Today I was playing on a game on chess.com. In that game I lost by time.

[Event "azarigoli vs. vitthal20043"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2020-06-11"]
[White "azarigoli"]
[Black "vitthal20043"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "1193"]
[BlackElo "1212"]
[TimeControl "blitz"]
[Termination "azarigoli won on time"]
[FEN ""]
1. c4 b6 2. Nc3 Bb7 3. Nb5 g6 4. d3 Bg7 5. Rb1 a6 6. Na3 d6 7. e4 e6 8. Nh3 Ne7 9. f3 Nd7 10. Bg5 h6 11. Bf4 g5 12. Be3 a5 13. g4 Nc5 14. d4 Nd7 15. Bg2 Ng6 16. d5 e5 17. Nb5 Nc5 18. Bxc5 bxc5 19. a4 c6 20. dxc6 Bxc6 21. Nxd6+ Ke7 22. Nf5+ Kf8 23. Nd6 Bxa4 24. b3 Bc6 25. Rb2 Ra7 26. Rd2 Rd7 27. O-O Ke7 28. Nf5+ Kf8 29. Rxd7 Qxd7 30. Qa1 Qc7 31. Rd1 Ne7 32. Nxe7 Kxe7 33. Bf1 f6 34. Nf2 h5 35. Nd3 Qb6 36. gxh5 Rxh5 37. Bg2 Rh8 38. h3 Rd8 39. Bf1 Rf8 40. Kg2 Ke6 41. Kg3 f5 42. Bg2 fxe4 43. fxe4 Rg8 44. Rf1 Bh8 45. Rf5 Bf6 46. Nxe5 Qxb3+ 47. Bf3 Bxe4 48. Rxf6+ Kxf6 49. Ng4+ Ke7 50. Qf6+ Kd7 51. Qf7+ Kc6 52. Qe6+ Kc7 53. Qxe4 Rf8 54. Qe7+ Kb6 55. Qxf8 a4 56. Qf6+ Ka5 57. Qxg5 a3 58. Qxc5+ Ka4 59. Qc6+ Kb4 60. Ne5 a2 61. Qb6+ Ka3 62. Qa5+ Kb2 63. Qd2+ Ka3 64. Qxa2+ Qxa2 65. c5 Qg8+ 66. Ng4 Qb8+ 67. Kf2 Qb2+ 68. Be2 Qd4+ 69. Ne3 Qxc5 70. Ke1 Qc1+ 71. Kf2 Qh1 72. Bg4 Qh2+ 73. Ng2 Qd6 74. Ne3 1-0

If I captured their pawn with my queen, would it be a draw, or would they have a win? As I would run out of time, that is for sure.


Checkmate is possible with a king, bishop and knight against a bare king, and therefore it would have been a win for white if you timed out before the 50 or 75 move rules came into play. So for instance if the game had gone 72 ... Qxh3 73 Bxg3 and then you timed out within the next 50 moves it would be a win for white.

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As pointed out by Ian Bush, it is possible to mate with a knight and a bishop against a lonely king. Indeed, White can force mate if he plays correctly regardless of how Black defends.

But not even that is needed. For example, if White's bishop were a knight, mate cannot be forced, but the game would still be a win because it is indeed possible to reach a mating position (if Black defends incorrectly)

The rules state that the game will be declared a draw only if there is no possible sequence of legal moves that could lead to the flagged player getting checkmated (regardless or whether he "resists" or "collaborates") Can you find a sequence of moves that would lead to a White victory here?

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The final position is a forced win for black in 121 moves starting with 1... Qf4, according to the Shredder Tablebases. While it is objectively a win, it would be very tricky to pull it off in time trouble as you'd always have to watch out for knight forks while preventing white from advancing the pawn.

Therefore, with limited time, it makes a lot of sense to look for ways to force a draw.

Unfortunately for you, knight+bishop+king can mate you. I would expect players around Elo 2000 (plus minus) to be able to mate you with knight and bishop. So unless you play a weak player there is no point giving your queen for the pawn.

Instead, you could simplify the position to a theoretical draw in this position if:

  • you exchange your queen for the knight AND
  • get your king to the promotion square h8

White is then left with the h pawn and a bishop of the wrong color which is an easy draw for black if you just move your king around the squares h7,g7, h8,g8. This is easy to do even in time trouble.

However, if you lose on time in this position you'd still lose the game. The reasoning is, that if there is any way to mate you from the position it is lost (even if you'd have to help in getting mated).

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  • I'm surprised that the position is a forced win for Black. Isn't it possible to build a fortress with the knight on e4 and the bishop on g2? – David Jun 12 at 7:40
  • @David I guess for a fortress you would want the white king to be somewhere around h1. However after, 1....Qf4+ you force the white king to the center away from a potential fortress. Indeed, Qf4+ is the only winning move in this position. Also the setup with Ng2 and Bg4, i.e. before the last white move is a fortress and a draw. – user1583209 Jun 12 at 14:06

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