# Does a chess position exists where one player has insufficient material, and at the same time has a forced mate in 2?

I was thinking about the USCF and FIDE rules on flagging when the opponent has insufficient material. I think I came up with a scenario with the USCF-rule where the best move would be to let the clock run out. However, I'm unsure if such a position actually exists or not.

Here's the scenario (with USCF rules):

Assume white has insufficient material (KN or KB), but at the same time has a forced mate in 2 due to the placement of black's pieces. After white plays the first move in the forced sequence, black's best move (with USCF rules) would be to let the clock run out because it would be a draw.

Does such a position exist, or is it impossible?

Edit:

According to USCF rules, if a player runs out of time when the opponent has insufficient material, the game is ruled a draw.

According to FIDE rules, if a player runs out of time when the opponent has insufficient material, the game is ruled a loss as long as there exists a legal sequence of moves that leads to check mate.

• Could you quote the rules to which you are referring, it would help clarify what you are asking about. Jan 22, 2021 at 23:42
• @IanBush I edited the question. I saw your suggestion in the answer you deleted by the way. That suggestion would be a mate in 1, which would not work because black didn't have a move to let the time run out on. Jan 22, 2021 at 23:46
• Best if you quote the text of the actual rules you are asking about, rather than describe what you think they are Jan 22, 2021 at 23:59
• @IanBush I don't really know where to find them. Anyway, the question is not really about the actual rules; they just give a bit of context on the position I'm looking for. I'm looking for a position where white has KN or KB, and black has some unfortunately placed pieces which allows for a forced mate in (at least) 2. Jan 23, 2021 at 0:02

After white plays the first move in the forced sequence, black's best move (with USCF rules) would be to let the clock run out because it would be a draw.

No, it wouldn't be a draw if there was a forced mate and the losing side ran the clock out. Under USCF rule 14E:

The game is drawn even when a player exceeds the time limit if one of the following conditions exists as of the most recently determined legal move:

14E2. King and bishop or king and knight. Opponent has only king and bishop or king and knight, and does not have a forced win.

Since in your scenario the opponent does have a forced win, this does not apply, and the side that runs the clock down will lose.

You have misunderstood the rules. What you describe is incompatible with the FIDE Laws of Chess. There is no concept of "insufficient material". This is what they say:

5.2.2 The game is drawn when a position has arisen in which neither player can checkmate the opponent’s king with any series of legal moves. The game is said to end in a ‘dead position’. This immediately ends the game, provided that the move producing the position was in accordance with Article 3 and Articles 4.2 – 4.7

Basically to be a draw under this rule helpmate has to be impossible.

The wording in the latest version of the USCF rules that I have seen is badly worded and may have helped cause your confusion but basically amounts to the same thing:

14D. Insufficient material to continue.

The game is drawn when one of the following endings exists as of the most recently determined legal move, in which the possibility of a win is excluded for either side

Thus K+N vs K is drawn as is K+B vs K but K+N vs K+B is not. Either side can still win.

• Right, I see the misunderstanding I had with the FIDE rule. But the position I am asking for is with the USCF rules. I'll try to make the question clearer. Jan 22, 2021 at 23:55
• Hmm, ok. My question came up after seeing the game between Firouzja and Carlsen in the 2019 World Blitz Championships (youtube.com/watch?v=lmUgUetQBk8) on Hikaru's twitch-stream. According to Hikaru, that game would have been a draw according to USCF rules, but not according to FIDE rules. Is that just wrong? Jan 23, 2021 at 0:12
• @marstran Yes. Hikaru is not an arbiter. It is very common for top players to be ignorant of the rules. The only (former) top player with arbiter level knowledge of the rules is Nigel Short. Jan 23, 2021 at 0:16
• On second thought, wouldn't it actually be a draw due to USCF rule 14E2 as @D M pointed out in the other answer? Jan 23, 2021 at 0:22
• I'm sure they don't enforce as written because KNN vs K has a helpmate. Jan 23, 2021 at 22:32