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Dynamic Scoring

Ever since Wilhelm Steinitz revealed how to play Chess in a scientific fashion, attaining a sound position before attempting a direct attack on the opponent's King, Chess has been less appealing as a spectator sport than previously.

This problem was starkly illustrated in 2018 in the World Championship match, where twelve games played at normal time controls between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana were all draws, and the match was only decided by subsequent games played at shorter time controls.

Komidashi: Hope for a Solution

Honinbo Shusaku brought the quality of play in Go (as it is called in Japan; the game is known as Baduk in Korea, and as Weiqi in China, where it originated) to a new level. But by helping players to better understand how to play Go properly, he led to an era during which Black (the first player in Go) almost always won in high-level play - but usually by just a few stones - through solid defensive play.

Because games in Go are, in effect, won on points, though, then the problem could be fixed by decreeing that one first adds, say, 2 1/2 stones to White's count before comparing the two players to determine who won. This is komidashi.

And it solved the problem. It made Go exciting again.

It took time. Players playing defensively with the Black stones didn't need to win by more than one stone before; now that they did, they improved their play, and so the offset in the score became 3 1/2 stones... and later 6 1/2 stones or 7 1/2 stones.

The most important element in achieving the promise of komidashi was the emergence of players such as Go Seigen who showed how to play both in a more aggressive fashion and more successfully in the changed environment that komidashi created.

This success story is what I would like to see happen in Chess. But Chess is very different from Go.

In Go, there are many different possible outcomes to a game - White and Black control the same number of points on the board, Black is one point ahead, White is one point ahead, Black is two points ahead, White is two points ahead, and so on... on a board with 361 points available for the two players to control.

In Chess, checkmate either happens or it doesn't. So Chess would have to be changed before something like komidashi could be adopted.

Partial Victories

Chess games are won on the basis of whether or not checkmate takes place; they aren't won by the player who scores the most points. So there's no obvious way to apply a simple offset to the game. This is why something different is required involving a change to the game of Chess.

Emmanuel Lasker proposed, sometime around the year 1921, that the following scoring schedule be applied to serious Chess:

Checkmate      10 points -  0 points
Stalemate       8 points -  2 points
Exposed King    6 points -  4 points
Draw            5 points -  5 points

I only relatively recently became aware of his suggestion.

Independently, I thought that it would be reasonable to allow a player to put points on the board for stalemating his opponent, but I also felt that to avoid diminishing the importance of that portion of endgame theory which deals with not blundering away a potential checkmate into a mere stalemate, it was important for stalemate to be a lot less valuable than checkmate.

So I thought that it would be appropriate to split the points 3/5 - 2/5 in the event of stalemate; equivalent to the score suggested by Emanuel Lasker for exposed King above.

Simplified Dynamic Scoring

Since this page was first written, I have re-examined the concept of Dynamic Scoring, and after a first attempt at simplification, I have now simplified it again, in hopes of achieving something that it might be possible to consider adopting.

So I've decided to advance this proposal, which is only slightly more complicated than Edward Lasker's:

White score    Black score      Result
 100              0             White checkmates Black
  60             40             White stalemates Black
  50             50             Draw
  49             51             Black subjects White to perpetual check
  40             60             Black stalemates White
   0            100             Black checkmates White

White always winning by a slight margin would be as boring as the game always being a draw; since Black is at a disadvantage, the slightest of victories, therefore, is only counted in Black's favor.

This scheme is simple because for the two victory conditions shared by both players, the score is split the same way for both players: 100-0 for checkmate, and 60-40 for stalemate. Black and White are differentiated only by the 51-49 split for perpetual check being only available to Black.

I had considered including Bare King in the scheme, because historically it had been counted as a form of victory, but since some say that this would put too much emphasis on hoarding material, thus contradicting the spirit of Chess with its emphasis on checkmate, I have decided to exclude it. Perpetual check, like stalemate, are both dynamic victories similar to checkmate, however, at least in my opinion.

However, there is a drawback to not including Bare King, since that detracts from the goal of making draws almost impossible. Upon reflection, I think I've come up with a way to compromise between the alternatives.

Instead of making an award in the actual game outcome for Bare King, only grant tiebreaker points for it. And divide the tiebreaker points into two tiers: first, the number of times each player bared the other player's King as Black is counted, and then if there is still a tie, the number of times each player bared the other player's King as White is counted.

And after that, it seems reasonable to me to also count the number of times each player inflicted perpetual check on the other player as White as yet a third level of tiebreaker.

And, if a match, after a generous fixed number of games, is still a tie, then the distasteful expedient of playing more games with tighter time controls could be resorted to.

Later thought on the subject has led me to an even simpler variant. Credit stalemate by splitting the point 2/5 to 3/5 in favor of the stalemating player. But award two levels of tiebreaker points for perpetual check: perpetual check by Black earns a major tiebreaker point for Black, while perpetual check by White earns a minor tiebreaker point for White. In the event of a tie, the major tiebreaker points are counted first, and only if the tie remains are the minor tiebreaker points counted.

This keeps the point scoring simple, and it also addresses the fact that, since perpetual check is easy to achieve, White's advantage could play too much of a role, and needs to be countered.

Another way to deal with the issue of too many draws would be to make checkmate easier. On this page, on the bottom, I describe one possible way to do that.

Turn the Queen into a second target for the attacking player by stipulating that if the Queen is en prise, the King can't move at all, even to escape from check.

This is accompanied by two other changes: reduce the Queen's move to its ancient move of one space diagonally, and allow a player who captures a Queen to, on the same turn, put that Queen back on the board anywhere on the opponent's back rank.

On that page, I muse that perhaps the Queen ought to be allowed to castle for the sake of a balanced game. Given that if checkmate is easier, though, again White's advantage may play a bigger role... from the discussion on this page, an idea occurs to me: why not only allow Black to castle the Queen as well as the King?

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