How Does Chess End? 8 Different Ways

If you think that the answer to the question “How does chess end?” is obvious, think again!

While the typical end for a chess game is checkmate, there are other possible endings of a chess game.

Some of these possible endings to the chess game have been introduced as the game developed. Others have been changed from their initial application, whereas some have been part of the game since its beginning.

While chess is a game of strategy, skill, and patience, it’s important to understand each potential end of a chess game. Knowing the rules, strategies, and tactics of each one can open your mind to new possibilities. It’s also a surefire way to improve your style and enhance your overall ability as a chess player.

In this blog post, we rounded up all the possible endings for a game of chess. Take a look.

1. Checkmate

Checkmate is the most common end of a chess game.

It happens when a player attacks the other player’s king, and there are no possible moves or sacrifices to avoid the check. This means that the player who’s been dealt the checkmate has lost, and the opponent is the winner.

The usual and most common end to every chess game is checkmate. However, there’s much more to a chess game than what meets the eye.

2. Stalemate

Stalemate is the result of a draw and takes place when one of the players has no more legal moves to make. When this happens, the game ends in a draw, and no one wins.

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Some players consider it a defensive strategy when they fall behind during a game to prevent the other player from a checkmate move.

Accordingly, it’s advised to stay sharp during your game, even if you’re in a winning position because your opponent might lure you into a stalemate!

3. Draw By Agreement

Draw by agreement usually happens when the two players reach an equal position in the game and don’t see any possible way to win.

Sometimes players will agree to draw because it’s for their mutual benefit. For instance, in a tournament or if it improves both their ranking.

As such, some tournaments nowadays force the 40-move rule before any player can offer a draw.

4. Threefold Repetition

The Threefold Repetition rule was first introduced to the chess world in the early 1900s, but wasn’t included in International Chess Federation (FIDE) rules until 1929. Threefold repetition happens when the same position for one player occurs on three different occasions, consecutively or separately, during the game.

When this happens, any player can claim a draw. While the application of this rule is bound to one of the players claiming to draw, it happens automatically when playing online once the same position is repeated three times.

5. 50 Move Rule

This rule was applied at the first American chess congress in 1857 and was originally introduced by the London Chess Association before that. The 50-move rule says that if there were 50 moves played in a game without capturing or moving a pawn, the game ends in a draw if any player claims it.

The rule applies at any given time during the game, be it the beginning, middle, or towards the end. This is why some players will use it as a strategy if they feel they’re in a losing position.

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It usually happens when a few minor pieces are left, and it becomes more difficult to force a checkmate, which leads to many moves without an actual result.

6. Run Out Of Time

In every form of the modern chess game, whether it’s a bullet, blitz, rapid, or even classic chess, there’s some form of time control. The rule was first implemented at the 1914 tournament in Mannheim, where only classic chess existed. It was put into place to maintain the time of a chess game while also adding an element of challenge and excitement.

One option is that you have to finish the game in a specific timeframe, which is one minute for the bullet, three minutes for the blitz, and ten mins for the rapid. Other scenarios suggest that you make a certain number of moves in a certain amount of time. For instance, in a classic game, you have to make 30 moves in 75 minutes or less.

Each player has their own clock, and when it’s their turn to move, they need to make their move within the allotted time or their clock will continue to run.

If a player’s clock runs out and they have not made their move, they are considered to have lost on time, regardless of the position on the board. This is a standard rule in most chess competitions, and it’s important for players to manage their time effectively during a game to avoid losing on time.

It’s worth noting that some tournaments or games may have specific time control rules, such as time increments or time delays, which can affect how the clock is managed and when a player may lose on time. It’s essential to understand the specific time control rules of the game or tournament you are playing in to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes.

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7. Insufficient Material

The insufficient material rule applies when both players don’t have enough pieces to force a checkmate. This scenario mainly happens toward the end of the game when there are only a few minor pieces left like a Night and Bishop or even 2 Kings only.

If the pieces on the ches sboard cannot deliver checkmate, this would leads to indefinite gameplay, which is why the rule was created to avoid this from happening.

8. Resignation

Resignation is when one player decides they have no chance of winning and decide not to continue with the game. This might happen due to losing so many pieces and having an imminent checkmate.

However, some players can convince their opponents that they have no chance to make them resign when, in fact, they can be in a draw position.

Some coaches advise their students never to resign, especially if there are few pieces left on both sides. Because while there might be no chance of winning, there might be a chance for a draw if the opponent can’t force checkmate with a few pieces.

Final Thoughts

It’s a general misconception that chess has only one possible ending. This is typically when one player deals their opponent with a checkmate.

Yet, the truth there, there are actually eight possible outcomes to every chess game. Each ending has its conditions and scenarios. Some of them may be unlikely in general settings, but they have taken place in various competitions at one time or another.