chess William Hartston

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The Independent Online
After discovering, during the past five weeks in New York, that Americans hate draws, Garry Kasparov has announced some changes for next time. Stung by the jeering and booing with which the crowd greeted the prematurely peaceful conclusions of some games - hardly encouraging for his ambition to promote chess as a spectator sport in the United States - Kasparov has come up with an all-American solution: money. "The PCA will offer financial incentives to play through the game and not to draw," he said.

The idea of discouraging draws is not new. In some 19th-century tournaments, draws had to be replayed. In some events, a draw was scored as 1/4 of a point for each player, with the remaining 1/2-point at stake in the replay.

In the 1960s, Fide tried to ban quick draws altogether, with a law prohibiting players from agreeing a draw in under 30 moves without the permission of the arbiter. The rule was easily circumvented by players agreeing to repeat moves. And when that was banned too, an outbreak of spontaneous move-repetition suddenly broke out in international tournaments without any words passing between the players. One grandmaster would play Kh1 and smile or shrug, his opponent replied Kh8, then Kg1 and Kg8 quickly followed, and after another shuffle back and forth, one would claim a draw by threefold repetition. The anti-draw law was consigned to the scrap- heap.

Kasparov's latest suggestion sounds remarkably like the draw tax invented by Fide for the second Karpov-Kasparov match, when a levy was decreed on the prize fund of one per cent per drawn game.

There are, however, bad draws and good draws. A more subtle system would be needed to separate the no-score draws from the all-action draws.

Who could have denied Spassky and Fischer even one tenth of a per cent of their prize money for their splendid draw in game 19, which Spassky rated as the best game - "the most pure" - of their celebrated 1972 match in Reykjavik? With Spassky's brilliant 18.Nxd5!! (when 18...exd5 19.exd5 leaves White's central pawn mass dominating the board) met by Fischer's equally inspired 18...Bg5!!, even an American would have agreed that a draw was a fair result.

White: Boris Spassky

Black: Bobby Fischer

Alekhine's Defence

1 e4 Nf6 22 Qxd2 Bxd2

2 e5 Nd5 23 Raf1 Nc6

3 d4 d6 24 exd5 exd5

4 Nf3 Bg4 25 Rd7 Be3+

5 Be2 e6 26 Kh1 Bxd4

6 0-0 Be7 27 e6 Be5

7 h3 Bh5 28 Rxd5 Re8

8 c4 Nb6 29 Re1 Rxe6

9 Nc3 0-0 30 Rd6 Kf7

10 Be3 d5 31 Rxc6 Rxc6

11 c5 Bxf3 32 Rxe5 Kf6

12 Bxf3 Nc4 33 Rd5 Ke6

13 b3 Nxe3 34 Rh5 h6

14 fxe3 b6 35 Kh2 Ra6

15 e4 c6 36 c6 Rxc6

16 b4 bxc5 37 Ra5 a6

17 bxc5 Qa5 38 Kg3 Kf6

18 Nxd5 Bg5 39 Kf3 Rc3+

19 Bh5 cxd5 40 Kf2 Rc2+

20 Bxf7+ Rxf7 Draw agreed

21 Rxf7 Qd2