10.2 Revisited
Another short break in my personal fixture list gives me the opportunity to write on matters other than my games. Being the sort of sad person who despite not being an arbiter likes to read the rules I've written about article 10.2 of the rules before. However I've decided it is time to make another attempt to order my thoughts on the matter - you dear reader don't have to read on, though I am interested in your views if you do. This time I've decided to take more of a Q & A approach:

What does article 10 say?
Article 10: Quickplay Finish

10.1 A `quickplay finish' is the phase of a game when all the (remaining) moves must be made in a limited time.

10.2 If the player, having the move, has less than two minutes left on his clock, he may claim a draw before his flag falls. He shall summon the arbiter and may stop the clocks. (See Article 6.12.b)

a) If the arbiter agrees the opponent is making no effort to win the game by normal means, or that it is not possible to win by normal means, then he shall declare the game drawn. Otherwise he shall postpone his decision or reject the claim.

b) If the arbiter postpones his decision, the opponent may be awarded two extra minutes and the game shall continue, if possible in the presence of an arbiter. The arbiter shall declare the final result later in the game or as soon as possible after a flag has fallen. He shall declare the game drawn if he agrees that the final position cannot be won by normal means, or that the opponent was not making sufficient attempts to win by normal means.

c) If the arbiter has rejected the claim, the opponent shall be awarded two extra minutes time.

d) The decision of the arbiter shall be final relating to (a), (b) and (c).


10.2 clearly does not apply to intermediate time controls. It does apply in rapidplay games (those with between 15 minutes and an hour for each player to complete their moves), but does not normally apply to blitz games (less than 15 minutes per player for the whole game) unless the game has a dedicated arbiter to oversee it.

Elsewhere in the rules it states that the claim of a draw under 10.2 shall be considered an offer of a draw. In other words the opponent is perfectly entitled to agree the draw without involving the arbiter.

What is the purpose of the rule?

It is considered unreasonable for a player to lose on time when
a) It is clear he knows how to draw the position reached
b) It is clear the opponent does not know how to win the position
c) It is clear the opponent is not trying to win other than by on time
d) He has such an overwhelming advantage that his opponent cannot reasonably turn down a draw offer claiming he is attempting to win over the board rather than on the clock.

Thus to uphold the claim the arbiter needs to be convinced that if the game were to continue in like vein but without use of clocks it would end with the claimant winning or in a draw by one of the standard means - stalemate, threefold repetition, 50 move rule or dead position (one in which there is no legal sequence of moves leading to mate).

What will the arbiter do?

Almost certainly tell you to play on without rejecting the claim. The arbiter will wish to maximise the chance of making the best ruling as it is not subject to appeal, so will only make an 'on sight' ruling in the most trivial of circumstances, and maybe not even then. Thus the arbiter's instruction to continue should not be taken as indicative of their initial opinion as to the merit of the claim.

What about the extra time?

This will rarely be awarded. Apart from anything else the time taken to adjust the clocks may well be more useful to the claimant than the opponent to whom the extra time is being given. This does not mean that claiming a draw is a free option - unreasonable claims (and offers) of a draw are regarded as distractions and may be penalised by the arbiter.

What happens if no arbiter is present?

Then Appendix D to the rules apply:
Appendix D. Quickplay finishes where no arbiter is present in the venue

Where games are played as in Article 10, a player may claim a draw when he has less than two minutes left on his clock and before his flag falls. This concludes the game. He may claim on the basis:

a) that his opponent cannot win by normal means, and/or

b) that his opponent has been making no effort to win by normal means.

In a) the player must write down the final position and his opponent verify it.

In b) the player must write down the final position and submit an up to date scoresheet. The opponent shall verify both the scoresheet and the final position.

The claim shall be referred to an arbiter whose decision shall be final.


As the claimant has less than 2 minutes left on their clock they may need to use their opponents scoresheet to bring their own uptodate for submission. The opponent cannot refuse to allow his scoresheet to be used in this manner - not only does the scoresheet technically belong to the organisers, but a refusal also suggests that the opponent is trying to win other than by his over-the-board play.
If both players are short of time and so legitimately not keeping score it is not possible to claim under b) as no supporting evidence exists.

Even if there is initial disagreement as to the merit of the claim, the players may agree a result, possibly after consultation with others and so avoid the need to send the claim to an arbiter for a ruling.

In some matches captains are expected to act as joint arbiters. I am of the opinion that 10.2 rulings are not ones that they can sensibly make, partly because in this case acting as arbiters may require prolonged observation of the game and partly because any ruling depends to some extent on opinion. Attempts to do so are as likely to result in argument and bad feeling as agreement. By all means have a gentle conversation to see if there is common ground which can form the basis of agreement, but be prepared to send the claim off for resolution.

