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Best Draws

 A page dedicated to the greatest draws ever played. 

What makes a great draw? 

To some people, this topic probably conjure up images of swindles. Games like the famous {U.S. Championship} encounter between GM Larry Evans and GM Samuel Reshevsky. (Reshevsky was winning easily, but allowed a brilliant draw by perpetual check - perhaps severely short of time.)  But this is precisely the kind of game I am NOT talking about! 

I am talking about a great (well above-average) game, where both sides play a good, solid game of chess. A game that is both well played ... AND sound! A game where both players showed great (no, exceptional) creativity, courage & heart, fortitude, etc.  NO  gross oversights,  NO (!!) casual combinations that are a result of a blunder, or even the failure of one side to even try and anticipate what his opponent is attempting to do. (A total lack of real defense by one partie.)

I had one game like this years ago, but I lost the game score ... so I will (sorrowfully) never be able to subject this game to a deep, computer-assisted analysis. (In this game, I drew a 2400+ player in a tournament on the east coast. The game was adjourned twice and went over 80 moves.)

 "The 100 Best," by GM A. Soltis

A book was just recently published that is totally dedicated to the very best games of chess of the 20th Century,  ---> with the games ranked in order of a fairly carefully weighed score. Of course Soltis is one of the best and most prolific authors in the whole of the U.S.A. in the last 25 years. Two of the draws he considers great are:

  •   Mikhail Tal - Lev AroninMoscow, 1957.  (Game # 12 in Soltis's book.)
    This is a great game of chess, although I have yet to subject it to a deep, computer-(chess engine)-assisted analysis. But this is still one of the nicest draws ever made. Soltis gives both sides about 15 exclams, with a few double-exclams thrown in for good measure.

    Maybe the greatest draw of all time? (Maybe.)

  •   Svetozar Gligoric - Robert J.  ("Bobby")  FischerBled (YUG), 1961. 
    (Game # 23 in Soltis's book.)  An ultra-sharp game where White seems close to winning ... but a super-human defense by Black saves the day. Soltis - once again - showers this game with exclams and rates it only a point or two from perfection in several categories ... most notably an "18" in soundness.

    Another really great draw, and perhaps it belongs in the "Ten Best" list.

Many people used to count the game,  GM Bobby Fischer - GM Mikhail Tal;  (FIDE Olympiad, Leipzig/W. GER/1960);  as one of the greatest draws of all time. But GM Andy Soltis rates this as THE most over-rated game of all time. This used to be one of my favorite games, and I still have a great sentimental attachment to it. But after reading and analyzing GM Soltis's notes, I must (mostly) agree with him. This game contains many mistakes and errors. It is far from being a perfectly played game of chess, there are many other draws that are nearly perfect. 

A few of my favorite draws  -  LM A.J. Goldsby I

I have dozens of draws I am enamored of. But here is a short list of the few that stand out in my mind - right now, at the current time.

  •   Laszlo Szabo - Arthur Dake;  FIDE Olympiad. Warsaw, Poland; 1935
    A complicated draw in 53 moves. I have used this game as a BENCHMARK test to evaluate computer programs strength dozens of times over the years. I often see the evaluations constantly "flip-flop" as they try to peer into the vast depths of this game. A game of super-human complexity. 
    (I am still not sure - in December, 2003 - what the correct outcome of this titanic struggle should have been.) 

  •    IM Boris Kreiman - GM Larry Christiansen;  The U.S. Championships.
      Seattle, Washington. (U.S.A.) 2002.
    A game that took several weeks to convince me that White did not miss a win with 33.Qg2. Larry plays an incredible defense, one that aspires to sheer perfection. Black has to be willing to get only a Rook and Pawn for a Queen, but trust to his instincts and his evaluation of the position to hold the draw. Easily of the best, most entertaining and gripping draws I have ever had the pleasure to analyze.  

  •   GM V. Kramnik - GM G. Kasparov;  'Brain Games'  World Championship;  Game # 4;  London; ENG 2000
    This is one of the most difficult games I ever had to analyze. It took ... 
    OVER TWO YEARS!!!!  ... to finish properly annotating this game. A very long game, like 75 moves.  Eventually it resolves itself into the ending of King-plus-Rook-plus-Knight vs. King-and-Rook. (Which is drawn, according to most theoretical manuals. And there were a couple of preludes to this final  ending.) And I spent a great deal of time corresponding with other Masters and learning about this ending. (It has only actually happened a SMALL handful of the time at the GM level.) If it is all sound, it is easily one of the longest and most difficult draws ever played at the World Championship level. 
    (I am still not sure if I got it all right, or if White maybe didn't miss a win somewhere. 
     -- June 12th, 2003: I just got the book on this match by GM  Raymond Keene. Apparently White may have missed a win on move 59. Although it is not iron-clad, Keene's analysis looks convincing.) 

    I worked on this game, on-and-off for  over  two years! The ending was so complex, I would go through a series of 5-10 moves for like 2 hours. I did not write anything, I did not comment. For the most part, I was simply baffled. I did not really comprehend the rhyme or reason for these moves. (I believe an annotator should at least understand the game he is commenting on.) And I repeated this examination process...  over and over   ... and over again! Eventually - after OVER two years of effort - and (deeply) learning about 10 different endings that are directly associated with this game - it was like a light went on. I suddenly understood at least what the players were trying to do and what some of the basic aims and goals were. To say this is a complicated game is a huge understatement. I struggled with this game as much as the Petrosian-Fischer game - that I analyzed in my youth. A tremendously difficult game. 

  •     Fritz_X3D - GM Garry Kasparov; "Man vs. Machine" WC Match Game Four (# 4.) / 1st Chess Match played in Virtual Reality  
        Athletic Club / New York City, NY (USA) / November, 2003. 

    Dec. 20th, 2003 - I just spent over a month deeply analyzing this game. Probably for over two weeks, I analyzed this game - with the aid of a chess program - for at least six hours a day. I also watched the tape of this game over and over and over again. (I recorded the match on my VCR when it came on TV.) 

    After all this time and effort I am convinced of many things: 
    # 1.)  Both sides played nearly a perfect game of chess; 
    # 2.)  It was - easily! - one of the most exciting games of chess I have ever witnessed or studied in depth; 
    # 3.)  The tactics of this contest were enormously complex. The pundits on the Internet and even the commentators continuously failed to find the correct move or correctly predict the course of the game;  
    # 4.)   Much of the analysis - and much of what has already been written about this game - was simply dead wrong. (For example, one on-line news service gave a light annotation of this game shortly after it was played. Virtually ALL of their variations were dead wrong!! And this analysis was prepared by a well-known GM!);  
    # 5.)  The outcome of this game was virtually pre-determined by the depth of each side's opening preparation.

    I was also shocked because Game One was a fantastic draw ... and I had already stated that another draw this interesting would not be played for perhaps another 50 years!!! If you have time, you should  check this out! 

Stay tuned as I try to put together my own list of the ten greatest draws of all time.
If you know of a really exceptional (GM) game,  send it to me

  Copyright (c) LM A.J. Goldsby I  

  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 1985-2014. 

  Copyright A.J. Goldsby, 2015.  All rights reserved.  


  Page last up-dated:  June 23rd, 2004.