How Games are Drawn

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There are six ways to draw a game of chess:

1. Perpetual Check - If an opponent checks the enemy King repeatedly we call this perpetual check. Perpetual check is usually used by the weaker side to avoid losing the game. In the diagram below White is ahead on material and is threatening checkmate by moving the Queen to g7.

Black has a saving series of moves which give perpetual check:
1. Kh1 Qf1+
2. Kh2 Qf2+
3. Kh1 Qf1+
4. Kh2 Qf2+

There is no way White can avoid Black from checking her King so the game is a draw.

2. Stalemate - If the King is not in check but it is unable to move to a safe square we say that the King is stalemated and the game is drawn. Many beginners who are ahead on material mistakenly stalemate the enemy king. Beware! In the diagram below the White King is not in check but it has no safe squares to go to so the game is a draw.


3. Insufficient mating material - When neither side has enough pieces on the board to checkmate the enemy king then the game is drawn. It is impossible to checkmate with:

  1. Just the two Kings on the board.
  2. King and Bishop against a King
  3. King and Knight against a King
  4. King and two Knights against a King

4. Repetition of moves - If the same position occurs three times in a game then a player may claim a draw. The perpetual check position above is also a draw because the same position occurs three times.

5. Fifty move rule - If both sides have made 50 consecutive moves without making a capture or pawn move then a player may claim a draw.

6. Draw by agreement - Both players may feel that the position on the board is equal and consequently agree to a draw. Many Grandmaster games end in a draw in this way.