You will notice that the number of today’s puzzle “101” may be split up into “1”, “0” and “1” – no draws! “Will to win” is an important component of playing strength in chess.

I can remember many times when I have gone through one of my student’s games and we come to a position where they offered/accepted a draw.  I ask “why did you offer a draw?”   They reply “Because I couldn’t see how to win.  I reply “So?” can you see how to win on move one.   Why don’t you just play on and see what happens.  If you play better than your opponent you may win.   If you play worse you may lose or it could still be a draw.  Good players are not afraid  of losing and have the confidence to play on to “test” their opponent.   I have won many games from boring, level or even inferior positions by just playing.   Also if your opponent knows that you will not accept a draw it places him under considerable psychological pressure.

IM James Morris faced this situation in round 2 of the City of Melbourne Open 2011.   He was playing a lower-rated opponent and he had perpetual check with his rooks doubled on the seventh rank.  Should he take a draw or should he play on.   You decide.   The position is as below.

[fen caption=”White to Play”]k6r/2R2R2/2p3r1/8/1P6/2p5/P6P/7K w – – 5 46[/fen]


James decided to spurn the draw and play for a win with 1.Rf2 but after 1…Rd8 2.h3 Kb8 3.Re7 Rgd6 4.Rff7 it was too late as 4…R(6)d7! wins.   If 5.Rxd7 Rxd7 6.Rxd7 c2 and the pawn queens.    Good fighting spirit James, but on this occasion the wrong decision.  Next time however, you may be luckier and win.   May the spirit be with you.