Fifty-move rule - Rules and strategy of chess games (2023)

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The fifty-move rule in chess states that a player can claim a draw if no capture has been made and no pawn has been moved in the last fifty moves (for this purpose a "move" consists of a player completing his turn followed by his opponent completing his turn). The purpose of this rule is to prevent a player with no chance of winning from obstinately continuing to play indefinitely, or seeking to win purely by tiring the opponent out.

All of the basic checkmates can be accomplished in well under 50 moves. However in the 20th century it was discovered that certain endgame positions are winnable but require more than 50 moves (without a capture or a pawn move). The rule was therefore changed to allow certain exceptions in which 100 moves were allowed with particular material combinations. However, more and more such winnable positions were later discovered, and in 1992 FIDE abolished all such exceptions and reinstated the strict 50-move rule.

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Statement of rule

The relevant part of the official FIDE laws of chess is rule 9.3:

The game is drawn, upon a correct claim by the player having the move, if

(a) he writes on his scoresheet, and declares to the arbiter his intention to make a move which shall result in the last 50 moves having been made by each player without the movement of any pawn and without the capture of any piece, or
(b) the last 50 consecutive moves have been made by each player without the movement of any pawn and without the capture of any piece.

A claim does not have to be made at the first opportunity - it can be made any time when there have been no captures or pawn moves in the last fifty moves.

A game is not automatically declared a draw under the fifty-move rule - the draw must be claimed by a player on his turn to move. Therefore a game can continue beyond a point where a draw could be claimed under the rule. Theoretically, a game could continue indefinitely this way, but in practice, when a draw under the fifty-move rule can be claimed, one of the players is usually happy to claim it (Hooper & Whyld 1992:134). In 2014 FIDE amended the rules to eliminate the possibility that a game could continue without end. Rule 9.6b states that if 75 consecutive moves have been made without movement of any pawn or any capture, the game is drawn unless the last move was checkmate.

Games drawn under the fifty-move rule before the endgame are rare. One example is the game Filipowicz versus Smederevac, Polanica Zdrój 1966, which was drawn on move 70 without any captures having been made in the whole game and with the last pawn having been moved on move 20.

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Timman vs. Lutz

Timman vs. Lutz, 1995

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Position after 69. Rxg3, the 50-move count starts here


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Position before 121... Rb5+?, draw claimed

In this 1995 game between Jan Timman and Christopher Lutz, an endgame with a rook and bishop versus a rook occurred. White is striving for the winning Philidor position while Black is employing the drawing Cochrane Defense and the "second-rank defense" (see rook and bishop versus rook endgame). Black was defending well in the difficult defense and could have claimed a draw on the 119th move. Lutz notes that he claimed a draw on move 121, ironically when making a move that gets into a losing position (Lutz 1999:129-32).

Karpov vs. Kasparov

Karpov vs. Kasparov, Tilburg, 1991

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Position after 63. Kxh4, the last capture


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Position after 112... Kh8

A draw by the fifty-move rule could have been claimed after Black's 112th move in a 1991 game between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, but neither player claimed it. The last capture occurred on White's 63rd move (and the last pawn move occurred before that). By FIDE rule 9.3 part (a), White could have written his 113th move (which wouldn't have been a capture or pawn move) on his scoresheet and claimed a draw. By FIDE rule 9.3 part (b), after White's 113th move, either player could have claimed a draw on his turn to move, without having to write down his next move. Instead, the game continued a few more moves:

113. Ng5 Ra6+
114. Kf7 Rf6+
115. ½-½

The players agreed to a draw at this point because after 115. Kxf6 the position is a stalemate. If 115. Ke8 Rxf5 116. Nxf5, and the position is clearly drawn because the two knights cannot force checkmate (see two knights endgame).

Lputian vs. Haroutjunian

Lputian vs. Haroutjunian, 2001

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Position after 86. h6 (the last pawn move of the game)


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Position after 142. Qf6+, Black could claim a draw but resigned

An unusual event occurred in a game in the 2001 Armenian Championship between Smbat Lputian (who won the championship) and Gevorg Haroutjunian. The last pawn move was on White's 86th move and no captures occurred after it. (The game was a theoretical draw from before here until Black's 141st move.) Black could have claimed a draw after White's 136th move (or at any of the subsequent moves). Instead, the game continued and Black resigned on his 142nd move - even though the right to claim a draw was still in effect.


