The Re-Emergence of FIGHTING CHESS!!

Much has been said recently about the "drawing epidemic" plaguing the chess world. The problem is not new and there has been much talk about a remedy. Some of these suggestions stem from revaluating the draw (awarding .6 for black and .4 for white) to eliminating the draw altogether! GM Maurice Ashley hosted the "Generation" theme tournament where players signed an agreement not to agree to a draw before 50 moves (see coverage below). There has been interesting dialogue in a number of magazines and websites around the world including the recent incident at the U.S. Open where two top players were threatened with a double-forfeit by attempting to play a one-move draw (Read Mig's Daily Dirt, #137).

Despite this problem, there is another trend that is coming back in vogue… fighting chess. If chess fans saw the recent Mainz match between GMs Viswanathan Anand and Judit Polgar, (pictured right) there is no doubt that this brand of chess has now become fashionable once again… ala Bobby Fischer. The games in the Mainz 2003 match between Anand and Polgar featured eight games of "rock 'em sock 'em" chess… and ended in a 5-3 win for Anand. The Indian Grandmaster stated that he was pleased with the games and looked forward to studying them.

GMs Viswanathan Anand and Judit Polgar battle in Mainz Rapid 2003. Photo by Franz Jittenmeier (

Photo by Franz Jittenmeier

GM Vladimir Kramnik has even employed the contentious 1.e4 and his games have a much sharper edge than his former surgical style. However, he was quoted in a recent interview after his nine-draw result at Dortmund,

"1.e4 games are more difficult to play because I don´t know the positions so well. But playing it is more interesting than 1.d4. Now I can play both, I am in a situation in which I can choose, and in general I am happy with that. But you also have some doubts, and sometimes you don´t get it right."

Other young lions such as GMs
Ruslan Ponomariov and Teimour Radjabov play a brand of chess that is exciting and creative. It should go without saying that playing sharp, fighting chess does not always mean that it is "better" chess. In examining the games of players like GMs Anatoly Karpov and the late Tigran Petrosian, no one would say that these players are not fighters, but in the age of computers and databases, we are seeing more players adopt sharper lines of play and eschew the plodding positional style.  It is certainly a welcome trend in a time when players are so quick to call a truce after a few moves., "Anand pulls off hat-trick win at Mainz Chess Classic."

Replay Anand-Polgar games

The Chess Drum, "GM Ashley's essay questions ethics of quick draw offers," 8 March 2003.

The Chess Drum, Generation Chess International Tournament (no draws before move 50).

Posted by The Chess Drum: 22 August 2003