Arsenal’s goalless draw with Porto reminded me of chess. In chess, you have this concept of “grandmaster draws”, where players agree to a draw after just a couple of moves, or in some cases after just one move. This usually happens during the end stages of the tournament. For example, white might need only a draw to win the tournament while the result of the game has absolutely no bearing on Black’s position.

Some black players will be hesitant to offer grandmaster draws in such positions and give “ethics” or “want to try win every match” as the reasons. A lot will want a draw against the winner on his CV so will give it. But yeah, if Black is clearly better off with a draw than with a loss, he will clearly take it. Game theory prevails.

Given the position in group G, it was clear that a draw was the ideal result for both teams – unless Porto wanted to top teh group badly. Unfortunately for them, the rules of football don’t permit you to “agree draws” and you have to play 90 minutes. The only good thing about yesterday’s match is that there were no injuries!

On an unrelated note, I remember some chess tournament I played in some 10-12 years ago where I agreed to a “grandmaster draw” after 15 moves. I had got blasted by the organizers for that, their reasoning being “youngsters should not do such things”. Anyways, two of the organizers decided to continue the game where I had left it and they concluded no other result could’ve been possible. Actually now i’m wondering if it was actually a grandmaster draw, given that 15 moves were already played!

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