Stalemate

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Example of stalemate
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8
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h8 black king
f7 white king
g6 white queen
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Black to move is stalemated. Black is not currently in check and has no legal move since every square to which the king might move is under attack by White.[1]

Stalemate is a situation in the game of chess where the player whose turn it is to move is not in check but has no legal move. Stalemate results in a draw. During the endgame, stalemate is a resource that can enable the player with the inferior position to draw the game rather than lose.[2] In more complex positions, stalemate is much rarer, usually taking the form of a swindle that succeeds only if the superior side is inattentive.[citation needed] Stalemate is also a common theme in endgame studies and other chess problems.

The outcome of a stalemate was standardized as a draw in the 19th century. Before this standardization, its treatment varied widely, including being deemed a win for the stalemating player, a half-win for that player, or a loss for that player; not being permitted; and resulting in the stalemated player missing a turn. Some regional chess variants do not allow a player to play a stalemating move.[citation needed] In losing chess, another chess variant, stalemate is typically treated as a win for the stalemated player.

In popular usage, the word stalemate refers to a conflict that has reached an impasse, where resolution or further action seems highly difficult or unlikely. Stalemate is also sometimes used incorrectly to refer to all draws in chess. While draws are common in competitive chess, they are rarely the result of stalemate.

Examples[edit]

Diagram 1
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8
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f8 black king
f7 white pawn
f6 white king
8
77
66
55
44
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22
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abcdefgh
Black to move is stalemated (see King and pawn versus king endgame).
Burn vs. Pilsbury, 1898
Diagram 2
abcdefgh
8
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a8 black king
b8 black bishop
h8 white rook
b6 white king
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Black to move is stalemated.
Diagram 3
abcdefgh
8
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g5 white king
b3 white queen
a2 black pawn
a1 black king
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Black to move is stalemated (see Queen versus pawn endgame).
Diagram 4
abcdefgh
8
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a8 black king
a7 white pawn
a6 white king
f4 white bishop
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Black to move is stalemated (see Wrong bishop, Wrong rook pawn).

With Black to move, Black is stalemated in diagrams 1 to 4. Stalemate is an important factor in the endgame – the endgame set-up in diagram 1, for example, quite frequently is relevant in play (see King and pawn versus king endgame). The position in diagram 1 occurred in an 1898 game between Amos Burn and Harry Pillsbury[3] and also in a 1925 game between Savielly Tartakower and Richard Réti.[4] The same position, except shifted to the e-file, occurred in a 2009 game between Gata Kamsky and Vladimir Kramnik.[5]

The position in diagram 3 is an example of a pawn drawing against a queen. Stalemates of this sort can often save a player from losing an apparently hopeless position (see Queen versus pawn endgame).

Examples from games[edit]

Anand versus Kramnik[edit]

Anand vs. Kramnik, 2007
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g7 black pawn
f6 black pawn
f5 white pawn
h5 white king
e4 black king
h4 white pawn
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77
66
55
44
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abcdefgh
Before 65...Kxf5, stalemate

In this position from the game Viswanathan AnandVladimir Kramnik from the 2007 World Chess Championship,[6] Black captured the pawn on f5, stalemating White.[7] (Any other move by Black loses.)

Korchnoi versus Karpov[edit]

Korchnoi vs. Karpov, 1978
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f7 white king
g7 white bishop
h7 black king
a4 black pawn
a3 white pawn
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Position after 124.Bc3–g7

An intentional stalemate occurred on the 124th move of the fifth game of the 1978 World Championship match between Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov.[8] The game had been a theoretical draw for many moves.[9][10] White's bishop is useless; it cannot defend the queening square at a8 nor attack the black pawn on the light a4-square. If the white king heads towards the black pawn, the black king can move towards a8 and set up a fortress.

The players were not on speaking terms, however, so neither would offer a draw by agreement. On his 124th move, White played 124.Bg7, delivering stalemate. Korchnoi said that it gave him pleasure to stalemate Karpov and that it was slightly humiliating.[11] Until 2021, this was the longest game played in a World Chess Championship final match, as well as the only World Championship game to end in stalemate before 2007.[12]

Bernstein versus Smyslov[edit]

Bernstein vs. Smyslov, 1946
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b8 white rook
f5 black king
f4 black pawn
b3 black pawn
h3 black rook
e2 white king
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
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Black to move ...
abcdefgh
8
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f5 black king
f4 black pawn
f3 white king
b2 black rook
8
77
66
55
44
33
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abcdefgh
... fell into a stalemate trap.

