Firstly, I'm very very bad at chess. I've known how to play for most of my life, but I've never been good, so I'm trying to get good by playing against easy computers.

I commonly end in draws with situations like the following:

3k4/8/1N6/2P2Q2/4R3/R5B1/P3K1P1/5B2 w - - 0 1

I'm really not convinced this is a real draw. I have both Rooks and my Queen left, so I should be able to box the King in easily. But maybe I'm wrong, maybe it's impossible for me to win.

So if I'm wrong, I'd like to know why. If not, why does the computer consider this a draw?


1 Answer 1


With black to move, he is not in check but he also has no legal moves. There is no square where his king can go without putting himself in check, and that would be an illegal move.

That situation is called stalemate (Wikipedia), and it is an immediate draw by the rules of the game. You've boxed him in too well.

As to why stalemate is a draw see Why is stalemate a draw? , and there are also a lot of further questions if you search the site for "stalemate".

  • 3
    @TechnoSam Think about it this way: the game is only won when one king is checkmated. Now in a situation, where one side is to turn, but doesn't have any legal moves left, and their king is not under check, there's no way to pass the turn so the game reaches a definite halt and no side can be announced winner (because neither king is checkmated yet). Therefore, it can only be considered a draw. From your end, it is your fault for messing up the checkmate combination and allowing a stalemate, so it's not the rules cheating you. Material difference doesn't win the game, checkmate does!
    – user929304
    Jan 23, 2018 at 18:21
  • I agree that if you put a king into stalemate it should be considered a draw. I must say that it should almost never happen especially with how many pieces white has left.
    – Joe
    Jan 23, 2018 at 18:34
  • 7
    @TechnoSam: this sounds like not being "totally sold" on how the knight moves. It's just a simple rule of the game. Jan 23, 2018 at 19:29
  • 3
    @TechnoSam It's sort of game balance related as well. Stalemate being a win for the stronger side would probably increase the first-player advantage, since smaller advantages can be more readily converted into a win. Jan 23, 2018 at 19:58
  • @user929304 Definitely, now that I know the rule it will be my fault if I screw it up in the future. It makes sense if you want to hold the singular win condition.
    – TechnoSam
    Jan 23, 2018 at 22:31

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