There are some positions in which you need to know how many moves have been played without pawn move or capture. For example:

[FEN "1R5K/8/8/8/8/8/7R/k7 w - - 98 1000"]

(1R5K/8/8/8/8/8/7R/k7 w - - 98 1000)

Here, white must play Ra2 or Rb1 to force a capture within 1 move. If this is not done the game is drawn due to the 50 move rule.

If the 50 move rule was not a concern it would be an easy mate in 2.

Of course it is very hard to remember how many moves have passed. Is white allowed to look at the scoresheet and count the number of moves during the game?

  • 1
    Of course you can
    – David
    May 19, 2019 at 14:17
  • do your scoresheets have numbers on them?
    – BCLC
    Jul 26, 2021 at 8:26
  • 2
    @BCLC I have never played in a tournament so I wouldn't know :) I just wondered how this is done.
    – boot4life
    Jul 28, 2021 at 17:29

3 Answers 3


The rules for this and how it works are spelled out in articles 9.3, 9.4 and 9.5 of the FIDE Laws of Chess. They don't mention whether or not you are allowed to check your scoresheet to do this because you are always allowed to check your scoresheet. You would be very foolish to not check your scoresheet first because there are penalties for an incorrect claim.

Here are articles 93, 9.4 and 9.5 of the FIDE Laws of Chess:

9.3 The game is drawn, upon a correct claim by a player having the move, if:
9.3.1 he writes his move, which cannot be changed, on his scoresheet and declares to the arbiter his intention to make this move which will result in the last 50 moves by each player having been made without the movement of any pawn and without any capture, or
9.3.2 the last 50 moves by each player have been completed without the movement of any pawn and without any capture.
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.
9.5.1 If a player claims a draw under Article 9.2 or 9.3, he or the arbiter shall stop the chessclock (see Article 6.12.1 or 6.12.2). He is not allowed to withdraw his claim.
9.5.2 If the claim is found to be correct, the game is immediately drawn.
9.5.3 If the claim is found to be incorrect, the arbiter shall add two minutes to the opponent’s remaining thinking time. Then the game shall continue. If the claim was based on an intended move, this move must be made in accordance with Articles 3 and 4.

  • So I can always read the sheet at any time to decide how I want to play. Need to decide between the easy mate in 2 and the hard KRK mate. This is not about claiming draw since white wants to prevent a draw.
    – boot4life
    May 19, 2019 at 9:51
  • 7
    You can always look at your scoresheet at any time for any purpose. Apart from checking if / when you can claim a draw, common reasons are to check that your opponent cannot claim a draw (you are repeating to gain time on the clock), checking that you wrote the last move down (happens to some of us as we get older that we also get absent minded), checking which move we are on (not allowed to offer a draw before a certain move in some tournaments), even "I know I always play Bd7 in this line on that move, is it time for me to play that now?" (not so good from chess pov)
    – Brian Towers
    May 19, 2019 at 9:59
  • How is the end of 9.3.1 different from 9.3.2? I don't notice any difference
    – Alexander
    May 20, 2019 at 3:28
  • 3
    @Alexander The difference is in whether the player claims a draw before or after making his move. 9.3.2 is for claiming that the game already is drawn by the 50 move rule, while 9.3.1 is for claiming that after making your move the game will be drawn by the 50 move rule. 9.3.1 is needed because you can only make the claim on your turn.
    – Douglas
    May 20, 2019 at 7:15

Yes you're absolutely allowed to look at the score-sheet.

What you're not allowed to do is make special symbols/notes on the scoresheet to remind you of things. But that's non-applicable here.


Of course it is very hard to remember how many moves have passed. Is white allowed to look at the scoresheet and count the number of moves during the game?

In a serious tournament game, you would stop the clocks and ask the arbiter to come and check your scoresheets. I remember there was a recent incident between Russian GM Alexandra Kosteniuk against Chinese GM Ju Wenjun.

If there was no arbiter, you would have to do it with your opponents after stopping the clocks.

  • 3
    So you can pause the game at will just to determine how many moves you've got left? It seems that can be abused to obtain more time.
    – boot4life
    May 19, 2019 at 9:16
  • 3
    @boot4life You are correct, however if you abuse the rule in this way then there is an automatic penalty of giving your opponent an additional 2 minutes on the clock. Furthermore if the arbiter thinks you have been malicious rather than incompetent he can apply additional penalties for bringing the game into disrepute. These vary from removing some of your time to awarding the game to your opponent.
    – Brian Towers
    May 19, 2019 at 9:48
  • 1
    @boot4life FIDE doesn't define what exactly the positions you can (or can't) check for 50 moves. However, it's always --very very-- obvious when it's appropriate to do it. Nobody would believe you if you just exchanged rooks a few moves earlier in an opening. You'd receive a penalty and being treated as an ass**ole. Your opponent is not going to agree for reviews, and you'd be in trouble.
    – SmallChess
    May 19, 2019 at 11:43

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