Saturday, July 16, 2005

When is a draw not a draw?

Some weeks ago, SMH columnist, Peter Parr wrote something rather curious: "IM Zong-Yuan Zhao (2420) was in a class of his own winning every game he actually played in the World Rated St George Leagues Club Championship."

You can view the article here. Whatever did he mean?

It turns out that IM Zhao had played only six of his 9 games and did, in fact, win all of them. His other 3 games were draws. Or were they?
We now know that these games never took place. They were merely verbal agreements, far from the board, between IM Zhao and his respective opponents. The important point to keep in mind here is that they ALL agreed. So the question is, does an agreement to draw, by a phone call, say, constitute a proper draw agreement as defined by the Laws of Chess? I think not.
The relevant Article is 5.2.c:
"The game is drawn upon agreement between the two players during the game. This immediately ends the game. (See Article 9.1)" [emphasis mine]
There's another aspect to this story - that of ratings. All games from the above tournament were submitted for FIDE ratings, including the 3 non-games in question. This is interesting because the FIDE rules on ratings are quite clear: "Whether these [unplayed games] occur because of forfeiture or any other reason, they are not counted."
Having said all the above, I should mention that the DOP who ran the show, Dr Charles Zworestine, is a man I respect very highly. He has been a regular DOP at many tournaments I've played in going back to my very first ever - the Queen's Birthday Weekender in '96. There was no "fix-up" of results. The 3 non-games submitted for ratings were not, as some have suggested, "figments of his imagination". Indeed, on checking with Dr Z, he was - himself - unhappy with the situation. It was simply an unavoidable situation.

But these questions remain:

1.) what constitutes a proper draw agreement?
2.) should the 3 "games" in question have been counted for ratings purposes?

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