The 6 Ways A Game of Chess Will be Drawn

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There is not always a winner in a game of chess. On occasion, a stalemate or draw will occur leaving neither player the winner of the game. As frustrating as it may seem, it is very much part of the sport, and a very acceptable end to a game of chess.

Ultimately there are 6 answers to the questions, ‘Can chess end in a draw?”

  1. Stalemate
  2. Insufficient Pieces
  3. 50 Move Rule
  4. Perpetual Check
  5. Repetition of Moves
  6. Draw by Agreement

This article looks a little more in depth in each of the ways a game of chess ends in a draw. Read on.


Stalemate is one of the most frustrating results for a player who is on top and winning, and arguably the most satisfying for a player who has been up against it.

A stalemate can occur when a players King is not in a check position but is unable to move to a safe square.

A new player or one who is still building experience may have more pieces left in the game and form an attack on an opponent’s king. In removing the opponent’s pieces, he may capture the opposing player’s final piece bar the king and the next move means the king can only put itself in check.

As you can see, an excellent result for the player under attack and a very frustrating fundamental mistake by the player who was winning, but perhaps didn’t have the experience to note that his move would result in a stalemate position.

Insufficient Pieces

There is a point in a game of chess where even though you have more than just a bare king left in the game, you will not have enough pieces to create a ate situation.

There are several combinations you should be aware of, and therefore always protect the possibility of being left with.

  1. A Single King [or 1 each for each player]
  2. King/Bishop vs King
  3. King/Knight vs King
  4. King/2 x Knights vs King

No matter which way you attack with the combinations above it is impossible to checkmate the opposing king.

TIP: If you are very much up against it in a game, but can find a way to leave your opponent just a bishop or knights with his King it can be a very satisfying victory from what might have looked a hopeless position several moves earlier.

you will have to be smart, however, but it is not impossible to prevent a loss in a game by ensuring your opponent has insufficient mating material left on the board.

50 Move Rule

TIP: A ‘move’ in this respect is when one player completes a move followed by the opponent making also a move.

The fifty-rule-move in chess states that if no capture has been made or no pawn move in 50 ‘moves’ then a player can claim a draw. The 50 move rule ensures completion of a game of chess when indefinite moves might otherwise be possible.

9.3 The game is drawn, upon a correct claim by a player having the move, if:

9.3.1 he writes his move, which cannot be changed, on his scoresheet and declares to the arbiter his intention to make this move which will result in the last 50 moves by each player having been made without the movement of any pawn and without any capture, or

(b) 9.3.2 the last 50 moves by each player have been completed without the movement of any pawn and without any capture.

75 Move Rule

If 75 moves are made without a pawn move or capture being made, the game is drawn unless the seventy-fifth move delivers a checkmate. No claim needs to be made by either player, the draw is mandatorily applied by the arbiter.

9.6 If one or both of the following occur(s) then the game is drawn:

9.6.2 any series of at least 75 moves have been made by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture. If the last move resulted in checkmate, that shall take precedence.

Perpetual Check

A situation may arise whereby one player is able to get an opponent in a ‘check’ position, but the opponent is able to escape in only one way, only to be placed in check again, with the only option to return to the original position and begin the process over.

This is known as perpetual check, and serves no purpose in continuing to play on, and thus a draw is forced at this point if no other moves are possible.

You might be surprised to find that perpetual check is often used, and for good reason, by the player who has the weaker board, simply to prevent loss. This is normally the case rather than the stronger player finding themselves unable to find a ‘mate’ position.

Repetition of Moves [Threefold Repetition]

The perpetual check situation as above falls under the repitition of moves rule.

The repetition of moves rules states that if the same position occurs three times in a game, than a player may claim a draw, preventing a win for his opponent.

The game is a draw if a position occurs (at least) three times during the game. (Intervening moves do not matter.) It must be claimed by the player with the turn to move. The claim is made:

a. If the position is about to appear for the third time, the player making the claim first writes their move on theirscoresheetand notifies thearbiterthat they intend to make this move. or

b. If the position has just appeared for the third time, the player with the move can claim the draw.

Positions are considered the same if

  1. the same player has the move,
  2. pieces of the same kind and color occupy the same squares, and
  3. the possible moves of all the pieces are the same

Under (3) above, positions are not considered to be the same if:

(a) in the first position, a pawn could have been captured en passant (by the en passant rule, in the subsequent positions, the pawn cannot be captured en passant anymore), or

(b) either player has lost a right tocastle, i.e. either king or one of the rooks has been moved, in between repetitions of the position.

Draw by Agreement

You may find often in Grandmater games that a draw by agreement is the final result.

This occurs when the continuation of the game looks like it may be truley prolonged leading to a forced draw situation that neither grandmater would want to play out,

When the board looks equal in strength for each player, it may be that they will both identify where the game would lead and they can agree to complete the game by way of a draw by mutual agreement

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