Reports | June 29, 2010 16:26

What would you do?

Kasparov vs USAYou'll probably remember the 13-fold repetition in the game Bok-Van Wely at the Dutch Championship, two weeks ago. Afterwards Van Wely was fuming that his young opponent didn't use the opportunity to get more experience in a real fight. As GM Luke McShane pointed out, something similar happened in a clock simul between Kasparov and the USA in 1988.

What would you do, when you played the world champion in a simul, with the white pieces, and you have the possibility to repeat moves in a theoretical position? Would you go for it, being able to tell your friends that the man couldn't beat you? Or would you consider it bad ethics, like Kasparov, who argued that the White player should always play for a win?

In his June 10 column for the online version of the Daily / Sunday Express, GM Luke McShane picked up the Bok-Van Wely story, and demonstrated a clear parrallel with the 1988 clock simul between then World Champion Garry Kasparov and the USA, held in New York City. This event was beautifully depicted for TV and can now be found on YouTube in three separate videos (due to YouTube's 10-minute limit).

The second video shows Kasparov being clearly upset when IM Daniel Edelman goes for the draw in the well-known Sveshnikov sequence 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Nd5 Qa5+ 10.Bd2 Qd8 11.Bg5.


McShane argues that a simul and a tournament game are quite different situations.

My opinion is that forcing a well known draw (when there are more interesting options available) in an exhibition game like a simul really is spineless. Bok's decision certainly wasn't brave, but is harder to judge. Apparently he was aware that he could play on with h2-h4, but wasn't familiar with the position. I'm sure his opponent was, and that's a serious handicap against a stronger player.

I've occasionally gone into games eager to face my opponent's lines A, B or C, but accepted that if he chooses D then I'll be content with a draw. Maybe Bok was tired that day, or judged that his overall tournament would benefit from a draw. Any competitive player can sympathise with those feelings. As for gaining experience, Bok probably learned more about chess psychology from this game than he ever would have normally!


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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Martas's picture

Imagine there is a new rule saying "White is not allowed to repeat position 3 times if possible". It looks like both Garry and Loek were trying to force their opponents to play according to such a rule and in both cases their opponents refused giving their stronger opponents advantage. If stronger player offers a draw by repeating position twice, he can't blame his opponent for accepting it by third repetition.

Pieter Priems's picture

If van Wely want to win he has to chose a other line or opening against Bok. It's not right to blame Bok for the draw.

Patrick's picture

ik zou niet 13x herhalen hoor , na 3x papiertje tekenen , en Loek bekijkt het maar ! :)

Grijandel's picture

Taking a draw in a simul is ridiculous, in an official tournament it's not.

Henk's picture

I even remember an opponent I BEAT belittle me for an opening line I played with white in a (non-rated) game at the famous Open Jordaankampioenschap in Gambit in Amsterdam. It was a fairly strong player (about 2200) and he really made my day when I told him I appreciated the freedom of chosing one´s openings and that he would have to find another customer for his ´advice´. he fumed away and refused to analyze the game lol, which was a good tradition at that place. I will not embarass him by outing his name, but it was a weird, funny incident.

jussu's picture

I second with GM McShane and the commenters so far. In a tournament one plays for points (BTW, Bok didn't do too bad in the end), while in a simul the only reason to play is fun and making a short draw there is just ridiculous.

S's picture

Anything to piss of Kasparov. Apart from that, McShane is right..

iLane's picture

I don't understand if Kasparov did not want the draw why didn't he deviate with the normal 13...Be7 instead of repeating Qa5+? But even if he did not like Be7 after any other legal move Kasparov should win against an IM. :)

gilbert's picture

Yes, that's what amazes me too about all this: Kasparov is the one who initiated the draw by playing ...Qa5 in the first place. Against the argument: "you are white" I would have responded: "you are Kasparov, is this how worldchampions play?". About the same I would have said against van Wely: "you are the GM, is this the best you can do?"

