Do you offer draws?

Rob raised the question of ‘draws’ and the vital statistics of same: Here’s an interesting article that I’ve just pinched off the Internet that gives a lot information and comparisons:

World Champion Tigran Petrosian was known to be almost impossible to beat. He’s your man. Study his games and legacy.

Per Wikipedia, he lost 1 out of 129 Olympiad games. Olympiads are top-notch tournaments and the score is over 20 years of play. He’s not a flash in the pan.

In his 8 Euroteams competitions (held every three years from 1957 to 1983) he lost -0- out of 52 games. His team won the competition every time.

Then I started poking around in and I started looking at win/loss/draw ratios.

I made a list of all world champions since Botvinnik, including the weird ones where FIDE lost control.

The three players with the best win:loss ratio (in order): Kasparov (6.62), Fischer (4.87), and Petrosian (4.38). Kasparov dominates. (Only Karpov and Botvinnik are in the same class as these three.) I expected Kasparov and Fischer to be in this list. I was surprised that Petrosian was there, to be honest. But we see that he was very much able to score the win (see yesterday’s post). He’s about like Fischer in this regard.

The three players with the best win:draw ratio, in order: Fischer (1.7), Botvinnik (1.22), and Kasparov (1.02). Fischer dominates. No other players are in their class. I attribute this to an uncompromising aggressive desire to win. No half measures. Petrosian was not afflicted with this mentality. If it did not fit, he did not force it.

The three players with the best draw:loss ratio, in order: Petrosian (6.74), Kasparov (6.52), and Kramnik (6.25). Spassky and Karpov trail. No one else is close. This means that even if you had an advantage over one of these players, you’d have to work like mad to score the full point.

The three players with the best win+draw:loss ratio, in order: Kasparov (13.14), Petrosian (11.13), and Kramnik (9.73). Each is dominant over the next. Karpov and Spassky follow Kramnik closely. This reflects upon the difficulty of scoring the full point. An opponent would twice as likely to nick a full point off Carlsen than Petrosian. Ouch. (I think this is a statistical fluke due to Carslen’s age…but it makes a good story.)

Finally, while I did not list it, Petrosian has one of the lower win:draw ratios. He was more than willing to accept a draw if he could not see how to secure the win. Other players with a similar win:draw ratio do not possess Petrosian’s compensating win:loss ratio, however.

This rather defines his style, I think. You can see here a player who will defeat you if you aren’t careful. He is patient and takes few chances. If you get ahead of him, he’ll likely wear you down, into a draw. And if you err, he’ll crush you.

fun facts for the world champions…

In the 4 ratios I looked at (w:l, w:d, d:l, and w+d:l)…

Kasparov is the only player who made the top-3 in all 4 ratios.
Petrosian is the only player who made the top-3 of 3 ratios.
Fischer and Kramnik both have two top-3 honors, but also each have a bottom-3 honor.
Botvinnik is the only player with a single top-3 honor.
Topolov and Carlsen each have three bottom-3 honors.
Carlsen excepted, the three champions from the weird FIDE years (Ponomariov, Kasimdzhanov, and Topalov) have the lowest W+D:L ratios. There is a marked just in score difference between them and the next lowest scored player (Smyslov). Find the clue.” Thanks to whoever wrote this. It’s difficult to tell on the website, from which I stole it!

Here’s a game by somebody who was once called the ‘Drawing Master’, Petar Trifunovic. He was never World Champion, but here he destroys one of the greatest (Tal) who, to his credit, as you would expect tells the story against himself:

Mikhail Tal: <One of these losses was as White to Trifunovic. I was already well acquainted with his tenacity, and before the game Geller and I selected one of the variations of the Queen’s Gambit, but while the high-speed lift was taking us from the 28th floor of the hotel ‘Havana Libre’, where we were staying, to the ground floor, I suddenly thought: ‘Why play the Queen’s Gambit when there’s the King’s?’ I began to play sharply, which is always not without its dangers, the more so when one is playing ‘creakily’. In short, by move 15 my position was already in ruins. Although I felt that it would be worth offering a draw, for Trifunovic might well accept – he had drawn all his games up till then! – I didn’t have the courage to make this ‘move’. Some ten moves later I resigned.>

Trifunovic-the drawing master!

Mikhail Tal

Number of games in database: 2,832
Years covered: 1949 to 1992
Highest rating achieved in database: 2705

Overall record: +1115 -295 =1276 (65.3%)*

Petar Trifunovic

Number of games in database: 699
Years covered: 1935 to 1966

Overall record: +194 -65 =440 (59.2%)*


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