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3 points for a win?

Last week’s poll question was provocatively titled: ‘Should the World Championship match be for sale?’ And no, overwhelmingly you don’t think anyone who puts up enough money should have a shot at the world title.

Poll-WCforSale

One of last month’s poll questions was ‘Will the World Championship be held in New York this year?’ Most thought it would, and it seems you are right, as AGON announced a venue for the November match in “lower Manhattan in the historic South Street Seaport”. Good luck to all concerned.

This week, with the football season just started in Britain, a perennial topic seems timely. What do you think about changing the chess scoring system to 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw?

I was going to say that it has always been 1 point for a win, ½ for a draw, but I would be wrong about the ‘always’ part. Colin McNab reliably informs me that Dundee 1867 was the first international tournament to award half-points for a draw. Before that, drawn games were usually replayed until there was a winner.
 
So what do you think? 3 points would encourage attacking play, and discourage the Berlin draw-machine? 3 points is an abomination that devalues hard-fought draws?

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  1. Chris
    August 15th, 2016 at 16:54 | #1

    My opinion is quite easy. 3 points for a win and i will stop playing. ?

  2. August 15th, 2016 at 17:20 | #2

    No.

    1) Chess is inherently a zero-sum game. Making the scoring system asymmetrical is aesthetically displeasing.
    2) By changing to 3-1-0, you are now giving an incentive to pairs of players in a double round robin to cheat by having them each throw a game to the other.
    3) The number of times that using a 3-1-0 system actually changes the winner of the tournament is relatively small anyway.

  3. Hard Truther
    August 15th, 2016 at 17:24 | #3

    Chess is now an intellectual backwater, soon to be nothing more than a complex game of tic-tac-toe, the greatest players now just doing memory tricks to punt computer derived lines.

    Accept it for what it is//was…. a once great game to which all these saving efforts are wasted and silly.

  4. barkis
    August 15th, 2016 at 20:58 | #4

    No.

    High draw rate is only a problem for the world’s elite. Normal players win and lose most of the time.
    Change the system for the world’s elite if you want to, but not for the rest of us.

  5. Tobias
    August 15th, 2016 at 22:49 | #5

    @Hard Truther
    I wonder why you still read/post on chess blogs… Just to be negative? Us enthusiastic chess players certainly won’t let you destroy the fun for us!

    No, I don’t think the system should be changed. The vast majority of players, except maybe the world elite as barkis points out, plays an abundant amount of mistakes, opening up for opportunities to win or lose. All the opening books from QC (and other publishers!) are full of mistakes of top-players in the opening, stating “now XYZ should have played this move with a great advantage”. Nobody can remember all that. Also, not only the recent Topalov-Aronian shows that there’s plenty of play even in endgames.

  6. Ray
    August 16th, 2016 at 06:04 | #6

    @ Hard Truther

    The ‘drawing death’ has been declared many times to the game of chess – even long before the advent of chess computers (e.g. the Capablanca – Alekhine match with almost all games being a Queen’s Gambit). I don’t think the drawing rate is particularly higher today than it was in the past. It also has to do with the prevaling style of play i.m.o., and that depends to a fairly large extent to the style of the world champion. If in the future we get another Kasparov as world champion, the Berlin will become out of fashion (it is already becoming less popular, with more white players playing 4.d3). So, to summarise, no need to change the rules!

  7. Thomas
    August 16th, 2016 at 06:59 | #7

    @Ray
    I think the main reason is what Jacob mentioned. The same players are invited to the same tournaments over and over again. It doesn’t matter much if you score +1 or -1 in these tournaments as long as you don’t drop too low. You get appearance money and just a little price. No need to fight for anything, just defend your place in the top 10. So you play the Berlin. Every day.
    No need to change the rules, but a need to change the tournaments! Add more players, add weaker players, add rising players. Don’t go category hunting. What does the public want to see? Carlsen crushing an 2650-GM or Carlsen drawing another Berlin against Anand? Force them to fight to keep their level!
    If a top GM needs +2 or +3 to keep his rating and secure his invitations he won’t get it with 11 draws.

  8. Ray
    August 16th, 2016 at 09:44 | #8

    @ Thomas:

    I fully agree. Changing tournament set-up and invitation policy is a much better way. It’s indeed rather a ‘closed shop’ at super-GM level.

  9. Cowe
    August 16th, 2016 at 11:08 | #9

    barkis :
    No.
    High draw rate is only a problem for the world’s elite. Normal players win and lose most of the time.
    Change the system for the world’s elite if you want to, but not for the rest of us.

    well said.

