I've read that for any position, there are on average approximately 35 possible moves. But what's the maximum number of possible moves for a position?

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    I think you mean game, not, turn. A turn is one move by one player. – Ralph Jan 17 '14 at 6:27
  • When you think about in game, I've already have the answer.. but definitely in a turn.. I just can not counted it (because of my stupidity.. hahaha..). – Ahmad Azwar Anas Jan 17 '14 at 6:31
  • I'll use this to count max value since my formula doesn't complete yet.. hahaha.. – Ahmad Azwar Anas Jan 17 '14 at 6:34
  • as I count myself.. in opening, there are only 20 possible moves.. each pawn have 2 so equal 16 then add with two knight that each have 2 too.. 16 + 4 = 20.. But, once again.. how much the maximum one?? Thanks.. – Ahmad Azwar Anas Jan 17 '14 at 7:04
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    Could you clarify: Does the board needs to be setup in a way that is actually attainable through actual gameplay? If not, what are the restrictions on the pieces allowed? A maximum of the number of pieces you start with, or a maximum of attainable pieces (i.e. 9 queens), or any pieces in any position? – Motoma Jan 17 '14 at 18:30

After some searching, it seems that this composition is the current record holder. 218 moves; legal position with promotions:

R6R/3Q4/1Q4Q1/4Q3/2Q4Q/Q4Q2/pp1Q4/kBNN1KB1 w - - 0 1

Another version of the position (same number of moves):

3Q4/1Q4Q1/4Q3/2Q4R/Q4Q2/3Q4/1Q4Rp/1K1BBNNk w - - 0 1


79 moves (for black); from actual game between Davis and Panchanathan, source from Tim Krabbe's list of chess records:

4r1k1/p4pp1/2n2n1B/2b5/N6Q/P2q1N2/1r4PP/R4R1K w - - 0 1

99 moves (for white); all pieces on board:

q2Q3r/n6R/kpB1N1K1/p1p1Bppp/1PN3P1/1n1pp1b1/P1PPPP1P/r5Rb w - - 0 1

164 moves (both sides counted); all pieces on board:

R6R/pbpppK2/1B1QNNp1/1p3p1p/P1P3P1/1Pnnq1b1/2kPPPBP/r6r w - - 0 1

324 moves (both sides counted):

1QqQqQq1/r6Q/Q6q/q6Q/B2q4/q6Q/k6K/1qQ1QqRb w - - 0 1

412 moves (both sides counted); a curiosity, illegal position:

QQqQqQqq/q6Q/Q6q/q6Q/Q6q/q6Q/Q6q/QqQqQqQq w - - 0 1

Main source: Guide to Fairy Chess. The book is a bit old, so there might be new record holders, but if that's the case, I was unable to find them.

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  • For the 99 moves for white, that's not a legal position, right? There is one promotion but nothing was captured. – justhalf Jul 12 '19 at 5:28
  • @justhalf the white rook on b4 should have been a pawn. Fixed this in FEN. – GloriaVictis Jul 15 '19 at 12:49

This position from actual play has 79 moves available for Black

enter image description here

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Chessboard Layout

This is a legal layout with 195 possible moves. I'm sure it isn't the absolute maximum, since I just made this one by creating a pattern with the promoted Queens and then continually optimizing the layout from there. It should give you some idea about how you might achieve the maximum number of possible moves though.

  • Thanks to bof for finding a way to add 2 additional moves.
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  • 1
    Thanks.. As I read you answer, I classified this as the upper bound one.. – Ahmad Azwar Anas Jan 18 '14 at 11:36

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