7

An extension of this question.

What checkmating move requires the greatest number of moves to be played in a game?

A move is distinguished by:

  • what colour is moving [unlike the previous question]
  • what type of piece is being moved
  • from where
  • to where
  • whether it is a capture
  • what piece it is being promoted to, if any

(And notably, not which piece [if there is one] is being captured, nor if it's en passant.)

(In the case of a castling move, "the piece" is the king.)

For instance, "White Qd1h5#" takes a minimum 5 half-moves (can be played on White's 3rd move). "Black Qf6xf2#" takes a minimum 8 half-moves (can be played on Black's 4th move).

3
  • 1
    I see you taken my suggestion a few hours before I made it, you time-traveling rascal, you :-) Offhand, I say setting up an additional mate position will take not much longer than 12 plies, starting with the answers for the preceding question. Oct 29 at 8:17
  • For Ba8-h1 or Kd8-c8, the answer is "infinity" since these moves can never be a checkmate...
    – Evargalo
    Nov 3 at 9:59
  • @Evergalo Yeah, plus a few others noted in my answer. Nov 3 at 23:15
5

Nice question!

Can anyone reach ...Ka2xb3# sooner than Black's 15th (30 plies)?

1.b4 a5 2. bxa5 Rxa5 3. d3 Rxa2 4. Kd2 Rxa1 5. Ke3 e6 6. Nd2 Ke7 7. Bb2 Kd6 8. Bf6 Kc5 9. Ndf3 Kb4 10. Kd4 Ka3 11. Kc4 Ka2 12. Kb5 d6 13. Ka5 Qe7 14. c3 Bd7 15. Qb3+ Kxb3#

[FEN ""]
1.b4 a5 2. bxa5 Rxa5 3. d3 Rxa2 4. Kd2 Rxa1 5. Ke3 e6 6. Nd2 Ke7 7. Bb2 Kd6 8. Bf6  Kc5 9. Ndf3 Kb4 10. Kd4 Ka3 11. Kc4 Ka2 12. Kb5 d6 13. Ka5 Qe7 14. c3 Bd7 15. Qb3+ Kxb3#

[ My first thought was

...a6-a5#

This can't be a discovered check, and must therefore be direct, entailing wKb4. This in turn entails 3 wK moves and one wP move to let wK out. Then 8 squares in wK's field (which are currently all empty and none guarded by Black) must each be either occupied by White or guarded by Black. This can be achieved on the 12th ply e.g.

1.d3 d6 2.Kd2 Be6 3 Kc3 a6 4.Kb4 Qd6 5.a3 b6 6.c3 a5#

[FEN ""]
1.d3 d6 2.Kd2 Be6 3 Kc3 a6 4.Kb4 Qd6 5.a3 b6 6.c3 a5#

]

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  • 3
    I found ...Ka2xb3# in 13 moves: 1.b4 a5 2.bxa5 Rxa5 3.d4 Rxa2 4.Kd2 Rxa1 5.Kd3 d6 6.Nd2 Kd7 7.Nb3 Kc6 8.Ba3 Kb5 9.c3 Ka4 10.Kc4 Kxa3 11.Kb5 Ka2 12.Ka5 Qd7 13.Qd3 Kxb3# Oct 31 at 12:18
3

Some tentative thoughts:

Preliminaries

A checkmating move is either a discovered check, or a direct check. (Possibly both, but likely not relevant). Any proposed checkmate move must consider each possible form.

  • B,N,R,P: can direct check or discovered check (unless starting in a corner, or moving along an edge in the case of R).
  • K: can discovered check
  • Q: can direct check

AFAIK, any possible move is a candidate for a checkmate except:

  • a K move along the side of the board
  • a B move from one corner to the other

There aren't many moves that really force the opposing king to be in a particular spot. Pawn moves that finish on the edge of the board (eg, a3-a4# or b3xa4#) are the only exceptions (in this case, the king must be at b5). Many moves (say Bb2c3#) are more easily reached with a discovered check (say, a rook along the b file or 2nd rank).

Assuming for the moment that White is mating, the number of half moves required can be described as:

  • White: (moving mating piece into position) + (getting other pieces out of the way of mating piece) + (capturing pieces to help king) + (moving pieces into position to attack king's escape squares) + 1 (mating move)
  • Black: (getting king into position) + (moves capturing pieces to help mating piece) + (moving pieces into king's escape squares)

Possible goals

It's not immediately obvious which of these mutually incompatible goals is most important:

  • forcing the king to move to an inconvenient square far away
  • forcing the mating piece to do the same
  • choosing a mating location that requires a lot of pieces to enclose (such as the centre of the board, rather than on an edge, or next to where other pieces start)

A good way of forcing the black king to move a long way is for the mating move to be a king move from rank 1 to 2 or similar - so the discovered attack is along a rank.

Unpromising avenues of exploration

  • Pawn promotions: it only takes 5 moves, and the goal is close to where the mated king starts, where it is already fairly trapped by the edge of the board and its own pieces.
  • Queen moves: hard to see how this would ever take longer than a rook or bishop.

Some possible candidate moves (with White mating)

Kb2xb1

I now realise that Black's king could be mated by a bishop on a1, like this:

  1. e4 Nf6 2. Qf3 g6 3. Na3 Bh6 4. b3 Kf8 5. Rb1 Nxe4 6. c4 Nxd2 7. Kd1 Nxb1 8. Kc2 f5 9. Bb2 e5 10. Ba1 e4 11. Kb2 Kg7 12. Qxf5 Qg8 13. Kxb1#
[FEN ""]
1. e4 Nf6 2. Qf3 g6 3. Na3 Bh6 4. b3 Kf8 5. Rb1 Nxe4 6. c4 Nxd2 7. Kd1 Nxb1 8. Kc2 f5 9. Bb2 e5 10. Ba1 e4 11. Kb2 Kg7 12. Qxf5 Qg8 13. Kxb1#

That's 13 moves, and definitely not optimal.

Kb1xb2

By having the king start on the first rank, we ensure the only discovered check is a rook along the same rank, so black's king must cover the whole board.

Along these lines:

rnbq2nr/pppppp1p/8/8/2P1P3/3P4/PbQ3PP/RK2kBNR w KQ - 0 1

This can be achieved in 13 moves (25 half-moves), and likely fewer:

[FEN ""]
1. d3 g6 2. c4 Bh6 3. f4 f6 (3... f5 4. Kd2 Bxf4+ 5. Kc2 Kf7 6. Na3 Kf6 7. Kb1 Kg5 8. Qc2 Bxc1 9. c5 Kf4 10. c6 Ke3 11. cxb7 Kf2 12. e4+ Ke1 13. h4 Bxb2 14. Kxb2#) 4. f5 Kf7 5. fxg6+ Kxg6 6. Na3 Bxc1 7. Qb3 (7. Qc2 Bxb2) 7... Bxb2 8. Kd2 Kg5 9. Kc2 Kf4 10. Kb1 Ke3 11. Qc2 Kf2 12. e4+ Ke1 13. Kxb2#

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