  10. Keresest
    August 16th, 2016 at 14:18 | #10

    I agree very much with dfan. Giving players a further way to cheat is nonsensical.

    I disagree that inviting weaker players to tournaments is an answer. All that happens then is that the strong players agree draws among themselves and concentrate on bashing the weaker half of the field. Not very interesting to me. In fact, I think it’s been great to see so many strong tournaments with only elite players playing. One could even argue that this policy has still not been successful enough – sadly not since AVRO 1938 have we seen a double round-robin with the top 8 players in the world in it. I don’t think too many complained about the selections for that tournament! In my view, the main problem with the current tournaments is that they are too short – too many good players are left out, and there are not enough rounds to establish clearly who is best. More tournaments like Linares 1994 are needed – that would liven things up.

    Hard Truther of course does have a point. The draw death certainly is approaching in top computer and correspondence chess. The game will have to change at some stage and this will have to be faced up to. For now, the best ways to reduce draws without changing the game too much would be to get rid of the stalemate rule (even a top GM (Short) says this rule is stupid); the 3-move repetition rule; and not allowing agreed draws (unless blindingly obvious) in under 41 moves.

  11. Ray
    August 16th, 2016 at 14:38 | #11

    I don’t agree that the game has to change because of an approaching ‘draw death’ for computer / correspondence chess. These types of chess can totally not be compared with over-the-board play. Nobody can play like a computer at the board. It will possibly mean the end of correspondence chess, but who cares? Correspondence checkers has also been dead for a while (unlike over-the-board checkers), changing the rules won’t help. Even the game of go has been cracked by computers, but it would be silly to argue for a change of the go rules just because of this.

  12. Ray
    August 16th, 2016 at 14:42 | #12

    PS: I do like the idea of longer tournaments however, and would also like to plea for longer world championship matches. The first Karpov-Kasparov match had 48 games (before it was stopped undecided), and tournaments with 17 rounds were perfectly normal – those were the days 🙂 But who is going to sponsor that?!

  13. Keresest
    August 16th, 2016 at 15:03 | #13

    @Ray
    But this means more and more openings will be analysed out to a draw. Then it’s a memory game as Hard Truther says.
    I meant to say in my previous post, too, that (like over-the-board checkers) certain openings may eventually have to be banned, eg Berlin, exchange French, exchange Slav.

    Getting rid of the stalemate rule and 3-move repetition rule [make it 2nd player must vary or lose] would somewhat narrow the path to a draw right from the opening.

  14. Phille
    August 16th, 2016 at 15:04 | #14

    I think dfan has it pretty much nailed.

    I would add that it doesn’t even seem to be working, at least with the naked eye I didn’t notice sharper play in those tournaments. People who play sharp chess don’t need an extra incentive and solid players tend to keep playing solidly, at least that’s my impression.

  15. Keresest
    August 16th, 2016 at 15:22 | #15

    @Ray
    Agreed. I think WC should be 16 or 18 games. 12 is virtually a throwaway. 48 is crazy, of course.

    Maybe 17 (or longer) round tournaments could have two separate halves with two different sponsors in two different locations with a weeks break in the middle. Would this be a viable concept?

    Those were the days, indeed. Except that quick, unfought draws were far more prevalent then than now. At least most of the draws seem to have some effort now. We have the Sofia and no-draw-agreement-before-move-30 rules to mainly thank for that.

  16. Pinpon
    August 16th, 2016 at 16:34 | #16

    Fischer Random Chess can be the solution : at the very least it could replace Armaggedon games in tourneys or World Chess Cup.
    No Berlin , a new rating ( alongside with classical , rapid and blitz ) , and guess … a new world of opening books for chess editors ?

  17. Ray
    August 16th, 2016 at 16:53 | #17

    @Keresest
    I see your point, but I think it’s too pessimistic. I.m.o. it’s virtually impossible for a human being to memorise any opening to a draw. There’s just too many possibilities. True, the computer may have analysed a certain variation to a loss at move 60, but who’s going to remember all the possible deviations in between? At least I know from my own experience that it’s difficult enough to memorise even a limited repertoire. If e.g. the Berlin would really be analysed to a draw by computers, GMs move to other openings, as you see happening now with a general move towards Reti and English systems. And once those have been analysed to a draw as well, you simply return to the Berlin Wall because everyone has forgotten the ‘ forced draw at move 60’ 🙂

  18. Thomas
    August 16th, 2016 at 17:28 | #18

    Many are talking about the “good old days” when chess was more interesting.
    Was it? Or is the main difference, that there was no internet, any many games didn’t get noticed by the public? In those 16-player round robins, how many 12-15-move draws were there? What was Karpovs average score, when he was the best tournament player of all times?
    But there were different names, there were surprises, there were boldly played games.
    Where are the surprises today? If Giri plays 10-times a year against Aronian, what can you expect?

