GM Ashley recharges "No Draw" issue

Approximately a year ago, GM Maurice Ashley penned an essay titled, "The End of the Draw Offer?" and ignited a debate that has surfaced intermittently in the chess world. There have been many different suggestions for resolving this problem including everything from assessing .4 for white and .6 for black to abolishing draws altogether. The main notion of his essay was that many Grandmasters (including himself) have either sometimes or frequently fallen into the habit of  accepting draw offers before the game matures and the battle commences.

"But the draw offer, especially one that is made after ten or twelve perfunctory moves, seems just bizarre. Imagine a basketball game being played for a few minutes before both sides decide to stop and call it a day. "You know, we had long flight in, our players played last night and are a little tired. Would you like a draw so that we can all go out and have a beer?" Not only does that sound completely ridiculous, in some places the fans might start a riot! Even sports where ties are allowed (soccer, hockey, and, surprisingly, American Football) attempts are made to avoid this somewhat unsatisfying result. Most other sports resolve the problem in a clear way: basketball can go into three or four overtimes, baseball has extra innings, tennis has the tie-break, and golf has some kind of playoff."

Excerpt from GM Maurice Ashley's, "The End of the Draw Offer?"

After Ashley's controversial essay, he put his ideas into action by organizing a theme tournament where no draw offer would be made before move 50 (with a few exceptions). To violate the rule would mean that the players would forfeit partial compensation as outlined in the contract. The idea was a rousing success as games were hard-fought and received worldwide attention. One year later, Ashley has revisited the debate and asked
IM Gregory Shahade to invoke the "no draw" rule in a New York Masters tournament. Shahade agreed and the 102nd New York Masters tournament gained a historic footnote. After this successful experiment, Ashley wrote an interesting story about the tournament.

Read, "Generation Chess at the Masters"

Posted by The Chess Drum:  3 June 2004