The Stanley Random Chess Files

On Draws in Stanley Random Chess

Draws are much rarer in SR Chess than Common Chess, although perhaps less rare than most players think. In this article, GM Topov discusses some of the conditions required for a draw, and analyses some games.

It is widely known that draws are much rarer in SR Chess than Common Chess, which is one of the reasons why the original form of the game has so much to commend it above Simplified SR Chess (traditional chess). One reason for this is that mutually agreed draws are illegal in SR Chess. Under ISRCA rules, players found guilty of making a Premature Draw Offer (P.D.O.) immediately have their Membership status in the organization downgraded to the Provisional Associate level, and upon a second offence are banned for life from tournament play. GM Walter Pittman of Los Angeles was the most recent player to be banned for this offence in 2002, although in his case the penalty was much more severe on account of evidence of piece-tampering and bribery of an associate adjudicator.

Draws are permitted however, and in fact are strictly mandatory when the following conditions are satisfied:

1. VH Conditions must be in effect (i.e. draws cannot occur prior to the 30th move).
2. Neither player must have a material advantage.
3. Any usual Forced IMR position must be non-Inveterate after the next move, thus reversible.
4. Neither player must have unranked pawns that meet a Statutory Pawn Condition.
5. Prior to the "Punto Intermedio" one player must have attained maximum modal squares of opposite colours.
(Law 373.3 "On VollenHauser, and Drawn Positions with a Forced IMR, non-Inveterate")

A somewhat symmetrical position increases the possibility of the fourth and fifth of these conditions being in effect, which is why it is usually avoided by the best grandmasters. Leopold Strauss has a brief chapter on draws in his excellent text "A Reexamination of Forced Inferior Material Resignations: A Guide to Winning Play under VollenHauser Conditions" (Belgrade Press, 1934). He makes mention of the fact that under the influence of two Italian grandmasters at the end of the 17th century, there was a short-lived movement in SR playing circles called "Gioco Per Tiraggio" ("Playing for the Draw"), but this movement was quickly abandoned when it was discovered that it required players to compromise lateral shift in the openings that were standard at the time.

Example 1: Quirine v lemme howdt (39th Annual SM SRC Championship)

[Event "39th Annual SM SRC Championship"]
[Site ""]
[Date "2006.03.07"]
[White "Quirine (NED)"]
[Black "lemme howdt (USA)"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]

1. f4 d5 2. Nc3 f6 3. d4 Nc6 4. e4 g5 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. exd5 e6 7. Be2 Bxf3 8. Bxf3 Bb4 9. Bh5+ Ke7 10. dxc6 bxc6 11. g4 Bxc3+ 12. bxc3 Kd6 13. Ba3+ c5 14. Rf1 Kd7 15. dxc5+ Kc8 16. Bf7 Qxd1+ 17. Rxd1 a6 18. Rb1 Nh6 19. Bxe6+ Kd8 20. Rf2 gxf4 21. c6 Re8 22. Rb6 Nxg4 23. Rb1 Nxf2 24. Kxf2 Re7 25. Rd1+ Ke8 26. Bxe7 Kxe7 27. h3 Kxe6 28. h4 Rh8 29. a3 Re8 30. Kf3 f5 31. c4 Kf6

Direct link to game

This game is a clear illustration of how the risk of creating the modal squares required to achieve a draw necessitates a weak pawn structure shortly after the "Punto Intermedio." Good players will usually be able to turn this into a win before VH Conditions come into effect. As a result, draws at the highest level are more rare than in casual play.

In the above game, it is 11.Bxc3+? that White plays which leads to this position. As you can see, it also creates some of the symmetry apparent at the end of the game. A strong player would usually respond with 11...Qxd4, and because the pawn on c3 would be frozen, white would be forced to play 12.Qe2, and after 12...Qxc3+ the game is virtually lost for White. But the game is certainly worth studying for its merits as a good contest between amateurs (24...Re7! gives good compensation to unbalance the light squares).

