I understand that when the same board position occurs three times in a game, with the same player to move, and having all the same possible moves, the game may be claimed as a draw by threefold repetition of positions.

If neither player makes a claim, and the game continues, and the position changes, is it legal for a (losing) player to thereafter claim a draw because threefold repetition had occurred earlier in the game? Or is a threefold repetition claim only valid when it involves the immediately current position?

  • are you asking for FIDE? USCF? NCFP?
    – BCLC
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 12:04

1 Answer 1


(I consider the FIDE rules to be the "the rules of chess" and this answer is only about them)

No, you cannot claim. In fact your right to claim ends as soon as you touch a piece.

Here's what the rules say, emphasis in bold mine:

9.2.1 The game is drawn, upon a correct claim by a player having the move, when the same position for at least the third time (not necessarily by a repetition of moves): is about to appear, if he first writes his move, which cannot be changed, on his scoresheet and declares to the arbiter his intention to make this move, or has just appeared, and the player claiming the draw has the move.

So either it is about to appear, or it has just appeared, and not at any other time.

Then 9.4 ends the debate:

9.4 If the player touches a piece as in Article 4.3, he loses the right to claim a draw under Article 9.2 or 9.3 on that move.

That's related to the touch move rule -- once you touch a piece that can legally move with the intention to move it, you have to do so. It's too late for claims.

If it were possible to claim at any later time, there would never be any reason to continue: as soon as it was clear one of the players was going to lose, they'd claim the draw.

But in the case of five fold repetition, it's different:

9.6 If one or both of the following occur(s) then the game is drawn:

9.6.1 the same position has appeared, as in 9.2.2 at least five times.

If a position repeats five times, then that's just an automatic draw, no claim needed. If it is found out later during the "game" that a position was repeated five times some time ago, then that means that you just weren't playing the game anymore after that as it was already finished. You were moving pieces about.

  • re the 5fold specifically 'If it is found out later during the "game"' --> what about after the game? i think you didn't mention in your answer. or i might've missed
    – BCLC
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 11:53
  • 1
    It's always after the game, as the game ended at the fifth repetition, the players just didn't notice. Same as with checkmate and stalemate. It should usually be possible to get the result changed by the arbiter if both scoresheets confirm this, but if the pairing for the next round is made already, then it is too late to update that. Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 11:56
  • 1
    thanks. 1 - wait re 'as the game ended at the fifth repetition' and 'it is too late to update that' so like the pairing is made based on a possible incorrect outcome of a game and the pairing stands but the outcome will be changed later on when the arbiters double check the game in the scoresheets?
    – BCLC
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 12:03
  • 2 - your answer says 'the rules' but OP never said FIDE. do these particular FIDE rules about 3fold or 5 fold necessarily apply to USCF? NCFP? (I'm filipino) i believe your answer should state that your answer is under FIDE rules and not necessarily 'the rules' unless you know that these FIDE rules apply to USCF, NCFP, etc
    – BCLC
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 12:03
  • 1
    @BCLC: yes it is possible that the game result is updated and the pairings for the next round (which were made with the incorrect result) stand. It would lead to too many practical problems otherwise. Re 2, I clarified it's about FIDE, I don't know anything about other rules. Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 12:12

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