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I am going to write an autobiographical story. The motive is therapeutic. I suffered abuse from my father, and at the age of 20, I developed delusional disorder; the psychosis lasted for 20 years, and I am starting to emerge from it after three years of psychotherapy. A series of coincidences occurred: I was born in 1984 like the novel, appeared in the newspaper at the age of 9 after scoring 3 points in an International Open, well, there are more coincidences, but I won't delve into them.... I will only add that I knew a girl in my town whose name, translated from Spanish to English, is something like Cristine Youkill.

I believed I was selected by Intelligence Services, and that girl was my destiny. Recently, I had lunch with that girl and her family, and not only did I discover that she wanted nothing to do with me, but she also said that my psychosis was due to cannabis, when I had been abused by my father and had experienced the Al-Qaeda attacks as something close; they attacked me for being the character: Winston Smith. I couldn't bear it and, as a recovered addict, I took amphetamines and had a kind of dream. It wasn't exactly a dream; I was awake because I wrote it to a friend via WhatsApp, telling her that it was really happening. It was a kind of trance.

I was Bobby Fisher playing with white pieces. I was both the white king, and Cristine Youkill was the white queen. At a certain moment, I became the black king, and 17 white queens were checking me. 16 of the queens were Princess Leonor, the future Queen of Spain, and the 17th was Cristine herself. I threw the king out the window. The king caught a piece of curtain that served as a parachute. I fell into the street unharmed, holding Jeff Hwang's three volumes of Omaha Pot Limit. A new life awaited me as a survivor and poker player in Malta.

Well, now I want to write a book telling my whole story, including the trance. I want to show at the beginning of each chapter the 16th game that appears in Bobby Fischer's "My 60 Memorable Games" titled 'Four Queens between Fischer and Petrosian.' I want the game to transform at the end, and I am playing as black, attacked by those queens.

Well, I think it's not possible 17 queens, I mean, the puzzle is only a black king and only queens in white. The whites are only queens, no other pieces on the board.

What is the maximum number of white queens giving check to a king without it being checkmate, with no other pieces on the board?

If I receive a response, the position will be published, and the winner will be quoted in my book as they wish to be cited.

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  • Do all the queens individually have to be giving a check? Or is it sufficient for the king to be in check by at least one attacker?
    – AAM111
    Jan 29 at 15:52
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    @AAM111 All queens should be checking the king
    – user36292
    Jan 29 at 17:37
  • Sorry to seem pedantic and are you really asking 'How many queens can…' or 'How many queens are needed to…'? Jan 29 at 22:54
  • @Robbie Goodwin "How many queens can..." Record is 7. Clarify the position could be impossible (more than 9 queens, in my "dream" they were 17).
    – user36292
    Jan 30 at 16:38
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    Does it have to be a legal chess board? You yould always twist the fields such that instead of 8 neighbors, one field has 16. Would look more like a trance, too.
    – DonQuiKong
    Jan 30 at 19:23

6 Answers 6

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+150

The question asks for "no other pieces on the board" apart from white queens and a black king. So the other answers looking for legal positions seem to be missing the point.

If we're looking for placements of pieces satisfying all queens are checking the king and it is not checkmate, the maximum is seven. There are only eight directions the queens can be giving check from, and only one white queen can actually be checking the king from each direction (since white queens can't jump). However, since it is not checkmate, the king must be able to move in one direction, which means no queen can be checking from the opposite direction. The queen in the direction the king moves can be captured, which means seven is possible. An example is as follows.

8/8/8/Q3Q3/8/Q1k1Q2/2Q5/Q3Q3 b - - 0 1
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  • 2
    You can fill the irrelavent fields with queens, if you want 17. Looks about 37 queens can be on the board. Sounds like a more difficult puzzle, 37 queens on the board and it's not checkmate.
    – OrigamiEye
    Jan 29 at 14:16
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    @OrigamiEye well, you'd have to say "check, but not checkmate", since you can place a king and 42 queens without it even being check. Jan 29 at 14:31
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    This looks nice. It will take me some months to write the book but if there is not a better solution I will contact you for the quote. ty very much
    – user36292
    Jan 29 at 17:50
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    @OrigamilEye all queens should be checking, I think I specified that in the question
    – user36292
    Jan 29 at 17:51
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    @CristobolPolychronopolis Kxf7 gets you out of check (the queen is not protected). Jan 30 at 17:24
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The only way black can be in check from more than one queen is if a pawn moves forward one move, queens and discovers a check from another queen behind it like this:

