Thursday, 14 February 2013

Three-fold repetition

How often does this occur?   Perhaps more frequently than you may think.

In my game yesterday, in a losing position, I wondered momentarily if a threefold repetition had occurred, but convinced myself it needed another move, so didn't claim the draw.   Back home, my computer told me otherwise. As I went on to lose the game, I was somewhat annoyed at myself for not getting this right.   I just didn't take enough time to work it out properly.

This was the first position (of three):

My opponent (White) now played 42. Bd7 and the game continued 42... Kd6  43. Bb5  Ke5 (2nd repetition)  44. Bd3  Kd4  45. Bb5.  At this point I should have written down my intended reply, stopped the clock and claimed the game (as per FIDE Rule 9.2).   If 45... Ke5 the above position will have been repeated three times!

In my hassled state of mind (in time-trouble as usual), I mistakenly thought the position had only occurred twice.   I played 45... Ke5, didn't claim, and my opponent replied 46. Kh5, winning.

I wonder if anyone else has experienced this, or had similar 'mind-blanks'?

(Rule 9.2 states:

The game is drawn upon a correct claim by the player having the move, when the same position, for at least the third time (not necessarily by a repetition of moves) is about to appear, if he first writes his move on his scoresheet and declares to the arbiter his intention to make this move...)


  1. I had a game where my opponent claimed three-fold repetition incorrectly. I didn't know that it didn't abide by the rules at the time, but I'm not annoyed because it was I who was losing.

  2. Very surprised it doesn't state "same position with same person to move"...


  3. Carlsen famously got this wrong. Both his opponent and the arbiter and the chief arbiter all agreed. Later it was discovered that although the position occurred 3 times it was not the same person to move. A young Carlsen offered to replay game I think but Morozevich stuck with the result.
    So super GMs can even get this wrong!

  4. The continuation of rule 9.2 further specifies what is meant my "the same position", and it includes it being the same player to move. You can find the FIDE statement of chess rules here.

    I've also seen a case where a player wasn't aware that repition allowed the claim of the draw rather merely being common grounds for offering and/or agreeing one.


Please feel free to add your comments on this subject.