Assuming people should be happy to play against you is an absurd egocentric way of thinking. Also, playing for a draw and not admitting it (e.g. by saying the other should have avoided it) is just sad.

TMM's picture

I agree with the comments above. There's a big difference between a simul game (which does not count for rating, norms, etc.) and a real, official game. In fact because of the draw Benjamin Bok managed to get his 3rd IM-norm and the IM-title. How is that weak or bad ethics? It's totally understandable and practical.

iLane's picture

May I ask what is the use of being IM or GM if people are disgusted looking at your games? I think chess should be fun and not some kind of race for better stats...

Vlad's picture

Absolutely ridiculous from Kasparov side!!!
You do not want a draw? Go for Be7 variation then!

Castro's picture

I find it amusing (in the sense of ridiculous) an opponent trying to say what the other player should do (or should have done). Ridiculous, when not simply frustration and unsporty spirit. A laugh in the face, is what those "gentlemen" deserve.
That said, a most different thing is what I would do in a particular situation, and that can depend on circunstances.
If I thought I could win, most certainly I'd continue to play.
If it implyed great probability of losing, and I didn't feel very imaginative that day, maybe I'd content myself whit a draw, against a stronger opponent.
And certainly it wouldn't be because of playing white that I'd feel "obliged" to play on!
That's a terrible excuse from the frustrated (theoreticaly stronger) part that didn't avoid a situation where HE cannot win.
Play (if you want) and let play.
Save stiupid comments for criticising yourself or your friends, and show respect or stay at home!

Castro's picture

Now I saw the video!
Kasparov at his "best"! LOL
One thing would be if he had been hired to give some chess lessons to some promising american masters. Then he would be well, giving his advices, and provoking some mind stimulae.
Other most different thing is what he has done, which is simply public lack of respect for millions of people, and for chess. He used to those things, ok.
What a nerve, and what a ridiculous image of himself! LOL again!

Castro's picture

And no, NOT a difference tournament/simul on this!
A master accepts to play a simul, so he is going to play various chess GAMES.
He must respect his opponents, or else... STAY AT HOME, YOU ABUSER!

john's picture

Taking a quick draw in a Kasparov simul? Totally spineless! Give the seat to somebody who wants to play! What a waste.

Castro's picture

One thing I know:
If I was playing (against a well known master or not) a game (tournament or simul) and he dared to take that stupid position, he would see the shame that would fall on him!
Seeing the video, I have one more reason to regret not to be one of the american players (other than not having enough chess skils :-) ):
That pseudo-gentleman master was going to see some lesson, I garantee you!

Frans Konings's picture

Het is zeker niet zo dat Loek bewust vanuit de opening op een remise-variant heeft aangestuurd. Hij zag dat Benjamin met 10.e5 afweek van een partij die hij eerder tegen Carlsen had gespeeld. Pas toen drongen de consequenties van 10.e5 door en zag hij dat ie alleen remise kon ontwijken door enorme risico's te nemen. Verder speelde het feit dat hij met kabels vast zat vanwege het "emotie"-experiment een rol natuurlijk. Het was daarom misschien beter geweest (van Chessvibes o.a.) om Loek niet te letterlijk citeren op hetgeen hij direct na de partij heeft geroepen. De agitatie was groot natuurlijk. Hij speelt overigens vandaag ronde 1 van de World Open! (Phildelphia).

noyb's picture

I respectfully disagree with Garry Kimovich. There was not an onus on anyone to take or avoid a draw. If Garry Kimovich was unsatisfied with the outcome, he should not have permitted it.

Arne Moll's picture

Weird reasoning by McShane. In an exhibition match or game, nobody cares about the chess. Kasparov knows this as no other surely. It's all about looking good and tough to the press and the spectators and making an impression (however 'unrealistic' to real chess players it might be!) on the general audience - in fact pleasing the audience (and the sponsors!) is the most important thing. Kasparov is a master at doing this, but why should he have the monopoly to do it? If an IM can do it by scoring a draw against the best player of all time, who's gonna care it was a book repetition?

