I was playing this game. I was white. We reached a point where my opponent could checkmate me in one move (by moving Rook to C1) but I forced him to a draw by stating that I would constantly check him to all eternity using my two rooks.

He agreed to a draw but after a while it didn't feel right to me. I regretted forcing him to draw, I felt it was cheap of me to do so, and I think that he deserved a win.

So my question is: Is it ethical to force a draw like this one?

  • 3
    Ethics don't enter into this whatsoever -- it's a rule of the game. If you'd really rather lose than draw I think you should consider a different, non-competitive hobby
    – Dexygen
    Mar 16, 2016 at 17:11
  • 2
    The only problem with this draw is that you should have played on for a win. Mar 16, 2016 at 17:16
  • @GeorgeJempty Ok, relax Napoleon. I don't plan to abandon chess just because I had a question about ethics.
    – Aventinus
    Mar 16, 2016 at 17:21
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    @GeorgeJempty I was under the impression that the SE community is a constructive one. That is, you ask and you learn. You clearly are not that way. You have offered nothing to this thread, other than your downvote and your stupid, elitist comments. If you have something constructive to say (I highly doubt it), please do. If you don't, stop spamming my thread and please reconsider your attitude when posting in SE.
    – Aventinus
    Mar 17, 2016 at 8:15
  • 3
    Aventinus, one fact that shows that the feeling you had is quite a natural one, is that some popular cousins of chess explicitly don't allow perpetual check as a drawing method: "giving perpetual check is not allowed (an automatic loss for the giver) in both shogi and xiangqi."
    – ETD
    Mar 18, 2016 at 3:46

5 Answers 5


There is a rules in chess called Threefold repetition rule. This rule states that you can claim a draw if you are about to repeat the the position for a third time. This subsumes a situation called perpetual check which also leads to a draw.

So what you did in your game wasn't a case of extortion or abusing a flaw in the game - it was completely by the rules and everyday thousands of games are drawn in exactly that fashion.

PS: You also could have stopped the mating threat by playing Rc7, this would have given you a winning position as far as I can see. So by resigning you actually would have turned a winning position into a loss.

  • 3
    In fact, after 1. Rg7+, Kf8, 2. Rh8+ forces a trade of rooks that should be fatal for black.
    – Jester
    Mar 16, 2016 at 21:42
  • 1
    True, that's another possibility, but 1.Rc7 with the mate threat Rh8 leads to a straightforward mate (after the exchange just queen the pawn). Mar 17, 2016 at 6:37

This really is a very interesting question. Chess is a game, a social activity, and like other social activities it has developed conventional manners players are expected to follow.

However, the rules of chess have been purposely constructed and refined so that by playing to win—or, if one cannot win, at least to draw—you support rather than contradict the conventional manners of the game.

In your case of perpetual check, the implicit question regards which of the two of you, whether the checker or the checked, has the responsibility to yield. In chess, the long-settled convention is that the checked has the responsibility to yield. Indeed, as another answerer has noted, the very rules of the game have evolved to support the view that the checked must yield. Indeed, the explicit rules are even better than that, for the checked need not do anything but respond to checks a few times, after which the threefold-repetition rule comes into effect and the game is a draw.

This is normal, perfectly conventional play in chess. Actually, like the pin and the fork, the perpetual check is kind of a cool maneuver; you have to be aware that a losing opponent might do it to you, and you have to guard against this if you can. Perpetual check (formally, a threat of threefold repetition) has already been done this very year in the FIDE Candidates tournament, and was also done in recent years during a World Championship match. No one thought anything of it: each perpetual check was just a normal, polite, standard draw.


Perpetual check is a chess tactic, like any other. And there is nothing unethical to apply a tactic obviously.


In a game of chess you always try to find the best move(s). If you are threatened to be mated, you are allowed to do whatever is possible to avoid this. By forcing eternal chess you make the best move(s) in this situation. From an ethical view this is not condemnable, since you haven't used a trick to gain the draw. Your opponent should have checked if eternal chess is possible before threatening mate and giving you the chance to eternally check him.


There are standard draw protocols, and some of them benefit the player with the lesser, sometimes much lesser material.

One of them is stalemate. The weaker player aims for a position where he cannot make any legal move (meaning that he's probably way behind in material), but is not in check. Draw.

Another is perpetual check. Usually, the weaker player has sacrificed one or more pieces, but if he can check the opposing king between the same two or three squares forever, it's a draw.

A third method is just a variation of the second. If a player can force a position to be repeated three times, with the same player to move, it's a draw. This is usually done by threats against an opposing king, sometimes by threatening to gain a material advantage, and usually by the weaker player.

As long as these draws are forced within the rules of the game, it's ethical for the weaker player to do so. That's just part of the game.

  • Actually, the second is a variation of the third. Perpetual check is one specific type of threefold repetition. It's only a draw because it causes the same position to be repeated. Threefold repetition is a rule of the game. Perpetual check is an unofficial term for a threefold repetition that involves a player is repeatedly giving check. Jul 10, 2016 at 21:21

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