Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rules FAQ: Offering and Accepting Draws

What is The Proper Way to Offer a Draw?

Make your move on the board.  Say, "I offer a draw." Press your clock.  (Rule 12-2-1)

What Happens if the Proper Procedure Is Not Followed?

Two minutes can be added to the opponent of the player making the improper offer and the offer can still be accepted. (Rule 12-3-4) (I personally believe that this is excessive since the recipient of the improper offer suffers no harm.  It is unlikely that this penalty would be imposed in an MSL match.  Nonetheless, that's the IHSA rule and you should expect the penalty to be enforced at state and other tournaments.  To the best of my recollection, USCF rules do not penalize improper draw offers.) 

What if Your Opponent Offers a Draw Before He Moves?

You are entitled to see your opponent's move before making your decisions on whether to accept.  If you wish to be polite, you can say "Play your move first."  If you don't wish to be helpful, you can simply remain silent until your opponent makes his move.  (Rule 12-3-3)

Can Your Opponent Withdraw His Offer?

No.  Once the offer is made it cannot be withdrawn.  If your opponent offers a draw before making his move and then finds a move that absolutely crushes you, he cannot withdraw the offer.  Once he makes the crushing move on the board, you can say "I accept." (Rule 12-2-3)

How Do You Decline a Draw Offer?

There are two ways to decline a draw offer.  (1)  Make a move.  (2)  Say "I decline." (Rule 12-2-2)

Should You Ever Decline a Draw Without Making a Move?

NO!  If you say "I decline" before you have chosen a move, there is always a chance that you will find upon further reflection that your position is worse than you thought.  However, once you have declined the offer you are out of luck.  If you are practically certain that you are going to decline the offer, you might wish to say something like "Let me look at it."  When, you are ready to make your move, you can also say "I decline" if you wish.  There is no reason to orally decline the draw offer before you are ready to make your move on the board.

What Constitutes a Draw Offer?

In addition to "I offer a draw" or "Draw?", any attempt to determine whether an opponent might be interested in agreeing to a draw may be treated as a draw offer.  For example, if your opponent says, "Do you think I can win this?" you may respond "I accept a draw." (Rule 12-4)

Can You Offer a Draw After an Offer Has Been Declined?

Making repeated draw offers may be penalized as a attempt to distract your opponent.  If a draw offer has been declined, another offer should not be made unless the position has changed substantially or a player has some other reason to think that his opponent might respond differently. (Rule-17-8-1)

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