If Magnus Carlsen had neither knight at the start of the game and stockfish had neither bishop would Magnus Carlsen be able to beat Stockfish?

  • 4
    stockfish too strong
    – cmgchess
    Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 17:24

2 Answers 2


Possible but unlikely

Many people consider knights and bishops to be equal. The rest would agree that they are very close. This means that stockfish isn't very handicapped. Magnus's rating (any mode) ranges from 2800-2900. I have found Stockfish ratings from 3400-4000. This means the rating difference is somewhere from 500-1200. While that is a large range, it doesn't matter where the true value is. With a minor/nonexistent handicap, it rare for a player to beat another player that is 500-1200 ELO higher than them. Assuming that knight and bishop are equal, the probability of Magnus winning is around 1/9 to 1/729 (the big range is from expontetial extrapolation of the ELO difference). Even if you say bishop is better, there will be little difference. So, yes it is possible. Anything is possible. But is very unlikely.

  • wismuth.com/elo/… Material odds -1.21, so it seems to me if the position is +1 to start with, 1/9 is a reasonable bet. That said it totally depends what depth you allow Stockfish to run to, and on the time control. And of course on the air quality ;-)
    – anonymous2
    Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 16:42
  • Agreed that 1/9 seemed more reasonable, but my reasoning doesnt appear to have any MGFs (Major Gaping Flaws) so I still included it @anonymous2 Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 9:11


We can give this position to Lichess (with White to move, because it's the bigger advantage), and note that the evaluation is about +1. This evaluation is not large enough for a human player to win.

See also this question about exactly how much advantage a human needs to be able to beat a computer. A handicap of ~two pawns (opening eval -3) yields a roughly equal game. A handicap of a piece (opening eval -5) gives the human an advantage. At opening eval +1, Carlsen is unlikely to win, and in fact he is likely to lose, as Nakamura did against Komodo with a +2 opening eval (see game 4, and note that Komodo is weaker than Stockfish + that game was also several years ago, with engines constantly improving).

  • You propose that is it is impossible? That is wrong, theoritically I could beat stockfish with no handicap. I could also be struck by lightning. It is possible, but unlikely. An evaluation of +1 makes it unlikely, not impossible @Allure Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 17:07
  • 1
    @Starshipisgoforlaunch if you think you can beat full-power Stockfish with no handicap, prove it and post the game (also post the Stockfish version, nps and time controls you used).
    – Allure
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 0:06
  • I dont. I think that if I played a google (thats a number) games against it I would win 1. Meaning it is possible @Allure Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 9:19
  • @Starshipisgoforlaunch Stockfish is virtually unbeatable from the starting position (which is why so many correspondence games are drawn), so you'd be playing for a loooong time. But I suppose it's possible an asteroid strikes the computer and it fails to play a move, something like that /shrug.
    – Allure
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 9:56
  • @Starshipisgoforlaunch not trying to be rude but it is more probable to get hit by lightning than beating stockfish :P
    – cmgchess
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 17:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.