[FEN "rnbqkbnr/p7/Pp1p1p1p/1PpPpPpP/2P1P1P1/8/8/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

If black were to just shuffle the rook between h8 and h7 until white makes a capture or puts a piece on a square defended by a pawn, can white win (assuming black plays the all best moves after white tries something)? The only way white can win is by sacrificing material, but on the other hand white does have a large spatial advantage and can make any setup they want.

The first case I'm wondering about is if white knows black's plan to just shuffle until white tries something. I feel like this case is probably winnable. The other case is if white just plays 'optimal' moves and assumes black will too, which is probably a draw.

  • You can make experiments playing against an engine that makes no moves except in check, threatened with mate in 1, after a capture or when it wants to capture: use this link Oct 14, 2023 at 15:48

2 Answers 2


By shuffling black rook between h7 and h8 white can make it to this setup (or probably something similar) focusing forces on g5, and it seems Stockfish likes white's position (SF-16 +1.18 at ply 18) based on sacrificing a knight on g5.

The line provided by SF is: depth 24 [+1.18] 15.Nfxg5 fxg5 16.Nxg5 hxg5 17.Bxg5 Be7 18.Be3 Kd7 19.Ke1 Kc7 20.h6 Nd7 21.g5 Ndf6

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White has a few ways to win if Black shuffles. Sac on e5 example:

[FEN "rnbqkbnr/p7/Pp1p1p1p/1PpPpPpP/2P1P1P1/8/8/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

1.Nf3 Rh7 2.Bg2 Rh8 3.Nbd2 Rh7 4.Nf1 Rh8 5.Ng3 Rh7 6.Ne2 Rh8 7.Bb2 Rh7 8.Nc1 Rh8 9.Nd3 Rh7 10.Bc3 Rh8 11.Qc2 Rh7 12.Qb2 Rh8 13.O-O-O Rh7 14.Rhe1 Rh8 15.Nfxe5 fxe5 16.Nxe5 dxe5 17.Bxe5 Rh7 18.Bc3 Bd6 19.e5 Kf8 20.exd6 Nd7 21.Re6 Bxa6 22.Rde1 Bb7 23.Rg6 a6 24.Bg7+ Kf7 25.f6 Qe8 26.Re7+ Nxe7 27.fxe7 Qg8 28.Bc3 Rf8 29.Qe2 Ke8 30.exf8=Q+ Kxf8 31.Rxg8+ Kxg8 32.Be4 Rg7 33.Bg6 Rxg6 34.Qe8+ Nf8 35.hxg6 Bxd5 36.cxd5 axb5 37.Qf7# 1-0

I don't see how White wins if Black defends. If White tries to take advantage of space by alternating between different sacrificial squares Black can respond in time or walk their King away.

  • 2
    While there is no doubt that White is totally winning at move 18, the subsequent play is extremely weird (18...Bd6?!, 19...Kf8?! 21...Bxa6?, 25...Qe8?...)
    – Evargalo
    Oct 16, 2023 at 13:49
  • @Evargalo I played until move 18. I let the computer play itself for the rest. Oct 17, 2023 at 4:30

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