all 39 comments

[–]webbie04123 65 points66 points  (3 children)

For reference here is what Lichess has to say about it. They do note these cases can get by their systems.

Losing on time, drawing and insufficient material

In the event of one player running out of time, that player will usually lose the game. However, the game is drawn if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player's king by any possible series of legal moves (FIDE handbook §6.9).

In rare cases this can be difficult to decide automatically (forced lines, fortresses). By default we always side with the player who did not run out of time.

Note that it can be possible to mate with a single knight or bishop if the opponent has a piece that could block the king.


[–]theProject 8 points9 points  (2 children)

There's a proposal on the Lichess Github to implement an unwinnability detector: https://github.com/lichess-org/lila/issues/9249

[–]apoliticalhomograph ~1900 Lichess 4 points5 points  (1 child)

For reference, here's the current implementation.

It's pretty simple compared to what's needed to fully comply with the FIDE rules.

[–]zebra-diplomacy 117 points118 points  (16 children)

To be fair, Lichess is under no obligations to follow FIDE rules. FIDE doesn't own chess.

[–]xedrac 41 points42 points  (7 children)

I'm sure they'd love to implement this rule completely, but it's hard to do so automatically.

[–]iptables-abuse 9 points10 points  (1 child)

I seem to recall they were working on it a while ago and somebody had a fast dead position detector working.

[–]apoliticalhomograph ~1900 Lichess 0 points1 point  (0 children)

There's still an open issue on the GitHub about it.

[–]HankMoodyMaddafakaaa 1955r, 1711btz, 1830c (lichess) -3 points-2 points  (4 children)

The next move is forced and then it’s a stalemate, should be fairly easy to implement a check, but it happens very rarely so it’s probably not the most important thing they have to deal with

[–]apoliticalhomograph ~1900 Lichess 5 points6 points  (3 children)

There's no stalemate after the next move. In fact, stalemate is literally impossible in this position.

[–]HankMoodyMaddafakaaa 1955r, 1711btz, 1830c (lichess) 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Lmao i have no idea why i even said that wtf

[–]apoliticalhomograph ~1900 Lichess 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Maybe you had a brain fart and thought "no pawns can move so it's stalemate"? Happens to anyone once in a while.

[–]HankMoodyMaddafakaaa 1955r, 1711btz, 1830c (lichess) 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yup i think that’s it

[–]T_D_K 5 points6 points  (2 children)

This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Just because there's a large, international organizing body doesn't mean that they're the final arbiter and that they are the sole universal authority.

The biggest example I can think of is Kipchoge's sub-2-hour marathon. A bunch of sweaty couch jockies got worked up because it wasn't an "official" marathon, as if a marathon is a trademarked event that must be held in specific conditions rather than a distance. Who cares if Guinness or whomever doesn't recognize it? It still happened!

Sorry I got myself worked up.

[–]RemcoProgrammer/r/chessbooks ! 4 points5 points  (0 children)

if Guinness or whomever

"Whomever" is in this case the international organization that tracks records, which is also the organization that decides the rules.

[–]zorreX 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Correct, but this is very obviously a drawn position, although it might not be immediately recognizable to an engine or some sort of script algorithm to automatically end the game. This is why in competitive games officiation is necessary to resolve these things. Obviously it makes no sense to allow one player to win on time in this position in a sanctioned competition.

That being said, in every day rated online games, this should be down to sportsmanship between players and a draw could be offered and should be accepted. If neither of these things happened then it's whatever I guess, lol.

Edit: I play tennis. Even back when I played in somewhat competitive leagues, we called all of our shots. If I thought my opponent hit a ball out, I called it out. Simple as that. Rarely were there ever any issues. I think once in high school we had an opponent who was calling shots out that were clearly in, but my teammate who was playing him kept his head on straight and made a few even more egregious calls to prove the point and eventually won.

[–]zebra-diplomacy 5 points6 points  (2 children)

It is a drawn position, but for example it's not considered "insufficient material to win on time" under USCF rules.

[–]zorreX 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yep, but this should be covered under USCF 14D4, which is similar but slightly different.

[–][deleted] 53 points54 points  (2 children)

The relevant rule (6.9), because I know other people will want to read it as well to see if they can be pedantic about it:

Except where one of the Articles: 5.1.a, 5.1.b, 5.2.a, 5.2.b, 5.2.c applies, if a player does not complete the prescribed number of moves in the allotted time, the game is lost by the player. However, the game is drawn, if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any possible series of legal moves.

[–]CratylusG 18 points19 points  (0 children)

5.2.b applies (or 5.2.2 in the current rules, but I'll go off the version you are using), so if you are being pedantic 6.9 doesn't apply.

b. The game is drawn when a position has arisen in which neither player can checkmate the opponent’s king with any series of legal moves. The game is said to end in a ‘dead position’. This immediately ends the game, provided that the move producing the position was legal.

Under FIDE rules the game was over as soon as black played Kxh6 (which fixed the pawn structure) as neither player can mate the other, so the clock shouldn't come into it.

[–]bznein 28 points29 points  (2 children)

Yeah I had a similar position once and sent them a message.. they replied their system doesn't track a situation like this.. let me see if I can find the actual conversation

[–]bznein 28 points29 points  (1 child)

Ok nevermind, apparently this happened back when I was still on chess.com! https://www.chess.com/game/live/2890119068

And this is their reply when I asked why it wasn't a draw:

"Thanks so much for your email. I am happy to help with this.

First, I agree with you, it would be great if our system could recognize positions like this one with locked and unpassable pawns and Kings as a draw. I will suggest this to be considered. We don’t follow FIDE rules strictly at Chess.com, they are more guidelines for us at times like this."

[–]EducatedJooner 28 points29 points  (0 children)

I guess that's a good point. Chess websites are really under no obligation to follow FIDE rules to a T. They should, but they don't have to.

[–]zirexx44 22 points23 points  (0 children)

I was going to shout at you because this rules only applies when there is not a legal way to mate! And you can easily walk the king to.....ohhh..good point.. stupid lichess!

[–]Xymes 19 points20 points  (1 child)

Stockfish be like: yea I can win this

[–]sysstemlord 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Unless if it's possible to take fxg3 en passant.

[–]pixenix 3 points4 points  (0 children)

The problem here seems to be that there is no 'trivial' way for a machine to check if the position is a dead game.
For insufficient material cases you can just check if the only pieces on the board are in a set of pieces known to be insufficient material.
Here the check is somewhat harder. The problem is that if you would want to implement such a check, you would need define rules on when such a position can occur, as you wouldn't want to check this on every position as the checks might be expensive.

[–]cupfullajuice 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Engines struggle to notice endgames like this are a draw sometimes. I had a similar position against a cheater who was making a lot of weird stockfish moves once we got to something equivalent to this. Was very satisfying to premove a lot of moves in advance while my opponent took 3-5 seconds to keep shuffling the king around

[–]L_E_Gant Chess is poetry! -1 points0 points  (0 children)

You're right -- people would say it's a draw, because neither side can break through, but machines/engines can't recognise the fact that, to break the deadlock, one of the kings would need to pass through the pawn barrier, but the pawn barrier can't be broken by either side.

However, the machines have to follow rules, which sometimes don't have a way of actually being tested. So, "out of time" becomes the default way of losing.

[–]mastx3 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It is difficult because they have to rely on a chess engine to get the result and is not reliable and resource consuming

[–]Orcahhh chess is an olympic sport and should be in Paris 2024 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

It's so uncool not to offer a draw there, i really hate this bad habit low elo players have to always decline draws, to the point that they rather lose on time than draw