The rule has a long history (Stiller 1996:153). The purpose of the rule is to prevent someone from playing on indefinitely in a position that cannot be won. A precursor to chess, Shatranj, had a seventy-move rule. The fifty-move rule was introduced into chess by Ruy López in his 1561 book. Pietro Carrera (1573-1647) thought that twenty-four moves was the right number but Bourdonnais (1795-1840) argued for sixty moves (Hooper & Whyld 1992:134).

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By 1800 a claim under the rule could be made only in certain specified types of endgame, which varied from one set of rules to another. The move count started when the request to implement the rule was made (instead of going back to the last capture or pawn move) and a capture or a pawn move did not reset the count. The rules used at the 1883 London tournament reset the count if there was a capture or pawn move, but still started the count when the claim to apply the rule was made instead of going back to the last capture or pawn move.

At one time, it was believed that all winnable endgames could be won within fifty moves. However, in the early 20th century, some exceptions were found, including A. A. Troitsky's (1866-1942) analysis of the two knights endgame as well as the endgame of a rook and bishop versus a rook. The rules of chess were revised several times to admit exceptions to the fifty-move rule for certain specific situations. Early on, the fifty-move rule applied to tournament games but not to match games (Troitzky 2006:197).

During the time periods when the fifty-move rule admitted exceptions, there were a number of revisions. In 1928 FIDE enacted rules that if an endgame theoretically requires more than 50 moves to force checkmate, twice that number of moves were allowed. For instance, in the rook and bishop versus rook endgame, 132 moves were allowed, since it was twice the 66 moves that were thought to be required at that time. (The actual maximal number of moves needed is 59.) In 1952 FIDE revised the law, allowing for 100 moves in such positions but requiring that players agree to an extension for these positions before the first move is made. This was still in effect in 1960. The positions were not specified in the rules, to allow for the possibility of more positions requiring more than 50 moves to be discovered (which is what happened). The following positions were understood to require more than 50 moves:

  1. rook and bishop versus a rook
  2. two knights versus a pawn safely blocked by a knight behind the Troitsky line
  3. rook and pawn on a2 versus a bishop on black squares and a pawn on a3, plus the equivalent positions in the other corners. (In 1979 it was shown that this endgame can actually be won in just under 50 moves.)

Article 12.4 of the 1965 FIDE rules states:

The number of moves can be increased for certain positions, provided that this increase in number and these positions have been clearly established before the commencement of the game.

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Harkness notes that "Some of these unusual positions have been established and accepted by FIDE", including two knights versus a pawn. The 1975 and 1977 versions of the rules included the same wording (not specifying the positions or the number of moves) .

In 1984 the rule was modified and it became Article 10.9. Now 100 moves were explicitly specified and the positions above were listed in the rule. (The wording about the positions and number of moves having to be specified in advance of the game was dropped.) Ken Thompson's investigations in the 1980s using the Belle chess computer discovered numerous endgames winnable in more than 50 moves. However, these often involved seemingly random moves that defied human comprehension or analysis, in situations that would hardly ever occur in real gameplay. In 1989 the rule (still Article 10.9) was changed to 75 moves, and the listed positions were:

  1. Rook and bishop versus rook
  2. Two knights versus a pawn (no mention of the Troitsky line)
  3. A queen and a pawn on the seventh rank versus a queen (see queen and pawn versus queen endgame)
  4. Queen versus two knights
  5. Queen versus two bishops
  6. Two bishops versus a knight.

The rule was then changed to allow just 50 moves in all positions. Some sources say that the 1989 rule was in effect for only a "year or so" or a "few years", but one source of the 1992 rules gives the pre-1984 wording: "... increased for certain positions if it was announced in advance". By 2001 the rule was Article 9.3 and allowed 50 moves for all positions.

Research into how many moves are required to win certain endgames has continued. Exhaustive retrograde analysis using faster computers to build endgame tablebases has uncovered many more such endgames, often of previously unsuspected length. In 2008, the record was 517 moves (assuming optimal play by both sides) to make a piece capture or exchange that achieves a simpler and more obviously winnable sub-endgame, for a particular position involving a queen and knight versus a rook, bishop, and knight. In 2013, this record was improved to 545 moves.