S's picture

But you still didn't say what is so weird about his reasoning..

In a simul, for the players, it is of course about the chess. You get the chanche to play a super GM, you use it.. Most players will agree on this. So Mc Shane's reasoning is perfectly logical.

Vlad's picture

To play opening variations leading to a forced draw against GMs is a common strategy in US open tournaments. What we are talking about?

Castro's picture

Forced (book) draw or not...
Audience and sponsors or not...
Tournament or simul...
Best player of all time (Fischer ;-) ) or not...

Respect chess, and respect your opponent.
If you don't want a draw that your opponent (in ALL of his right and ethic) is allowing, YOU play different!
Indeed it's a pity those abusing masters never tried to tease/insult me in that way.
Damn abusing prima-donnas!
And I'm happy to provide Peter my ID, and accept an arrangement for a public game, in case one of them would like to try.

Castro's picture

And more!
It is supposed to have an arbiter, even in simuls! Where was the arbiter? How could he allow those speaches and general abuse? Play if you want, play quiet and respectfully, and accept draw offers if you want.
Stupid comments and actitudes, save them to some wall, run against one! :-)

Poek's picture

In the clock simul, the other American youngsters were disadvantaged by the short draw (since it would mean Kasparov had more time for the remaining games). But it might have been clever if they all had agreed to play at least 30 moves, so there would be more chance that Kasparov would get into time trouble.

Arne Moll's picture

@S: McShane specifically says it's spineless to force a well-known draw in an exhibition game, but this assumes (incorrectly, in my opinion) that such games are about "chess". I think they are more about image, making a show, perhaps having a sensational result (and a draw against the Boss certainly is). Otherwise, why not just play a normal game, eh?

I remember witnessing a Kasparov simul where a friend of mine was one of the participants. Kasparov blundered a piece right after the opening against him, so he had to resign. Should my friend have been more 'generous' towards Kasparov and not grab the piece so the spectators (or indeed Kasparov himself) could enjoy the game longer?

In fact, even though his victory was extremely uninteresting from a "chess" point of view, he was interviewed on a big commercial network station and won an at the time very cool, expenive cellphone for playing the best game of the evening (of course awarded by the audience and the organisers, who apparently were quite happy with this "silly" game.)

Rick Massimo's picture

For what it's worth:

In Part One of this video, Edelman, the very person who is taking the repetition, says before the game that if Kasparov offered him an early draw he wouldn't take it.

In Part Three of this video, most of the players are analyzing their games with Kasparov. It's friendly, fast and it sure looks like a fun learning experience. Edelman, of course, isn't there, because what is there to analyze?

call_ me_ishmael's picture

Kasparov tried to pull a fast one. He thought he could force his opponent to make a weak move on the twisted logic that he would have to play on against the world champion.

If Gary wanted to play on he should have been the one to deviate and not expect his opponent to play a weak move and then chastise him when he doesn't.

Someone's picture

Excuse me, If I am not mistaken the way to avoid the draw for black, in Kasparov's case, was to play Be7 which is THE main line in the oppening !? Therefore unlike Loek, he had an acceptable option to keep on playing thus he was the one seeking draw.. Well if you play a world champ, you also excpect that he will go for the win.

Webbimio's picture

I think the sequence of the game was rather 10)Bd2 Qd8 11)Bg5, and not 10)Nc3 like written above, witch gives black the advantage after 10)... Be6! threatening b4

Webbimio's picture

For Ismael: Kasparov didn't ask white to play an "inferior move" (otherwise it means that black has a FORCED DRAW in the Nd5 Sveshnikov), but only to play one of the normal ways he commonly uses to avoid such repetition and fight for an advantage.

Peter Doggers's picture

Oops, of course it was Bg5-g2-g5. Sorry, corrected.

ssehc elpmis's picture

Recycled article from chessbase...