Why is 10.2 contentious?

I can think of at least three reasons:
a) Some people see no need for a rule of this type, arguing that the clock is part of the game and so any player wanting a draw should leave themselves enough time to blitz out 50 moves at the end to achieve it. This is of course a perfectly valid view, though not one that FIDE has chosen to codify in its laws. I confess that on this one I am with FIDE.
b) Some peoples understanding of the rule is somewhat coloured by mythology that has risen around it; more on this further down the page.
c) Of necessity the rule treats each game in isolation, whereas in practice most games are played either as part of a match or competition. This makes draw by overwhelming advantage troubling. The context of the game may mean that a draw is of as much use as a loss. It may be amusing to watch someone imitating a limbless Monty Python Knight by playing on in the hope of being the beneficiary of the once-in-a-century atrocity that enables him to win against overwhelming odds, but few would begrudge him the chance to do so if say his team's progress in a cup competition depended on it. In these circumstances 10.2 does seem to allow a player to use his own clock as a weapon against the opponent.

Does the arbiter take into account the standard of the players?

Yes, but only in so far as the standard is shown in the play. Whilst an arbiter may act differently when controlling a GM tournament than when looking after the U8 section of a Chess Challenge Megafinal, they won't be giving different rulings to players in the same tournament based on differences in title or grade.

Am I entitled to make oral or written submissions to support my claim?

No. We all know more about the game than we can consistently put into practice, and that is particularly true when playing under time pressure. It is what we do do rather than what we know we should do that matters.

Can the claimant win?

Yes, otherwise contesting the claim would be a risk free option. If with play continuing the non-claimant decides he is in danger of losing he should offer the draw. If the claimant declines this offer he is no longer protected against loss on time under 10.2, and I imagine the arbiter would not allow a further 10.2 claim to be made later by the claimant.

Now to some myths:

10.2 is a backdoor re-introduction of adjudications

No. 'Adjudication' is chess jargon. It has meaning beyond that in ordinary use, namely that the method used to reach a decision is to consider what would happen if both sides made the best possible moves. Under 10.2 best play is of at most academic interest to the arbiter. Instead he is in interested in what would happen if the game were to continue, using the moves made at the board around the time of the claim as guide to this future.

"The position is level so I'm entitled to a draw"

No, lot's of level positions when played out lead to a win for one of the players. 10.2 is not adjudication. If the position is losable for the claimant, the claim will fail unless he shows by the moves he makes that he knows how to hold the position.

"He's making no progress!"

An oft heard exclamation presumably designed to strengthen the original claim by pointing out that the opponent doesn't know how to win, or isn't trying to. There is no requirement that the non-claimant needs to be on the attack to justify opposing the claim. They can be shoring up their defence against your attack, or making moves to prevent any counter-attack on your part. Provided their moves make some sort of chess sense in the position then they can legitimately say that they are trying to win by normal means.

Further the opponent is allowed to learn on the job. If they are not familiar with the sort of position confronting them they may well make false starts towards an achievable victory, and in some cases this may even lead to a repetition of position from which they use their recent experience to take a superior line.

Put simply the claim does not require the opponent to find the most efficient continuation to justify his desire to play on.

"It must be a draw - he can't tell you his winning plan"

Another poor attempt to pressure the arbiter into supporting the claim. At the start of play most players will only have the vaguest winning plan - to take advantage of any blunders or weaknesses in the opponents position as/when they occur. Such a plan is equally valid later. Playing for a win even though you know the opponents flag will fall before the win happens or even comes into sight is acceptable, playing on purely with the intention of winning on time is not.

10.2 enables you to avoid blundering in time trouble

This is another variation on the 10.2 equals adjudication myth. In this case the belief is that because making the claim means that the arbiter will eventually rule on flagfall the claimant can safely take as long as he wishes over his moves. Mistakes and blunders are a part of normal chess, and are more prevalent when playing under time pressure. If the claimant declines to play at a high tempo after making the claim he is hinting that he is having to choose his moves carefully - a clear suggestion that it is possible for the game to be lost and hence that the arbiter should rule the claim to fail.

"I'm too good to be asked to play on in this position!"

Whether this arises from the belief that arbiters are super-human and can make instant correct rulings or from an over-inflated sense of the claimant's worth, the obvious and correct answer to this is the pantomine one: "Oh no you're not".

Further, it is to the strong players advantage to be asked to play on. That way the arbiter can be consistent in his actions with two players in the same position - telling them to play on - but give the stronger player a more favourable ruling when the subsequent moves show that the strong player knows how to draw the position whilst on the other board the weaker player is making moves of dubious worth.
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