In my area, most kids including me grew up with a very popular house-rule: After all the pieces of either of the players are removed besides the king, the opposing player has 18 moves to checkmate him. If he can't do that, the game is a draw.

The rule is popularly called 18-moves.

I have spent some time googling and have not found this rule anywhere.

Does anyone know a source for this rule and why it's so popular?

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    Related: chess.stackexchange.com/questions/2500/… – RemcoGerlich Oct 30 '17 at 23:03
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    Your 18-move rule is probably something very localized. It would be interesting to know what part of the world "your area" is in. – bof Oct 31 '17 at 4:10
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    It is a kind a rule trainers sometimes introduce for beginners, especially children. It has two advantages: kids are trained to look for mates and you make sure dumb and un-instructive positions are not played for too long (as in 'let me try and make as many queens as possible!') – Evargalo Oct 31 '17 at 10:12
  • @bof I'm from brooklyn. I have many friends from New Jersey and Conneticut that used this rule growing up as well. – TheAsh Oct 31 '17 at 13:07
  • @bof This guy seems to have had the same rule... In LA! chess.stackexchange.com/a/9231/14257 – TheAsh Oct 31 '17 at 13:10

I grew up in Spain and we used a 20 "move rule" instead of 18.

We played exactly as you said, if a player is left with a single king, the other has to mate in 20 moves or less to win the game. However, this "rule" only applied in friendly matches and was never enforced in tournaments. Our coach made us play like this for several reasons:

  1. It promotes critical thinking at an early stage, where you have to look for faster ways to checkmate your opponent than just queening your two remaining pawns and checkmate using the "staircase" method.
  2. It avoids humiliating the opponent, since now promoting all the remaining pawns to minor pieces and playing around with the king is no longer an option. We were around 6 years old, so once you knew you had won you wanted to enjoy it longer. This kind of demeaning behavior was discouraged.
  3. It avoids elongating the game more than necessary. We trained without clocks, which could make us spend unnecessary time in trivial positions.

This practice then naturally extended to our friendly games, but we were well aware that this was not an official rule and that on tournaments the 50 move rule applied.

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    It does have the downside of making KBN vs K a draw in general position, and KBB vs K ends up kind of tight in some positions. – eyeballfrog Nov 1 '17 at 0:48

I had one of like it too but it consisted of 20 moves. The most similar thing officially is the 50 moves rule, where if a pawn hasn't moved and nothing has been captured for the last 50 moves, it's a draw. I think this is the source of many of those house rules in an easier version.


Clearly these house rules are made for kids and beginners to prevent pointless game stalling, with winning camp promoting 8 knights for instead.of checkmating, etc.. Would be annoying to end up in KBN vs K with this rule in serious games, when you do know how to win it.

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