2

It is well known that the fastest stalemate is in 19 ply. But what is the fastest possible if all pieces, not pawns, may be shuffled at will on their first ranks? This task is difficult since there is much to conside, but 19 ply is certainly beatable.

2

Down another ply to 17 (stalemate after White's 9th move):

[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[FEN "brqnkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBRKBNQ w - - 0 1"]

1. h4 h5 2. g3 f6 3. Qxb7 Kf7 4. Qxc7 Be4 5. Qxd7 Rh6 6. Qxa7 Bh7 7. Qxb8 Kg6 8. Qxc8 Ne6 9. Qxe6 1/2-1/2
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  • Great find! I think this may be optimal. Note-White can play with one pawn move: 1. h4 h5 2. Qh2 f6 3. Qxc7 Kf7 4. Qxb7 Rh6 5. Qxa7 Be4 6. Qxb8 Bh7 7. Qxc8 Kg6 8. Qxd7 Ne6 9. Qxe6 1/2-1/2 – Rewan Demontay Jun 21 at 3:11
  • Thanks (also for correcting the diagram error)! Yes, there are several variations; another way for White to make just one move is to have wQg1 and Be1, and start f4, Qxa7, Qxb7 etc. and eventually Bh4. There's also wBc1, Qe1: 1 d4 a5 2 Qxa5 h5 3 Qxc7 f6 4 Qxb7 Kf7 5 Qxb8 Be4 6 Qxc8 Bh7 7 Qxd7 Ne6 8 Qxe6+ Kg6 9 h4. I wouldn't be too surprised if there's some way to save yet another ply somehow to get this down to 8.0 . . . – Noam D. Elkies Jun 21 at 3:24
2

I don't know if this is the fastest, but I managed to shave one ply off of the standard chess example by moving the queen to a better starting square. This allows the side giving stalemate to start capturing one move sooner, resulting in stalemate in 18 ply instead of 19.

[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[FEN "rnbnqbkr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQ - 0 1"]

1. a4 d6 2. Ra3 Qxa4 3. h4 h5 4. Rah3 Qxc2 5. f3 Qxd2+ 6. Kf2 Qxb2 7. Qxd6 Qxb1 8. Qh2 Qxc1 9. Kg3 Qe3 1/2-1/2
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  • 1
    I couldn't figure out how to avoid moving the a-pawn. It seems unnecessary since it's just going to be captured right away, but the side getting stalemated runs out of useful non-blocking moves otherwise. For example, you can't move the f-pawn until the queenside rook gets to the kingside. – D M Apr 11 at 17:14

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