17

Let's say I have only the King left.

I've read several rules and posts of people saying there is a limit to the number of moves your opponent has to check mate you in, but there are some inconsistencies:

  • I found the number of moves varying depending on where I found the info. It seems to be 50, but I am not 100% sure.
  • It seems there are some exceptions and cases where the count is reset, but the information seems quite spread all over.

I'd like to understand this rule in detail and know all the special cases if possible, as it seems way too fuzzy for me and the people I play with.

  • 2
    I voted to close because this is a simple question about the rules. – Andrew May 1 '12 at 19:49
  • 9
    @Andrew The reason I joined this site was because it was not purely for chess professionals but also enthusiasts, and after having played with many different people I can tell you nobody (including me) was aware of this rule, I don't think it is a "simple" question about the rules, if this cannot be asked on a Chess Q/A site this is clearly not for enthusiasts. – Charles Menguy May 1 '12 at 19:53
  • 2
    Ok, that's a valid point. Maybe continue this discussion on meta? I can see both sides of the argument, but I think that "google-able" questions are usually closed on other stack exchange sites. – Andrew May 1 '12 at 19:55
  • @Andrew entry-level questions are fine. Just make sure said entry-level is of sufficient high quality, and then it becomes a duplicate target. People on SO and the more technical sites usually frown upon easily google-able questions because it will be of little value to professionals. This is a hobby site (assuming the professional chess players are too few compared to the enthusiasts) so it is fine. – Mindwin Jun 2 '16 at 0:51
17

If a player has a theoretical win, that person has a move limit (50 moves) with "no fundamental alteration of the position." That means no captures of pawns or pieces, and no pawn moves. The count is reset if either of these things happens.

There used to be an exception for positions like king, bishop, and knight vs. King (a checkmate). It was known to be winnable in a maximum of 34 moves. But players got twice this maximum, or 68 moves (Milton Hanauer, "Chess Made Simple"). Apparently, this, and other exceptions, were removed later, according to a comment below.

  • 7
    FIDE no longer has exceptions to the 50 move rule. Those were removed after tablebases were developed and the (large) number of positions requiring more than 50 moves was discovered. – Andrew May 1 '12 at 19:54
  • The history is definitely long and weird. I think we got pretty lucky with the choice of 50 moves, honestly. It gives a bit of leeway for the attacker in the harder endgames (KBNk and KQkr for instance) but not so much that one can just sit around hoping to fall into a winning plan. Wikipedia has a nice little overview of the rule's history: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifty-move_rule#History. – kahen May 28 '14 at 4:19
10

For the most part, a draw occurs when it appears that neither side will win.

Draws are codified by various rules of chess including stalemate (when the player to move has no legal move and is not in check), threefold repetition (when the same position occurs three times with the same player to move), and the fifty-move rule (when the last fifty successive moves made by both players contain no capture or pawn move).

A draw also occurs when neither player has sufficient material to checkmate the opponent or when no sequence of legal moves can lead to checkmate. Unless specific tournament rules forbid it, players may agree to a draw at any time.

Ethical considerations may make a draw uncustomary in situations where at least one player has a reasonable chance of winning.

For example, a draw could be called after a move or two, but this would likely be thought unsporting.

Source

  • So the 50-moves rules only applies when you have no pawn move or capture? Not for other pieces? – Charles Menguy May 1 '12 at 19:40
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    Captures for all pieces, and moves for pawns only. – Soufiane Hassou May 1 '12 at 19:44
  • 1
    Additionally, in a situation where you have timed out, you can claim a draw rather than a loss if your opponent had insufficient material on the board for a mate. – James Tomasino May 1 '12 at 20:18
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    @CharlesMenguy - another way to think of it is that reversible moves don't reset the count. Pawns can't go backwards, and captures can't be undone, so those moves aren't reversible. Hmm, I suppose that argues for castling resetting the count, but it doesn't. – Pete Becker Jun 27 '15 at 12:00
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    @11684 You can restore where the pieces were, but the option to castle is considered part of the board's "position". Therefore, once you have spent your castle, you can never go back to that position. – allyourcode Dec 31 '16 at 5:58
9

I know you mainly asked about the 50 move rule, and that has already been answered, but I thought I'd answer the exact question as stated which was "With the King as the last piece, how can you get a draw?"

  1. Both players can agree to a draw
  2. Opponent Stalemates you (you have no legal moves, but are not in check)
  3. You stalemate your opponent (yes you can do this with just a king, but he has to help you by blocking himself with a pawn for example)
  4. Your opponent does not have mating material (no pawns and one, Knight or Bishop, or less)
  5. 50-move rule. After 50 moves have passed without a capture or a pawn advancing, you can claim a draw.
  6. The same position is repeated 3 times and you claim a draw. For the position to be the same it must be the same players turn and the same set of possible legal moves (including castling rights and en passant opportunities). The position need not repeat 3 times back to back, but at any time.
  7. Your opponent runs out of time on the clock in a timed game and you claim it. The game is drawn because you do not have mating material.