Sometimes, a surprise stalemate saves a game. In the game between Ossip BernsteinVasily Smyslov[13] (see first diagram), Black can win by sacrificing the f-pawn and using the king to support the b-pawn. However, Smyslov thought it was good to advance the b-pawn because he could win the white rook with a skewer if it captured the pawn. Play went:

1... b2?? 2. Rxb2!

Now 2...Rh2+ 3.Kf3! Rxb2 is stalemate (see analysis diagram). Smyslov played 2...Kg4, and the game was drawn after 3.Kf1 (see Rook and pawn versus rook endgame).[14]

Matulović versus Minev[edit]

Matulović vs. Minev, 1956
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a6 white pawn
b6 white rook
f5 black king
f3 white pawn
g3 white king
a2 black rook
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
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White to move
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8
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a6 white rook
h5 black king
f4 white pawn
h3 white king
8
77
66
55
44
33
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Stalemate if White had played 4.Rxa6

Whereas the possibility of stalemate arose in the Bernstein–Smyslov game because of a blunder, it can also arise without one, as in the game Milan MatulovićNikolay Minev (see first diagram). Play continued:

1. Rc6 Kg5 2. Kh3 Kh5 3. f4

The only meaningful attempt to make progress. Now all moves by Black (like 3...Ra3+?) lose, with one exception.

3... Rxa6!

Now 4.Rxa6 would be stalemate. White played 4.Rc5+ instead, and the game was drawn several moves later.[15]

Williams versus Harrwitz[edit]

Williams vs. Harrwitz, 1846
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b8 black rook
b4 black knight
f4 black king
a2 black pawn
a1 white king
g1 white rook
8
77
66
55
44
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abcdefgh
Position after 72.Ka1
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8
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c4 black king
a3 black rook
b3 white rook
c3 black knight
a2 black pawn
a1 white king
8
77
66
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Position after 84.Rb3! If Black takes the rook either way, the result is stalemate.

In the game Elijah WilliamsDaniel Harrwitz[16] (see first diagram), Black was up a knight and a pawn in an endgame. This would normally be a decisive material advantage, but Black could find no way to make progress because of various stalemate resources available to White. The game continued:

72... Ra8 73. Rc1

Avoiding the threatened 73...Nc2+.

73... Ke3 74. Rc4 Ra4 75. Rc1 Kd2 76. Rc4 Kd3

76...Nc2+ 77.Rxc2+! Kxc2 is stalemate.

77. Rc3+! Kd4

77...Kxc3 is stalemate.

78. Rc1 Ra3 79. Rd1+ Kc5

79...Rd3 80.Rxd3+! leaves Black with either insufficient material to win after 80...Nxd3 81.Kxa2 or a standard fortress in a corner draw after 80...Kxd3.

80. Rc1+ Kb5 81. Rc7 Nd5 82. Rc2 Nc3?? 83. Rb2+ Kc4 84. Rb3! (second diagram)

Now the players agreed to a draw, since 84...Kxb3 or 84...Rxb3 is stalemate, as is 84...Ra8 85.Rxc3+! Kxc3.

Black could still have won the game until his critical mistake on move 82. Instead of 82...Nc3, 82...Nb4 wins; for example, after 83.Rc8 Re3 84.Rb8+ Kc5 85.Rc8+ Kd5 86.Rd8+ Kc6 87.Ra8 Re1+ 88.Kb2 Kc5 89.Kc3 a1=Q+, Black wins.[citation needed]

Carlsen versus Van Wely[edit]

Carlsen vs. Van Wely, 2007
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f8 black rook
d3 black king
e3 black bishop
c2 white rook
d1 white king
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White to make his 109th move

This 2007 game, Magnus CarlsenLoek van Wely, ended in stalemate.[17] White used the second-rank defense in a rook and bishop versus rook endgame for 46 moves. The fifty-move rule was about to come into effect, under which White could claim a draw. The game ended:

 109. Rd2+ Bxd2 ½–½

White was stalemated.[18]

More complex examples[edit]

Although stalemate usually occurs in the endgame, it can also occur with more pieces on the board. Outside of relatively simple endgame positions, such as those above, stalemate occurs rarely, usually when the side with the superior position has overlooked the possibility of stalemate.[19] This is typically realized by the inferior side's sacrifice of one or more pieces in order to force stalemate. A piece that is offered as a sacrifice to bring about stalemate is sometimes called a desperado.

