# What is the farthest away a game can be from a guaranteed checkmate?

What is the maximum number of moves away from checkmate that a player can be where checkmate is guaranteed? There are many positions that are a guaranteed win for a player if played perfectly, right? (Obviously there is not a guaranteed win from the first move). My question is: What is the furthest amount of moves one can be from guaranteed checkmate, when the shortest amount of moves to checkmate is taken?

Let's assume you are white and have, say, a bishop and a knight left and black is down to just the king. (there is a way to get checkmate with a bishop a knight, so checkmate is assumed to be guaranteed). Now, one set of moves could take say 40 moves to get checkmate from this point, but the least number is say 19 moves away. Now, my question is asking what the most amount of moves to guaranteed checkmate is, but you have to take the route to checkmate that has the least amount of moves, so 19 would be the case from the point where the bishop and knight are the only pieces other than the kings left.

I apologize for the lengthiness of this question, I couldn’t think of a good way to ask what I’m asking. This question derived from wondering if black or white could win every time from the first move but obviously that isn’t the case. The main question is at the end of my first paragraph.

Edit: 50 moves without a pawn push or a capture does not trigger a draw.

• This is going to be difficult to get a firm answer. Dec 12 '19 at 0:58
• OK. What about chess.stackexchange.com/questions/21723/… ?
– D M
Dec 12 '19 at 1:53
• Hmm. It doesn't say one way or the other. @CottonHeadedNinnymuggins, if there was a forced mate in 800, but the 50 move rule would trigger during it, would it count, or not?
– D M
Dec 12 '19 at 1:58
• 50 move rule won’t trigger; the 800 move forced mate would count Dec 12 '19 at 2:01
• OK, then it's not quite a duplicate, although the answers to those questions might still be relevant. I voted to reopen.
– D M
Dec 12 '19 at 2:15

The position with the longest known sequence away from checkmate has a mate in 553 moves. It is a computer verified extension of the famous 549 mover (as mentioned in @Phishmaster's answer) found by Lutz Neweklowsky. By "verified," I mean Stockfish agrees with the moves that occur until a 7-piece position occurs, and then we know 100% it is correct from there. While we can't know for sure that the first 4 moves are 100% the best, since 14-piece databases aren't here yet, it is best to accept them as it is at the limit of our technological capabilities.

