Best of CLO 2011 #9: Keep the Draw, Fix the Flaw by Tom Braunlich
January 23, 2012
Tomlead.jpgThe #9 article in Best of CLO 2012 was Keep the Draw--Fix the Flaw by Tom Braunlich. Judges praised the article’s thoroughness and  pro-active stance toward finding a solution to the high frequency of draws in Grandmaster chess. The article was partly inspired by a chessbase piece by GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov and a CLO article by IM Greg Shahade. Tom introduces his article:

Beautiful hard-fought full-length draws would still be appreciated and celebrated, as they should be. There is no attempt to outlaw draws (even boring short ones) or pressure the players to play a minimum number of moves, award more points for wins, or any of the myriad other artificial anti-draw schemes.

Instead, the new proposals simply say that all results must be decisive ... that a draw is fine but doesn't count toward the required decisive outcome, thus requiring further play. I hope to show here - with specific details and comparisons to other sports - that this simple change in attitude would have critically important positive ramifications for chess events and their potential popularity.

Tom Braunlich has previously contributed to CLO, including the Best of CLO award-winning 2008 article, “Playoff Theory” and “Move Theory.”   Braunlich is an expert on both creating and promoting games for the mass market, having worked as an independent professional designer for over 20 years with companies like Hasbro, Milton Bradley, and Parker Brothers. He has written numerous books including The Art of Game and Toy Design, and was associate editor of Official Rules of Card Games by the U.S. Playing Card Company. He was organizer of the 2008 Frank K Berry U.S. Chess Championship.

The Judges Sound Off
Read more about the judges here.

I really liked this article because the author proposes a new chess tournament variant called "Matchplay" in which every chess game must end in a decisive result. I agree with the author's thesis that chess needs last-round tension in its tournament structure to enhance excitement. I think that the time controls that the author proposes could be too long to sustain viewers’ attention, but I appreciated the creativity of the author's idea. Personally, my tournaments are G/15 rapid events with a three point for a win scoring system. I think that this could be a good system for popularizing chess tournaments- Galen Pyle

This is an interesting idea. I like it that Mr. Braunlich lists both the advantages and the potential criticisms of his system. Mr. Braunlich answered one of my concerns when he noted that this would only be used for “elite” events. The name “Matchplay” should be replaced with a name that is less likely to be misunderstood and more likely to attract the media- Rachel Lieberman

 Good article with explanations on the confusion that was created by some of the recent proposals. Club players are a little put off sometimes by the frequency of draws in Grandmaster games and would like to see more play I think.—Erik Murrah