22

Consider the following position:

8/7p/5K1k/8/7p/7P/5PP1/8 w - - 0 1

1. g4 hxg3

White plays g2-g4. The only legal move is hxg3.

I heard someone say that since the en passant capture is optional, Black can refuse to play it and have the game declared a draw by stalemate.

I think this is nonsense and believe that as long as there are legal moves available there's no stalemate.

Who is right?

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    Capturing en passant is the weirdest move in chess. When someone was taught the rule, they were told it was optional - because it is. Now they have confused "optional to play an en passant capture" with "moving is optional because en-passant is optional". It is easy to see how someone could make that mistake. – Tony Ennis Dec 30 '15 at 17:42
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    Its optional in the same way that every other move in chess is optional. At the end of the day you still need to pick one of them though. – David Grinberg Dec 30 '15 at 18:29
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    It is only optional if you have another option :-) – Marco Dec 30 '15 at 19:02
38

You are right, this is nonsense. From the FIDE laws of chess, article 5:

The game is drawn when the player to move has no legal move and his king is not in check. The game is said to end in ‘stalemate’.

If capturing en passant is possible, it is a legal move so if it is the only option, Black is required to play the move. (Or not to move at all and lose through the clock.)

  • Indeed. En-passant is no more and no less an "optional move" than any other move. The idea that it was an option that a player may choose not to take was the basis of a joke in Fraenkel's Adventure in Chess (1951, published under the pseudonym Assiac). Unfortuntately I no longer have a copy to check, but the position Fraenkel used might even be the one in @Andrea's OP. – Rosie F Jun 4 '16 at 5:59
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    I believe you mean this position? I’m just here to help! futilitycloset.com/2010/06/09/intercepted – Rewan Demontay Apr 29 at 21:28
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    @RewanDemontay Unfortunatelly, whoever made the website you link made a mistake setting up the first position! – David Aug 29 at 7:11

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