  19. Keresest
    August 16th, 2016 at 17:55 | #19

    @Ray
    For you and me, for sure, but not so sure with top GM’s (whose draw rate I think this discussion topic is aimed at). Seems to me there’s already too many lines that are forced draws, eg Najdorf Poisoned Pawn. And openings like Catalan, Grunfeld, Ragozin, Queens Indian seem to produce far too many sterile positions. Very hard to win with Black. Reti and English have already been my solution for some time now, but I often get the reaction (which I can understand) that I must be the most boring guy on the planet!

  20. Keresest
    August 16th, 2016 at 18:15 | #20

    @Pinpon
    Could be, though there is something about it that doesn’t appeal overly much to me, hard to say what. Maybe the game still feels flat once the Queens are off. More appealing to me might be something like one Rook being replaced with a piece that moves like a Rook + Knight, and one Knight being replaced with a piece that moves like a Bishop + Knight.
    Bughouse is huge fun, but requires a partner.

    I think a decently run FIDE would be starting to look into such possibilities and doing surveys as to forms that might be viable and what people might want. In 20 years time, it might be quite necessary.

  21. Keresest
    August 16th, 2016 at 19:37 | #21

    @Thomas
    Karpov was a little conservative, but Kasparov and Fischer often had blowouts.
    As I said, the 12-15-move draws are the one bit I don’t miss.
    It seems to me that it’s always been the way that the top players continually get invited to the top tournaments. They played each other many times in the old days, too. Korchnoi played Spassky about 69 times and Petrosian about 69 times. Geller played Smyslov about 56 times.

    I find the most interesting tournaments historically to be the ones with a large number of the very top players and a large number of rounds, eg
    Vienna 1882, London 1883, Hastings 1895, Nuremburg 1896, Vienna 1898, London 1899, Paris 1900, Ostend 1907, Carlsbad 1907, San Sebastian 1911, Carlsbad 1911, San Sebastian 1912, St Petersburg 1914, London 1922, Carlsbad 1923, New York 1924, Baden-Baden 1925, New York 1927, Carlsbad 1929, San Remo 1930, Bled 1931, Moscow 1936, Nottingham 1936, Baden-Semmering 1937, AVRO 1938, USSR Championships 1940, 1941 (Absolute), 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1969, 1973, Groningen 1946, Moscow 1947, World Championship Tournament 1948, Candidates Tournaments from 1950 + many Interzonals, Budapest 1952, Moscow 1956, Bled 1961, USSR Zonal Tournament of Seven 1964, Piatigorsky Cup 1966, Moscow 1967, Moscow 1971, Moscow 1975, Milan 1975, Bugojno 1978, Montreal 1979, Bugojno 1982, Niksic 1983, Belfort 1988, Linares 1991, Linares 1992, Linares 1993,…

  22. Keresest
    August 16th, 2016 at 19:55 | #22

    Linares 1994, Las Palmas 1996, Linares 1999, Wijk 2000, Wijk 2001, San Luis 2005, Mexico City 2007.
    Fantastic events, the like of which we hardly seem to see these days.

  23. Daniel
    August 16th, 2016 at 22:11 | #23

    I don’t think the pros really care about winning tournaments. What they want to do is keeping their rating at a certain level that assures invites to top tournaments and the appearance fees that go along with that. The players don’t care for playing risky lines that may jeopardise rating points in favor of trying to win a tournament. Getting 3 points for a win won’t change their style one bit.

  24. Ray
    August 17th, 2016 at 06:10 | #24

    @ Keresest:

    It seems Vachier-Lagrave is doing allright though with the Najdorf. The Poisoned Pawn may indeed be drawish on elite level, but there’s a host of other lines black can play. And from the white perspective, white is finding new ways even as early as move 6. I’m really not sure if the draw percentage today is significantly higher than in the past. I agree with Thomas that many of the big tournaments in the past had many short draws. And you had players like Georghiu and Andersson, who made a living out of drawing. These would today not be invited. Players like Nakamura, MVL, Aronian, Caruana, So, etc. play attractive fighting chess i.m.o. – so I really don’t see a problem. I think the key issue is that the defensive skills are much higher than in the past, so the drawing margin is fairly high – but you can’t fix that with banning certain openings…

  25. Fer
    August 17th, 2016 at 07:21 | #25

    When a tournament will decide to ban some openings, then probably it would be time to move to chess 960.

