Sofia rule

Should it be obligatory?

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Sofia rule started at Mtel Masters

There are only a few days left to the start of Mtel Masters 2007. Besides being the strongest tournament of the last several years, Mtel Masters brought an important debate into the chess world. It includes a simple rule that pretends to make the chess games more attractive to the general audience. The rule states:

“The players should not offer draws directly to their opponents. Draw-offers will be allowed only through the Chief-Arbiter in three cases: a triple-repetition of the position, a perpetual check and in theoretically drawn positions.”

The rule functioned well and made Mtel Masters 2005 and Mtel Masters 2006 very exciting. We saw fighting chess and all fans were pleased with the level of the games. It is clear, Sofia rule directly eliminates the possibility for fast (less than 15 moves draws). However, skeptics still debate if the Mtel Masters rule is the key to making games exciting. Here are some alternative suggestions and their effects:

1. Draw offer can be made after a certain number of moves have been completed.

Positive: This is a logical alternative of the Sofia rule since it will eliminate short draws as well.

Negative: It does not prevent draws in unbalanced equal endgame positions. Exactly there is the moment where chess gets exciting for the majority of the audience.

2. Every win is encouraged by financial incentive. The players receive parts of the prize fund not according to their final standing, but according to the number of games won.

Positive: Encourages the fighting spirit and makes the games exciting in unbalanced positions.

Negative: It is not fair for a player that drew all his games to take as much money as somebody who lost all his games.

3. A change the pointing system. For a win are rewarded 3 points, one point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss.

Positive: Encourages fighting chess, eliminates short draws, and increases importance of endgames.

Negative: Requires solid organization by FIDE and major tournaments to apply a global change. It will also be difficult to adjust to for experienced players.

4. Give different points for games drawn with black and white (0.45 to 0.55 for example).

Positive: Statistically it will bring down the number of draws by reducing the strive for draws with blacks.

Negative: This rule will make many last round games a draw for securing a certain place in the table.

There are many more interpretations of the need for change in rules. Obviously none of them is perfect. We would love to hear more options from you, the readers. Also, we want to hear your opinion on the pros and cons of Sofia rule. We are looking forward to your mails.

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Chess media about Sofia rule