Running out of time is a loss. Two players are both very low on time and quite far from a checkmate. What if one player makes some 'pointless' defensive moves to keep his clock running so that the other player, still trying to win, runs out of time.

I am new and I am asking because I have had opponents moving their king back around while I was there trying to do something and had no time left.

Is there some sort of rule that prevents my opponent from making useless moves while I try to win and run out of time?

  • I understand the situation, but what exactly is the question?
    – Tony Ennis
    Jan 7, 2016 at 23:51
  • Basically If there is some sort of rule that prevents this. Like if both players are under a certain percentage of the total time then it's a draw.
    – frostbite
    Jan 7, 2016 at 23:54
  • Nope. If you need more time at the end, you'll have to take it from the beginning. Or, put the opponent away before it matters.
    – Tony Ennis
    Jan 8, 2016 at 0:00
  • To avoid this situation, use time controls with increment. Jan 8, 2016 at 0:04
  • @frostbite There are rules for preventing this. Please see my answer.
    – ferit
    Jan 8, 2016 at 3:08

3 Answers 3


There is an official Fide rule to prevent this kind of behavior ("flagging"). This rule however only holds in quickplay finishes of normal tournament games. In blitz managing the time better than your opponent is an integral part of the game. In online games (which mostly are blitz anyway) I have never seen this rule implemented (it's kind of tough without an arbiter).

Also note that this rule only allows you to claim a draw, to win you'll have to checkmate with the time still left to you.

Article 10: Quickplay Finish

10.1 A ‘quickplay finish’ is the phase of a game when all the (remaining) moves must be made in a limited time. 10.2 If the player, having the move, has less than two minutes left on his clock, he may claim a draw before his flag falls. He shall summon the arbiter and may stop the clocks. (See Article 6.12.b)

a. If the arbiter agrees the opponent is making no effort to win the game by normal means, or that it is not possible to win by normal means, then he shall declare the game drawn. Otherwise he shall postpone his decision or reject the claim.

(bold by me)

  • 1
    Also, arguably increments were invented in part to prevent this kind of situation. Jan 8, 2016 at 9:49
  • Changed accepted answer to this because it talks about time management in Blitz but also gives more details on rules related to my question. Thank you.
    – frostbite
    Jan 8, 2016 at 15:38

That's how it goes. Time management is an important part of tournament chess play.

  • That's not the right answer, BlindKungFuMaster quotes the actual rule that exists to combat this. Jan 8, 2016 at 9:46
  • Actually, i did describe the full rule, before blindkungfu, but strangely, im getting downvoted while kungfu gets upvoted.
    – ferit
    Jan 8, 2016 at 9:58
  • @Sailbot: the rule you quoted is entirely unrelated. Jan 8, 2016 at 10:07
  • How? It describes the rule to prevent winning by flag in dead draw positions.
    – ferit
    Jan 8, 2016 at 10:11
  • 1
    @Sailbot: NO, because of rule 10.1.a in the other answer, which is explicitly about "the opponent is making no effort to win the game by normal means". But these comments don't belong here, so this is my last. Jan 8, 2016 at 10:34

There is a rule called draw by insufficient material in FIDE, which prevents the situations you described.

It's draw automatically if any following situation happens:

  1. King vs king
  2. King vs king + knight
  3. King + zero or more bishops vs king + zero or more bishops, where all bishops stands on same colored squares
  4. Any combination of pieces in a position where stalemate is unavoidable.
  5. Any combination of pieces in a position where checkmate is impossible.
  6. Any combination of pieces in a position where it's inevitable to transpose to a position described above.

So you can't lose on time, in these kinds of positions.

  • How does this prevent someone from "flagging" their opponent? I can't understand how insufficient material could be relevant.
    – limits
    Jan 8, 2016 at 3:16
  • "What if one player makes some 'pointless' defensive moves ... " In my answer, I explained the rules for preventing some very obvious pointless defensive moves, for flagging opponent.
    – ferit
    Jan 8, 2016 at 3:39
  • These rules avoid losing on time, when the position is obviously a dead draw.
    – ferit
    Jan 8, 2016 at 3:51
  • Downvote? Really? :)
    – ferit
    Jan 8, 2016 at 9:55
  • This is about a different situation, where they player who would win on time doesn't have pieces anymore. The question is about a situation where that player does have pieces, but simply isn't trying to win (and so does win on time if that flag falls). Jan 8, 2016 at 10:09

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