A game between Alireza Firouzj and Magnus Carlsen in chess24’s [Magnus Carlsen invitational 2020](https://chess24.com/en/embed tournament/magnus-carlsen-invitational-2020) ended in a draw due to "insufficient material".

Each player had a king and a knight when it ended

[FEN ""]

 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bxf6 Qxf6 8. Nd5 Qd8 9. b4 Bb6 10. c3 a6 11. Nxb6 cxb6 12. Bc4 b5 13. Bb3 O-O 14. O-O Qf6 15. Re1 Be6 16. a4 Rac8 17. axb5 axb5 18. Bxe6 Qxe6 19. Qe2 Rfd8 20. h3 d5 21. exd5 Rxd5 22. Rad1 Rcd8 23. Rd2 Qd6 24. Red1 Qg6 25. Ne1 Kh7 26. Nc2 R8d7 27. Ne3 R5d6 28. Nf1 Rd5 29. Qf3 Nd8 30. h4 h5 31. Ng3 Qg4 32. Nxh5 Qxf3 33. gxf3 Ne6 34. Ng3 Nf4 35. Ne4 b6 36. c4 Rd4 37. c5 Rxb4 38. cxb6 Rb7 39. Nd6 Rxb6 40. Nxf7 Ng6 41. h5 Rf4 42. Ng5+ Kh6 43. Ne4 Nh4 44. Kf1 Nxf3 45. Rc2 Kxh5 46. Rc8 b4 47. Ke2 b3 48. Rb1 b2 49. Rc5 Nd4+ 50. Kf1 Nf3 51. Rc2 Rb3 52. Nc5 Nd4 53. Nxb3 Nxc2 54. Rxb2 Ne3+ 55. Ke2 Rxf2+ 56. Kxf2 Nd1+ 57. Kf3 Nxb2 58. Ke4 g5 59. d4 exd4 60. Nxd4 g4 61. Nf3 g3 62. Kf4 g2 63. Kg3 Nd3 64. Kxg2

Reading Checkmate with King and Knight vs King and Knight, it says it is possible for either side to win and should not be declared a draw.

What is the difference?

Source: Game commentary at 12:00 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Idw0cgmjWQ8&t=12m

As it is a draw by insufficient material.

  • Perhaps they were not playing under FIDE rules? Apr 21, 2020 at 15:36
  • Source for "automatic draw due to insufficient material" is needed. Apr 21, 2020 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


The players agreed on a draw because there is no forced mate. Even if one side loses a knight, it is a draw. The weaker side just has to keep the king in the center.

In the following example Black helped White to achieve mate by playing 4...Ng8??. If Black had played 4...Ng4 it's still an easy draw. Black could have even escaped with 4...Kg8 5.Kxh6 Kf8 and it's easy to draw with Black.

4k3/8/7n/4K3/8/6N1/8/8 w - - 0 1

1. Kf6 Kf8 2. Kg6 Kg8 3. Ne4 Kh8 4. Nd6 Ng8?? (4... Ng4=) 5. Nf7#

In short, they agreed on a draw because no one expected the other party to help him get mate!

  • 1
    The answer does not require a diagram, but a source for the statement that it was an agreed draw. Apr 21, 2020 at 15:49
  • 1
    It's just to make clear that with this material you need cooperation to mate.
    – Kortchnoi
    Apr 21, 2020 at 15:52
  • Sure. I believe Jannes was aware of that. Are you sure that it was an "agreed draw"? Apr 21, 2020 at 16:04
  • 1
    Yes, I'm sure of it! I saw it live.
    – Kortchnoi
    Apr 21, 2020 at 16:06

Because they were playing on a chess site, it's dependent on whatever system that site follows. For example, chess.com rules a K+N+N vs K a draw, even though a mate is legally possible.

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