In developing a computer chess program, would it be reasonable to automatically declare a draw match for these two scenarios:

A. Player 1 has a king and a knight, player 2 has only a king left.

B. Player 1 has a king and a bishop, player 2 has only a king left.

3 Answers 3


It would be absolutely reasonable, because there is only one way to end such positions, draw.

There are other positions like these as well. And for this, there is a rule called dead position rule in FIDE. It's a superset of the older concept of draw by insufficient material.

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 blocked position where checkmate is impossible.
  6. Any combination of pieces in a position where it's inevitable to end up in a position described above.
  • 1
    There is no rule called draw by insufficient material. This is a nick name for a player running out of time and the opponent not being able to produce a mate by any series of legal moves. What you describe is a dead position defined in article 5.2.b. Not that it would matter much but it is preferred to use the terms defined in the Laws. Jan 16, 2016 at 14:37
  • Whats the name in the Law then?
    – ferit
    Jan 16, 2016 at 14:44
  • 1
    Gloria Victis answered it and I upvoted. It is called dead position as I already wrote. I am not saying your answer is bad, it provides additional insight to understand the idea, which some people may welcome. My comment applies equally to the other answer linking the same article. I just do not want to flood the page with the same comments. Obviously everyone up voting BlindKungFuMaster's answer should up vote yours as well. Jan 16, 2016 at 15:37
  • 1
    @BlindKungFuMaster Mentioning it is fine but the proper meaning should be explained. There are problems with using unofficial terms like this. One is that it is hard to say how other people understand it. My understanding of draw by insufficient material is that it refers to a situation where one player runs out of time but his King cannot be checkmated. Your understanding may be different and it probably is judging from your answer. Even the article you linked to is not consistent in the use of the two terms (see example G). Jan 18, 2016 at 11:25
  • 1
    @BlindKungFuMaster In general people under appreciate the significance of dead position. If you keep calling it draw by insufficient material they will never learn to use the correct term and understand it properly. The OP for instance seems not to have heard neither of these terms before and you would miss the opportunity to teach them the right term right away. Jan 18, 2016 at 11:29

Yes, since it is not possible to produce a checkmate in these circumstances.

See also the FIDE rules:

1.3 If the position is such that neither player can possibly checkmate the opponent’s king, the game is drawn (see Article 5.2 b).

5.2 b The game is drawn when a position has arisen in which neither player can checkmate the opponent’s king with any series of legal moves. The game is said to end in a ‘dead position’. This immediately ends the game, provided that the move producing the position was in accordance with Article 3 and Articles 4.2 – 4.7.


Yes, in these two cases there is insufficient mating material and the game will always end in a draw.

  • That's a good response to the question, and makes no claims about names of FIDE rules.
    – Laska
    Apr 6, 2018 at 12:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.