09 June 2016

Max Judd's Draw Claim

Mikhail Chigorin threatened to leave the tournament. Max Judd had demanded, seemingly within the rules, that Chigorin checkmate him within fifty moves. Fifty moves had transpired and Judd had claimed the draw. Along the way, Chigorin had missed a simple win and Judd had missed a line offering stronger prospects for equality.

At the end of the fifty moves, Judd's position was clearly worse. The umpire ordered Judd to continue, but he refused. The game was adjourned while the umpire considered his decision.

The umpire initially ruled in favor of Judd, then the decision went to a jury for reconsideration. The jury confirmed the umpire's decision, but Chigorin then appealed to a panel of judges. During this battle Chigorin lost a game to James Mason on time for refusing to appear at the board during the day's second playing session. On appeal, the judges reversed the umpire's position and ordered the game with Judd continue. The whole process took several days.

William Steinitz offers a synopsis of the final result in The Book of the Sixth American Chess Congress (1891).
Mr. Judd stated afterward that he played the greater part of this ending in reliance on his having the legal right of claiming a draw if he could only extend the game to fifty moves after he had claimed the count without being mated. Having accomplished his object he refused to go on with the game, which he might have done under protest without damaging his rights. But his interpretation of the rule was not sustained on appeal, and Mr. Judd was also adjudged to have forfeited the game on the ground that he did not abide by the decision of the umpire to proceed with the same. (33)
The best account of the full controversy that I have been able to locate is in Stephen Davies, Samuel Lipschutz: A Life in Chess (2015). Lipschutz was one of the players at the Sixth American Chess Congress in New York in 1889. Davies, who tells the story based upon the tournament book, the New York Times, and The Sun, offers specifics. The game was played on Saturday, 30 March 1889. The umpire's decision on behalf of Judd and the jury's confirmation of this decision took place on Monday. According to Davies, the judges were reported as overturning the decision on Thursday, 4 April. The game resumed on 13 April. Both players refused to play, but Judd's clock was started. When his time expired, Chigorin was awarded the win.

Two versions of the Fifty Move Rule existed in the 1880s. The Sixth American Chess Congress employed the rule as printed in the Book of the Fifth American Chess Congress (1881). Following the Chigorin -- Judd dispute, according to Davies, the judges and players agreed that the rule observed in the London 1883 tournament would be enforced for the balance of the event. The London rule, which is the precursor to the rule today, resets the count with each pawn move or capture.

In The Book of the Sixth American Chess Congress, Steinitz also points out Chigorin's easy win and Judd's missteps.

After 46.a4, Judd requested the fifty move count begin.

Black to move

46...b6 47.b3 a5

Steinitz observes:
Black impetuously throws away a sure win in a short number of moves. He could easily gain the opposition and throw the onus of moving on the opponent by 47...Kf4 48.Kh3 Kg5 49.Kh2 Kg4 White's pawn moves on other wing could then be easily exhausted, and Black's King would gain entrance at g3, followed by ...h4-h3, winning easily. (33)
His analysis baffles me. Why 47...Kf4? Why not the immediate 47...Kg4?

48.bxa5 bxa5

White to move


Steinitz speculates that Chigorin had overlooked this move. Black still has an advantage, but White's drawing prospects have improved dramatically after Chigorin missed 47...Kg4, or even Steinitz's suggestion to the same effect.

49...axb4 50.a5 b3 51.a6 b2 52.a7 b1Q 53.a8Q

Black to move

Black can win if the c-pawn successfully advances or if the queens can be swapped. To accomplish either, the Black king needs refuge from checks.


Chigorin guards the c-pawn with the intention of walking his king over to the queenside where it may employ the pawn as a guard, and perhaps walk together towards c1.

Steinitz suggested that 53...Qg6 was "better adapted to keep everything safe and to lead the King over to the queenside" (33). My engines, including one running with tablebase support, find 53...Ke4 best, but otherwise concur with Steinitz.

I tried playing this position against Stockfish 7 beginning with 53...Qg6 and was not successful at avoiding a draw. It is one thing to play such a position correctly when you can see more than four million positions per second and quite another to work it out as a human. Of course, two humans facing one another are equally ill-equipped.

54.Qg8+ Kf4 55.Qd8 Kg4 56.Qd7+ Kg5 57.Qg7+

Steinitz asserts that 57.Qd8+ was better, but Stockfish 7 sees no difference between this move and the text.