Sorry for the late promise fulfillment @Phishmaster. :D

Note that I have flipped Lutz's position to reflect (hehe) the original position of the 549.

``````[Title "Mate In 553 Moves"]
[FEN "1n6/2kP2Q1/5KP1/6B1/1r5b/6q1/7R/1r2b2R w - - 0 1"]

1. d8=Q+ Kxd8 2. Rxh4 Rxh4 3. Rxh4 Qxh4 4. Bxh4 Bxh4+ 5. Kf5 Rb5+ 6. Kg4 Rb4+ 7. Kf3 Nd7 8. Qh8+ Ke7 9. g7 Bf6 10. g8=N+ Ke6 11. Qh3+ Kd6 12. Kg2 Rb2+ 13. Kf1 Rb1+ 14. Ke2 Rb2+ 15. Kd1 Rb1+ 16. Kc2 Rb2+ 17. Kc1 Rb5 18. Qh6 Rc5+ 19. Kb1 Rb5+ 20. Ka2 Ra5+ 21. Kb3 Rf5 22. Ka3 Rf3+ 23. Ka2 Ke6 24. Qh7 Ne5 25. Nh6 Rf2+ 26. Kb1 Rf4 27. Qg8+ Kd6 28. Ka2 Nc6 29. Ng4 Bd4 30. Qg6+ Kd5 31. Qg5+ Ke4 32. Kb1 Nb4 33. Qe7+ Kd3 34. Qh7+ Ke2 35. Qh2+ Kf3 36. Qh3+ Ke4 37. Qg2+ Kd3 38. Qg3+ Ke4 39. Qe1+ Kd3 40. Qd1+ Ke4 41. Qe2+ Kd5 42. Kc1 Kd6 43. Qh2 Nd5 44. Kd2 Bc3+ 45. Ke2 Bd4 46. Qh6+ Kd7 47. Qh7+ Kc6 48. Qg8 Kc5 49. Kd3 Nb4+ 50. Kd2 Nd5 51. Qc8+ Kd6 52. Nh6 Bc3+ 53. Ke2 Re4+ 54. Kf2 Rf4+ 55. Kg1 Bd4+ 56. Kh2 Ne3 57. Qd8+ Kc6 58. Qe8+ Kc5 59. Nf7 Rf2+ 60. Kh3 Rf3+ 61. Kh4 Rf5 62. Nh6 Rf1 63. Qa8 Kb4 64. Kh5 Kc3 65. Qc8+ Kd3 66. Kg6 Rf2 67. Qa8 Rf1 68. Qb8 Kd2 69. Qb3 Ke2 70. Qb5+ Kd2 71. Qg5 Kc2 72. Kh7 Kd3 73. Qb5+ Kc3 74. Qa5+ Kd3 75. Qg5 Rf6 76. Qb5+ Ke4 77. Qb7+ Kd3 78. Qd7 Kc3 79. Qe8 Kd2 80. Qb5 Kc2 81. Qe2+ Kc3 82. Qh5 Rf1 83. Qg6 Rf6 84. Qe4 Kc4 85. Qe8 Kd3 86. Ng8 Rf1 87. Ne7 Rh1+ 88. Kg6 Rg1+ 89. Kf7 Rf1+ 90. Ke6 Rf6+ 91. Kd7 Bc5 92. Nc6 Nd5 93. Nd8 Rd6+ 94. Kc8 Ne7+ 95. Kc7 Nd5+ 96. Kb7 Rb6+ 97. Kc8 Ne7+ 98. Kd7 Nd5 99. Qe1 Rd6+ 100. Kc8 Be3 101. Qd1+ Ke4 102. Qc2+ Kd4 103. Qa4+ Ke5 104. Qh4 Kf5 105. Qh3+ Ke4 106. Nf7 Rc6+ 107. Kd8 Kd4 108. Ke8 Rc7 109. Kf8 Bf4 110. Qe6 Ra7 111. Qe2 Be3 112. Qg4+ Kc5 113. Qc8+ Kd4 114. Qb8 Kd3 115. Kg8 Rc7 116. Qb5+ Kd4 117. Qa4+ Kc5 118. Qa6 Kd4 119. Kf8 Bd2 120. Qf1 Bc3 121. Kg7 Rc6 122. Kg8 Nf6+ 123. Kf8 Rc8+ 124. Kg7 Ne4 125. Qb5 Ke3+ 126. Kh7 Rc7 127. Qb6+ Rc5 128. Qe6 Kf4 129. Qh6+ Kf3 130. Qh3+ Ke2 131. Kg8 Rc6 132. Kf8 Bb4+ 