How do draws work?

While most of the ways to win or lose a chess game are clear, draws can be a little complicated. Below are all the different ways a game can end with a draw.

Stalemate

In the following example, White has one extra pawn. But when White tries to push it to the very end, it leaves the black king without any legal moves, and so the game is a draw by stalemate. 

Chess StalemateAn example of stalemate in chess.

Article: What is Stalemate in Chess | Definition + Examples


Insufficient material

There are cases where one player has more pieces than the opponent toward the end of the game. However, that is not always enough to win because some combinations of pieces cannot force checkmate. 

The game is declared a draw whenever both sides do not have the "sufficient material" to force a checkmate.

What happens if, for example, white has all the pieces and black has just one king but white runs out of time? In this case, since the player with the black pieces can not checkmate with just the king, the game is also declared drawn. This is very important to point out, as running out of time will not always mean losing the game—sometimes it's a draw.

This is sometimes called "timeout vs insufficient material."

For more details on insufficient material draws, see here. 


50 move-rule

The 50 move-rule allows either player to claim a draw if no capture has been made or no pawn has been moved in the last 50 moves. 

The longest chess game ever played could not have happened today, as it would have been declared a draw much earlier. Back then, 100 moves were allowed without a pawn move or a capture. 

Chess.com will now end the game in a draw automatically if the 50 move limit is reached.


Repetition

The threefold-repetition rule says that if a position arises three times in a game, either player can claim a draw during that position. This rule was created to avoid games repeating indefinitely because players were making the same moves again and again. On Chess.com, this draw happens automatically on the third repetition in Live games. 


Agreement

When both players decide they want to draw the game, there is a draw by agreement. Most of the time this is because they believe that neither player can obtain an advantage.

Draws by agreement can be controversial if they come quickly in a game when both players want a draw due to a tournament situation.

To offer a draw on Chess.com, click the draw button. 

Did this answer your question? Thanks for the feedback There was a problem submitting your feedback. Please try again later.