With only the King left, how can you get a draw?

  • 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.

    I voted to close because this is a simple question about the rules.

    @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.

    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 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.

  • Tom Au

    Tom Au Correct answer

    9 years ago

    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.

    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.

    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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifty-move_rule#History.

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