133. Kg7 Bc3+ 134. Kg8 Rf6 135. Qh4 Kd3 136. Nd8 Kd4 137. Qg4 Ke5 138. Qe2 Kf4 139. Qc4 Kf3 140. Qb3 Kf2 141. Ne6 Ke3 142. Qa2 Rf3 143. Qc2 Be5 144. Qd1 Bc3 145. Qc1+ Kd3 146. Nf4+ Kc4 147. Ng2 Rf2 148. Nh4 Nf6+.149. Kg7 Ne4+ 150. Kg6 Rf6+ 151. Kh5 Kd4 152. Qd1+ Ke3 153. Qb1 Bd2 154. Ng6 Ng3+ 155. Kh6 Bc3 156. Qc1+ Kd3 157. Qg1 Ne4 158. Kh7 Rd6 159. Kg8 Rd8+ 160. Kf7 Rd7+ 161. Ke6 Rd6+ 162. Ke7 Bf6+ 163. Ke8 Rd8+ 164. Kf7 Rd7+ 165. Ke6 Rd6+ 166. Kf5 Rd5+ 167. Kf4 Bg5+ 168. Kg4 Ke2 169. Qa7 Bd2 170. Qe7 Rg5+ 171. Kh3 Ke3 172. Nh4 Rg3+ 173. Kh2 Rg4 174. Qa3+ Bc3 175. Qa7+ Ke2 176. Ng2 Be5+ 177. Kg1 Nd2 178. Qf2+ Kd1 179. Kh1 Bd4 180. Qe1+ Kc2 181. Qe2 Re4 182. Qh5 Nf1 183. Qd5 Nd2 184. Qf5 Kd1 185. Nf4 Be5 186. Qh5+ Kc2 187. Ng6 Bf6 188. Kg2 Bg5 189. Qh7 Kd1 190. Qh8 Be3 191. Qh5+ Kc2 192. Nh4 Bd4 193. Nf5 Be5 194. Qe8 Rg4+ 195. Kh3 Re4 196. Qc8+ Kd1 197. Qc5 Nc4 198. Nh6 Nd2 199. Ng4 Bd4 200. Qb5 Rf4 201. Kh4 Be3 202. Qd3 Bd4 203. Kh5 Re4 204. Qa3 Rf4 205. Qd6 Re4 206. Nh6 Bf2 207. Kg6 Rc4 208. Qe5 Bb6 209. Qg3 Rc6+ 210. Kg7 Rc4 211. Nf7 Bc7 212. Qg1+ Kc2 213. Nh6 Be5+ 214. Kg8 Re4 215. Nf5 Bf4 216. Qh1 Be5 217. Qh3 Kd1 218. Kf8 Bf4 219. Qg4+ Ke1.220. Qg2 Be5 221. Qh1+ Ke2 222. Ke8 Bg3+ 223. Kd7 Bf2 224. Ne7 Rd4+ 225. Nd5 Kd3 226. Kc6 Rh4 227. Qg2 Rc4+ 228. Kb5 Be3 229. Qh1 Bc5 230. Qh7+ Ke2 231. Qh5+ Ke1 232. Kc6 Bd4+ 233. Kd6 Bf2 234. Kd7 Rd4 235. Qh1+ Ke2 236. Ke6 Rh4 237. Qg2 Rc4 238. Ke7 Nf3 239. Qh3 Re4+ 240. Kd8 Rd4 241. Qh5 Bg3 242. Qe8+ Be5 243. Qb5+ Kf2 244. Kc8 Re4 245. Kb7 Bd4 246. Qc6 Rg4 247. Ka6 Rg7 248. Nb4 Re7 249. Nd3+ Ke3 250. Qc1+ Ke4 251. Nb4 Re5 252. Qb1+ Ke3 253. Qc2 Rc5 254. Qd3+ Kf4 255. Qe2 Kg3 256. Qe7 Rh5 257. Nd3 Rh6+ 258. Ka5 Rh4 259. Qe6 Bc3+ 260. Ka6 Bd4 261. Qc6 Be3 .262. Qe8 Bd4 263. Qb8+ Kg2 264. Qg8+ Kh3 265. Qg6 Rg4 266. Qc6 Kg3 267. Qc7+ Kh3 268. Nf4+ Kh4 269. Qd6 Kg3 270. Ng6+ Kf2 271. Qe6 Rg1 272. Nf4 Ra1+ 273. Kb7 Ra7+ 274. Kb8 Ra3 275. Qe2+ Kg3 276. Nd3 Rb3+ 277. Kc8 