Dangerous Draw Offers


Premature or Prearranged draw agreements 

The USCF has a rule about this, make sure you understand the consequences before you offer a draw...

This is what the USCF Rule Book - 5th edition, has to say:
14B6.  Premature or Prearranged draws.  It is unethical and unsporting to agree to a draw before a serious contest has begun.  The same is true of all arrangements to prearrange game results.  In case of clear violations of the moral principles of the game, penalties should be imposed at the director's discretion.  See also 20L.  Manipulating results.
20L Manipulating Results.   Collusion to fix or throw games, whether before or during the game, in order to manipulate prize money, title norms, ratings, or for any other purpose is illegal and may result in severe sanctions, including revocation of USCF membership.  Such agreements include arrangements to split prize money no matter what the result of the game.  See also  Chapter 6, USCF Code of Ethics.
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This is one of the most controversial rules in the USCF handbook and one that is hotly debated by everyone from beginners to masters.  No matter what the debate, the rule is there and if TDs announce that they follow USCF rules they need to follow it. 
There are three main discussions on this rule:
1)  It's not cheating!
Quite simply yes it is.  Here's why... Let's suppose that two players are tied for first going into the last round with a score of 4 points.  Player 3 and 4 are tied for second.  There are three different scenarious that can happen:
Player A wins
Player B loses
Player C wins
Player D loses
Results would be:
1st place - Player A
2nd place - Player C
3rd place - Tie between Player B & D
Player A & B agree to a draw before the game or make one move and agree to a draw
Player C wins
Player D loses
Players A & B end with a final score of 4.5
Player C has a score of 4
Player D has a score of 3
Players A & B either share the prize fund, play blitz for an award or computers break the tie.  They both receive 1st or 2nd place.
Player C wins 3rd place
Player A loses
Player B wins
Player C wins
Player D loses
Player B wins 1st
Player C & A are tied for second and depending on the rule of the tournament will either share a prize fund, play blitz for the award or computers will break the tie.
So... when Player A & B agree to a draw they are cheating player C out of a possible second place award. 
2)  You can't make people play a game if they don't want to!
That is true.  But if you're here to play five rounds of chess, you should do that.  Trying to manipulate results with a draw is unsportsmanlike and if collusion can be proved is illegal. 
Now, let's say two players go into a game agreeing that they'll make 20 moves and then offer a draw.  But, one of them blunders a queen because they aren't really taking the game seriously.  The other player is under no obligation to make or accept the draw.  And, as happened in a recent tournament between two teen chess players, one player may very well decide to play the game out for the win.
3)  All Grandmasters do it.
Oh come on!  If a Grandmaster robbed a bank... would you do it too?   The fact is that not ALL grandmasters do it.
Here's what Hikaru Nakamura has to say about a draw offer he received at the North American Open held in Las Vegas, December 2005:
"Being as I had the higher rating, Ibragimov was dropped to another 5, Perelshteyn, while I got White against Mitkov. I was surprised by this pairing because my dad and I had calculated that I would, in all likelihood, be playing Akobian. Strangely enough, before the round an intermediary asked me if I would "give Nikola (Mitkov) a draw for compensation!" I promptly replied by saying "no, I play straight chess!"
Then, Hikaru reported Mitkov to the Tournament Director.  So... don't think for a minute that ALL Grandmasters accept prearranged or premature draw offers.  There is honor in this game of chess as long as there are honorable people playing it!
Trying to fix or manipulate a result with a draw offer is a very dangerous thing to do. 
Sportsmanship and honor are an important part of the game. 
If you attend a Clatskanie Chess Club event, you need to know that we give double forfeits to players who prearrange or prematurely offer/accept draws.  If you are an adult or a student, come prepared to play all games to the best of your ability, even if it's against a team mate or a family member. 
Remember... when you play on a top board - you are in the unique position of being a role model for others.  What you do and how you act sends a very strong message. 
Never Give Up - Never Surrender is our motto. 
We mean it.

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