Peter Doggers's picture


Castro's picture

Some people just accept beeing mislead.
The moves have nothing to do here!
The point is
1. Allowing any kind of draw that is on the board is a prerrogative anyone must have, and not being criticized (let alone in public and during the game itself!!). And of course no insults, before, during or after! Never.
2. Play your game, respect your opponent, and play quiet! Accept draw offers, if you want, and respect valid draw claims, if the opponent puts one.
3. Deal with frustration yourself. Even if you are good at chess, don't try to disguise things, belittling(?) and insulting others in the process. Or else, I hope I'll be the next of your victims!

Boris B.'s picture

Castro, just for curiosity and amusement, what would you do if you were in Edelman's shoes?

Castro's picture

@Boris B.

I hope something like you'd do yourself!
I'd imediately protest he was breaking rules of chess and manners alike.
In case he would't stop and apologise or, at least, an arbiter impose it on him, I'd cease imediately the play, and not only he (and everyone) would hear from me, but maybe also a writen protest was in order.
He is imensely superior in playing chess, but must behave and everything will run smoothly and gentle, or else he may be put in his place: That of an abuser.
Capisce? :-)

ssehc elpmis's picture

Peter, you might as well post this link (like you did in the WCC a couple a months ago) then you don't have to bother creating a new one ;-)

santa's picture

In the late 80s, Karpov is in Melbourne, Australia, where he gave a simul against some club players and some celebraties.

IM Robert Jamieson was one of the celebs, his days at top-level chess ended but still rated at about 2400. He was quite happy to take a draw, it was news and gave K more time for the other games.

Ron Barrassi was another. Unknown in Chess, but a famous (Australian) football coach and journalist. His draw was news.

Another participant was (I think I have the name right) Stephen Bartholomeesz, a finance journalist. I guess he got a draw too.

The principal purpose of having a famous player in for a simul is publicity. Players will value the memory, of course, but an event such as this (especially when the master doesn't win all his games) might get reported where chess is not ordinarily reported.

As for the Bok game! I was watching it on FICS, and could hardly believe my eyes! A pair of dills, was my verdict. Surely, the know the rules regarding claiming draws?!

If the opponent was visibly upset, I guess that might be some reason to repeat again, but either player could claim a draw by right.

Drongoes, I say!

chess fan's picture

Filmpje en partij van Bok valt niet te vergelijken, Bok wilde een norm scoren en daar hoort een halfje tegen van Wely gewoon bij.

Wel een fantastisch filmpje :-)

Peter Doggers's picture

@ssehc elpmis Aha, your point is that this article was recycled from a Chessbase article. This makes absolutely no sense to me.

  • If Chessbase posts a YouTube video, we shouldn't do it anymore or something? We can't bring anything that they already did? You can answer this for yourself, but I'd like to add: Have you ever thought of the idea that there might be people who don't read Chessbase?
  • The Chessbase article was about Kasparov's clock simuls. This article is about the relation between the Bok-Van Wely game and the Edelman-Kasparov game, adding GM Luke McShane's point of view. There's a clear relevancy.
4i4mitko's picture

"Have you ever thought of the idea that there might be people who don’t read Chessbase?"

yes that's me

Loek van Wely's picture

It seems many people are missing the point here. It's not about me, it's about Bok. Bok is a talented junior and shouldn't be happy to make a draw like that.He has beaten strong players, so why shouldn't he be able to beat me, I also do make mistakes. If his goal is to become IM, I wish him good luck, but he should strive for higher goals. And when you strive for higher goals, you should take any opertunity to get experience and learn, simple is that. If I would consider that my opponent wouldn't have any future in chess, I still would disagree but I could have understood it better, but since I respect his chess, for me it was inacceptable
Ofcourse I wanted to win, but the question is, at which price.Choosing the right opening for that is a delicate matter. Those who claim I should have played a different opening, I challenge them to come up with an alternative, otherwise better shut up

jan van der marel's picture

It shouldn't be a problem for a professional chessplayer to find an opening to beat a weaker opponent, or outplay the opponent with a 'normal' opening. That's the whole point about being a pro, in my opinion.