Rb6 278. Qe4 Rf6 279. Kd7 Bc3 280. Nc5 Bd4 281. Ne6 Be5 282. Ng5 Bb2 283. Qe3 Kg4 284. Ne4 Rf7+ 285. Kc6 Rf5 286. Nf2+ Kg3 287. Nd3 Be5 288. Kd7 Rf7+ 289. Ke8 Rf5 290. Qc5 Kg4 291. Nf2+ Kg5 292. Qd5 Kg6 293. Nd3 Bg7 294. Qe4 Kg5 295. Ke7 Bd4 296. Kd7 Rf6 297. Kc8 Rf8+ 298. Kb7 Rf7+ 299. Ka6 Rf6+ 300. Ka5 Bc3+ 301. Ka4 Ra6+ 302. Kb5 Ra5+ 303. Kb6 Rf5 304. Qe7+ Kg6 305. Qe8+ Kg5 306. Kb7 Bd4 307. Qe7+ Kh5 308. Qe4 Rf7+ 309. Ka6 Rf6+ 310. Kb5 Kg5 311. Nb4 Be5 312. Nd5 Rf5 313. Qe3+ Kh5 314. Ka6 Rf7 315. Qf2 Ng5 316. Qc2 Nf3 317. Qc8 Kg5 318. Qe6 Rf5 319. Kb7 Bd4 320. Qe7+ Bf6 321. Qe3+ Kh5 322. Qe4 Kg5 323. Nc7 Nd4 324. Qg2+ Kh5 325. Nd5 Nf3 326. Ne3 Rf4 327. Qh3+ Nh4 328. Qe6 Kg5 329. Qd5+ Kg6 330. Qd6 Kg5 331. Qc5+ Kg6 332. Qc7 Kg5 333. Nd5 Rf3 334. Qc1+ Kg4 335. Ne3+ Kg5 336. Nc4+ Rf4 337. Nb6 Kg4 338. Qd1+ Kg3 339. Nd5 Rf3 340. Qd2 Kg4 341. Ne3+ Kh5 342. Nc4 Bg5 343. Qd1 Bf4 344. Nb6 Bg3 345. Nd7 Kg5 346. Qd5+ Rf5 347. Qe4 Rf4 348. Qe7+ Kg4 349. Qe6+ Kf3 350. Nf6 Kg2 351. Qd5+ Kh2 352. Ne4 Nf5 353. Ng5 Nd6+ 354. Kb6 Bf2+ 355. Kc7 Bg3 356. Kd7 Nf5 357. Qd2+ Rf2 358. Qd1 Rf4 359. Qe2+ Rf2 360. Qh5+ Kg2 361. Kc6 Rc2+ 362. Kd5 Rd2+ 363. Kc4 Rf2 364. Qh3+ Kg1 365. Kb4 Rf1 366. Ka5 Rf4 367. Ka6 Ra4+ 368. Kb5 Rf4 369. Ka5 Rf2 370. Qh8 Kg2 371. Qc3 Rf4 372. Qd2+ Kf1 373. Qd5 Nd4 374. Kb6 Bf2 375. Kc7 Rh4 376. Qe5 Kg2 377. Ne4 Kf3 378. Nd2+ Kg2 379. Qd5+ Kh2 380. Kb7 Rh7+ 381. Ka6 Rh6+ 382. Ka5 Rh4 383. Qd6+ Kh3 384. Qd7+ Kg2 385. Qb7+ Kg3 386. Qg7+ Rg4 387. Nf1+ Kh3 388. Qd7 Kh4 389. Qh7+ Kg5 390. Qg7+ Kf4 391. Qc7+ Kg5 392. Nd2 Rf4 393. Qg7+ Kf5 394. Nc4 Nf3 395. Nd6+ Ke6 396. Ne8 Kf5 397. Ka6 Bd4 398. Nd6+ Ke6 399. Qg8+ Kf6 400. Qh7 Ke6 401. Ne4 Kd5 402. Qb7+ Ke6 403. Ng3.Be5 404. Qb3+ Kd6 405. Qb6+ Ke7 406. Ne4 Kf7 407. Qh6 Kg8 408. Qe6+ Kh8 409. Qe7 Rf5 410. Kb6 Bg7 411. Ng3 Rf6+ 412. Kb5 Nd4+ 413. Kc4 Rc6+ 414. Kd3 Rc3+ 415. Ke4 Rc6 416. Qe8+ Kh7 417. Kd3 Rd6 418. Qh5+ Kg8 419. Ne4 Rd8 420. Ke3 Bh6+ 