Evans versus Reshevsky[edit]

Evans vs. Reshevsky, 1963
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c8 white queen
f7 white rook
g7 black pawn
h7 black king
b5 black pawn
e5 black pawn
g5 black queen
h5 black pawn
b4 white pawn
e4 white pawn
f4 black knight
e3 black rook
f3 white pawn
g3 white pawn
h3 white pawn
h2 white king
8
77
66
55
44
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abcdefgh
Position before White's 47th move
abcdefgh
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g8 black king
g7 white rook
b5 black pawn
e5 black pawn
h5 black pawn
b4 white pawn
e4 white pawn
f4 black knight
h4 white pawn
f3 white pawn
g3 black queen
e2 black rook
h1 white king
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
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Position after 50.Rxg7+!, the eternal rook

One of the best-known examples of the desperado is the game Larry EvansSamuel Reshevsky[20] that was dubbed "The Swindle of the Century".[21] Evans sacrificed his queen on move 49 and offered his rook on move 50. White's rook has been called the eternal rook. Capturing it results in stalemate, but otherwise it stays on the seventh rank and checks Black's king ad infinitum (i.e. perpetual check). The game would inevitably end in a draw by agreement, by threefold repetition, or by an eventual claim under the fifty-move rule.[22]

47. h4! Re2+ 48. Kh1 Qxg3??

After 48...Qg6! 49.Rf8 Qe6! 50.Rh8+ Kg6, Black remains a piece ahead after 51.Qxe6 Nxe6, or forces mate after 51.gxf4 Re1+ and 52...Qa2+.[23]

49. Qg8+! Kxg8 50. Rxg7+!


Gelfand versus Kramnik[edit]

Gelfand vs. Kramnik, 1994
abcdefgh
8
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c8 black queen
d8 black rook
e7 white rook
g7 black pawn
h7 black king
a6 black pawn
b6 white queen
f6 black pawn
h6 black pawn
a5 white pawn
f5 white pawn
h5 white pawn
d4 white pawn
g4 white pawn
f3 white pawn
h3 white king
8
77
66
55
44
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Position after 67.Re7
abcdefgh
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d8 white queen
e7 white rook
g7 black pawn
h7 black king
a6 black pawn
f6 black pawn
h6 black pawn
a5 white pawn
f5 white pawn
h5 white pawn
d4 white pawn
g4 white pawn
f3 white pawn
h2 white king
8
77
66
55
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Possible stalemate

The position at right occurred in Boris GelfandVladimir Kramnik, 1994 FIDE Candidates match, game 6, in Sanghi Nagar, India.[24] Kramnik, down two pawns and on the defensive, would be very happy with a draw. Gelfand has just played 67. Re4–e7? (see first diagram), a strong-looking move that threatens 68.Qxf6, winning a third pawn, or 68.Rc7, further constricting Black. Black responded 67... Qc1! If White takes Black's undefended rook with 68.Qxd8, Black's desperado queen forces the draw with 68...Qh1+ 69.Kg3 Qh2+!, compelling 70.Kxh2 stalemate (second diagram). If White avoids the stalemate with 68.Rxg7+ Kxg7 69.Qxd8, Black draws by perpetual check with 69...Qh1+ 70.Kg3 Qg1+ 71.Kf4 Qc1+! 72.Ke4 Qc6+! 73.Kd3!? (73.d5 Qc4+; 73.Qd5 Qc2+) Qxf3+! 74.Kd2 Qg2+! 75.Kc3 Qc6+ 76.Kb4 Qb5+ 77.Ka3 Qd3+. Gelfand played 68. d5 instead but still only drew.

Troitsky versus Vogt[edit]

Troitsky vs. Vogt, 1896
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c8 black king
d8 black rook
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black bishop
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
b6 black bishop
g6 black rook
a5 black pawn
b5 white pawn
e5 black pawn
a4 white pawn
e4 white pawn
f3 black queen
g3 white knight
c2 white queen
f2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
c1 white rook
e1 white bishop
g1 white king
h1 white rook
8
77
66
55
44
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White, on move, sets a trap with 1.Rd1!
abcdefgh
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d8 black king
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
b6 black bishop
g6 black rook
a5 black pawn
b5 white pawn
e5 black pawn
a4 white pawn
e4 white pawn
g3 white knight
h3 black bishop
f2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
d1 black queen
e1 white bishop
g1 white king
h1 white rook
8
77
66
55
44
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Position after 3...Qxd1, stalemate

