I recently found this beautiful position, Position 11 where White sacrifices a bunch of material and then there are a bunch of crazy variations that all end in draws. For example this variation which leads to an extremely imbalanced position:

[FEN "r1b3k1/p2p1nP1/2pqr1Rp/1p2p2P/2B1PnQ1/1P6/P1PP4/1K4R1 w - - 0 1"]

1. Rxh6 Nxh6 2. Qg5 Nf7 3. Qd8+ Nxd8 4. h6 Qd4 5. h7+ Kf7 6. g8=Q+ Ke7 7. h8=Q Kd6 {This is the super imbalanced but drawn position I'm interested in.} (7. Rg7+ {This is the first move that's not forced.} Kd6)

So my question is are there any even more imbalanced but still equal positions?

  • 2
    One could build one with White having lots of queens and Black is stalemated. Oct 29, 2023 at 0:38
  • That was an obvious solution that I thought of but I'm more interested in positions where there isn't just an immediate stalemate or simple repetition of some sort. Oct 29, 2023 at 2:24
  • 3
    That is an easy requirement to state and hard to define rigorously. You can put a lot of material in jail then set up a perpetual check on another part of the board. Oct 29, 2023 at 2:33
  • 2
    Can you define "inbalanced"? Are you only interested in positions from real games or also from compositions?
    – Evargalo
    Oct 29, 2023 at 11:11
  • 2
    The immortal draw is an easy one
    – Ian Bush
    Oct 29, 2023 at 18:10

3 Answers 3


This (relatively well-known) position is very imbalanced by most definitions, but should be equal in the sense that 32-piece tablebases will say this is drawn. In real life both humans and engines are likely to win and lose games from here, which is why it was played in the TCEC Season 14, game 85.*

[FEN ""]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Be3 e5 7. d5 Nh5 8. Qd2 Qh4+ 9. g3 Nxg3 10. Qf2 Nxf1 11. Qxh4 Nxe3 12. Ke2 Nxc4 

Black sacrifices a queen for two bishops, two pawns, better pawn structure, and better king safety.

*At least, they used to win and lose games from here. These days Stockfish 16 evaluates the position at +0.7 (d = 33), which is not especially high, so there's a good chance it will draw the position against itself - which is the basis for me saying 32-piece tablebases will say it's drawn.

  • Nice position! I'll accept this answer when I see that 32-piece tablebase :) Nov 21, 2023 at 18:26
  • Looks like the 27-piece tablebase should suffice. Nov 23, 2023 at 4:11

I think this game should satify the requirement. This is opening of the game from round 06-05 between Giri Anish and Carlsen Magnus from the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour Finals 2021 on Chess.com.

[FEN ""]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 e6 4. O-O Nge7 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Qb6 7. Be3 Nxd4 8.a4 Nxb5 9. Bxb6 axb6 10.Nd2 Nd6 *

Black gave up his queen for a knight and two bishops, a value of 9 for both players in theory. The Stockfish gives a score of +1.09 for this position, a slight advantage for white.

  • Ah yes, I remember this game. This is a very interesting position and certainly also quite imbalanced, though it is only a material imbalance. Nov 21, 2023 at 4:20

This is (one from the set of) the most materially imbalanced position that is possible in chess. Black is up 102 points of material (all 8 pawns have promoted), yet it's an equal position with White to move.

[FEN "k7/b1K1n3/1P1n3r/8/2b4q/8/2qr1q2/q1qqqqq1 w - - 0 1"]

White has multiple moves. The only drawing move for White is to sacrifice the last material that he got, in order to end up in a position down 103 points of material - but stalemated.

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