Many of the longest games on record involve the rook and bishop versus rook endgame, when the rule for more moves was in effect. (See pawnless chess endgame and rook and bishop versus rook endgame.)

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Read more:

  • Draw (chess)
  • Rules of chess
  • Threefold repetition
  • Longest forced win



What is the 20 40 40 rule in chess? ›

Follow 20/40/40 Rule

That's where 20/40/40 rule comes handy. For an under 2000 rated player, it makes sense to spend 20% of the time on openings, 40% on Middlegame and 40% on Endgame. Besides that, you should play practice games, solve tactics and analyze.

What is the difference between 50 and 75 move rule in chess? ›

The 75 move rule is at the same level as "mate" or "stalemate". Basically, a rule which declares when a game ends. The 50 move rule is at the same level as "resignation" or "agreed draw". It allows a player to make a claim to end a game, but the player has an option to refuse it.

What are the top 5 rules in playing chess? ›

6 Golden Rules of Chess
  • If you are not attacking, you're defending. ...
  • If you don't have any pieces left, remember, the King is a piece too. ...
  • Don't feel sorry for your opponents, they won't feel sorry for you. ...
  • If you see a good combination, go for it. ...
  • If you are losing, start taking calculated risks.
Jan 29, 2016

What are the 3 special rules in chess? ›

There are three special moves that can sometimes be performed in chess.
  • Castling. The special move castling allows a player to legally break three of the basic movement rules of chess! ...
  • Pawn Promotion. ...
  • En passant.

What is the 75 turn rule in chess? ›

Seventy-five-move rule

If seventy-five moves are made without a pawn move or capture being made, the game is drawn unless the seventy-fifth move delivers a checkmate. No claim needs to be made by either player, as the draw is mandatorily applied by the arbiter.

What is the 80 20 rule in chess? ›

The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, suggests that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In chess improvement, this means that a significant improvement can be achieved by focusing on the most important areas.

What is the 15 second rule in chess? ›

Now, it is undeniable that Hikaru's speed is difficult to match by any mortal, which is why, on the basis of my own experience as well as my observations, I propose the 15-second rule: In general, you should only spend 15 seconds or more on a particular move when you believe that a critical position has been reached.

What is the rule when only king is left in chess? ›

If both players are left with a bare king, the game is immediately drawn. Similarly, if one player has only a king and either a bishop or a knight while the opponent has a bare king, the game is immediately drawn.

What is the golden rule of chess? ›

GOLDEN RULE: A piece is safe only as long as it defended by the same number of pieces that are attacking it. If your opponent attacks one of your pieces, count the number of your pieces that defend it immediately to make sure that it is safe.

What is the number 1 rule in chess? ›

Chess Rule #1: Touch move

We cannot emphasise how essential it is. Games are won and lost at a stroke with this rule. So here goes… the rule states that when a chess player intentionally touches one of his pieces, he or she must make a move with this piece (of course, if there is a legal move available).

What is the strongest strategy in chess? ›

1) Good chess strategy is to make your first move with the e-pawn or d-pawn advancing two squares. In either case, you will open pathways for the pieces to get off of the back rank and into the fight for the central squares.

What are 2 illegal moves in chess? ›

Here are some examples of illegal moves:

Moving the King on a square that is attacked by opponent's pieces. – Not protecting the King that was attacked by opponent's piece. For example, leaving the King in check. – Moving a piece in a way that the piece is not allowed to move.

What is the rarest move in chess? ›

Underpromoting to a bishop must be the rarest move in chess. We can easily think of some famous examples of rook promotions (such as the brilliant Saavedra study), and by comparison knight underpromotions happen every day - just think of this opening trap in the Albin Countergambit.

What is the very basic chess strategy? ›

One of the essential rules in chess strategy, especially for beginners, is always to keep your king in a safe position while trying to create weaknesses around your opponent's king if possible. That's the reason why you should always castle your king as soon as possible.

What is the weakest opening in chess? ›

Of the twenty possible first moves in chess, author and grandmaster Edmar Mednis argues that 1. f3 is the worst.