421. Kf2 Rf8+ 422. Kg2 Kh7 423. Ng3 Ne6 424. Qh4 Ng7 425. Qe4+ Kg8 426. Qd5+ Kh7 427. Qd6 Rf7 428. Qd3+ Kg8 429. Qd5 Bc1.430. Kh3 Ba3 431. Kg4 Be7 432. Qc4 Kf8 433. Qc8+ Ne8 434. Nf5 Rf6 435. Qd7 Rf7 436. Qd3 Bf6 437. Qe3 Be7 438. Qh6+ Kg8 439. Qh1 Rh7 440. Qd5+ Kf8 441. Kf3 Nf6 442. Qe5 Ne8 443. Ke2 Bf6 444. Qd5 Rf7 445. Kd2 Bg5+ 446. Kc2 Rc7+ 447. Kb2 Bf6+ 448. Kb1 Rh7 449. Qf3 Ra7 450. Qb3 Rc7 451. Qb4+ Kf7 452. Qb6 Rd7 453. Qb3+ Kf8 454. Nh6 Rg7 455. Qa3+ Be7 456. Qf3+ Bf6 457. Ng4 Ke7 458. Kc2 Rg5 459. Qe3+ Kf7 460. Qb3+ Kf8 461. Qe6 Bg7 462. Ne3 Re5 463. Qb6 Bf6 464. Ng4 Rf5 465. Qe6 Rf4 466. Qc8 Bd4 467. Qd7 Bg7 468. Ne3 Rf2+ 469. Kb1 Rf7 470. Qc8 Rc7 471. Qa6 Rd7 472. Qa3+ Kf7 473. Qb3+ Kf8 474. Qb4+ Nd6 475. Qf4+ Kg8 476. Nd5 Nf7 477. Qc4 Ra7 478. Nf4 Rb7+ 479. Kc2 Rb2+ 480. Kd1 Rb6.481. Qc8+ Kh7 482. Qc7 Rd6+ 483. Ke2 Kg8 484. Qe7 Bf8 485. Qe8 Ng5 486. Qc8 Rf6  487. Qg4 Bh6 488. Nh5 Re6+ 489. Kf1 Re5 490. Qc8+ Bf8 491. Qc2 Re6 492. Qa2 Kh7 493. Qg2 Kh6 494. Qh1 Rb6 495. Nf4+ Kg7 496. Qh5 Nh7 497. Qg4+ Kf7 498. Qd7+ Be7 499. Qd5+ Kf8 500. Ne6+ Ke8 501. Qh5+ Kd7 502. Ng7 Nf6 503. Qf5+ Kc7 504. Qe5+ Kd7 505. Qd4+ Kc7 506. Qe3 Nd5 507. Qe5+ Kc6 508. Nf5 Rb7 509. Qe4 Kc5 510. Qc2+ Kb6 511. Qb3+ Kc6 512. Nd4+ Kc5 513. Qxb7 Kxd4 514. Kf2 Ke4 515. Qb1+ Kd4 516. Qg6 Bf6 517. Kf3 Be7 518. Qg1+ Kc4 519. Qg4+ Kc5 520. Ke2 Nf6 521. Qf5+ Kd4 522. Qf4+ Kd5 523. Kf3 Ke6 524. Qc4+ Kf5 525. Qa6 Nd7 526. Qd3+ Ke6 527. Qe3+ Kd6 528. Kf4 Nc5 529. Kf5 Bf8 530. Qf3 Nd7 531. Qc3 Ke7 532. Qd4 Ke8 533. Ke6 Nc5+ 534. Kd5 Nd7 535. Kc6 Nb8+ 536. Kb6 Nd7+ 537. Kc7 Nc5 538. Qc4 Be7 539. Qg8+ Bf8 540. Kc6 Na6 541. Qe6+ Be7 542. Qc8+ Kf7 543. Qxa6 Ke6 544. Qd3 Bg5 545. Qe4+ Kf6 546. Kd6 Bd2 547. Qe5+ Kg6 548. Ke6 Bg5 549. Qf5+ Kh5 550. Qf3+ Kh6 551. Qf7 Bh4 552. Kf5 Bg5 553. Qg6#
``````
• This game would actually be a draw under the 50-move rule Mar 16 '20 at 8:22
• @David, I noted that the 50-move rule won’t apply Feb 3 at 5:45

