Consider this objectively drawn position that occurred in the Fischer vs Spassky 1972 match, game 12. Suppose this position occurred in a blitz game where Black barely has few seconds remaining on his clock. Black decides to give up the f5-pawn and instead sit comfortably with his pawns on f6 and h6 as follows-

   [fen "8/5p2/6kp/p4p2/2B5/1P2PK1P/8/4b3 w - - 0 1"]

   1. Kf4 f6. 2. Bd3 Bb4. 3. Bxf5+ Kg7. 

This position is an impenetrable fortress. Because of the presence of bishops of opposite color, there is no way White can check the Black king or even try to win a pawn by attacking it. If White marches up the e-pawn, Black can simply capture. There is no way White can win. Black simply has to keep moving his bishop safely on the a5-e1 diagonal.

Now, since this is a blitz game and Black just has a few seconds left, White simply attempts to run Black out of time just by making legal moves without making any kind of progress. In such a scenario, would Black be allowed to pause the clock and claim a draw?

  • Yes I agree that the rule should be changed, here is my opinion why. Chess is a game that is played using time (in tournament play)...no problem understanding that. However and most importantly, chess is also a game that rules state is played to a decisive end, be it a win by mate or resignation by the other opponent or a DRAW position in which a win is impossible for either player no matter how much time is left! With this said, no matter how much time is given nor how much time is left, both players have that amount time to reach one of those final results explained above, which is the objec
    – user11357
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 14:11

5 Answers 5


No. There is a rule like that for standard time controls (rule 10.2 under FIDE rules), however under blitz rules 10.2 doesn't apply. Appendix B, rule B.3.b:

b. Article 10.2 and Appendix A.4.c do not apply.

In blitz, the clock is just as much a part of the game as the board is. If you have a position like that with seconds left and your opponent has more, you are lost.

  • I thought of posting the same answer but wasn't sure 100% if I was right. Kinda sucks to lose like that... Thank you for clarifying this for me. +1. Best regards. Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 9:40
  • Even king + rook vs king + rook is not a draw. I hate seeing it played out until a flag falls, but there's nothing the arbiter can do. Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 9:41
  • So sad :( Hopefully FIDE will do something about this... Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 9:45
  • 2
    Increments solve this problem (but perhaps create new ones?). Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 9:49
  • I guess the point is that there are usually many games per arbiter, rounds only last ten minutes or so, and the first games to finish should have the same circumstances as the last. So anything based on the arbiter's judgement can't be used in blitz tournaments. In case of adequate supervision (pro tournaments with 1 arbiter per game), 10.2 does apply. Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 10:08

It is important to know the difference between "dead drawn" which can be a subjective evaluation and "definitely drawn", for example King versus King and no other material present on the board. Other examples are K+B vs K and K+N vs K. After that, things get a bit tricky. As long as the opponent has a theoretical chance of checkmating you, you still lose when your time runs out. For example, white has a Knight and black has a pawn on the h-file. Black loses on time, since it is possible to construct a checkmate with the pieces present on the board. Thus, it is better for black to get rid of the h-pawn in case of time trouble, in order to salvage a draw.

Thus, the answer is "No", you cannot claim a draw in blitz as long as your opponent has a theoretical chance of checkmating you with the pieces available on the board. In addition, if you fail to claim a draw in longer time controls, you will lose when your time runs out, for the exact same reason as stated above. So make sure to claim a draw while you still have time left on your clock in those situations!

  • In the position shown for the original question, if White was allowed to control both pieces, playing legal moves, he would clearly win. On the other hand, there are some situations where even allowing one side to select all the moves for the other no checkmate would be possible. I wonder if there would be any problem with a rule which said that a player whose clock falls must either forfeit or allow the other player to control his pieces (forfeiting being more sportsmanlike in any case where the existence of a helpmate was obvious or could be demonstrated).
    – supercat
    Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 0:10
  • Is this true? If this is the case, then any pawn, not just h-pawn would do. I can promote to a rook and put it on h7 to help mate
    – jf328
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 16:32

This position is a draw but it is not known that both sides can play it right. Player's skill is the major factor in chess, not position potential. If an arbiter(any arbiter) had the right to declare such positions a draw, without both players agreeing, it would be irrational. Only positions that a player's skill is irrelevant(e.g. K+B vs K) can be declared as a draw by the arbiter. A position like the one you show here, can only be a draw if a 3-fold repetition occurs, the players agree to a draw, or the arbiter concludes that no player is trying to win the game.

EDIT: As @RemcoGerlich pointed out, only article 10.2 indirectly prevents playing solely on the time of the opponent and this article does not apply in blitz. So, I removed the part of the answer that said otherwise incorrectly.

  • K+B v K is a draw, no arbiter needed. In long time controls, a draw claim under rule 10.2 in the position above would certainly have a very good chance of being accepted (in practice the arbiter would usually postpone his decision, observe for a number of moves, and if black shows he can defend it easily will give the draw after black's flag falls). And on which rule do you base the last claim, that you can't play on time only in a blitz game? Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 14:48
  • @RemcoGerlich According to the handbook in the link you have given, the same rules as rapid chess are applied except for the specific rules in the Appendix B for blitz. There is no rule that allows to play specifically on time only in blitz, so, the same rule that forbids it in standard applies to blitz, as well. K+B vs K is a draw, of course but it has happened that a player had to ask the draw from the arbiter, because the opponent refused to give it. Silly but happens.
    – ThunderGr
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 14:55
  • 1
    No, the only rule that forbids it (or rather, allows the opponent to claim a draw if you don't try to win) is 10.2, and that's explicitly not used for blitz. Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 15:00
  • 1
    @RemcoGerlich Yes, you are right. I will edit my answer to correct that. Thank you.
    – ThunderGr
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 15:12

One exception :

If you are playing supervized blitz (like in the World Cup, for instance), then the "Competition Rules" apply and you can claim a draw through article 10.2. See Annex B.3 of the Fide Handbook

In the given position, you could get a draw by stopping the clock, calling the referee, explaining clearly that you intend to move your bishop on the e1-b4 diagonal without giving it to the white King, take on e5 with Pf6 if White ever plays e4-e5, and that your opponent has no way to win by normal means.

In un-supervized blitz, however, the Rapidplay Laws apply and, well, if your opponent wants to keep on playing it becomes a wrist race and you may end up losing on time.


A common practice, although not to my knowledge in any rule book, is that if your flag falls, you only lose if there is a legal sequence of moves that ends with you being mated.

This will lead to anomalous situations, such as you having plenty of pieces and your opponent just King and one Pawn. This is a win for your opponent because there will be a sequence of moves, probably very stupid, in which you give away all of your pieces and the opponent promotes his pawn. This means that your chief objective, in the moments before flag-fall, should have been to capture that pawn.

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