In a casual chess game I had, my last move was to promote a pawn in the back rank, to ladder mate my opponent (there was already a rook on the 7th). I moved the pawn, but while I was grabbing for the queen piece I ran out of time. Who won?

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    "casual" game, and "time limit" on a game don't seem to be compatible ? I'd think if it was a truly casual game, your opponent would be fine with the obvious win you have. If it's timed .. well . it's timed .. ie tournaments are stricter in that regard, as I understand it.
    – Ditto
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 15:36
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    This might be better asked on Chess SE where there are more chess experts that could understand the exact details of the question.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 15:37
  • I meant casual in the sense that it wasn't in tournament. I was playing my friend with a chess clock set at 3 minutes per side.
    – Zock77
    Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 15:38
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    This Chess SE answer states that if a Queen piece isn't immediately available, you can stop the clock, which implies that the time limit is to complete a move. I guess that castling would be similar: first you move the Pawn and then the King. Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 18:21
  • ... stretching this, suppose you start to move, say, a bishop, hesitate for more than the time limit, and finally place it. Commented Jun 20, 2023 at 18:30

1 Answer 1


In tournament rules, if the allotted time runs out, you lose, unless you checkmate or stalemate. In this case, the move immediately ends the game.

In this case, there are two possibilities: if the queen had touched the promotion square, then the choice is final and the move is technically played, therefore you win. If the queen didn't touch the square, then you could have changed your mind and chosen any other piece, which might not give mate, therefore you should lose on time.

If you ran out of time, there are still cases where the game is drawn due to a lack of possible checkmates.

  • I thought you were obligated to move a piece the moment you touch it? Does that not apply for promotions?
    – nick012000
    Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 11:41
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    @nick012000 The Touch-move rule is specifically about touching pieces on the board; it shouldn't come into play when talking about grabbing pieces outside the game to use in a promotion.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 18:03
  • @Amaras This answer oversimplifies just a little. If it is literally impossible for the opponent to win on the board (for example, if they just have a bare king) then they cannot win even if you run out of time - the game would then be a draw.
    – D M
    Commented Oct 14, 2023 at 1:23
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    @DM As I said in the final sentence of my answer, "there are cases where the game is drawn due to a lack of possible checkmates". One such case is if the opponent only has a king on the board, but I cannot enumerate all of them, because it's impossible to do so. For instance in a recent French chess arbiter's exam, there was a position where white was forced to checkmate black who had several pawns (and eventually a queen), so when white's time ran out, the game was drawn.
    – Amaras
    Commented Oct 15, 2023 at 15:35
  • Oops, sorry, missed that. It's a bit awkward to say "lost on time" when you haven't lost, though.
    – D M
    Commented Oct 15, 2023 at 18:57

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