What Happens If You Falsely Call Checkmate?

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Sometimes it happens that out of excitement I call checkmate even though in reality checkmate didn’t occur. This puts me in an awkward situation and to manage I generally smile and continue to play. In casual games it is okay to do so but what about the tournaments? What happens if you falsely call checkmate? 

In short, nothing happens even if you falsely call checkmate. The arbiter will ask you to continue the game and this will not be considered an illegal move. However, if you frequently call false checkmates disturbing your opponent then it might create some problems.

As per the FIDE article 11.5, a player is not allowed to distract the opponent by any means otherwise the arbiter can impose serious penalties on the player. 

Ahead I am going to discuss all these in an easy to understand way giving you a proper breakdown of the rules. If you are going to play any formal chess game then knowing these rules will really help you. So just keep scrolling!

By the way, right from the start I want to clear one of the common doubts that many chess players have, is it even necessary to say check or checkmate? The simple answer to that is no.

There are no rules that say you have to do so. Moreover, In tournament games most of the time it is quite obvious for the opponent to notice when they are in check. To get more insight on this, you can read my article: Is It Necessary To Say Check? What Happens If You Forget?

Real Life Game In Which One Of The Player Falsely Called Checkmate

While researching this topic I also read quora answers. In that one of the users, Max Wahlund, FIDE Candidate Master, Elo 2100, shared the incident from one of his rapid chess tournament games in which he faced the situation of false checkmate.

Max was white and the opponent was white. The position of the board was like this.


As Max shares in his answer, after the position shown above, black made the move Qh1+ (moving the black queen to h1 square giving the white’s king check) although the opponent thought that it was a checkmate. So called a false checkmate and stopped the clock.

Immediately, Max asked the arbiter and showed that the claim of his opponent was wrong. In return the arbiter just said to continue the game.

So, Max made the move Bh2+ (moving the white bishop on h2 square thus giving check to black’s king using white’s f6 rook). In response to this move instead of taking the black’s king out of check the opponent made a move Qxh2 (black’s queen captured the white’s bishop on h2).

Max soon said to the arbiter that it was an illegal move. The arbiter said to him that it was only the first instance of an illegal move and according to the standard rule you will get two minutes extra added to the clock.

Previously, after one illegal move you would  lose a game but now as per new rules this has changed. As per the FIDE article 7.5.5, if a player makes an illegal move then for the first time then the arbiter will give two extra minutes to the opponent.

For the second time if that player makes an illegal move then the game would be considered to be lost by that player. However, the game is drawn if the position is such that the opponent can’t checkmate the player’s king.

So, as you have already noticed in the above game that though the opponent called a false checkmate nothing really happened. The arbiter just said to continue the game. 

Thus the key takeaway from this incident is that in tournament games if you falsely call checkmate then you need not worry much. But one thing to make sure that don’t unnecessarily keep claiming checkmates that are false because that would disturb your opponent.

You may also like to read my article: Can You Checkmate Without Check? (Doubt Solved!)

What Happens If You Frequently Call False Checkmates Disturbing Your Opponent?


As you can clearly notice that as per the article 11.5 you are strictly prohibited to disturb your opponent by any means. You can’t make unnecessary noise and use such shady tactics to distract your opponent to win the game.

Moreover in the follow up article 11.6 it is stated that in case of any kind of infraction (violation) of the articles 11.1 to 11.5 the arbiter has the power to penalize the player as per the article 12.9.

I hope I am able to explain these FIDE LAWS OF CHESS to you in a crystal clear way. At any point if you feel any doubt then you can read it again. Sometimes reading something more than once helps to understand better.

Now, let’s see what penalties we could get if we violate the article 11.5 by disturbing the opponent.

So as per the article 12.9, below are the options available to the arbiter related to penalties:

  1. By giving warning to that player.
  2. By increasing the remaining time of the opponent of that player.
  3. By reducing the remaining time of that player.
  4. By increasing the points scored by the opponent of that player to the maximum available level for that game.
  5. By reducing the points scored by that player in the game.
  6. By declaring the game as lost by that player.
  7. By imposing penalty in the form of a fine announced in advance.
  8. By removing that player from one or more rounds.
  9. By removing that player from the competition.

As you can see that there are many serious penalties that can be imposed if you violate the rules. So the point to remember is to never ever disturb your opponent unnecessarily.

Final Thoughts

So that’s it! 🙂 I hope I was able to make the complex things easy for you. If you find this article helpful then please do share with others.

If you have some more time to increase your chess knowledge and clarify the misconceptions then you can also check out my below detailed articles.

-> 7 Reasons Why Chess Players Write Down Their Moves

-> Everything You Need To Know About The En Passant Rule In Chess

-> Which Side Is Better To Castle: Kingside Or Queenside