In TroitskyVogt[clarification needed : full name], 1896, the famous endgame study composer Alexey Troitsky pulled off an elegant swindle in actual play. After Troitsky's 1. Rd1!, Black fell into the trap with the seemingly crushing 1... Bh3?, threatening 2...Qg2#. The game concluded 2. Rxd8+ Kxd8 3. Qd1+! Qxd1 stalemate. White's bishop, knight, and f-pawn are all pinned and unable to move.[25]

In studies[edit]

Rhine, 2006
abcdefgh
8
Chessboard480.svg
c8 white king
h8 white queen
b6 black queen
c6 black king
d6 black bishop
g6 black bishop
c5 black knight
c4 black pawn
h4 white rook
d3 white knight
e3 white knight
b2 black knight
b1 white rook
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
White to play and draw
abcdefgh
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d8 white king
e8 black bishop
b6 black knight
d6 black king
c5 black knight
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Incredibly, the possibility of stalemate allows White, three pieces down, to draw.

Stalemate is a frequent theme in endgame studies[26] and other chess compositions. An example is the "White to Play and Draw" study at right, composed by the American master Frederick Rhine[27] and published in 2006.[28] White saves a draw with 1.Ne5+! Black wins after 1.Nb4+? Kb5! or 1.Qe8+? Bxe8 2.Ne5+ Kb5! 3.Rxb2+ Nb3. 1... Bxe5 After 1...Kb5? 2.Rxb2+ Nb3 3.Rxc4! Qxe3 (best; 3...Qb8+ 4.Kd7 Qxh8 5.Rxb3+ forces checkmate) 4.Rxb3+! Qxb3 5.Qh1! Bf5+ 6.Kd8!, White is winning. 2. Qe8+! 2.Qxe5? Qb7+ 3.Kd8 Qd7#. 2... Bxe8 3. Rh6+ Bd6 3...Kb5 4.Rxb6+ Kxb6 5.Nxc4+ also leads to a drawn endgame. Not 5.Rxb2+? Bxb2 6.Nc4+ Kb5 7.Nxb2 Bh5! trapping White's knight. 4. Rxd6+! Kxd6 5. Nxc4+! Nxc4 6. Rxb6+ Nxb6+ Moving the king is actually a better try, but the resulting endgame of two knights and a bishop against a rook is a well-established theoretical draw.[29][30][31][32] 7. Kd8! (rightmost diagram) Black is three pieces ahead, but if White is allowed to take the bishop, the two knights are insufficient to force checkmate. The only way to save the bishop is to move it, resulting in stalemate. A similar idea occasionally enables the inferior side to save a draw in the ending of bishop, knight, and king versus lone king.

Roycroft, 1957
abcdefgh
8
Chessboard480.svg
e8 black rook
f8 black queen
g8 black rook
h8 black knight
b7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black bishop
h7 white king
b6 black pawn
c6 white pawn
d6 black pawn
f6 black pawn
g6 black pawn
h6 black knight
a2 black bishop
b2 black pawn
b1 black king
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
White to play and draw
abcdefgh
8
Chessboard480.svg
e8 black rook
f8 black queen
g8 black rook
h8 black knight
b7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black bishop
h7 white king
b6 black pawn
d6 black pawn
f6 black pawn
h6 black knight
g5 black pawn
c4 black bishop
b2 black pawn
c2 white rook
d2 black king
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Final position

At right is a composition by A. J. Roycroft which was published in the British Chess Magazine in 1957. White draws with 1. c7! after which there are two main lines:

  • 1... f5 2. c8=Q (if 2.c8=R? then 2...Bc3 3.Rxc3 Qg7#) 2... Bc3 3. Qxf5+ draws by stalemate.
  • 1... g5 (1...Ka1 2.c8=R transposes) 2. c8=R!! (2.c8=Q? Ka1 3.Qc2 [or 3.Qc1+] b1=Q+ wins) 2... Ka1 (2...Ng6 3.Rc1+ forces Black to capture, stalemating White) 3. Rc2!! (not 3.Rc1+?? b1=Q+! 4.Rxb1+ Bxb1#; now White threatens 4.Rxb2 and 5.Rxa2+, forcing stalemate or perpetual check) 3... Bc4 (trying to get in a check; 3...b1=Q, 3...b1=B, and 3...Bb1 are all stalemate; 3...Ng6 4.Rc1+!) 4. Rc1+ Ka2 5. Ra1+ Kb3 6. Ra3+ Kc2 7. Rc3+ Kd2 8. Rc2+ (rightmost diagram). As in Evans–Reshevsky, Black cannot escape the "eternal rook".[33]

