If you’re in a losing position and there’s nothing you can do to turn it around into a win, it is sometimes possible to turn that loss into a draw. A draw is much better than a loss, at least you get to live to fight another day.
Knowing how to draw a game by knowing all of the rules is a huge advantage. Often times, a draw can also be forced, meaning your opponent has no choice.
What is a Draw in Chess?
A draw in Chess, also called a drawn game, is when certain conditions in the game have been met and the game ends without a winner or a loser. Instead of the game resulting in 1-0 or 0-1, a draw is 1/2-1/2. 
There are different types of draws and all of the draw rules are listed and explained below. First, let’s go over two terms that are commonly mistaken for each other in conversation.
Difference Between a Draw and a Stalemate
It is a common mistake for there to be confusion between what the terms stalemate and draw mean within the game of chess. As previously mentioned regarding what is meant by a stalemate in chess, it is a situation that generally ends as a draw. When the player who is to move next cannot make any legal moves but their king is also not in check, the end result is a stalemate/draw.
The main point to understand here is the fact that this is not the only kind of draw in the game of chess. The following situations also lead to a draw in chess though they are not classified as stalemates. These are examples of draw rules in chess that have seen many real-world situations where they have come into play. Many of the highest level chess tournaments have seen these types of draws occur and many notable players have been involved in these circumstances.
The stalemate is probably the most well-known of all the draw rules in chess though it is far from being the only one. It is the rule that is often considered to be synonymous with reached a draw in a chess game. In the game of chess, a stalemate occurs when the player who moves next is not currently in check but also has no legal move available to them. When a stalemate occurs, the rules of Chess declare that the game has ended in a draw.
This rule that came into standardization during the 19th century. Before the current stalemate rules, the stalemating player could be deemed the winner of the game. It could also be ruled as a half-win for the stalemating player or as a loss for the stalemated player. The stalemated player could also lose their turn in the case of a stalemate. This confusion has been cleared up in the past century with the modern stalemate rules coming into effect.
Regarding the topic of the chess endgame, the stalemate is seen as a way for the player in the inferior position to have the game ruled as a draw. The stalemate is much less common in more complex positions of the game. In these cases, a stalemate generally only occurs if the inferior player succeeds at pulling off a swindle and achieving a draw from the player in the superior position. The outcome of a stalemate occurs most often between inexperienced players who are in the beginning stages of learning chess. It is much less common in games played between strong, experienced players.
The other rules on this list are much more commonly applied in games that are played at the highest levels of chess. Some of them require a player to have enough knowledge of what is going on to call the draw. Others are called by the arbiter and they often occur in chess games that are played at a high enough level that each player could continue to drag the game out indefinitely if the arbiter does not step in and take action to call the draw.
There have been many notable examples of a stalemate during the recorded history of chess. A few of the most notable ones include a match that took place in 1883 between Henry Bird and Berthold Englisch and a 1992 matchup between William Fuller and Leonid Grigoryevich Basin.
50 Move Rule
The 50 move rule is another one of the draw rules in chess that is important to understand. This is a rule that states that it is possible for a player to claim that the game is a draw in the case that there has not been a capture made and that there has not been a pawn moved in the game’s last 50 moves. It is a rule that has been created to stop a player with no chance of winning the game from continuing to play on indefinitely. It is also designed to stop a player from trying to win by tiring out their opponent.
The 50 move rule works off of the concept that all of the basic checkmates within the game of chess can be accomplished within less than 50 moves. The history of the 50 move rule includes a time where it was abolished to allow exceptions where 100 moves were allowed to take place before a draw was called. In 1992, the International Chess Federation abolished this practice and fully reinstated the 50 move rule as a standard procedure. It is important to note that the 50 move rule only stands in the case that a player claims it.
One of the most notable examples of the 50 move rule in action occurred in 2001. This was a game played between Smbat Lputian and Gevorg Haroutjunian. This game took place at the Armenian Championship. It is just one of many notable examples of the 50 move rule occurring in tournament play. Another prominent example occurred recently in 2019. This example took place at the World Cup in play between Daniil Yufa and Luke McShane.
75 Move Rule
The 75 move rule is similar to the 50 move rule. In the 75 move rule, the game is a draw if one or both of the following points occurs.
Any 75 move series made by each player without any pawns being moved and without any capture means that the game is ruled as a draw.
