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I was involved in an endgame where it was my King against my opponents King, Knight, and Bishop and I knew he could checkmate me, but he wasn't aware how. I just kept going in circles, dancing around his pieces and he could not figure out how to checkmate me. Into move 140, I was getting frustrated and thought about either resigning or asking for a draw. I eventually asked for a draw and he agreed, so my question is whether you are on the losing end or the winning end, when is it time to mutually agree to a draw?

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If there were no captures or pawn advancements for 50 consecutive moves, the game is drawn by 50 move rule. –  Akavall Jan 3 '13 at 20:39
    
@Akavall - This rule only applies if is in fact in effect. –  xaisoft Jan 5 '13 at 16:17
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up vote 10 down vote accepted

When to mutually agree a draw depends on the skill level and the position in question. An agreed draw is most logical when neither side believes they have real winning chances (Sometimes people just chicken out in complex positions...). In the case you describe, practically speaking, there are no real winning chances for either side. Alternatively, 2 GMs may rightly agree a draw in many drawn theoretical endgames where mortals such as you and I should probably play on.

For the rulebook perspective... the rules state that "The game is drawn upon agreement between the two players. This immediately ends the game." It is correct to offer the draw after making the move but before pressing the clock. You and your opponent may agree to a draw at any time. In terms of etiquette, it is generally considered poor practice to offer a draw when losing or significantly worse. It is also poor etiquette to repeat draw offers and the TD may penalize you for "annoying the opponent". As a matter of preference, I offer a draw only when I believe that I have no real chance of losing. Rules such as 3 move repetition and the 50 move rule are there to ensure that your opponent cannot meaninglessly torture you in a position such as the one you describe.

In your given situation, it may be useful to claim a draw by the fifty move rule. The fifty move rule states: "The game is drawn when the player on move claims a draw and demonstrates that the last 50 consecutive moves have been made by each side without any capture or pawn move." The case of B and N versus King is a classic example where 50 moves may elapse without a pawn move or capture.

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An important note: it can take 26 moves for a bishop and knight to mate. –  Travis J Jan 5 '13 at 8:43
    
@TravisJ, some positions require up to 33 moves. –  ETD Jan 5 '13 at 16:41
    
@EdDean - I could not seem to find worse than 31, but I will take your word for it. In fact, I could not mate in 50 moves with a knight and bishop it seems, I should work on that. –  Travis J Jan 5 '13 at 18:42
    
I tend to think of draw offers as being a bit like a backgammon doubling cube: once a player (e.g. White) has offered a draw, the next offer (if any) should come from the opponent. Also, I read of at least one case where the TD rejected the game 1. e4 drawn (both player's standings would have been the same for a win as a draw, but worse for a loss) and ended up declaring the game a double forfeit. Not sure the TD should have forced a "real" game, since a game between two players "legitimately" trying for a draw would seem a waste of time for all concerned. –  supercat Mar 16 at 0:32
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Dan Heisman (a great chess coach imho) suggests for beginners (where a beginner I think is anyone below around 1500 elo, this may very well not apply to you) to never agree to a draw. His thought, and I tend to agree, is that playing out games that seem hopeless either due to draw or a losing position (in which case you might be considering resigning) is good practice. It is good to learn to play from behind or play to a draw.

That being said. There are some cases where it is an obvious case of perpetual check or something similar. If you find yourself in one of those situations, then there is no value in continuing play. If one of the draw rules don't kick in (which they likely would), then a mutual draw would make sense.

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I want to add that as the side with only a king, it is a bit against etiquette to offer a draw. Your opponent can already get a draw if he wants one -- by letting his clock run out, by giving away his pieces, whatever, the game is impossible to lose for him. He is the one who can offer a draw, you should concern yourself with writing down moves and counting for the 50 move rule (or threefold repetition).

In this case, apparently you knew you were on move 140, so it's likely to you could already claim a draw based on the 50 move rule and didn't need to offer it.

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