Here is the position (black has just played Qf8, the only legal move after White's Re8+):

[FEN "2nKRq1k/6pp/8/3n4/6b1/8/8/8 w - - 0 1"]

In this position white has a forced mate in one, in the most literal sense. If white lost on time here, how would this be scored? Running out of time usually means losing the game. However, I think this would be considered at least a draw since black cannot checkmate white by any sequence of legal moves. I am wondering if there's anything in the FIDE rulebook that says something about such 'literally forced mate' positions, or how an arbiter would handle a position like this in real life, since just a draw for white does seem a bit unfair to me.

  • The "unrelated note" is addressed at chess.stackexchange.com/questions/8789/…
    – D M
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 1:29
  • I have no idea what other result would seem less unfair to you. White doesn't deserve to lose, since they have reached a position where they cannot be checkmated ever. White doesn't deserve to win since they didn't keep enough time on the clock to deliver checkmate. Draw is both simple and fair imho.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 8:35

1 Answer 1


You already answered it yourself - yes, there are §§§ relating to this. Let's check the rule book:

§6.9 Except where one of Articles 5.1.1, 5.1.2, 5.2.1, 5.2.2, 5.2.3 applies, if a player does not complete the prescribed number of moves in the allotted time, the game is lost by that player. [These §§§ do not apply here.] 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.

And indeed, the only possible future is Rxf8#. That's not the player's king, draw.

Since I strongly suspect a duplicate, I use the space to a comment on "unfair". Other rules have been tried, especially in blitz (specifying concrete material etc., e.g. B vs. N is lost for any side getting flagged, although a helpmate seems preposterous). But this is the only rule that is short and easily checked.

  • I guess I need clarification. You state it's a loss if you cannot complete the moves in time, unless the opponent (Black) cannot mate the king. That is not the case here, so why do you state it's a draw?
    – JohnP
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 14:10
  • @JohnP: How shall Black mate White, when the only legal move of White mates Black? Wrong king :-) Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 20:07
  • Oh, I see. I was looking at it backwards for some reason. I was thinking "Black has more than enough material to mate" :D
    – JohnP
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 22:00

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