In problems[edit]

Sam Loyd
abcdefgh
8
Chessboard480.svg
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
e7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black queen
e6 white queen
f6 black pawn
g6 black king
h6 black rook
h5 black pawn
h4 white pawn
e3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Shortest stalemate
Sam Loyd
abcdefgh
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
e8 black king
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
d6 black pawn
a5 black queen
c5 black pawn
d5 white pawn
a4 white pawn
c4 white pawn
f4 black pawn
h4 black bishop
b3 black bishop
e3 black pawn
f3 white pawn
g3 white rook
h3 white pawn
b2 white pawn
d2 white knight
e2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white queen
c1 white bishop
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Stalemate with all pieces on board

Some chess problems require "White to move and stalemate Black in n moves" (rather than the more common "White to move and checkmate Black in n moves"). Problemists have also tried to construct the shortest possible game ending in stalemate. Sam Loyd devised one just ten moves long: 1.e3 a5 2.Qh5 Ra6 3.Qxa5 h5 4.Qxc7 Rah6 5.h4 f6 6.Qxd7+ Kf7 7.Qxb7 Qd3 8.Qxb8 Qh7 9.Qxc8 Kg6 10.Qe6 (diagram at left). A similar stalemate is reached after: 1.d4 c5 2.dxc5 f6 3.Qxd7+ Kf7 4.Qxd8 Bf5 5.Qxb8 h5 6.Qxa8 Rh6 7.Qxb7 a6 8.Qxa6 Bh7 9.h4 Kg6 10.Qe6 (Frederick Rhine).

Loyd also demonstrated that stalemate can occur with all the pieces on the board: 1.d4 d6 2.Qd2 e5 3.a4 e4 4.Qf4 f5 5.h3 Be7 6.Qh2 Be6 7.Ra3 c5 8.Rg3 Qa5+ 9.Nd2 Bh4 10.f3 Bb3 11.d5 e3 12.c4 f4 (diagram at right). Games such as this are occasionally played in tournaments as a pre-arranged draw.[34]

Double stalemate[edit]

abcdefgh
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 white knight
b8 white bishop
c8 black king
a7 white pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 white pawn
e7 black pawn
b6 white pawn
e6 white pawn
d3 black pawn
f3 black pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 black pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 black pawn
h2 black pawn
e1 white king
f1 black bishop
g1 black rook
h1 black queen
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Double stalemate position
abcdefgh
8
Chessboard480.svg
b7 black pawn
a6 black bishop
b6 black pawn
a5 black rook
b5 black pawn
a4 black queen
b4 black pawn
a3 black king
b3 black pawn
b2 black pawn
b1 white king
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Another double stalemate

There are peculiar chess compositions featuring double stalemate. At left and at right are double stalemate positions, in which neither side has a legal move.[citation needed] Double stalemate is theoretically possible in a practical game, though is not known to ever have happened.[citation needed] Consider the following position:

abcdefgh
8
Chessboard480.svg
a4 black pawn
b4 black pawn
a3 black king
b3 black pawn
c3 black pawn
f2 white rook
c1 white king
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Potential gamelike position

The game draws after a waiting move like 1.Rg2 (1...b2+ 2.Rxb2; 1...c2 2.Rg4!). However, White has 1.Rb2?, an interesting blunder: if Black errs by 1...cxb2+? then White draws by 2.Kb1, creating a double stalemate position. Black could win by 1...c2! putting White in zugzwang.[citation needed]

abcdefgh
8
Chessboard480.svg
c5 black pawn
f5 black pawn
h5 black pawn
c4 white pawn
f4 white pawn
h4 black king
e3 black pawn
f3 white pawn
h3 white pawn
e2 white pawn
g2 white king
h2 white pawn
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Fastest known double stalemate: after 18...dxe3

The fastest known game ending in a double stalemate position was discovered by Enzo Minerva and published in the Italian newspaper l'Unità on 14 August 2007: 1.c4 d5 2.Qb3 Bh3 3.gxh3 f5 4.Qxb7 Kf7 5.Qxa7 Kg6 6.f3 c5 7.Qxe7 Rxa2 8.Kf2 Rxb2 9.Qxg7+ Kh5 10.Qxg8 Rxb1 11.Rxb1 Kh4 12.Qxh8 h5 13.Qh6 Bxh6 14.Rxb8 Be3+ 15.dxe3 Qxb8 16.Kg2 Qf4 17.exf4 d4 18.Be3 dxe3.[35]

