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I offer a draw... or I resign! Part Two

  • GM Gserper
  • | 8 sep. 2013
  • | 37457 x bekeken
  • | 43 reacties

"History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

                                                    - Mark Twain

The following game was played just three weeks ago at the FIDE World Cup in Tromso, Norway:

I hope you were able to solve the puzzle above, as it wasn't that difficult. Though now you are probably wondering why the result is posted as a draw even though White clearly just checkmated the Black King. The reason is pretty simple: In the game White didn't play 43.e4 checkmate, but instead delivered a perpetual check by 43.Nd6+.  

So how could a Super Grandmaster miss a simple checkmate in one? "Elementary my dear Watson!" as Sherlock Holmes would say.  In this game, all Tomashevsky needed to qualify for the next round of the World Cup was a draw... so draw he did!  It has nothing to do with him being a very nice young man (which he is!). It has nothing to do with him not wanting to upset his opponent.  He didn't see the checkmate simply because he had already seen a draw in advance, and that was all he needed.

You think that explanation is too outlandish?  Here is a similar example:

Now tell me my dear readers, was it difficult for you to spot this forced checkmate in three moves? You say 'no'? But while Black was thinking about his 41st move (for a grand total of maybe 10 seconds), GM Lev Psakhis was offering a bet to everyone that Black would not find this checkmate in three moves.

You'll be amazed to learn that no one accepted the bet! The reason is very simple.  This was a tiebreak game in a big knock out tournament in Tilburg (Netherlands) and Black needed only a draw to knock out his opponent. As every experienced player knows, a lonely Queen cannot checkmate an opponent's King, unless the King is surrounded by his own pieces that take away the escape squares.  

Therefore, I remember that when I saw that by playing 41...exd4 I leave my opponent with a lonely Queen and my King has plenty of moves, I didn't look for anything else and just took the Bishop.  That's why I am pretty sure that when Tomashevsky saw a perpetual check he didn't even bother to look for anything else.  

This funny situation repeated in my game vs. Yermolinsky:

After he realized that his crazy attack had finally fizzled out, and that he could not possibly checkmate me any longer, Yermolinsky didn't even bother to analyze the position (since a draw or a loss was exactly the same for him) and repeated the famous line of Korchnoi: "I offer a draw...Or I resign".  

I didn't bother to analyze the position either and didn't want to cause more pain to a nice person, so I agreed for a draw even though I was sure that my position was winning. In fact,it is a dead draw since the Black King cannot escape from the perpetual check!

So, as you can see, the line "I offer a draw...or I resign" was used at least two times by Grandmasters.  But what about the Tal's "When I want to win against Benko, I win; when I want to draw, I draw!" ?  That was surely unique, right? Well, as it turns out it has a "Great Predecessor".

Here is a game from the last round of the famous Carslbad tournament.

Here Wolf offered a draw but Rubinstein declined, even though he needed just a draw to win the tournament! Let's see how the game continued:

And again the most attentive readers definetely noticed the result of the game marked as a draw which means Rubinstein didn't execute this combination.  

Here is how the game ended:

After the game Rubinstein was asked why he didn't play 24...Rh5.
Rubinstein acknowledged that of course he saw the combination and added, 'With Wolf, I make a draw when I want to, not when he wants to!'

The story doesn't end there! The same opponents played a game in the same location 16 years later. Rubinstein had an advantage and avoided a threefold repetition of the moves (remember 'With Wolf, I make a draw when I want to, not when he wants to!') only to blunder and resign four moves later!

 I can only quote Mark Twain once again: "Truth is stranger than fiction!" 



  • 20 maanden geleden



  • 2 jaar geleden


    @ bobbyDK: that's a good one!

  • 2 jaar geleden


    in a tournament a player was worried about the position so much that he offered draw after his move and other player accepted the draw.

    both players must have been worried sick cause nobody noticed that the player that offered actually mated the other person with the last move. the tournament leader who is usually a international arbiter ruled that the game was a draw because both players agreed to a draw and mate was irrelevant...

  • 2 jaar geleden



  • 2 jaar geleden


    obrigado !!!

  • 2 jaar geleden


    Agreeing to draws before a game is one of the things that has really bothered me about tournaments.

    At least I'm not Bobby Fischer against the Soviet Chess Machine. No wonder he played so aggressively. It must have been absolutely maddening to fight for every point and see a dozen or more guys getting half points and resting up. Fueled him to try and study even harder.

    It's a shame the US did not subsidize his career. :(

  • 2 jaar geleden


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  • 2 jaar geleden


    47. Ke3? was certainly a Rubenstein blunder, and so was 48.Kd3??  After 48.Rxd5 exd5 49.f4 it's not clear how Black can win in spite of being up the exchange. 

  • 2 jaar geleden


    WhereWhyWhen  : I agree with you, I will never understand why so many people think of draws that aren't draws as a sign of a gentleman.

    I quit otb chess because I didn't want to spent my free time getting mad over people openly in front of the tournament leader agree to a draw before a game. if in round 3/7, two friends are matched they just agree to a draw and go eat and are totally relaxed afterwards.

  • 2 jaar geleden


    A nice interesting article. 

  • 2 jaar geleden



  • 2 jaar geleden


    This would not happen in any other sport. So Ronaldo why did you miss the penalty in the 90th minute, well I knew we only needed to draw to advance!!

    I would have thought even though GM only needed draw, he still would notice checkmate like this, and kill the game. 

  • 2 jaar geleden


    I posted that first game in the comments to part 1 of this article.

  • 2 jaar geleden


    Pretty clever!

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  • 2 jaar geleden


    This is weird. 

  • 2 jaar geleden


    Yermolinsky vs. Serper  - could also finish up with Qxg2 right?

  • 2 jaar geleden


    if we make draw in fear of making blunders. we might as well make computers play. chess is a human game because we make blunders - otherwise we have eliminated human factor.

    like Bobby Fischer said many offer draws in chess so that they can conserve energy for the next rounds.

  • 2 jaar geleden


    There is a story about Henrique Mecking, the great Brazilian player. It was the last round of the Brazilian championship. He was still young and was playing against an experienced player. Mecking only needed a draw to win the championship. During the adjournement, the other player suggested that they could draw. The answer from Mecking was: "I suggest that you may resign!" And the other guy resigned...

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