Edmar Mednis stated that in KNN vs K endgame, the inability to force checkmate is one of 'the great injustices of chess'. This seems to be defined as a drawn/drawish endgame position but where 1 side is up at least 4 points in material.

The phrase 'one of' seems to indicate there are other injustices in his mind. So, what are other 'great injustices of chess'?


3 Answers 3


It is probably not only about position, but how about playing for 7 hours, and you are positionally killing your opponent, and you slip up, throwing away all that work?

Here are a couple positions that still probably qualify:

 [FEN "7k/7P/8/6K1/4B3/8/8/8 w - - 0 1"]

You would think that white should be able to win, but no.

Or black here.

 [FEN "6K1/5P2/6q1/8/8/8/1k6/8 w - - 0 1"]

 1. Kh8=
  • I prefer the first example. I feel the latter example usually arises in a tight endgame, which does not make it so unfair in the end.
    – quid
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 1:05
  • @quid I could really say the same about the two knights endgame, but we did not define the parameters....Mednis did, at least in the question the OP asked. Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 1:31
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    I don't see why the former is an "injustice". Just so happens that "bishop and wrong rook's-pawn" is in general not a win. So just before the exchange that resulted in this material, you should know this before deciding whether or not to offer that exchange, or accept your opponent's offer.
    – Rosie F
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 6:57
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    @RosieF So is the example given by Mednis. It appears that according to Mednis, he simply is stating that when you are up that much material, it is a quasi-injustice. Of course, any experienced player knows that that is just one way to try to bail out to a draw. I was ONLY going by what i perceive as HIS definition...great material imbalance, but no win. Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 11:37
  • I remember that I was in the first position in a tournament many years ago. It absolutely sucked.
    – MilkyWay90
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 17:32

I can think of some:

  • Time trouble causing blunders in general.
  • Objectively you can have an advantage, but then having to convert/transform it could require an impractical level of calculation (such that no human could ever realistically win over the board with such an advantage).
  • Some argue stalemate in general is wrong. Why should trapping the king be a draw, but trapping the king while simultaneously threatening it be a win? This doesn't match how a real battle would be like.

I think he said that though more of as an expression, not with any serious implications.

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    +1 for stalemate because that is a rule which could in principle be changed, whereas "KNN k isn't a win", "KBP k with wrong rook's-pawn isn't a win" are consequences of the way the pieces move.
    – Rosie F
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 6:59
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    @Rosie F It's interesting what changing stalemate would do though. It would make the two endgames you listed as easily winning, but also ruin the whole idea of defending with opposition in K vs K+P. This would then change slightly more complicated endgames, such as the Philidor, and I'd assume you can keep adding more and more levels of complexity and getting wins instead of draws. Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 10:18

One thing I think is an injustice of chess is the rule enabling a player being able to get a 50-move draw even if their position is lost. (A "blessed loss" position; a "cursed win" from the point of the other player, who deserved the chance to try to execute a win.)

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    There's some endgame where one side has a K+R+minor piece vs K+2 minor pieces, and there's a forced win but in more than 50 moves. Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 10:20
  • So would it make more sense to change 50 moves to x moves, where x is the maximal number of moves needed for a forced win in all possible positions?
    – Zuriel
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 14:11
  • @Zuriel It might be difficult to do that in a practical setting. How are TDs supposed to know the maximal number of moves needed for any given position, especially if the number of moves exceeds an engine's search depth? Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 15:02
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    @InertialIgnorance: They're known now. There's a terabyte-sized database with the solution to all endings with 6 or fewer pieces. Ignoring 50 move rule, it's ludicrous how many accurate moves in a row are required for some of them.
    – Joshua
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 17:19
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    @Zuriel That would be impractical; there is a known position that requires more than 500 moves to checkmate, and there are almost certainly positions that require many more than this. I don't think anyone would really want a 500-move rule, especially since it's essentially impossible for the 500-move checkmate to come up (and be played correctly) in a game with a human in it. Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 19:27

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