History of the stalemate rule[edit]

The stalemate rule has had a convoluted history.[36] Although stalemate is universally recognized as a draw today, that has not been the case for much of the game's history. In the forerunners to modern chess, such as chaturanga, delivering stalemate resulted in a loss.[37] However, this was changed in shatranj, where stalemating was a win. This practice persisted in chess as played in early 15th-century Spain.[38] However, Lucena (c. 1497) treated stalemate as an inferior form of victory;[39] it won only half the stake in games played for money, and this continued to be the case in Spain as late as 1600.[40] From about 1600 to 1800, the rule in England was that stalemate was a loss for the player administering it, a rule that the eminent chess historian H. J. R. Murray believes may have been adopted from Russian chess.[41] That rule disappeared in England before 1820, being replaced by the French and Italian rule that a stalemate was a drawn game.[42]

Assume that Black is stalemated. Throughout history, such a stalemate has at various times been:

  • A win for White in 10th century Arabia[43] and parts of medieval Europe.[44][45]
  • A half-win for White. In a game played for stakes, White would win half the stake (18th century Spain).[46]
  • A win for Black in 9th century India,[47] 17th century Russia,[48] on the Central Plain of Europe in the 17th century,[49] and 17th–18th century England[50].[51] This rule continued to be published in Hoyle's Games Improved as late as 1866[52].[53]
  • Illegal. If White made a move that would stalemate Black, he had to retract it and make a different move (Eastern Asia until the early 20th century). Murray likewise wrote that in Hindustani chess and Parsi chess, two of the three principal forms of chess played in India as of 1913,[54] a player was not allowed to play a move that would stalemate the opponent.[55] The same was true of Burmese chess, another chess variant, at the time of writing.[56] Stalemate was not permitted in most of the Eastern Asiatic forms of the game (specifically in Burma, India, Japan, and Siam) until early in the 20th century.[57]
  • The forfeiture of Black's turn to move (medieval France),[58][59] although other medieval French sources treat stalemate as a draw.[60]
  • A draw. This was the rule in 13th-century Italy[61] and also stated in the German Cracow Poem (1422), that noted, however, that some players treated stalemate as equivalent to checkmate.[62] This rule was ultimately adopted throughout Europe, but not in England until the 19th century, after being introduced there by Jacob Sarratt.[63][64][65]

Proposed rule change[edit]

Periodically, writers have argued that stalemate should again be made a win for the side causing the stalemate. Grandmaster Larry Kaufman writes, "In my view, calling stalemate a draw is totally illogical, since it represents the ultimate zugzwang, where any move would get your king taken".[66] The British master T. H. Tylor argued in a 1940 article in the British Chess Magazine that the present rule, treating stalemate as a draw, "is without historical foundation and irrational, and primarily responsible for a vast percentage of draws, and hence should be abolished".[67] Years later, Fred Reinfeld wrote, "When Tylor wrote his attack on the stalemate rule, he released about his unhappy head a swarm of peevish maledictions that are still buzzing."[68] Larry Evans calls the proposal to make stalemate a win for the stalemating player a "crude proposal that ... would radically alter centuries of tradition and make chess boring".[69] This rule change would cause a greater emphasis on material; an extra pawn would be a greater advantage than it is today.

Rules in other chess variants[edit]

Not all variants of chess consider the stalemate to be a draw. Many regional variants, as well some variants of Western chess, have adopted their own rules on how to treat the stalemated player. In chaturanga, which is widely considered to be the common ancestor of all variants of chess, a stalemate was a win for the stalemated player[70].[71] Around the 7th century, this game was adopted in the Middle East as shatranj with very similar rules to its predecessor; however, the stalemate rule was changed to its exact opposite: i.e. it was a win for the player delivering the stalemate.[72] This game was in turn introduced to the western world, where it would eventually evolve to modern-day (Western) chess, although the stalemate rule for Western chess was not standardised as a draw until the 19th century (see history of the rule).

