Playing for a Draw – How NOT to Do It

This and the next column will look at the vexed question of how one should approach a game, when a draw is a sufficient result from a tournament perspective. The temptation is to play directly for a draw, choosing a quiet opening, eschewing all risk, chopping wood at every opportunity, etc. But in practice, this is nearly always wrong and has frequently resulted in disaster. This week’s game is a classic example. In the last round of the 1991 Interzonal, the then-Russian GM, Mikhail Gurevich, needed only a draw against Nigel Short, to reach the Candidates. He adopted the approach described above, beginning with his second move, and was soon suffering. He lost, missed out on the Candidates’ and his meteoric career never fully recovered.

Steve Giddins