Why do you think white is losing here?

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5 Answers 5


White's king is dangerously exposed. 1...Bxf4 2. gxf4 g3 and how is White going to avoid checkmate? 3. Qg2 Nh3+ 4. Kh1 Nxf4+ wins the Queen, while 3. Kg2 Qh2+ 4. Kf3 g2 threatening Qxf4+ is almost checkmate as well.

So Black wins. Don't just count material, the ultimate goal of the game is to checkmate.


In addition to the other excellent answers highlighting the number of Black pieces aimed at White's King and Allure's correct analysis, it seemed concrete variations were the only useful thing to add to this Q/A.

White is losing because all roads lead to forced checkmates for the reasons identified by the other answers. Specifically, after 1. Qb7, Black has a forced checkmate in 19 moves. Diagram & lines courtesy of Stockfish 14+ NNUE (depth = 41+, 18225k nodes/s).

Interestingly, all of the captures and subsequent promotions with the g-pawn on Black's 7th move lead to mate in the same number of moves as 7...Qh3+.

[FEN "N4r1k/p7/7q/4b3/2P2Np1/1Q1Pp1P1/PP3n2/R4RK1 w - - 0 1"]

1. Qb7 Bxf4 {2. gxf4, Qd5, Qg2} 2. gxf4 {This move delays the longest.} 2...g3 3. Kg2 {3. Qg2 and 3. Rxf2 lead to getting mated quicker} 3...Qh2+ {3...Qh3+ also strong, 3...e2 is a draw} 4. Kf3 g2 {Black's only move for a win.  4...g2 is a draw} 5. Qc7 {5. Rg1, 5. Kxe3 both lead to quicker mates} 5...Re8 {5...Qh3+ also wins by force} 6. Qe5+ {6. Qc8 and 6. Rxf2 lead to quicker mates} 6...Rxe5 7. fxe5 Qh3+ {Interestingly, all of the captures and subsequent promotions with the g-pawn lead to mate in the same number of moves as 7...Qh3+.} (7... gxf1=Q 8. Rxf1 Qh3+ 9. Ke2 Ng4 10. Rf8+ Kg7 11. d4 Qg2+ 12. Kd3 e2 13. Nc7 Kxf8 14. Ne6+ Kg8 15. Nf4 Qf3+ 16. Kd2 e1=Q+ 17. Kxe1 Qf2+ 18. Kd1 Ne3+ 19. Kc1 Qc2#) (7... gxf1=R 8. Rxf1 Qh3+ 9. Ke2 Ng4 10. d4 Qg2+ 11. Kd3 Qxf1+ 12. Ke4 e2 13. Kd5 e1=Q 14. Nb6 Qf3+ 15. Kd6 Qb4+ 16. c5 Qxd4+ 17. Ke6 Qxe5+ 18. Kd7 Qb7+ 19. Kd8 Qee7#) (7... gxf1=B 8. Rxf1 Qh3+ 9. Ke2 Ng4 10. d4 Qg2+ 11. Kd3 Qxf1+ 12. Ke4 e2 13. Kd5 e1=Q 14. Nb6 Qf3+ 15. Kd6 Qb4+ 16. c5 Qxd4+ 17. Nd5 Qdxd5+ 18. Kc7 Qff7+ 19. Kb8 Qd8#) (7... gxf1=N 8. Rxf1 Qh3+ 9. Ke2 Ng4 10. Rf8+ Kh7 11. Rf7+ Kg8 12. Rg7+ Kxg7 13. d4 Qg2+ (13... Qh2+ 14. Kf3 e2 15. Ke4 Qg2+ 16. Kf5 e1=Q 17. b3 Qef2+ 18. Ke6 Qc6+ 19. Ke7 Qh4#) 14. Kd3 e2 15. c5 e1=Q 16. Kc4 Nxe5+ 17. dxe5 Qge4+ 18. Kb5 Q1b4+ 19. Ka6 Qeb7#) 8. Ke2 gxf1=Q+ 9. Rxf1 Ng4 10. Rf8+ (10. d4 Qg2+ 11. Kd3 Qxf1+ 12. Ke4 Qg2+ 13. Kf5 Qxa8 14. Kxg4 Qe4+ (14... Qf8 15. e6 e2 16. e7 Qxe7 17. Kf4 e1=Q 18. Kg4 Q7e4+ 19. Kg5 Q1h4#) 15. Kg5 Qf3 16. e6 e2 17. a3 e1=Q 18. Kg6 Qeg3+ 19. Kh6 Qh1#) 10... Kg7 11. d4 Qg2+ (11... Kxf8 12. Nb6 Qg2+ 13. Kd3 e2 14. Nd7+ Ke7 15. Kc3 e1=Q+ 16. Kb3 Qb7+ 17. Nb6 Qxb6+ 18. Kc2 Qe2+ 19. Kb1 Qbxb2#) 12. Rf2 exf2 13. Kd2 (13. Kd3 Qf3+ 14. Kc2 f1=Q 15. b3 Q1g2+ 16. Kc1 Qff1#) 13... Qf3 14. Kc2 f1=Q 15. b3 Q1e2+ 16. Kb1 Qh1#      

