Time Forfeit

A time forfeit is when you “lose on time” in chess. It means that you have run out of time on the chess clock. In the modern digital chess clocks, it shows zero time. On the old-school analog chess clocks, it was when your “flag fell”.

A win or loss on time is not automatic. The opponent has to “claim” the win on time. The procedure for claiming a win involves stopping the clocks. An arbiter can be summoned if necessary, which it rarely is, given that most players are courteous.

The usual turn of events is that the person has lost on time loses the game, even if they are 2 queens ahead. Hence, winning on time is a common way of “swindling” in rapid play chess.

Double Time Forfeits

Double time forfeits occur when both players are out of time. These are a draw. They arise mainly where an opponent doesn’t notice the other player has lost on time, and then also runs out of time. No attempt is made to determine which clock ended first. Hence, it is important to stop your clock as part of claiming a win on time!

Time Forfeit and Inadequate Material

In some tournaments, a special rule may apply for time forfeits if the winning player has “inadequate mating material”. Usually that means having just the King. If this special rule applies, then a draw is given even if one player has lost on the clock. Not all tournaments apply this rule, so local rules may vary; ask your referee.

Late Arrival Time Forfeit

A special type of time forfeit occurs if a player does not arrive in time to start the game at many tournaments. Usually a grace period of 30 minutes (or 60 minutes) from the official start time is given. But at this cut-off time, failure to arrive and make the first move will be a forfeit, even though you may still have time left on the clock. If the actual start time is delayed from the officially planned start time, usually the grace period is extended to start from the delayed start time.

Related Chess Rules Topics

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