3 15.axb3 Nc6 16.Nxc6 Bxc6 17.Raf1

It looks annoying, but Black's bishops provide sufficient compensation for the weak e-pawn after

17...f5 18.exf6 Bxf6 19.Qg4 Qe7 20.Ne4

So much for the two bishops, but now Black can grab a pawn.

20...Bxe4 21.Qxe4 Bxb2 22.Rxf8+ Rxf8 23.Rxf8+ Kxf8

Not 23...Qxf8 24.Qxe6+ and 25.Qxa6


White has regained the pawn and has a healthier kingside pawn structure, but Black's next move proves that the position is completely level.


Threatening both 25...Qe1# and to create a queenside passer with ...a5-a4, so White decides it's time to bail out with a draw:

25.Qh8+ Kf7 26.Qh5+ Kg8 27.Qe8+ Kh7 28.Qh5+ Kg8


Example 2: The Comedic Protest Draw

In 1996, Jennie Frenklakh and Jennifer Shahade were two talented American teenagers who had earned the privilege of representing the U.S. in the Girls' World U-16 championship. Needless to say, as friends and fellow Americans they did not wish to play each other, but sure enough, they were paired in round 10. They contested the pairing, but to no avail, and as a protest they played the following brilliancy (it wasn't their invention, but I don't know the source - perhaps an enterprising reader can supply it in the comments section):


1.h3 f5 2.d4 e5 3.Qd3 f4

Pretty weird so far, but you ain't seen nothin' yet.

4.Qg3!! e4 5.Qh2 Be7 6.a4 a5 7.Ra3

Obviously to put the rook on g3.




White has clearly seen more deeply into the position.

8...e3 9.f3 Qe7 10.c4 Qb4+ 11.Nd2 d6

It might look like Black stands better here, but appearances can be deceiving.

12.c5 Be6 13.c6 Bb3

Wisely immobilizing White's dangerous queenside pawns.


And now, in response to the otherwise unstoppable threat of 15.cxb7 followed by 16.bxa8(Q), Black found the tremendous defensive resource


and the game was over - stalemate!

Now that's the way to prearrange a draw.


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