Dvoretsky article: An Ashley echo?

Back in March, GM Maurice Ashley wrote a ground-breaking essay titled, "The End of the Draw Offer?" in which the issue of a quick draw offer was questioned. It was the most proactive article written in recent times about this matter.  GM Nigel Short was quoted as saying,

"A few weeks ago I noticed an article by Maurice Ashley, the first black grandmaster, entitled The End of the Draw Offer? ... Nevertheless, I have to admit that Maurice has a very good point. It is not that draws per se are bad (after all the most popular sport, football, seems to live fairly comfortably with the concept), but the perfunctory early agreed draw, which is done normally out of fear - "mutual respect" being the technical term.

(ChessNinja.com Daily Dirt, #85)

Mark Dvoretsky (far left) gives June 1995 lecture Boylston Chess Club in Boston (USA). Photo courtesy of BCC.

World-famous chess trainer GM Mark Dvoretsky has recently written an article titled, "Draw Offers Outlawed!" There is no indication on the date it was written, but according to Ukrainian Chess Online, it first appeared in English on June 4th. After reading Dvoretsky's masterpiece books and incisive articles, one would think he could add more to the existing argument. The Dvoretsky essay appears to borrow extensively from GM Ashley's essay, but ironically makes no reference to it. One clear point in Dvortesky's essay followed GM Gennadi Sosonko's quote below:

"Why are chess players allowed to agree a draw at any moment? This does not exist in any other sport."

Dvoretsky added emphasis:

"Why not to bind players to play out every game to its logical conclusion, whatever that will be? Players should not be allowed to talk to each other during the game. The game could still end in a draw - by stalemate, three-times repetition, lack of winning material or according to the 50-move rule. But not by mutual agreement!"

To add an exclamation point to his essay, Ashley organized the Generation International Chess Tournament (April 23--May 2) in which players could indeed offer draws, but not before move 50!  The experiment was quite a success in terms of the excitement generated from the fans, players and organizers. After the Generation Tournament, Ashley received feedback on the experiment. One critique was that the 50-move rule may have been too much.

Ashley contends that the jury is still out on the idea and hopefully other theme tournaments would occur so "we can see what works."  Some Grandmasters do not appear pleased and by silent protest, have taken even shorter draws in recent tournaments. Ashley, who speaks highly of Dvoretsky as a teacher and praises his books, read the essay and is reserving comment for a more appropriate forum.

GM Maurice Ashley. Copyright , Daaim Shabazz.

GM Maurice Ashley

GM Mark Dvoretsky, "Draw Offers Outlawed!" Ukrainian Chess Online, posted 4 June 2003.

GM Maurice Ashley, "The End of the Draw Offer?"  The Chess Drum, posted 8 March 2003.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 9 June 2003