I remember that when I was young and had to play against a strong opponent, I thought: wow, wouldn't it be great to make a draw against him! Blaming Bok for doing the same, is totally ridiculous. If you want to be an IM, whats wrong with drawing against 'strong' GMs and winning against other IMs?

Strange reaction from Mr. Van Wely, but I guess its someone reacting under his name.

Castro's picture

@Loek van Wely

Master van Wely.
Sure, you had good intentions regarding your opponent. But...
(sorry for numbering)
1. Wouldn't the best "lesson" be simply taking imediately the draw? You're a very experient and excelent GM, you'd easily "survived", while he would keep an empty and frustrating taste himself, right? Specialy because he would notice you had given his "achivement" no importance at all, a value zero...
2. I find it natural you didn't want to variate from that sequence of moves, even if just that day. But Bok's behaviour had also nothing for one to be disrespectful on him!
3. Those advices you are giving, they are precious, and maybe indeed master Bok should take them. Until then (and allways) everybody should simply play and let play, in all correction and respect.
4. As for insulting, I hope you were friends, so everything could have been taken jokingly (and so, not insulting, after all!)
5. I seeze the oportunity to warmly salute you. Please believe my apreciation, I'm a great fan of your chess for decades!

Castro's picture

There is another thing people usualy forget:
It could happen that day Bok was also in a particular mood himself.
Maybe he was mentaly prepared for drawing against van Wely at the first oportunity, he could even be not feeling so well, or so "chessy" that day.
Why denigrating the "promising youngster" based on what he did? Even if it was plain fear of losing, he must be respected, but (as eveybody else, including van Wely), he may have "higher" reasons!

Loek van Wely's picture

@ Castro

1) Why should I take the draw when I don't want the draw? If he wants the draw so badly, he can claim it, but I am not going to facilitate him

2) I already had chosen a different line from what I normally play ( the Najdorf), just to surprise him, but my opponent seemed to be quite well prepared for that. He was even aware of the move h4 (instead of Bd3) which is, in fact quite dangerous for black

3) Bok gets a wildcard from the federation, and I guess there is an idea behind that (which is definetly not taking draws like that). It comes with some obligations and doing so, might end up abolishing the wildcard idea for juniors

4)After the game, I spoke out my mind to one guy from the tournamnent, but he didn't use it and he wasnt supposed to use it. How it came to chessvibes and into the rest of the world? Apaerently Peter Doggers spoke to the guy, didn't even bother to check it with me, didn't even bother if he should publish it, or not, he was just looking for a score. Me and Bok we are ok, after the tournament we played some blitz so he had some chances to catch up regarding experience and learning :)

Castro's picture

@L. van Wely

(now sorry the caps... :-) )
Of course, then, it all seems normal, and ok, EXCEPT for that observation about de federation, and wildcards, etc.
You must admit there must be people not seeing it your way, namely Bok himself, and I, because as I told you, one must admit Bok COULD HAVE HAD good and respetable reasons to contemp himself with a draw, in some given circustances, that day, and so those observations can be taken as baseless belittling of an opponent.
Glad if he didn't take them like that, but if you realy have that opinion (that he wasn't meritory of a wildcard, because of your game), how about putting the problem to the federation, rather than in public. Because, I repeat, it's more than understandable people thinking the opposite, and it's a hard (at least polemic) point of view for you to support (and it involves some other player's merits, of course).

Loek van Wely's picture

@ Castro

I think it'sabout time you stop trying to find excuses for Bok taking the draw.
When people start whining and find excuses for not playing, you show no character and won't be able to achieve anything in life

Castro's picture

@L. van Wely

I did nothing of the sort.
I said he didn't need any excuse. the posibility of having "better" reasons than mere "fear" or mere "not wanting to play" would only increase your unjustice towards him.
So, surely that isn't what you wanted to tell me, if anything.
As for the rest you wrote, I'll just tell you something I refer before:
I'm waiting for someone having the nerve of being incorrect with me during or after a game where I proposed or took a draw!
That would be a show!


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