    Ray :
    @ Keresest:
    It seems Vachier-Lagrave is doing allright though with the Najdorf. The Poisoned Pawn may indeed be drawish on elite level, but there’s a host of other lines black can play. And from the white perspective, white is finding new ways even as early as move 6. I’m really not sure if the draw percentage today is significantly higher than in the past. I agree with Thomas that many of the big tournaments in the past had many short draws. And you had players like Georghiu and Andersson, who made a living out of drawing. These would today not be invited. Players like Nakamura, MVL, Aronian, Caruana, So, etc. play attractive fighting chess i.m.o. – so I really don’t see a problem. I think the key issue is that the defensive skills are much higher than in the past, so the drawing margin is fairly high – but you can’t fix that with banning certain openings…

  26. Fer
    August 17th, 2016 at 07:28 | #26

    @Keresest

    For me the matches Kasparov Karpov with 24 games were perfect.
    I don’t know anyone who like 12 games for the WC, as you said, is crazy, forced players to be conservative and it can be tricky at least there is a clear superiority of one them (as Carlsen has over Anand).

  27. Jacob Aagaard
    August 17th, 2016 at 07:38 | #27

    @Fer
    I think we have always paid too much attention to the World Championship. In the biggest sport, football, there is a much greater element of randomness to who wins; still the best teams win again and again, though not always. 12 games does insert a slight bit of randomness into the match, but it is still long enough for a clearly superior player to win, as stated. If the players are close in strength, why is it unfair that it is the one who brings the A-game that wins? Sure, you can get a more predictable result over 24 games, but fairness seems a much more pleasant goal to me. And there is nothing unfair about 12 games. It still gives the better player a fair shot without it being as random as a 2 game match.

  28. Tim S
    August 17th, 2016 at 11:41 | #28

    Keresest :
    Linares 1994, Las Palmas 1996, Linares 1999, Wijk 2000, Wijk 2001, San Luis 2005, Mexico City 2007.
    Fantastic events, the like of which we hardly seem to see these days.

    The candidates tournaments, Moscow 2016 and particularly London 2013 could be added to any list without being out of place. Plenty of other exciting tournaments too, even if they don’t fit the super long criteria – any event with Magnus certainly holds my attention.

  29. Fer
    August 17th, 2016 at 12:01 | #29

    @Jacob Aagaard

    I’m agree with you, some radomness is not bad, but I think that only 12 games can fear the players to take risks, what can generate more “boring/conservative” games, and finally, less impact in media.

  30. Keresest
    August 17th, 2016 at 16:38 | #30

    @Tim S
    Certainly agree about 2013 and 2016 Candidates tournaments. When I said “Candidates Tournaments from 1950”, this was meant to mean every Candidates Tournament ever held.
    It would seem that the only way to get such tournaments these days is as part of a WC qualification process. Unfortunately, this means the World Champion is not a participant.

    Certainly, the participation of Magnus adds interest to any tournament. But I would rather see him play 13 other top players rather than 9. Less of a randomness factor, too, so he is more likely to win such an event!

  31. Vandros
    August 17th, 2016 at 17:28 | #31

    How about 5-2-1 system?

  32. Vandros
    August 17th, 2016 at 17:41 | #32

    @Vandros
    Actually, I meant a 4-2-1 system. At least no one would leave a tourny with 0 points anymore…

  33. Jacob Aagaard
    August 17th, 2016 at 17:44 | #33

    @Fer
    I think the quality of the games are not so important for main stream media. Our main problem has been the players in the final, if you want more exciting games. Anand-Kramnik and Anand-Topalov were both very exciting matches.

  34. Keresest
    August 17th, 2016 at 18:00 | #34

    @Ray
    I suggested a raft of measures that would hopefully prolong the game a bit in a recognisable form. I am not saying that any one of them would be a complete fix, but each might help a little bit. Certain openings were banned in checkers as the only way to keep the game alive. I don’t really see why in the long run this principle couldn’t also apply to chess. In his introduction, John Shaw mentions the “Berlin draw machine”, so it is clearly a problem. If it proves to be an insoluble one, it is going to be a serious deterrent to playing the otherwise most interesting opening move 1.e4. Enabling the more interesting opening lines to be played would help prolong chess.

    It was myself who first mentioned the many quick draws in the past – and the measures taken to combat them (Sofia Rules; no draw agreements before move 30). I believe these measure plus the anti-quick-draw climate they created are the reason that the draw percentage is not significantly higher than in the past. But other problems are starting to close in.