One of the biggest differences between the 75 move rule and the 50 move rule is the fact that the latter applies regardless of any claims made by a player. This contrasts with the 50 move rule which requires a claim by a player to go into effect. The arbiter of the game can call a draw after the conditions for the 75 move rule have been met.
Draw By Agreement
The final rule to discuss is the draw by agreement. The draw by agreement rule is exactly what it sounds like. It occurs when both of the players in the game mutually agree that the game should end as a draw. This is a circumstance that will occur most often when both of the players involved recognize that neither of them has any realistic chance of winning unless an uncharacteristic mistake is made by the player on the other side of the chessboard. Due to the nature of this specific chess draw rule, it generally only takes place at the game’s highest levels of competitive play.
Draw by agreement is a draw rule that is sometimes used in a strategic manner in chess tournaments. Players will sometimes offer a draw even though they are currently in an advantageous position. They will do this if it is the case that a draw is sufficient for them to advance and claim a prize. This is done to eliminate the possibility of losing the game from making a mistake. The draw can be agreed upon if both players in question find it to be a satisfactory outcome in the chess game. It is even possible to use the draw by agreement rule early in a chess game but it is not possible to invoke the rule before the game has been played.
The threefold repetition rule is one that allows a player to avoid taking a loss when playing in a bad position. The rule of threefold repetition states that whenever a game of chess reaches the same position three times, it can at that point be declared as a draw. To explain further, a repeated position occurs when all of the pieces of the same type and the same color are on identical squares with all possible moves being identical as well.
The player who currently has the move is the one with the ability to claim a draw within the rule of the threefold repetition. They can claim a draw when the third repetition appears on the chessboard. If the player is preparing to move into a repeated position, it is their responsibility to state that this is their intention before they hit their clock. At this point, the game can be ruled as a draw by way of threefold repetition. The overall point of the threefold repetition rule is to stop a game where both of the players are simply continuing to repeat the same moves.
Boris Spassky vs Robert James Fischer 1972
This example is from a game in 1972 between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky.
One of the most notable examples of threefold repetition occurred in 1972 at the World Chess Championships between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer. It was Fischer who called in the arbiter to claim a draw by way of threefold repetition.
Anatoly Karpov vs Anthony Miles 1986
This game was between Anatoly Karpov and Anthony Miles .
Another notable example of the rule occurred in 1986 when Anatoly Karpov faced Tony Miles. Karpov claimed the draw after reviewing his scoresheet. He was able to claim a draw in a case where he was previously on the verge of losing the game.
The fivefold repetition rule is one that is similar to the threefold repetition rule. In the case of fivefold repetition, the game can be ruled as a draw whenever it reaches repeated positions five times in a row.
The major difference between the threefold repetition rule and the fivefold repetition rule is the fact that no claim needs to be made by the players in the latter as where there must be a claim in the former. With the fivefold repetition rule, the arbiter must intervene and declare the game a draw after the same position has been repeated five times. Similar to the threefold repetition rule, the fivefold repetition rule is meant to stop a game where players simply continue to repeat the same moves over and over.
Insufficient Mating Material
Another one of the draw rules in chess that is important to know about is called insufficient mating material This is a situation where a draw is called because neither side has any pawns left or they do not have enough pieces remaining to put the other side into checkmate. Once there is no way for either side to end the game through checkmate, the game is ruled as a draw. The most common way that this occurs is if the game has gone down to only two kings. At this point, there is no way to put an opponent into checkmate even if they are making mistakes.
There are some other combinations that can lead to a situation of insufficient mating material in chess. If both sides have no pawns and either a lone king, a king and a knight, or a king and a bishop, then this also falls within this draw rule. It is not possible to force a checkmate with a lone king under these circumstances. It should be noted that there are some rule sets that do not allow for the insufficient mating material rule to be invoked unless there is no possible way for an opponent to be checkmated after any sequence involving legal moves.
This wraps up the list of the primary draw rules in Chess. Though many beginner players might think that the simple stalemate is the only case where a draw occurs in the game, this is not correct. This post went over all of the ways in which a game can be draw. In many cases, these draws are determined by one of the players claiming the draw.
The arbiter is often required to come in and make a call in these situations. It is also a fascinating phenomenon that many times these draw rules are invoked in some of the world’s biggest tournaments as a way for a player to avoid a loss or possibly advance if all they need is a draw. Some of the historic examples of the draw rules in chess are also quite fascinating to observe.
Did you find this guide on getting a draw in Chess help you? if it did and you want to read more articles like this, you might also like the guide on illegal moves in Chess.