I was playing in a sudden death time control last night with less than 5 seconds left and while thinking about my moves with literally 2 or 3 seconds remaining, my opponent blurted out a draw offer. Startled by this, I blundered and lost the game.

My understanding is that draw offers must be made when the OFFERER's clock is running and that offering a draw or making other statements to an opponent when they are thinking is a distraction and is not allowed.

Would I have been within my rights to stop the clock and demand from the TD that 2 minutes be added to my clock because of the distraction?

The game was played under USCF rules and was in sudden death with seconds remaining for both players.

2 Answers 2


According to my copy of US Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess (5th Edition), rule 14B2 states:

If a player offers a draw while the opponent's clock is running, the opponent may accept or reject the offer. A player who offers a draw in this manner may be warned or penalized for annoying the opponent (20G).

Note that it says "may", not "must". Rule 20G says that the director has discretion to say whether there was a violation and what the penalty, if any, should be. So you could request, but you could not "demand", that the time be added.

Rule 1C2a says that two minutes added to your clock is the standard penalty if one is imposed. 1C2b, however, explicitly states that the director can vary from this.

Rule 21F says you indeed have the right to stop the clock to ask for a ruling from the director. And you must do it right away; you ordinarily waive your rights if you don't notify the director promptly.


I don't know about USCF rules, but according to FIDE Laws of Chess, article 9.1.b.1:

A player wishing to offer a draw shall do so after having made a move on the chessboard and before pressing his clock. An offer at any other time during play is still valid but Article 11.5 must be considered.

Where article 11.5 is about distracting the opponent and says:

It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever. This includes unreasonable claims, unreasonable offers of a draw or the introduction of a source of noise into the playing area.

So, according to my understanding, offering a draw when the opponent's clock is running is not forbidden unless it is "unreasonable" (e.g. you offer a draw in lost position) or you offer a draw every other move or so, etc.

  • 4
    It is surely "unreasonable" to offer a draw on your opponent's time if they only have three seconds left on the clock. I think they would have a very good case for some added time. I would go so far as to say that even if their flag fell, they should be given more time. It seems to me deliberate gamesmanship to make such a draw offer.
    – TonyK
    Apr 10, 2017 at 19:49

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