What will happen if you have a position where no one can lose?

[fen "5k2/8/1p1p1p2/pBpP1Pp1/P1PpK1P1/1P1Pb3/8/8 b - - 0 1"]

Here is my game, I know it is live960 but I was wondering the outcome for a standard format chess game; will it be a draw because no one can win?

It also could be draw by agreement and 50 move. I am also aware that since there are bishops that can move actively at any time other than the king it can't work for this position.

What if one person loses their time or can you keep playing until the clock is out of time? I am looking to see if there is a type of draw unique for this kind of position. If so what is it called, is it in FIDE and USCF?

I am aware that statistically a game like this is probably the rarest of the rare but it happened to me and that is why I am asking this question.

  • you're mistaking "can't" and "shouldn't". Someone can win, but it requires the other person to make an incredibly bad move. because of this normally the players will both see this and agree to a draw. If it's no increment clock game and you're winning on time you could try to avoid a 3 move repetition and flag your opponent, but since there are easy moves to make it's unlikely that you will be able to get much time out of them before the 50 move rule.
    – Aequitas
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 5:49
  • @Aequitas OP may have missed the losing ideas. For example, 1. b4?! ... where either pawn capture can lead to progress by capturing and promoting a pawn to win (white or black, doesn't matter). If all pawns were absent from the b-file, then checkmate might truly be as unreachable as I presume the question intended?
    – user45266
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 8:36
  • 2
    @user45266 I'm thinking that, or there's another black pawn already at b4, so the b3 white pawn can't move. Unlikely given the number of pawns that are off their home file, but this whole scenario is a bit unlikely... Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 14:35

1 Answer 1


I was wondering the outcome for a standard format chess game will it be draw because no one can win.

According to the FIDE Laws of Chess:

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.

So, if it really is the case that nobody can win then the game ends immediately in a draw and the position is called a ‘dead position’

However this position is not a dead position.

What if one person loses their time or can you keep playing the clock is out of time?

In the position you give if either player runs out of time then they lose because their opponent can checkmate them by some series of legal moves.

Suppose white's flag falls. Here is a series of legal moves which would allow black to checkmate white.

[fen "5k2/8/1p1p1p2/pBpP1Pp1/P1PpK1P1/1P1Pb3/8/8 b - - 0 1"]

1...Ke7 2. b4 axb4 3. Bc6 b3 4. Bb5 b2 5. Bc6 b1=Q 6. Bb5 Qh1#
  • I'm of the opinion the rule needs to be thrown out if sub-1000 rated player could hold the draw.
    – Joshua
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 15:37
  • 4
    Related: The headline-making 2019 game between Firouzja (white) and Carlsen. Firouzja lost on time even though Carlsen has no mating material. But there is a legal sequence to a black victory if white cooperates, so the loss stands. Here is the event on Youtube, starting when the timeout occurs, with after-the-fact commentary. Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 17:31

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