What is the hardest chess opening to defend against? ›

Hardest: Even though it's the most used opening in the world, the sicilian. Easiest: I love to play the Queen's Gambit Declined. The Sicilian Najdorf just has to be the toughest to play, both for White and Black.

What is the 15 10 rule in chess? ›

15/10 rapid chess is 15 minutes and a 10 second increment for each side. 10 second increment means that after each move is played, an extra ten seconds is added to your clock.

What does G 90 30 mean in chess? ›

For example, the time control G/90+30 means you start with 90 minutes and your time increases 30 seconds each time you move, this is all the time you get for the game. For delay, your clock does not begin to run as soon as it is your move, instead it begins to run some amount of time after your move starts.

Is chess a draw after 50 moves? ›

The 50-move draw rule, which today states that a draw can be claimed if no capture is made and no pawn is moved for 50 consecutive moves, took centuries to reach its modern definition.

What is the 50 chance rule in chess? ›

The 50 move rule means that if both players make 50 moves without captures or pawn moves then the game is automatically a draw. This usually happens in an endgame if you had just a king left or a king and a few pieces and the opponent cannot checkmate you.

What is the 400 point rule in chess? ›

FIDE impliments the 400 point rule, which states that in the calculation of probability of winning, if there's a rating difference of more than 400, it's treated as a 400 point difference, which has a winning probablity of . 92 for the stronger player.

What is the 10 second rule in chess? ›

You get 10 seconds per ply (each players move). After you've made your move, your clock resets to 10 seconds. There is no time limit. This is to try to combat people trying to beat people accumulatively on the clock, when their position is dead lost.

What is 3 minute chess called? ›

Bullet chess is faster than blitz chess! The rules for a bullet chess game aren't different from those of a normal chess game. Bullet chess refers to games played with time controls that are faster than 3 minutes per player.

What is the 2 minute rule in chess? ›

A player with less than two minutes remaining can claim a draw and summon the arbiter, if he believes that the opponent is no longer trying to win the game by normal means, or that the position is such that it is impossible for the opponent to try and win by normal means.

What is the longest possible chess game with 50 move rule? ›

Since every move that lays an effect on the game only needs to be played once every 50 moves, we can multiply that number by 50. 118 * 50 = 5900 moves. After 5900 moves, there will be nothing left on the board except two kings, so the longest possible chess game that follows the 50-move rule can last 5900 moves.

Can a king check a king? ›

Under the standard rules of chess, a player may not make any move that places or leaves their king in check. A player may move the king, capture the threatening piece, or block the check with another piece. A king cannot itself directly check the opposing king, since this would place the first king in check as well.

How many illegal moves are allowed in chess? ›

After the action taken under Article 7.4. a, for the first two illegal moves by a player the arbiter shall give two minutes extra time to his opponent in each instance; for a third illegal move by the same player, the arbiter shall declare the game lost by this player.

How many times can you put a king in check before stalemate? ›

In most cases, it is going to be 50. If your opponent has BKN against your K (a theoretical win in at most 33 moves) but can't work it out, you can claim a draw 50 moves after the last pawn move or capture. Your opponent can reset that clock by moving a pawn, but most positions vs.

Is there a formula for chess? ›

There is already a mathematical formula (Algorithm) to generate the optimal move in any chess position. The only problem is that calculating it requires more computing power than mankind will likely ever have, so chess engines have to estimate the best move because they cannot search all possible game positions.

What is the last rule of chess? ›

The last rule change was actually in 2014, with the introduction of the 75-move rule and fivefold repetition. If 75 moves pass without a capture or pawn move and the game has not otherwise ended, the game is a draw. If a position (beyond just the location of the pieces) occurs five times, the game is a draw.

What is the queen pawn rule in chess? ›

Queening: When a white or black pawn reaches its promotion square, players can exchange it for a queen, the most powerful piece in a chess game, of their respective color. This type of promotion is known as “queening the pawn” or “queening.”

What does G mean in chess? ›

In any chess tournament, we have to have a way to limit how long each round will take. The time control is this limit. If your time control is G/30, that means that each chess player has 30 minutes to complete his or her portion of the game. The game could then last a full 60 minutes (30 minutes for each player).

