Chess Terms
50-Move Rule

50-Move Rule

Can a chess game go on forever if neither player can make progress or decides to resign? It turns out that it can't, thanks to the 50-move rule! Here's everything you need to know about this important chess rule:

What Is The 50-Move Rule?

The 50-move rule states that a player can claim a draw in chess if no one moves a pawn or captures a piece for 50 consecutive moves. In this case, a move consists of each player moving a piece once.

50-move rule in chess
It's impossible for either player to make progress in this position. After 50 moves, one of the players can claim a draw even if the other player doesn't want to draw.

In over-the-board chess, a draw is not mandatory under the 50-move rule. A player needs to claim it. However, an arbiter can intervene and declare a game drawn if no one makes a capture or moves a pawn for 75 consecutive moves. 

Instead, online games automatically end with the 50-move rule. This way, players who want to make a draw don't need to worry about counting the moves.

Why Is The 50-Move Rule Important?

The 50-move rule is important for keeping a player who has no chance of winning from playing on. Without this rule, a player could try to win a drawn game by annoying or tiring out their opponent, encouraging them to resign.

The 50-move rule can also save a player from losing on time. In the video below, you can see an example of GM Jorden van Foreest securing a draw with less than one second on his clock, thanks to this rule.

Because of the 50-move rule, knowing how to convert a winning endgame effectively is very important for a chess player. Players can often reach an endgame that is objectively winning for one side. However, the other player can claim a draw if the side with an advantage can't win in 50 moves. 

This happened during the 2018 Women's World Blitz Championship when former women's world champion Tan Zhongyi couldn't deliver a checkmate with a knight and bishop. 

Examples Of 50-Move Rule Draws

One notable example of a game ending in a draw because of the 50-move rule happened between GMs Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov. In a complicated game, Karpov had a material advantage with three minor pieces for a rook. Despite the material advantage, Kasparov defended well and held off Karpov. The game ended in a draw on move 114 because of the 50-move rule.

Another notorious example of a game ending in a draw because of the 50-move rule happened between GMs Jan Timman and Christopher Lutz. The players reached an endgame of a bishop and rook against a rook, with Timman having the material advantage. That advantage, however, was not enough for Timman to win the game. Ironically, Black's last move would force a rook exchange, which would also force a draw.


You now know what the 50-move rule is and why it is important. Head over to our Endgames page and practice your endgame technique so you can checkmate your opponent in fewer than 50 moves!

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