  35. Paul
    August 17th, 2016 at 19:08 | #35

    One approach to effectively eliminating draws, which I am sure will be unacceptable to many people, is simply to follow every drawn game immediately with a blitz match played until one player is two games ahead. That player is credited with a win in the scoretable, but ratings are done appropriately with a draw in the classical rating list and the blitz games in the blitz rating list.

  36. August 17th, 2016 at 20:54 | #36

    As far as eliminating draws goes, I like the proposal I saw (I forget where, unfortunately) of making the two players play a new game with colors reversed, _without resetting the clock_. Repeat as necessary.

  37. Soviet School
    August 17th, 2016 at 21:06 | #37

    3 points for a win works fine in football as generally football players are not intelligent enough to cooperate and take advantage of the system and a team contest makes it difficult. Unfortunately chess players are too clever and will manipulatethe 3 points for a win system.
    I would love to see a tournament where stalemate was say worth 3/4 of a win as endgame play would become much more important and it would make little change to the game .
    The top tournaments seem to have plenty of decisive games, the last 3 candidates tournaments- the most import of all- seemed very exciting

  38. Thomas
    August 18th, 2016 at 04:20 | #38

    @Soviet School
    3 points for a win doesn’t work in football, there are neither more goals nor better games.

  39. Ray
    August 18th, 2016 at 06:01 | #39

    @ Kereset:

    In the past the Marshall gambit and the Russian were also seen as ‘drawing machines’ (and against 1.d4, the Queen’s Gambit has been a ‘drawing machine’ since Capablance – Alekhine). In general, after a few years players start to be fed up with repeating the same openings over and over, and move on to other openings. You see it happening today with the Italian being increasingly popular. Or, with the anti-Berlin 4.d3. There’s a whole new world out there waiting to be discovered.

  40. Gollum
    August 18th, 2016 at 06:39 | #40

    Ah! The famous death by draw! It has not happened yet, and it was a great worry a century ago… Chess is difficult and a draw is a part of the game, so I do not see the need to get all paranoid with it. Draws without a fight is a problem because they turn away spectators, but a battled draw is worth as much as a win in my opinion.

    Anyway, 3 points for a win is something that does not work. It has not worked in football (where you see the same win-draw-loss ratio), it has not worked in chess in the few tournaments that it has been used (the result is always the same as 1point win resolving ties with the number of wins). So I do not want it to be implemented.

  41. Thomas
    August 18th, 2016 at 07:46 | #41

    Ray :
    You see it happening today with the Italian being increasingly popular. Or, with the anti-Berlin 4.d3. There’s a whole new world out there waiting to be discovered.

    Maybe someone should write a 680-page-book on the King’s gambit.

  42. Ray
    August 18th, 2016 at 09:43 | #42

    @ Thomas:

    🙂

  43. Keresest
    August 18th, 2016 at 14:04 | #43

    @ Gollum: I would agree with you except that computers have changed the equation. It’s a bit like that nuclear weapons have changed the game of war between the Great Powers.

    @ Ray: Can’t say I’ve ever thought of the QGD as a ‘drawing machine’ [I think the Slav will eventually end up taking that honour]. White has always had pressure against it and has done relatively well against it. If you could guarantee me that opening every time, 1.d4 would be my main opening move. Capa and Alekhine weren’t trying very hard in a lot of those games. And towards the end, Capa missed two probable wins against it, as well as actually getting one. Then Alekhine got two.
    The Russian problem is not resolved either and may well be a good backup in the unlikely event that the Berlin fails. It’s simply that the Berlin has taken over as the more efficient machine.
    The Marshall would fully remain a machine had not a more or less acceptable way of getting around it been found. However, the anti-Berlin 4.d3 looks so modest, it’s hard to see this as a really serious try for advantage.
    Yes, 19th Century museum, beginners openings are becoming more popular by default. Indeed, I hope they work. But there were probably good reasons why they were given up.

    680-page-book. Heh-heh. Wait 10-15 years. The computers will produce a 68,000 page book containing 6,800 forced drawing lines.

  44. Thomas
    August 18th, 2016 at 15:50 | #44

    Keresest :
    Wait 10-15 years. The computers will produce a 68,000 page book containing 6,800 forced drawing lines.

    Who cares?

  45. Ray
    August 19th, 2016 at 12:10 | #45

    @Thomas
    You took the words right out of my mouth 🙂 . As long as you’re on your own at the chess board I don’t have the slightest worry about a ‘draw death’.

    Actually, I would also like to challenge the statement that at elite level there are more draws nowadays than in the past. Is this really the case? I guess someone will have taken the trouble to really look at the facts? If I look at the score tables of the big elite tournaments in the past I see a lot of draws anyway.

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