Example 2: SimianChatter v dopedog (SRC Challenge)

[Event "SRC Challenge"]
[Site ""]
[Date "2005.05.19"]
[White "SimianChatter (AUS)"]
[Black "dopedog (FRA)"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]

1. b4 e5 2. d4 Bxb4+ 3. Nc3 Bxc3+ 4. Bd2 Ba5 5. Rc1 exd4 6. Nf3 c5 7. h4 b6 8. h5 f6 9. Nh4 Bxd2+ 10. Qxd2 Nc6 11. Rh3 Bb7 12. c3 Nge7 13. h6 gxh6 14. Qxh6 Ne5 15. Qxf6 Ba6 16. Qxh8+ Kf7 17. Qxe5 Qf8 18. f4 d6 19. Qe4 d5 20. Qxh7+ Kf6 21. Qg6+ Nxg6 22. Re3 dxe3 23. Ra1 Nxh4 24. g4 Qh8 25. Rb1 Ke7 26. Ra1 Qxc3+ 27. Kd1 Qc1+ 28. Rxc1 c4 29. a4 Ng6 30. Rc3 Kd7 31. Rxe3 Nxf4 32. Re5 c3 33. e4 Rc8 34. Bxa6 Kd8 35. Bf1 Ra8 36. Rf5 Ne6 37. Rxd5+ Ke8

Direct link to game

This is a fine example of a rare SRC draw, once again in a game between two amateurs. Although both players adopted a somewhat light-hearted approach to the game, the final part of the game under VH Conditions is worthy of special consideration, particularly 35.Bf1. Note that while 35.BxRc8 would have set up a classic IMR trap sequence, in fact the Forced IMR position would be non-Inveterate after 36.Rf5 (necessary to occupy the important f5), and thus reversible. Instead, White plays 35.Bf1, enabling black to secure a draw after 37.Rxd5+. Note also that while 14.Qxh6? is a decent move in regular chess, here it creates maximum modal squares, thus opening up the possibility for the end-game draw. The unusual 14.Qg5 was perhaps safer.

It is self-evident from Conditions 1 and 2 that this draw was only possible because VH Conditions were in effect after the 30th move, and neither player had a material advantage in the final position.

Example 3: ++Allison++ vs GM neoliminal (Three For the Money)

[Event "Three for the Money"]
[Site ""]
[Date "2005.10.25"]
[White "++Allison++ (USA)"]
[Black "GM neoliminal (USA)"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]

1. Nf3 g5 2. Nxg5 d5 3. e3 Qd6 4. Bb5+ Qc6 5. Rf1 Qxb5 6. Ne4 Qb4 7. Ng5 Be6 8. Nc3 Qa3 9. bxa3 Bg4 10. Qxg4 h5 11. Qd4 Nf6 12. Nge4 a6 13. Nc5 Ra7 14. Qf4 Ng8 15. Nxd5 f6 16. Rb1 Bg7 17. Rg1 Rh6 18. Qd4 Bf8 19. h3 Nc6 20. Qf4 e5 21. Kf1 exf4 22. Nxb7 fxe3 23. Rh1 Nb4 24. axb4 Bc5 25. fxe3 Rxb7 26. Ne7 Bb6 27. Kf2 Nxe7 28. a4 Nc8 29. a5 Ne7 30. Rd1 Ba7 31. Ke2

Direct link to game

On this occasion the symmetrical aligning of both kings on the e file (after 31.Ke2) results in a Forced IMR position which is clearly Inveterate, after 31...Bb8 32.Bb2 Bb7, from which point it is reversible. It goes without saying that neither player has unranked pawns that meet a Statutory Pawn Condition, and in fact only one is over-extended, but blocked, thus preventing the Condition. As others have pointed out, technically this draw is classified as Ebenezer's Dithering Construct (2nd version, according to the 1904 Ruling).

In this game it is 9.bxa3 that resulted in maximum modal squares of opposite colours prior to the Punto Intermedio. While it gains material, the Carrot Gambit (8...Qa3) usually must be declined because of the unweighting of the pawns it creates, and of course the modality, which in this game led to the draw. Many players would instead opt for 9.NxB, with a Delayed Check to follow, after 9...Bg7 (necessary to preserve the diagonal, and retain counter-balance).

For a more specialized study on one particular draw sequence, see the article Titus Livius and the Saragossa Draw Position.

SR Chess GM Gregory Topov

Posted Tuesday - 2006-04-04 - 12:07:25 EST
by Staff Reporter Verdra H. Ciretop in Toronto
All Rights Unreserved - Loof Lirpa Publishing
Text may be freely copied & redistributed

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