50-Move Rule

The 50-Move Rule is a draw in chess if there have been 50 moves without any progress made. For example, if your opponent is checking your King for 50 moves in a row, then it’s a draw. The exact definition of “no progress” for the 50-move rule is actually very strict:

Even a single capture, or a single pawn move, will reset the clock back to 50 moves. Note that there is a different “no progress rule” with a less strict definition of progress. There is also the concept of a draw by a player “not attempting to win by normal means” (i.e. trying to win on the clock only).

Examples When the 50-Move Rule Applies

The 50-Move rule will apply in positions such as:

In practice, the 50-move rule is rarely invoked, such games are usually “drawn by agreement” or “drawn by triple repetition”. An adjudicator may also declare a draw by “no progress” or “infinite pursuit” ideas (i.e. drawn by adjudication).

50-Move Rule in Blitz

The application of the 50-move rule is difficult in blitz, or at the end of a longer tournament game where the players have stopped recording the moves. There is no written record of the game, so how can you track or claim a 50-move rule draw? It’s somewhat tricky, but the general idea is that you are supposed to keep a verbal count of moves out loud, so it can be heard by your opponent (and hopefully the arbiter). In practice, it would help if the arbiter is watching the game, otherwise how do you prove your claim?

The Old 70-Move Rule

At one point in history, the official rule was actually a 70-move rule (rather than 50), requiring 70 moves of no progress. There are a few obscure positions that are winnable in more than 50 moves (according to computer analysis), but require less than 70 to win. But this rule was later changed back to 50 moves. It almost never actually occurs in any real tournament game.

Related Chess Rules Topics

Read more about these related chess rules, chess puzzles, and other chess tactics and strategies: