Construct a position which forcibly leads to White or Black being stalemated (and both events are actually possible), meaning that the position is already dead. Further (or it would be too easy) all possible lines (which you thus of course can't actually play in a game!) contain a check of White as well as of Black.


5 Answers 5


I am not sure if this is exactly what you are asking for, but here is a try.

[FEN "8/8/8/2p1p1p1/2P1PkP1/4Q1RB/3PPpPp/3n1Kbr b - - 0 1"]
[startflipped ""]

1... Nxe3+ 2.dxe3+ {2.Rxe3} Kxe4 {2...Kxg3} 3.Rf3

Black to move has only one legal move: 1...Nxe3 check.


  • 2.Rxe3 immediately stalemates Black.

  • 2.dxe3 Kxe4 3.Rf3 stalemates Black after checking Black.

  • 2.dxe3 Kxg3 stalemates White after checking Black.


Example showing why the checking condition is needed to make this an interesting puzzle:

[FEN "k7/Pp4p1/1P6/8/8/6p1/1P4Pp/7K w KQkq - 0 1"]

Whoever moves, the game soon ends in stalemate, and either side may be stalemated thanks to the double-move option.


Since Evergalo asked, I also post a solution, where neither side is in check at the start. Problem chess etiquette says that everything that the composer does not rule out explicitly isn't cheating - for example, I used a promoted bishop, since bPh7 makes the pawn structure illegal - but ingenuity. Thus I immediately accepted the answer, especially as the "forking" into both sides' stalemate isn't as trivial as mine.

[FEN "6b1/p4p1b/4pPkr/4P2p/4Pp1P/4pR2/P3PpP1/5K1n b KQkq - 0 1"]
[startflipped ""]

1... Ng3+ 2.Rxg3+ fxg3 etc.

EDIT: This is still no solution with neither side in check, since after 1...a5 the position is alive. My best try is

[FEN "Bk6/1P5p/1P6/8/7p/4p2P/4PpP1/5KBn w KQkq - 0 1"]

dead after 1.Bh2+. (Two checks still follow after that in the "proof" variants, but the position is dead only after the initial check. Kudos to the first giving a "quiet" initial position!)

EDIT1: Very illegal, but working. Bg5+ and Bxb4+ are "neutral" and can be played anywhen. I did not manage a legal position with two prepended bishop checks.

[FEN "BRRK1k2/1PPP1Pp1/6Pb/pp1p3p/bn3p1P/Bp3P1P/1P1P4/8 w KQkq - 0 1"]

EDIT2: A clever way (1...Ng3+) to fork into White (2.hxg3) and Black (2.Bxg3) stalemate, but the black king stands so stupid that I couldn't prepend a check. (And otherwise I need tons of pawns again.)

[FEN "8/8/6p1/6P1/3p2pB/3P1kPp/3P1p1P/5K1n w KQkq - 0 1"]

I think I have found a position meeting all the requirements, where White, on move, is not in check. Moreover, White can play a non-checking move.

Legal position, 13 units, no promoted pieces.

White: Kh5, Rh6, Pe6,f5,g4,g6 / Black: Kg8, Rh8, Bf8, Pe7,f6,g7,g5

Black's last move was ...Rh7-h8 (possibly capturing a knight) or ...f7-f6. Before that, White might have played a pawn.

White: Kh5, Rh6, Pe6,f5,g4,g6 / Black: Kg8, Rh8, Bf8, Pe7,f6,g7,g5

Possible lines are:

  • A. 1.Rxh8+ Kxh8 stalemate,
  • B. 1.Rh7 Rxh7+ 2.gh7+ (both kings have been checked) 2...Kh8 3.Kg6 stalemating Black
  • C. 1.Rh7 Rxh7+ 2.gh7+ (both kings have been checked) 2...Kxh7 stalemating White.

If it bothers you that Black doesn't check White in line A, then the solution to your construction problem is the position after 1.Rh7, Black to move: no side is in check right now but both kings will be checked before either one is stalemated. But aesthetically I prefer the longer version !

Another version : wRh6 -> wPh6 ; 1.h7+ is the only legal move and play will then follow lines B and C.

  • 1
    Very clever and economical! Apr 12, 2022 at 16:03

For Hauke, here is a "quiet" position as was challenged. :)

[FEN "5kBK/5P1P/5P2/4nP2/5p1N/5Pp1/6P1/8 w - - 0 1"]

1. Ng6+ Nxg6+ 2. fxg6
  • 2
    but this has only one variation, so only one side can get stalemated. Jan 16, 2022 at 1:36
  • Half kudos thus :-) (Because it answers if it is far easier only with one side being stalemated; myself I didn't have a position up to now.) Jan 16, 2022 at 8:39

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