With perfect play, White is already lost. There are no good options. White gets checkmated either way: 1. Nh3 is -M8, 1. Kg2 is -M9, and 1. Ng6+ is -M13. The analysis above shows 1. Qb7 leads to mate (-M19). Stockfish prefers sacrificing the Rook for the Knight with 1. Rxf2 but this seems to just lead to a longer mate (-M22).

Note: -Mx means Black has a forced checkmate in x moves.


Without really analyzing this position in depth, Just at first glance. Black has four pieces aimed at White's king and White's pieces are mostly misplaced. White's rook on a1 is doing nothing and his knight on a8 is going to take a couple moves just to be a useful piece.

Black has a lot of potential threats. Qh1. Qh2, e2, Bxf4, Nh3+ etc. Yes, white is defending most of that right now but I would be willing to bet there's a really strong combination combining two or more of those threats that's pretty devastating.


Some thoughts:

  • the only thing preventing white being checkmated is the queen guarding h1. Which dramatically reduces the queen's value.
  • white's knight is in the corner, a terrible place in general for a knight, and very far from the action
  • black has many targets: h1, g3, d3, and the threat of queening at e1. White doesn't have much except Ng6+.
  • after Bxf4, gxf4 g3, it becomes a desperate battle to avoid mate.

“If your opponent offers you a draw, try to work out why he thinks he’s worse off.” – Nigel Short

I disagree with your premise that white is losing here, and with the answers so far. But this is based on my working-out, and not on the force of NN, so caution is advised.

Q: Why do you think white is losing here?

I don't, and here is why: If it's white to move, then in order to be a losing position, there need be refutations of every white attempt at black's hands in the given position. I don't see any such forcing and refuting line, for several candidate moves that is; in fact, I see black being in danger here. Black is left with trying to hinder white's looming attack by means of their current initiative, heading into a perpetual check sooner or later.

Among the candidate moves are

Rxf2, the drastic solution: after exf2 and Kxf2, black is asked to find Rxf4, which allows them to land a perpetual on rank 1 and 2 with white's attempt to flee via Kb3 covered by Qxb2.

Kg2, the sharp counter: the threat of Rh1 must be parried, but neither Rb8 nor Q-- nor K-- do the job, so black is left with allowing Rh1, banking on the interposing Nh3. So, after Kg2, black takes on f4 with either rook or bishop, and then seeks perpetual check again after Rh1, Nh3, gxf4 and Qh4.

Qd5, the fast ignoramus: activating the queen asks black to find Bxf4. If found, several sublines are playable after white takes back with gxf4, but none of them yield more than a draw for black. Black may push g3, but white calmly plays Kg2 and smiles, since both Qh2+ and Qh3+ are answered by the daring Kf3, now making fun of blacks mating attempt. Instead of g3, black had Nh3+, prolonging, and the drastic Rxf4, shortening the game; black is on the lookout for a perpetual check, and without their bishop covering b2, they need to cage in whites king near the h1 corner.

Nc7, the slow ignoramus: even this slow approach can't be forcibly lead into troubles for white. Blacks best bet is still to capture on f4 with their bishop, and after gxf4, either push g3 or play Nh3+, but both attacks can be disarmed by white, who still enjoys the drastic Rxf2, as well as the daring escape with Kf3. White may even allow promotion, since black's initiative will either end in perpetual or in them losing the game, gifting half a point.


To my understanding, the given position is a draw, because white has no way of stopping black from (either) delivering perpetual check (or regaining material equality in certain sublines), and because black is on a clock, having to cash in their current initiative before white consolidates and wins by force.

  • 1
    You are assuming it is white to move, but according to the image in the question, I think it is black to move since white has just moved Qb7.
    – lodebari
    May 30 at 17:54
  • Now I see the yellow. Must be urine, as displaying the board from the side whose turn it isn't, pisses me off! May 30 at 19:35

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