[fen "8/3kPQ2/8/8/8/8/8/4K3 w - - 0 1"]

1. e8=Q+
2
  • 4
    Not the only way! See my answer. Jan 29 at 8:46
  • Sorry I should have speciphied the position shouldn't be legal
    – user36292
    Feb 20 at 15:05
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I'm pretty sure the maximum number is two (under current rules). I can think of two different ways to achieve it. One is a discovered check by a promoting pawn, as in Brian Towers's answer. The other is a double discovered check by an en passant capture:

8/3p4/4k3/4P3/2Q1Q3/8/8/4K3 b - - 0 1

1...d5 2.exd6
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  • 2
    This violates the constraint that there be no other pieces on the board other than the queens (unless you're arguing that a pawn is not a "piece", but that doesn't seem to apply here).
    – GreenMatt
    Jan 29 at 16:11
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    @GreenMatt It's no less informative. Jan 29 at 18:29
  • Sorry I should have speciphied the position shouldn't be legal
    – user36292
    Feb 20 at 15:05
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@Brian Towers answer is correct under current chess conventions.

However, you if want to be cheeky, you could abuse the 1980 FIDE rules to achieve 'eight', like so.

[FEN "8/3kPQ2/QQ2r3/2QK4/7Q/7Q/7Q/8 w - - 0 1"]

1. e8=Q Rd6+ 2. Qhxd6 Ke7 3. Qhe6 Kd8 4. Qac8 Ke7 5. Qbc7 Kd8 6. Q5c6 Kd7 7. Qhd8
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    But the loophole invalidates the answer just as well. Since it's not a check, it doesn't qualify for the question which asks for the queens to check the king :)
    – justhalf
    Jan 29 at 3:38
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    @justhalf Yet it shall not dimish the spirit of it. :p Jan 29 at 4:33
  • Do we care that RD6+ is an illegal move, as the king is already in check?
    – JakeRobb
    Jan 30 at 18:23
  • @JakeRobb Rd6+ is 'legal' because the bK is then attacked three times, thus the move takes out of check. Jan 31 at 4:50
  • @RewanDemontay forgive me, maybe I'm missing something -- but in the initial state shown in the replayer, bK is already checked by two queens (e8 and f7). Rd6+ doesn't address those checks, and is thus illegal. In fact, the initial state is already checkmate, and the bK remains in checkmate throughout all of the moves shown, so none of this is legal (nor what OP asked for).
    – JakeRobb
    Feb 1 at 14:21
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I believe, if we are talking legal moves to get to that position, the answer would be 6, assuming a Queen captures some black piece at C6 to put the black player in check.

enter image description here

With that said, if you are asking the maximum number that you could put down on a board to have the black player in check, but not mate, the best answer I can come up with is 18:

enter image description here

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  • 7
    In your first diagram, only one queen is checking the king, according to the rules. Jan 29 at 18:10
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    In the second diagram, 5 of the queens along the left side are not putting the black king in check even if you allow "x-ray" checks to count.
    – D M
    Jan 31 at 2:51
  • Why not add 25 more queens in c1-c2-c3-c4-c5-d1-d2-d3-d4-e1-e2-e3-f1-f2-g1, e6-f5-f6-g4-g5-g6-h3-h4-h5-h6?
    – Stef
    Jan 31 at 7:47
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There could be 7 queens all lined up checking the king if one captured a black chess piece which was blocking the rest.

More would be impossible during play.

It’s much more likely that you would get checkmate much earlier or a stalemate.

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  • 1
    Now, here is a better question: how long and how many moves would it take two people with the common goal of creating the above scenario to do this intentionally playing Speed Stupid Chess?
    – Joe Fisher
    Jan 30 at 23:37

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