Draw by Inadequate Mating Material

A chess game is drawn by “inadequate mating material” if neither player has enough material to checkmate. The most likely positions have only 2 or 3 pieces on the board, such as:

If either player has a Rook or a Queen, then it is not drawn by inadequate material. A Rook or Queen can both checkmate, so it is not drawn by this rule.

Also, if either player has a pawn, it is not officially drawn. In theory, even a single pawn can be promoted to become a Queen, and then give checkmate. So there has to be zero pawns on the board for this rule to declare a draw.

In practice, a lot of endgame positions are drawn even with one or more pawns on the board. But they are not drawn by this rule. Such “book draws” will often be drawn by agreement, by stalemate, or drawn by adjudication.

Related Chess Rules Topics

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