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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
  52             48             White exposes Black's King
  50             50             Draw
  49             51             Black subjects White to perpetual check
  48             52             Black exposes White's King
  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.

Bare King, on the other hand, seems to me to still be sufficiently demanding as not to be a natural result of White's advantage, so it makes sense to give White credit for it.

This scheme is simple because for the three victory conditions shared by both players, the score is split the same way for both players: 100-0 for checkmate, 60-40 for stalemate, and 52-48 for bare king. Black and White are differentiated only by the 51-49 split for perpetual check being only available to Black.


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