Is a draw a legitimate result? Unquestionably. Is an agreed draw legitimate ? Not really. It cheats spectators. The Sofia Rules which ban draw offers is one anti-draw rule. Another method is to ban offers till move 40. Of course, if two players are determined to draw, they can just play out a variation, which ends with triple repetition. There are other nuances. Specific blockaded, drawn positions and endgame fortresses can arise. In such cases, the 50-move rule applies. Players can call in an arbiter to sign them off early.
The Euro Championships at Plovdiv banned draw offers till move 40. All offers had to be made via arbiter. All repeats had to be ratified by arbiter. Blind application of this led to an absurd default in round 9. Plovdiv in fact, saw defaults by zero-tolerance, default due to not calling arbiters, and default by Daylight Saving Time when the Georgian squad reset internal clocks incorrectly.
The double default in Tal Baron Vs Eltaj Safarli was absurd. The game was drawn by repetition in 14 moves and the players didn’t bother to call in the arbiter. Another double draw-default knocked out second-seed Shakhriyar Mamedaryov and Alvar Alonso Rosell though here the players broke the 40-move rule by agreeing to draw in 19 moves without repetition.
The draw via arbiter convention needs retuning. Whatever one may think of the (absence of) fighting spirit between players who opt for a 14-mover, calling in somebody to count till three is absurd. Given the defaults, Ilya Smirin and Sebastian Maze made a point by repeating 13 times (!) to reach move 40 before agreeing to draw.
Dmitry Jakovenko ignored these distractions to swing one of the biggest wins of his career. Jakovenko went 8.5 from 11 rounds, finishing with three wins. He was ahead of a pack of 13, who all scored 8. Top-seed Fabiano Caruana and Dutch prodigy Anish Giri had disappointments. Georgian IM Shota Azaladze and his untitled compatriot Davit Lomsadze managed GM norms despite a default each. The 14-year-old Israeli FM Avital Boruchovsky and 15-year-old Russian FM Kirill Alekseenko also logged GM norms.
The diagram (Jakovenko Vs Fressinet, Euro Plovdiv 2012), WHITE TO PLAY, was a clinical dissection from the last round. Black may have looked for chances against an exposed king.
22.f4! Qe4 23.Nxe6 fxe6 24.Be2 Nd5 25.Kf2! It takes guts but the king is safe 25...Qb4 26.Bc4 Qxb3 27.Bxb3 Nc7. The endgame is winning - white’s bishop is a much better minor piece and black has multiple pawn weaknesses.
28.Rc5 Kf8 29.Re5 g6 30.h4! Kg7 31.h5 Rf8 32.g4 Rff7 33.Rg5 Rd7 34.hxg6 hxg6 35.Bc2. The kingside is wiped out 35...Kf8 36.Rxg6 Rxd1 37.Bxd1 Rh7 38.Bb3 Ke7 39.f5 exf5 40.gxf5 Ne8 41.e4 Nd6 42.f6+ (1-0).
Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player