Is it possible that the king can move to a square, and the opponent can move, but no matter where it is a stalemate? If it is impossible, how do you prove that?


If I understand what you are asking how about this

[Event ""]
[Site ""]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round ""]
[White ""]
[Black ""]
[Result "*"]
[FEN "6k1/8/3p4/2bPp3/1p1bP3/1Pp3p1/2P3P1/6Kn w - - 0 1"]

1.Kxh1 *

Black's last move was Nf2-h1+

  • 4
    @TiyebM The position is possible in real chess, and as is mine. A "natural position" is a rather artificial demand. – Rewan Demontay Feb 13 at 14:28
  • 3
    @TiyebM seriously? i think Ian Bush's position is not only possible but even more probable/realistic/natural as compared... – BCLC Feb 13 at 18:14
  • 2
    Great answer. To alleviate the (fun but) distracting second dark square bishop, why not simply replace it with a queen on c5? – stevec Feb 14 at 13:23
  • 3
    @stevec it would not be a forced stalemate with a queen: ... Qxd5 2. exd5 Bg1 3. Kxg1. Queen on b6 should work, though. – Christoph Feb 14 at 13:44
  • 2
    @Christoph A queen on b6 still allows ... Qc6 2. dxc6, right? So I think you would also have to remove white's d and e pawns. – Marc Paul Feb 14 at 15:29

Here is a variation on the answer of Ian Bush that I could see occuring in an actual game between (low-rated) human players. Of course, realistically White should have resigned long ago, but he plays on in hopes of a draw. Black has a mate in two, but because of time pressure decides to just push a pawn instead of looking for mating attacks...

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "?"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "*"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "8/q4k2/8/p1b5/P2p4/6p1/6P1/6K1 b - - 0 1"]

1... d3+?? 2. Kh1! 
  • 9
    I can certainly imagine something like that happening. I once stalemated a guy by pushing a pawn. He had a lone king, I had queen, pawns and IIRC a minor piece. I took the lazy route of going after a second queen. His king was in the middle of the board with nothing next to it--my pawn push stalemated him. We were both shocked. – Loren Pechtel Feb 14 at 1:29
  • 7
    Yes - that's a better answer than mine, I can see that happening, especially at bullet or blitz – Ian Bush Feb 14 at 8:49

On a similar beat to Ian Bush's answer, here is a chess problem that takes this idea to wacky proportions!

[Title "Christopher Jeremy Morse, EG 1984, White Stalemates Themselves In 4 Moves"]
[FEN "8/pp2r1q1/1p6/1pkr4/2p5/1pp5/nK6/1b6 w - - 0 1"]

   1. Ka3 b4+ 2. Ka4 b5+ 3. Ka5 b6+ 4. Ka6 Nc1 {Any move by Black is fine anyway, as all result in stalemating White!}

Source: The Die Schwalbe Chess Problem Databse

  • 1
    what was black's move before ka3? – BCLC Feb 13 at 14:09
  • 1
    @BCLC 1. Kc1-b2 Pd4xc3+ is easily possible.. – Rewan Demontay Feb 13 at 14:10
  • Doesn't 1... Kc6 2. Kb4 Re8 3. Ka3 Qe7# avoid stalemate? Edit: No it doesn't, rhe knight prevents 2. Kb4 do 1... Kc6 is stalemate too – Sara J Feb 15 at 4:01
  • 1
    2. Kb4 is illegal, the black knight on a2 attacks that field. – Aganju Feb 15 at 4:05
[Title "Black to move and draw"]
[FEN "6k1/7P/7K/6PP/8/8/8/8 b - - 0 1"]
[startflipped ""]

1... Kh8 {Kf8 and Kf7 would be blunders.} 2. Kg6 {Pawn to g6 is also legal, but both result in a stalemate.}

This position is only possible if the foremost pawn has just captured a piece (say, black's pawn).


It might also be worth pointing out that if you make a move after which any move by your opponent would lead to stalemate, the game finishes immediately. See FIDE's Laws of Chess, Article 9.6:

The game is drawn when a position is reached from which a checkmate cannot occur by any possible series of legal moves. This immediately ends the game, provided that the move producing this position was legal.

Thus, from a technical point of view, some of the answers to this questions are slightly wrong. The game is not ended by stalemate (article 5.2) but by the article above.

The only (admittedly, very conceived) practical relevance that I can think of is that without the rule above, after playing Ka3 in Rewan Demontay's example, you could resign and hence lose the game. But you cannot resign as the game has already finished. (Note that even without Article 9.6, you still would not be able to lose on time, that is covered (redundantly?) by Article 6.9.)

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