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.


Castro's picture

Ah, sorry, forgot to call atention to the fact that, other than you couldn't be adressing me in the "finding excuses for Bok" thing, you also insist on letting funny insinuations on the "charater" of an opponent, and didn't adress the core of my post, namely that regarding the "wildcard and federation" thing.
So, it became worse. But ok, here I put my opinions, and information of what I'd do, in case something of the sort should happen to me.

Loek van Wely's picture

@ Castro

I am afraid you belong to the category of people who will never understand it..
but thanks for showing it anyway
And regardless you and draws, who cares? you havent' been there, so you don't know what it takes get there, not even to speak about what it feels to be there

Bert Oskelhaar's picture

Well @Loek van Wely

end a discussion with the words : You will never understrand it"
Is such a fail. If you cant explain it it seems to me Castro is pretty right ;-)

Loek go play chess cause your social skills really sucks

jan van der marel's picture

1. Can anyone confirm if this is the real Loek van Wely commenting; I guess its someone writing under his name.

2. ' [...] you show no character and won't be able to achieve anything in life.'

Is moving pieces over a board all day such an achievement??

Castro's picture


Master van Wely,
I tried to allow a most "friendly" closure for this, but...
I happily recognized my inferior chess level, and admiration for yours (though of course it would be greater, if I had your level: I'd apreciate it in full!)
Now, I garantee you it has nothing to do with the matter discused here, and if you think it serves to confuse, it don't.
I know about chess and playing chess perheaps better and for longer than you think.
Common artifice: Talking about different things, including about things you don't know.
Go on, imagining, dividing people in "categories", and giving absolutely no importance for all the things I said.
But now you know not everybody eats garbage, nor accepts unconsiderations.
I truly believe all your intentions are good, but other people deserve some understanding and respect too, and I think your position on this may lead to unaceptable situations, in what competitive chess is concerned.
Unless he is your friend and everybody understands it is a joke, you cannot moke on your opponent, nor raising unjustified antisportmanship acusations on him!
As an opponent, I wouldn't allow it without consequences, that's all.
(And I could go for a repetition at move 15 or so, even playing white. It happened once or twice.)
I'm sorry (though not regreting) if you'd prefer not to have this "disturbance" from me. I also feel not so well the fact that I'm not fully identified, so, in order to assure you, I'll give Peter my elements for your private use. Pls feel free to contact me. (As if you cared for such! :-) )

john's picture

Bok should be ashamed of himself.

Johan's picture

@jan van der marel

I don't think that 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." It is not something that happens automatically but still requires a lot of effort and is not always succesful.

Is it really "totally ridiculous" when someone is blamed for something because you agree with that person? Apart from the obvious differences in both situations: Since when has your way of thinking become the standard by which everything is judged?

You remark: "If you want to be an IM, whats wrong with drawing against ’strong’ GMs and winning against other IMs?" is completely missing the point. Only becoming an IM shouldn't be the goal of Bok, who has more potential (according to Van Wely).

I don't think it is a strange reaction from Mr. Van Wely, but it's clear that he overestimated the ambitions of Bok.

I would like to see a reaction from Chessvibes on Van Wely's remark about how his private comments found their way to the internet.

jan van der marel's picture

@ John

I don't get your point. Mr Van Wely is a strong GM and in my opinion should find a way to beat a much weaker opponent. He simply doesn't have a repertoire that is big enough to do so. Of course its not easy, but he's the pro.

'Only becoming an IM shouldn't be the goal of Bok'. Why not, dear John? Whats wrong with becoming an IM first? Appearantly you know what his goals should be.

'Is it really “totally ridiculous” when someone is blamed for something because you agree with that person?'

I've read this sentence three times now, but really... no clue what you mean by it. I don't speak for 'the standard', whatever that may be, but for myself.


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