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3-fold repetition

3-fold repetition is a situation in chess where the same position occurs three times during a game, with the same player to move and the same set of possible moves each time. When this happens, either player can claim a draw.

Related terms: Draw, Repetition, Perpetual check, 50-move rule, Stalemate, Insufficient material, Dead position, Positional draw, Draw by agreement, Threefold repetition rule

Why is 3-fold repetition important?

3-fold repetition is important because it is one of the ways a game can end in a draw.

It prevents players from endlessly repeating the same moves and positions, which could lead to a stalemate or a game that goes on indefinitely. The rule ensures that games eventually come to a conclusion.

Examples of 3-fold repetition

  • A player repeatedly checks the opponent’s king with a piece, forcing the king to move back and forth between the same squares.
  • In an endgame with only kings and pawns, the players may repeat the same moves, shuffling their kings and pawns back and forth without making progress.
  • In a complex middlegame position, a series of exchanges and moves leads to the same position occurring three times.

How to claim a draw by 3-fold repetition

  • Keep an accurate record of the moves played in the game, using chess notation.
  • If you believe the same position has occurred three times with the same player to move, stop the clock and make your claim to the arbiter or your opponent.
  • If your claim is verified (either by the arbiter or by agreement with your opponent), the game is declared a draw.

Famous examples of 3-fold repetition

  • In the 1972 World Chess Championship, game 16 between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky ended in a draw due to 3-fold repetition.
  • The game between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand in the 2012 World Chess Championship, game 7, also ended in a draw by 3-fold repetition.
  • In the 2018 World Chess Championship, game 10 between Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana featured a 3-fold repetition, resulting in a draw.

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