What is the quickest number moves in chess? ›

The two-move checkmate is the fastest way to complete a game of chess. Within just two chess moves, you can go from opening to endgame. While this gimmicky move might not fool a grandmaster or world champion, it's a useful strategy for beginners to keep in mind when playing against other novices.

What is an illegal checkmate? ›

You can't allow moving into check (whether the king moves, or another piece reveals the check) for one player, but not the other! As long as both players are allowed to move into check, or both are disallowed to do so - the outcome is the same either way.

What are bad moves in chess? ›

In chess, a blunder is a critically bad move or other poor decision, severely worsening the player's position by allowing a loss of material, checkmate, or anything similar. It is usually caused by some tactical oversight, whether it be from time trouble, overconfidence or carelessness.

What is the bishop special move in chess? ›

The bishop chess piece moves in any direction diagonally. Chess rules state that there is no limit to the number of squares a bishop can travel on the chessboard, as long as there is not another piece obstructing its path. Bishops capture opposing pieces by landing on the square occupied by an enemy piece.

What is the smartest first move in chess? ›

The best opening moves (and most popular) in a game of chess are 1. e4 (the King's Pawn Opening), 1. d4 (the Queen's Pawn Opening), 1. Nf3 (the Réti Opening), 1.

What is the least powerful piece in chess? ›

The pawn is the least powerful piece and is worth one point. If it is a pawn's first move, it can move forward one or two squares.

Which is the only chess piece that can jump? ›

The knight is the only piece in the game of chess that can “jump over” other pieces, regardless of whether those pieces are black or white. Knights capture enemy pieces by replacing them on their square.

Is there a perfect chess strategy? ›

No complete solution for chess in either of the two senses is known, nor is it expected that chess will be solved in the near future (if ever).

What is the 20 moves rule in chess? ›

No pieces can be captured and no pawns can be moved. Every 20 moves, you can remove one of your opponents pawns.

What is the 20 20 40 rule? ›

Here comes the most crucial part— saving & investments. As per the original budgeting rule, you must dedicate 20% of your income to savings & investments. However, if you have limited debt (lower than 20% of your salary) and limited wants (lower than 10% of your salary), you can invest 20-40% of your income.

What does 40 80 SD 30 mean in chess? ›

For example, a typical classical time control is 40/80 SD 30+30, which means you have 80 minutes for your first forty moves (that's the 40/80 part), then an added 30 minutes to your clock after move 40 for the rest of the game (that's the SD 30 part – SD stands for 'sudden death'), with every move having a 30-second ...

What does 40 moves in 2 hours mean chess? ›

40/2 G/60 -- Each player has 2 hours to make their first 40 moves and then an additional 60 minutes to make their remaining moves (the 60 minutes is added on to any leftover time from the first 40 moves).

What is the 50 15 5 rule? ›

50 - Consider allocating no more than 50 percent of take-home pay to essential expenses. 15 - Try to save 15 percent of pretax income (including employer contributions) for retirement. 5 - Save for the unexpected by keeping 5 percent of take-home pay in short-term savings for unplanned expenses.

Is the 50 30 20 rule useful? ›

The 50/30/20 rule can be a good budgeting method for some, but whether the system is right for you will be determined by your unique circumstances. Depending on your income and where you live, 50% may not be enough to cover your needs.

What is the 50 30 20 rule? ›

Our 50/30/20 calculator divides your take-home income into suggested spending in three categories: 50% of net pay for needs, 30% for wants and 20% for savings and debt repayment. Find out how this budgeting approach applies to your money.

What does 15 5 mean in chess? ›

A time control of G/15 +5 would mean a base of 15 minutes for each player's portion of the game. However, each time a player completes a move, 5 seconds is added to his time. So each 12 moves gets the player an additional minute of time. It's much harder to run out of time with a 5 second increment.

What does 45 45 mean in chess? ›

45 minutes for the whole game plus 45 extra seconds added to your clock after each move you make (increment).

Is a 75% accuracy good in chess? ›

I'd say for me, anything over 80% leaves me feeling pretty good about my play. For a game that is at least 25 moves long where most of the moves were not forced, I would have to say that 90%+ accuracy (expert strength or better) is generally an indicator of a good game.


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