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How Games are Drawn

There are six ways to draw a game of chess:

1. Perpetual Check

If an opponent checks the enemy king repeatedly we call this perpetual check. Perpetual check is usually used by the weaker side to avoid losing the game. In the diagram below White is ahead on material and is threatening checkmate by moving the queen to g7.

perpetual.gif (13713 bytes)

Black has a saving series of moves which give perpetual check:

1. Kh1 Qf1+
2. Kh2 Qf2+
3. Kh1 Qf1+
4. Kh2 Qf2+
and so on!

There is no way White can avoid Black from checking his king so the game is a draw.

2. Stalemate

If the king is not in check but it is unable to move to a safe square (and no other piece of that colour can be moved on the board) we say that the king is stalemated and the game is drawn. Many beginners who are ahead on material mistakenly stalemate the enemy king. Beware! In the diagram below the White king is not in check but it has no safe squares to go to nor has he any other chessmen to move. Therefore, the game is drawn.

stalemate.gif (3269 bytes)

3. Insufficient mating material

When neither side has enough pieces on the board to checkmate the enemy king then the game is drawn. It is impossible to checkmate with:

  1. Just the two Kings on the board.
  2. King and Bishop against a King
  3. King and Knight against a King
  4. King and two Knights against a King

4. Repetition of moves

If exactly the same position occurs three times in a game then a player may claim a draw. The perpetual check position above is also a draw because the same position occurs three times.

5. Fifty move rule

If both sides have made 50 consecutive moves without making a capture or pawn move then a player may claim a draw.

6. Draw by agreement

Both players may feel that the position on the board is equal and consequently agree to a draw. Many Grandmaster games end in a draw in this way.


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