Tim Just is a National Tournament Director, FIDE National Arbiter, and editor of the 5th & 6th edition of the US Chess Rulebook. He is also the author of My Opponent is Eating a Doughnut & Just Law, which are both available from US Chess Sales and Amazon/Kindle. Additionally, Tim recently revised The Guide To Scholastic Chess, a guide created to help teachers and scholastic organizers who wish to begin, improve, or strengthen their school chess program. Tim is also a member of the US Chess Rules Committee and his new column exclusive to US Chess, “Just the Rules” will help clarify potentially confusing regulations.
The game was into the last seconds of the Sudden Death time control for both players. The two combatants were slapping down pieces while also banging away at their clocks. Then it happened. While it was the second player’s turn he ran out of time, but he pressed his clock anyhow—he had not noticed his own flag fall. After his opponent made a move, his adversary’s flag also fell. Both flags were down. Both players were out of time—the game was a draw.
Both flags down may cause a frown.
If both you and your opponent are out of time in a sudden death time control, then the game is drawn.
But what happens if your game has two time controls like 40 moves in 90 minutes followed by game 30 with a delay of 5 seconds (40/90,G/30,d/5)? While examining the position of move 39 near the end of the first time control (40/90), your opponent notices that both your flags are down—you are both out of time in the first time period! The game continues, and neither of you may make a flag fall claim.
And then there is this:
The general of the white pieces made his move with lightning speed. He forcefully slammed down the button on his clock, starting his opponent’s timer. White’s move was not check or checkmate BUT he left his adversary no legal moves. White’s move created an instant draw—the game was over; i.e., a stalemate. Nothing that happened after that moment mattered—even flag falls.
Can’t make a move and it’s your turn? Then a stalemate is what you’ve earned.
Remember the column about checkmate instantly ending the game? Well, stalemate also immediately halts the contest. The move that causes the stalemate puts a stop to everything, including any flag fall claims; however, if your opponent’s flag falls before they deliver the stalemating move, then feel free to make that flag fall claim. And if you discover a stalemate during postgame analysis which impacts the score, contact a TD immediately.
Since the publication of the 6th edition US Chess rulebook the lawgivers have come up with two new ways to rule a game a draw.
14K. Director declares draw for lack of progress
If one or both of the following occur(s) then the TD may declare the game drawn—without any claim from either player:
- The same position has appeared, as in 14C, for at least five consecutive alternate moves by each player.
- Any consecutive series of 75 moves have been completed by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture. If the last move resulted in checkmate, that shall take precedence
Here is how it works:
- Everyone could see it. The same pieces traveled around and around on the same few squares over and over, time after time. And neither wood pusher was making any kind of claim. The same position appeared at least three, four and five times. Having observed the same position a minimum of five times in a row, the TD declared the game a draw—without a player claim being made.
- It was a long hard fought game. Neither side had any advantage throughout the contest. Now the strategic endgame was creeping along. Black just finished making another move—move 105. Not a single pawn had budged and no pieces had been captured for the last 75 prior moves by either player. No claims were uttered. The TD broke the silence, “The game is a draw.”
It is as easy as ABC to ask for a bye from the TD.
The most common ways to ask for a bye are to (1) sign up on-site or (2) when you register for the event. Simply telling the TD you want that half-point, without writing anything down, opens the door to errors. Make the safe bet and check what the bye request procedure is for the tournament you are entering—including the tournament’s bye policy for the last round.
And next month we will jump into the clock rules quagmire.