Modern Asian variants[edit]

Chaturanga also evolved into several other games in various regions of Asia, all of which have varying rules on stalemating:

  • In makruk (Thai chess), a stalemate results in a draw, like in Western chess.[73]
  • In shogi (Japanese chess) and the majority of its variants, a stalemate is a win for the player delivering the stalemate.[74] This is because historically, the objective of shogi was to capture the opponent's king rather than to checkmate it – thus from the players' perspective a stalemate was no different from a checkmate, as both outcomes would result in the king's capture in the next move. The official rules of shogi (but not most of its variants) have since altered the objective of the game to checkmate, however stalemate is still considered a form of checkmate and thus a win for the stalemating player. It is worth noting, though, that in shogi (and indeed in any variant of the game that features the drop rule), stalemates are extremely rare due to the fact that no piece ever goes entirely out of play.
  • Xiangqi (Chinese chess) and janggi (Korean chess), despite being very similar to each other in terms of both the board and the pieces, have adopted different rules for what happens in the case of a stalemate. In xiangqi, like in shogi, it results in an immediate loss for the stalemated player, and there is no explicit distinction between it and checkmate.[75] Janggi, on the other hand, allows the stalemated player to pass his/her turn, i.e. the player may (and in fact must) leave the "king" in position and make no move when stalemated.[76]
  • In sittuyin (Myanma/Burmese chess), stalemates are avoided altogether, as it is counted as an illegal move. Players are not allowed to leave the opponent with no legal moves without putting the king into check.[77]

Western chess variants[edit]

The majority of variants of Western chess do not specify in their set of rules what happens when a player is stalemated, which would imply that the rule is the same as in standard Western chess, i.e. a draw. There are some variants, however, where the rule is specified and differs from the rules of standard chess:

  • In losing chess, the stalemate rule varies depending on the version being played.[78] According to the "international" rules, a stalemate is simply a win for the stalemated player. The Free Internet Chess Server, however, grants a win to the player with fewer pieces remaining on the board (regardless of who delivered the stalemate); if both players have the same number of pieces it is a draw.[79] There is also a "joint" FICS/international rule, according to which a stalemate is only a win if both sources agree that it is a win (i.e. it counts as a win for the stalemated player if that player also happens to have fewer pieces remaining); in all other cases it is a draw.
  • In Gliński's hexagonal chess, stalemate is neither a draw nor a full win. Instead, in tournament games, the player who delivers the stalemate earns 34 point, while the stalemated player receives 14 point.[80] It is unknown whether a stalemate should be considered a draw or a win in a friendly game.

As a metaphor[edit]