Examples

(2) Opponent Stalemates you (you have no legal moves, but are not in check)

[fen "8/3kp3/8/8/8/8/4K3/8 w - - 0 1"]

1. Kd3 Kd6 2. Kd4 e5+ 3. Ke4 Ke6 4. Ke3 Kd5 5. Kd3 e4+ 6. Ke3 Ke5 7. Ke2 Kf4
8. Kf2 e3+ 9. Ke2 Ke4 10. Ke1 Kd3 11. Kd1 e2+ 12. Ke1 Ke3

(3) You stalemate your opponent (yes you can do this with just a king, but he has to help you by blocking himself with a pawn for example)

[FEN "8/8/8/8/7R/3K4/p7/r1k5 w KQkq - 0 1"]

1. Rh1+ Kb2 2. Rxa1 Kxa1 3. Kc2

(4) Your opponent does not have mating material (no pawns and one, Knight or Bishop, or less)

[FEN "8/6q1/3k4/2n5/7Q/4K3/8/8 w KQkq - 0 1"]

1. Qd4+ Qxd4+ 2. Kxd4

(5) 50-move rule. After 50 moves have passed without a capture or a pawn advancing, you can claim a draw.

[Event "ICC 3 0"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[White "Smallville"]
[Black "depressnyak"]
[FEN "r7/3q2k1/3bb2p/r1p1p1pP/PpPpPpP1/1P1P1P2/R1Q3KN/R7 w - - 6 33"]

1. Kf2 Qe7 2. Kg2 Bd7
3. Kf2 Qe8 4. Kg2 Qb8 5. Nf1 Bc7 6. Nd2 Qe8 7. Qd1 Qc8 8. Kg1 R8a7
9. Kg2 Qa8 10. Kg1 Bd6 11. Kg2 Bc6 12. Kg1 Be8 13. Kg2 Bf7 14. Kf2 Be6
15. Kg2 Qe8 16. Kf2 Bf7 17. Qh1 Qe6 18. Kg2 Be8 19. Qd1 Bd7 20. Kf2 Qe8
21. Kg2 Qc8 22. Kf2 Be6 23. Kg2 Qe8 24. Kf2 Qd7 25. Kg2 Qe8 26. Kf2 Bf7
27. Qh1 R7a6 28. Kg2 Be7 29. Kf2 Qd8 30. Kg2 Qe8 31. Kf2 Be6 32. Kg2 Bd6
33. Kf2 Bd7 34. Qd1 Bc6 35. Kg2 Qa8 36. Kf2 Be8 37. Kg2 Bf7 38. Kf2 Qe8
39. Qh1 Be7 40. Kg2 Be6 41. Kf2 Bf6 42. Kg2 Qc8 43. Qd1 Qc6 44. Kf2 Qe8
45. Kg2 Qd7 46. Kf2 Bf7 47. Kg2 Qc6 48. Kf2 Bd8 49. Kg2 Bc7 50. Kf2 Qe8 51. Qh1

(6 The same position is repeated 3 times and you claim a draw. For the position to be the same it must be the same players turn and the same set of possible legal moves (including castling rights and en passant opportunities). The position need not repeat 3 times back to back, but at any time.

[White "Fischer"]
[Black "Petrosian"]
[Date "1971"]
[FEN "8/pp3p1k/2p2q1p/3r1P2/5R2/7P/P1P1QP2/7K b KQkq - 0 1"]

1. Qe5 Qh5 2. Qf6 Qe2 3. Re5 Qd3 4. Rd5 Qe2
  • 1
    I believe point 4 is actually "There is no possible sequence of moves leading to mate". Insufficient material is one way but there are also others (e.g. both kings able to shuttle back and forth behind immobile pawn barriers – M.M Sep 23 '16 at 0:16
8

By the "rules" of chess, 50 moves without captures or pawn moves will result in a draw. When the ONLY pieces left on the board are two kings, a draw occurs. You can also ask the other player for a draw ("I offer a draw"). Threefold repetition of a position will also result in a draw.

5

There is no rule about a number of moves that applies only when one side has a king. So the real answer to your question is, there's no such thing.

However, there is a rule that states that if 50 or more moves (full moves, so 50 by white and 50 by black) have happened without a pawn move or capture, the player to move may claim a draw. It's not necessary that one of the sides has a lone king for that.

1

When using the "15 chances" the player with the lone king or king and all pawns blocked can call a draw when if their king is moved 15 times without being checked. Other wise the count restarts. Basically the opposing player has to have atleast a queen, rook, or a pawn that can be promoted and positioned to check before the lone king makes 15 moves or forces draw through repetition.

  • 1
    This is not an official rule, see fide.com/component/handbook/?id=171&view=article – Dag Oskar Madsen May 12 '15 at 21:31
  • Thanks for the link. My description is used in my area and many other places where there is a waiting list to play the winner. It can be frustrating having to wait for a player to corner a king that is o the opposite side of the board – Chavers May 13 '15 at 0:01
1

It actually depends. In reality there are different types of chess games. "Standard Chess" is actually a misnomer. There is no such thing. "Traditional Chess" might be better, but buy ten different rule books on Traditional Chess and you will see very quickly that the rules vary.

This is due to the fact that chess is a very ancient game played by a variety of cultures. For example the 'en passant' rule is primarily European and not typically played in the West, even in tournament. Go to a European Tournament, the rule is accepted.

In practice, Every culture has a slight variation for the rules of chess. Some rules, such as how the pieces move, e.g. are followed relatively universally. Exceptions to rules may be "house rules" or a cultural adaptation (such as 'en passant' e.g.)

Obviously, the number of moves it will take, depends on how many exceptions there are, and whether or not cultural rules apply. Remove those Exceptions and go with a more strict form of the game and then yes, it is typically around 50, but even in strict forms of the game, there are still some exceptions.

protected by Glorfindel Sep 23 '16 at 6:09

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