I am quite new to chess and I wonder what someone can do about the following situation:

  • Me (white): Knight + King, 1 minute left
  • Opponent (black): Knight + King, 3 minutes left

By the following rule:

If only one player has exceeded the time limit, but the other player does not have (theoretically) sufficient mating material, the game is still a draw. Law 6.9 of the FIDE Laws of Chess states that: "If a player does not complete the prescribed number of moves in the allotted time, the game is lost by the player. However, the game is drawn if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player's king by any possible series of legal moves, even with the most unskilled counterplay." For example, a player who runs out of time with a sole king versus king and bishop does not lose the game. It is still possible to lose on time in positions where mate is extremely unlikely but not theoretically impossible, as with king and bishop versus king and knight. (Under USCF rules, king and bishop, king and knight, or king and 2 knights with no pawns on the board is not considered sufficient mating material, unless the opponent has a forced win, even though it is theoretically possible to mate (but extremely unlikely to happen) in situations such as K+B vs. K+N).

this is no immediate draw.

The opponent keeps running away until I am out of time and lose the game.

A sample game can be seen here (I blundered on move 60 here, I could have got his knight but I pre-moved everything because I had around 5 seconds time left). But we can see here that he also does not take my knight to not make it a draw so I lose on time.

2 Answers 2


You have three choices:

  1. Always play with an increment, then this won't arise because you can always move within the increment
  2. Try and fork your opponent's king and knight. Either he takes your knight or you take his knight next move - result = draw. Or the best and simplest with so much time left
  3. Just play very fast until you have made 50 moves without any pawn moves (there won't be any because there are no pawns left) and without any captures (if there are any then the game sill be draw.)

One minute should ample time for you to just make 50 moves with your knight. Quality doesn't matter in this case.

According to 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.

Most online servers implement this automatically. If 50 moves are made with no pawn moves and no captures then the server ends the game as a draw.

  • I see, thank you. In the game I linked it was more like 10 seconds left so it was quite hard for me to get 50 moves because sometimes I pre-moved into a place that I couldn't move anymore after his knight moved so I ran out of time in that game. I guess in the scenario I described in my original question, with 1 minute left on the clock, going for the 50 moves is definetly doable if the opponent does not want to go for a draw.
    – Xatenev
    Sep 6, 2020 at 14:09
  • How about option 4: just lose on time sometimes. It is only a game. In the long run, the greater fun in playing without increments (more adrenaline if nothing else) outweighs the occasional objectively needless loss that you will sometimes suffer. Sep 29, 2020 at 18:42

1 - Play faster.

2 - Lose your knight and then the program will call it a draw.

3 - Move your king around for 50 moves and claim a draw; see answer 1.

4 - Play OTB instead of online. Find the Director and claim the draw for lack of material to mate.

  • 4
    Your fourth point is wrong. For instance, a White King on a1 is checkmated if the White Knight is on b1, the Black King is on b3, and Black plays Nc2++.
    – TonyK
    Sep 7, 2020 at 7:57
  • 1
    @TonyK Not entirely. The lack-of-material rule (5.2.2) may not apply, but the no-win-by-normal-means/opponent-shows-no-sufficient-attempts-to-win one (III.5) does for sure (III is in effect because it's a game without increment).
    – Annatar
    Sep 30, 2020 at 5:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.