I doubt that anyone will be able to give you a definitive answer beyond this one, but the longest known win from the end of a game is a famous 549-move 7-piece tablebase win. Until we get to 8-piece tablebases, this is probably the longest anyone can prove.

You can see that position, and all 549 moves here.

• There are some that are well over 1000 moves, but they are draws. It would be interesting if there were longer wins, but I will have to see it. Dec 12 '19 at 0:30
• Lichess said it is a draw haha Feb 15 '20 at 21:37
• @Marcelo Because it is a draw; the 50 move rule will kick in.
– D M
Feb 24 '20 at 0:12

UPDATE:

An important update on 8-Men Tablebase by Marc Bourzutschky.

http://arves.org/arves/index.php/en/2-ongecategoriseerd/1509-8-men-tablebase-first-explorations?fbclid=IwAR2BwvtDqDsu_2HIZjzHKWGgzJg42e1SX1SugBV_fLxr8KfQ3rfp3iOt1C4

This is worth reading in detail, but one point demands quotation:

An important question is at what point the chess board becomes so crowded that adding more pieces does not lead to longer winning lines due to the increased likelihood of shortening captures. My results suggest that we may already be at or close to this saturation point: the longest winning line for 8-man endgames without pawns appears to be “only” 400 moves. [...] After generating about 15% of the pawnless endings I’m quite confident to have captured the longest ones. While 15% seems like a small subset at first blush, most other piece configurations have large material differences between White and Black so that long lines are unlikely.

Q: How long is the longest forced checkmate in chess?

A: We will probably never know but the naive extrapolation based on multiplication by number of moves is no longer impossible. It is even conceivable that we already know the longest forced mate in all of chess, which occurs with 7 pieces.

## 50/75 move-rules don't apply

Firstly, let's definitively remove one distraction: 50-moves (or 75-moves). The Codex for Chess Problem Compositions states:

Footnote 12.

Presently the rules defined in the 1 Jan 2018 version of the FIDE Laws are valid. > Relevant for compositional chess are articles 1 to 5, 9.2 and 9.3.

This includes 50 moves-rule, but excludes 75 moves-rule. However:

Article 17 – 50 Moves-Rule

Unless expressly stipulated, the 50 moves-rule does not apply to the solution of chess compositions except for retro-problems.

These conventions are specifically crafted to support the kind of endgame analysis being discussed in this SE question.

The answers are very different from a superficially similar SE question where the 50 move-rule is taken into account.

## Extrapolation from 7-man

The 7-man case is solved at 549 moves, and ingenuity has pushed this back a few more moves (as of Jan 2021, 535 moves). The real breakthrough will come from tablebase development for the 8-man case. We don't know what the answer will be, but there is some intelligent extrapolation possible from existing results.

The Lemonosov webpage stated as long ago as 2014:

Many show interest in what to expect from 8-man endings. First, take note that the longest 6-man mate took 262 moves (KRN-KNN). Moving to 7-man endings doubled [the value].

Of course, as the number of pieces increases, it maybe that the opportunity for stalemate increases and tends to dominate. There is no indication that this is happening at 7-man database level. We are not just limited to the 32-piece starting position, of course, we are looking at any legal position where no captures have yet taken place. So chess as whole might be a draw, while at the same time there might still be some very long forced checkmates in 32-man positions.

I imagine (and it can't be more than this) that such positions might lead themselves very quickly to exchanges, because the board is so cluttered). But I have no idea, and (absent some stupendous breakthrough in quantum computing) humanity will never know.

Here you can find a mate in 555 moves by Lutz Neweklowsky: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70FmRGd4qqU&ab_channel=LutzNeweklowsky

In this kind of chesscompositions we don't have a 50-move-rule.

Kind regards, Lutz Neweklowsky