Stalemate has become a widely used metaphor for other situations where there is a conflict or contest between two parties, such as war or political negotiations, and neither side is able to achieve victory, resulting in what is also called an impasse, a deadlock, or a Mexican standoff. Chess writers note that this usage is a misnomer because, unlike in chess, the situation is often a temporary one that is ultimately resolved, even if it seems currently intractable[81][82][83][84][85][86]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Polgar & Truong 2005:33
  2. ^ Hooper & Whyld 1992:387
  3. ^ Burn vs. Pillsbury, 1898
  4. ^ Tartakower vs. Réti 1925
  5. ^ Kamsky vs. Kramnik
  6. ^ "Anand vs. Kramnik, Mexico City 2007". Chessgames.com.
  7. ^ Benko 2008:49
  8. ^ Karpov vs. Korchnoi
  9. ^ Károlyi & Aplin 2007:170
  10. ^ Griffiths 1992:43–46
  11. ^ Kasparov 2006:120
  12. ^ Fox & James 1993:236
  13. ^ "Bernstein vs. Smyslov, Groningen 1946". Chessgames.com.
  14. ^ Minev 2004:21
  15. ^ Minev 2004:22
  16. ^ "Williams vs. Harrwitz, London 1846". Chessgames.com.
  17. ^ "Carlsen vs. Van Wely, Wijk aan Zee 2007". Chessgames.com.
  18. ^ Nunn 2009:200
  19. ^ Pachman 1973:17
  20. ^ "Evans vs. Reshevsky, New York 1963/64". Chessgames.com.
  21. ^ Larry Evans, Chess Catechism, Simon and Schuster, 1970, p. 66. SBN 671-21531-0. It appears that Evans himself was the first to refer to the game as the "Swindle of the Century" in print, in his annotations in American Chess Quarterly magazine, of which he was the Editor-in-Chief. American Chess Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Winter, 1964), p. 171. Hans Kmoch referred to the conclusion of the game as "A Hilarious Finish". Hans Kmoch, "United States Championship", Chess Review, March 1964, pp. 76–79, at p. 79. Also available on DVD (p. 89 of "Chess Review 1964" PDF file).
  22. ^ Averbakh 1996:80–81
  23. ^ Hans Kmoch, "United States Championship", Chess Review, March 1964, pp. 76–79, at p. 79. Also available on DVD (p. 89 of "Chess Review 1964" PDF file).
  24. ^ "Gelfand vs. Kramnik, Sanghi Nagar 1994". Chessgames.com.
  25. ^ O’Keefe, Jack (August–September 1973). "Stalemate!". Michigan Chess. pp. 4–6. Archived from the original on 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2016-11-22 – via Michigan Chess Association Webzine July 1999.
  26. ^ Hooper & Whyld 1992:388
  27. ^ United States Chess Federation rating card for Frederick S. Rhine
  28. ^ Benko 2006:49
  29. ^ Fine & Benko 2003:524
  30. ^ Müller & Lamprecht 2001:403
  31. ^ Staunton 1847:439
  32. ^ This can be confirmed, as to this position, by the Shredder Six-Piece Database.
  33. ^ Roycroft 1972:294
  34. ^ Hohmeister vs. Frank 1993
  35. ^ The previous record (37 ply, i.e. 18.5 moves) was held by the German composer Eduard Schildberg, and was published in the Deutsches Wochenschach in 1915. Antonio Garofalo (2007). "Best Problems" (PDF). pp. 23 (numbered "95" at bottom of page). Retrieved 2008-09-01.
  36. ^ Murray 1913:61
  37. ^ Murray 1913:229, 267
  38. ^ Murray 1913:781
  39. ^ Murray 1913:461
  40. ^ Murray 1913:833
  41. ^ Murray 1913:60–61, 466
  42. ^ Murray 1913:391
  43. ^ Davidson 1981:65
  44. ^ Murray 1913:463–64, 781
  45. ^ McCrary 2004:26
  46. ^ Davidson 1981:65
  47. ^ Murray 1913:56–57, 60–61
  48. ^ Davidson 1981:65
  49. ^ Murray 1913:388–89
  50. ^ Murray 1913:60–61, 466
  51. ^ Saul's Famous game of Chesse-play (London 1614) explained the reason for this rule as follows: "He that hath put his adversary's King into a stale, loseth the game, because he hath disturbed the course of the game, which can only end with the grand Check-mate." Murray, p. 466 & n. 32. McCrary, p. 26. Murray derides the rule as "illogical", Murray, p. 61, and Saul's explanation as "puerile", id., p. 466.
  52. ^ Sunnucks 1970:438
  53. ^ Murray wrote in 1913, "The rule still appeared in editions after 1857, and I have met with players who argued that the rule was so." Murray, p. 391 n. 47.
  54. ^ Murray 1913:78
  55. ^ Murray 1913:82, 84
  56. ^ Murray 1913:113
  57. ^ Davidson 1981:65
  58. ^ Murray 1913:464–66
  59. ^ Davidson 1981:64–65
  60. ^ Murray 1913:464–66
  61. ^ Murray 1913:461–62
  62. ^ Murray 1913:463–64
  63. ^ Murray 1913:391
  64. ^ Davidson 1981:64–66
  65. ^ Sunnucks 1970:438
  66. ^ Kaufman 2009
  67. ^ Reinfeld 1959:242–44
  68. ^ Reinfeld 1959:242
  69. ^ Evans 2007:234
  70. ^ Murray 1913:229, 267
  71. ^ Chaturangs – Game rules
  72. ^ Shatranj
  73. ^ Makruk: Thai chess
  74. ^ Rules – Japanese Game Shogi
  75. ^ BrainKing – Game rules (Chinese Chess)
  76. ^ Janggi – Korean Chess
  77. ^ How to Play Sittuyin – Burmese Chess – Myanmar Chess
  78. ^ Alexander 1973:107
  79. ^ Losing Chess
  80. ^ Gliński's Hexagonal Chess
  81. ^ Golombek 1977:304
  82. ^ Soltis 1978:54
  83. ^ Golombek wrote, "The word 'stalemate' has been taken into the English language to mean (wrongly) a temporary state of impasse." Soltis wrote:

    There is a world of difference between no choice ... and a poor choice. Editorial writers often talk about a political stalemate when the analogy they probably have in mind is a political "zugzwang". In stalemate a player has no legal moves, period. In zugzwang he has nothing pleasant to do.

  84. ^ Hoffman, Gil (2013-07-02). "Left blames PM for stalemate on peace talks". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
  85. ^ Purnick, Joyce (1988-01-06). "Threat by Wagner to Resign Solved Schools Stalemate". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-05.
  86. ^ Gordon, Meghan (2008-05-21). "Huey P. Long widening stalemate appears resolved". Retrieved 2013-07-05.

References[edit]

External links[edit]