57...Kf5 58.Qf7+ Ke4 59.Qf3+ Kd4 60.Qf2+ Kc3

White to move


Steinitz suggests:
Simply capturing the h-pawn that hampered the advance of his King, gave him much better prospects of drawing, as Black's c-pawn could not advance far without giving White again many checking opportunities that would have impeded its progress. (33)
However, the engines find Judd's move best. Capturing the h-pawn changes the evaluation to nearly -2.00, but playing out the suggested engine moves leads to repetition once the c-pawn begins to advance.

Even the engines do not find it a simple matter to deliver a win with Black.

61...Kb2 62.Qd2+ Ka3

White to move

As a rule in such positions, the closer to the adverse King the checks are given the more effective they are. 63.Qc3+ was the right play, and whatever Black might do either the checks would continue or the adverse Queen could only interpose in a manner that left his c-pawn unprotected, which gave additional chances of a draw for White. (Steinitz, 33)
This principle is worth remembering.

63...Ka4 64.Qd4+ Qb4 65.Qa7+ Kb3 66.Qe3+ Qc3 67.Qb6+ Kc2 68.Qf2+ Kd3 69.Qf3+ Kd2 70.Qf4+ Kd1 71.Qf1+ 

71.Qxh4 is no good. 71...Qe5+ 72.Kh3 c5 and with the pawn one square further towards promotion, White's drawing prospects diminish.

71...Kd2 72.Qf4+ Ke2 73.Qe4+ Kd1 74.Qf3+

Black to move


As Steinitz notes, Black's king is now out of position for exchanging queens. The resulting pawn race would give both players queens once again, but this time with an easy draw.

75.Qf2+ Kc1 76.Qf1+ Kb2 77.Qf2+ Qc2 78.Qb6+ Ka3 79.Qa5+ Qa4 80.Qc5+ Kb3 81.Qe3+ Kb4 82.Qd2+ Kb5 83.Qb2+ Qb4 84.Qe2+ Kb6

White to move


85.Qe5 was White's best chance, according to the engines. Now, matters are finally beginning to return to a clear advantage for Chigorin. After 85.Qe5, 85...c5 would concede the draw.


The pawn can now advance. Black's queen and king are now well coordinated to assist the pawn with an advance of one square every half dozen moves or so.

86.Qe6+ Ka5

A necessary finesse. The point is to move the king to b5 when the White queen cannot check from the rear.

87.Qa2+ Kb5 88.Qd5 Qf4+

The queen's mobility along the fourth rank is a critical element.

89.Kh1 Kb4

White to move 

Now, White can again check from the rear, but these checks only delay the pawn's advance. They can no longer prevent it.

90.Qb7+ Kc3 91.Qg7+ Qd4 92.Qe7 c4 93.Qa3+ Kd2 94.Qb4+ 

Black to move


94...Kc1 leads to a quicker win. 95.Qa3+ Qb2

95.Qb5 Kd2 96.Qb4+ Qc3 0–1

At this point, Judd's fifty move count having been reached, he refused to go on. The dispute began. When he originally asked for a draw, his position was lost. However, Chigorin missed an easy win and overlooked White's resource on the queenside. In the ensuing maneuvering, Judd made a couple small inaccuracies.

The Rules

The Rule from the Fifth American Chess Congress
If, at any period during a game, either player persist in repeating a particular check, or series of ckecks, or persist in repeating any particular line of play which does not advance the game; or if "a game ending" be of doubtful character as to its being a win or a draw, or if a win be possible, but the skill to force the game questionable, then either player may demand judgement of the Umpire as to its being a proper game to be determined as drawn at the end of fifty additional moves, on each side; or the question: "Is, or is not the game a draw?" may be, by mutual consent of the players, submitted to the Umpire at any time. The decision of the Umpire, in either case, to be final. 
And whenever fifty moves are demanded and accorded, the party demanding it may, when the fifty moves have been made, claim the right to go on with the game, and thereupon the other party may claim the fifty move rule, at the end of which, unless mate be effected, the game shall be decided a draw.
Charles A. Gilberg, The Fifth American Chess Congress (New York: Brentano's Literary Emporium, 1881), 167-168.
Judd would seem to have staked his claim on the language: "if 'a game ending' be of doubtful character as to its being a win or a draw."

The British Chess Association Rule printed in the book of the London International Chess Tournament 1883
A player may, at any time, call upon his adversary to mate him within fifty moves (move and reply being counted as one). If, by the expiration of such fifty moves, no piece or pawn has been captured, nor pawn moved, nor mate given, a draw can then be claimed.

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