Different Ways to Draw

I have only drawn 1 league game (on the 13th March 2018), partly because I have only played around 20 serious matches, but also because I play attacking chess.This means that I might gain a winning attack, which is unstoppable, or the attack fizzles out into nothing and I go material down into a losing endgame, but either way at least I have had some entertainment and interest on the way. With the white pieces, I think you should always play for a win, because you have the first move, but with black a draw is okay.

In the Russian school of chess they said “With black just aim to get equality”. This is a reasonable statement, because black has the disadvantage of not having the first move.

There are six different ways in which you can draw:

Drawn by repetition

The reason I put this one first is because it is the preferred way for grandmasters. No words have to be spoken, all you have to do is move your pieces back and forth, until the same position has occured on the board 3 times. Often top players deliberately repeat the position a couple of times, then play on for the win. Psychologically, this can have an effect on the opponent, because of numerous reasons. One good analogy is that it can be the chess equivalent of going ‘tapis’ or ‘all in’ when neither player knows whether an attack is sound or not, but the one who declined the draw feels more confident…(don`t worry if you don`t understand that though).

 Drawn by Perpetual Check

This one can be confused with the one above (they are closely related), but basically the idea is that one players king can`t find a safe square from checks and their opponent checks them every move. The piece that often does the checking is the queen, because it covers many squares. If you find yourself in an inferior position (at least, one that you believe to be ~) then you might be able to draw the game by sacrificing material, such as a knight or bishop to remove the protection of the king (the pawns in front of a castled king) and obtain a perpetual check position. This is a sensible option.

perpetual check
Why is this board green? It is a tournament game. Okay, this is a hypothetical offshoot from one of my games (I am black), white moves the king one square to the right to get out of check = only move. Black`s next move is Queen right 1 square  = check. The position repeats, and it is a draw.

 Drawn by Stalemate

If you have heard of none of the above ways to draw, then I am sure that you will have heard of this one. The famous stalemate is really both the worst nightmare of every chess player and the superficial delight of a hustler. In time troubles – when the chess clock says that you have used up more time than your opponent, it is easy to make mistakes…

Stalemate: The position where a player cannot make any legal move, otherwise they would be walking into check. Here is an example of one such position:

stalemate 1
It is black to move. This is stalemate, because black can`t make a legal move. If it was white to move here, then it would be winning for white.

Drawn by Agreement

One player offers the other a draw, by simply saying something like “Do you want a draw?” or perhaps just “draw?”. In some tournaments, you have to get beyond a certain move number before you draw; aimed at preventing draws happening immediately for strategical reasons, which is both boring and also borderline cheating.

Many grandmasters stay clear of this method, because they fear the draw being rejected, when they might start playing badly – a psychological factor.

In response to the draw being offered, to decline, you can either say “Not yet” or “No thanks”, or anything else reasonable, just don`t be rude, because that is disrespectful. If you want to accept, then shaking hands should be enough. I tend to just hang around a little while to check when the result is put up, in case there is any confusion…

Drawn by 50 move rule/ 75 move rule

This rule is a bit more obscure, but also 100% valid. The idea is that you can move around the chess board, without making a 3 fold repetition but also without making any progress, and to avoid the game going on indefinitely the game is drawn.

If there are 50 consecutive moves that do not make any ‘progress’* then either player can claim a draw.

If there are 75 consecutive moves that do not make any ‘progress’* then an arbiter can step in and declare the game drawn.

*Progress is defined as either a capture or a pawn move.

There is also some controversy, brought about by Averbahk, who discovered some positions where one side is winning, but it takes more than 50 moves to maneouver your pieces in the right places – for example a king and knight versus a king and pawn.

Drawn by Insufficient Material

It is what it says on the tin. If you don`t have enough material, then you might not be able to possibly win, even if your opponent makes the worst moves possible (though if the position was truly drawn, then all moves would be of the same value).

One very obvious example is king versus king.

Here are a few more examples that I will leave you to think about:

  • King and bishop v. King
  • King and knight v. King
  • King and 2 knights v. king
insufficient material
White is in check, the only move is king right 1 square. The white king will now run wild across the whole board. It is drawn.

I hope this has clarified all the possible ways to draw in chess.

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