Suppose all the pieces are on the board. Does there exist a position such that

A) one of the players can't make any move (a stalemate)?

B) neither player can make any move (a double stalemate)?

  • 3
    By "double stalemate," I think OP means a position that is stalemate with either side to move. It's true that it doesn't really make sense in a real game, although OP did not actually mention that the position had to be reachable from the starting position - only that it contained all thirty-two chessmen.
    – Bladewood
    Nov 18 '19 at 0:58

Disclaimer: This solution is not reachable from the starting position, and is not reachable in a game of Chess960 (thanks Rewan!).

 [FEN "3bBNRN/2pPpPKQ/2P1P1PR/7P/p7/rp1p1p2/qkpPpP2/nrnbB3 w - - 0 1"]

Why does the solution here not work?

This is clearly not reachable from the starting position (because of the bishops stuck on the first rank), but the question does not state the position must be legal.

  • 2
    I think that it’s possible to change this position so the bishops are all on plausible starting squares. But there’s still the problem of the pawns getting to the files we find them on, with no captures available
    – Laska
    Nov 17 '19 at 11:10
  • I'm in favor of this answer. It's technically a valid solution to the question, and to me, "legal position" doesn't seem explicit in the question.
    – user45266
    Nov 17 '19 at 20:13

Here is an example of a 12-move game after which White (to move) is stalemated. All 32 units (pieces and pawns) are still on the board. The original version of this concept game was created by Charles Henry Wheeler, and published in Sunny South in 1887, according to Edward Winter's C.N. 3679. Samuel Loyd is often, and wrongly, given credit.

[Title ""]
[StartFlipped "0"]
[fen "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

1.d4 e5 2.Qd2 e4 3.Qf4 f5 4.h3 Bb4+ 5.Nd2 d6 6.Qh2 Be6 7.a4 Qh4 8.Ra3 c5 9.Rg3 f4 10.f3 Bb3 11.d5 Ba5 12.c4 e3 1/2-1/2
  • 6
    Thank you so much, the first part of the question is complete now. Nov 15 '19 at 9:23
  • Sam Loyd found a double-stalemate which can be reached in only a few moves, but the proof game involves captures. I don't know of any stalemate he found with all 32 units on the board.
    – Rosie F
    Nov 21 '19 at 8:00

@Rosie F has answered the first part and @im_so_meta_even_this_acronym's answer proves that it indeed possible with an illegal position. However, I want to focus specifically on legal positions just for fun.

The known maximum number of pieces that can be legally stalemated is 30 pieces. I have two examples.

I found this one in the Die Schwalbe Chess Problem Database..

[Title Gustavus Charles Reichhelm, Brentano's Monthly 01/1882, 30 Stalemated Pieces"]
[FEN "rqrb4/nbk1p3/p1p1P3/PpP3p1/1P3pPp/3p1P1P/3P1KBN/4BRQR w - - 0 1"]

@Laska utilized a promoted piece elsewhere on this site. another

[FEN "brnbKRRN/qnk1pBN1/rb1pPpPp/p1pP1P1P/PpP5/1P6/8/8 w - - 0 1"]

To answer the second part of your question:

Suppose all figures are on the board. Does there exist a transposition of figures such that both of the opponents can't do any move (a stalemate)?

No, this is not possible. Pieces are simply too mobile for this, so for a stalemate you need to hem them in (like the white queen in @RosieF's answer) or pin them on the king. You cannot use pins for a double stalemate, since that would imply the pinning piece can move and it's not stalemate for the other player. (That piece could be pinned itself, but there's no way to make a circular pin.)

  • 11
    You seem very sure about this! Can you justify your claim? @RewanDemontay's answer comes tantalisingly close, after all.
    – TonyK
    Nov 15 '19 at 19:28
  • 2
    It's going to be very hard to prove it mathematically, I agree.
    – Glorfindel
    Nov 15 '19 at 19:33

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