Are their possible positions where the 'white' side is losing but the person is in a situation where they can force a stalemate? Are there chess positions one can 'look out for' to enable one to force a stalemate if 'needed'?

  • By "losing", do you mean "down in material"? If you can force a stalemate, you are by definition not losing.
    – dfan
    Jan 12, 2015 at 16:59
  • Isn't a stalemate a 'tie'. And if you're in a losing position and can force a stalemate isn't that a good thing?
    – 201044
    Jan 16, 2015 at 6:35
  • If you are in a position in which you will lose unless you force stalemate, then forcing stalemate is a good thing, yes. My point, like RemcoGerlich's in his answer, is that if you can force stalemate, then evidently the position was not lost. That is why I asked you to define "losing".
    – dfan
    Jan 16, 2015 at 13:07
  • Well if you 'think' you are losing what are some indications you can look for to see if you can force a stalemate?
    – 201044
    Jan 19, 2015 at 5:28

2 Answers 2


Yes, and it is not even a particularly rare occurrence.

Whenever you notice (in a bad position) that there are hardly any legal moves left to you, you can try to find a way to sacrifice your last mobile pieces. A frequent motive is the "untouchable rook", where the last mobile piece, a rook, keeps checking the enemy king. And if it is taken, the result is a stalemate.

Here is a recent example, played between two engines:

rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bg4 6. e4 Bxf3
7. gxf3 e6 8. Rg1 Qc7 9. e5 Nd5 10. Bxc4 Nb6 11. Bb3 a5
12. Be3 Na6 13. Qe2 O-O-O 14. O-O-O g6 15. Kb1 Kb8 16. Ne4 Be7
17. Bh6 Rd7 18. Nd6 Bxd6 19. exd6 Rxd6 20. Bf4 Nc8 21. Qe5
Rhd8 22. Qg7 h5 23. Rc1 Nb4 24. Bg3 b6 25. Rcd1 Kb7 26. Be5
R8d7 27. f4 Qd8 28. f5 exf5 29. Bxd6 Nxd6 30. f3 f4 31. Qe5
Nf5 32. Qxf4 Nxd4 33. Bc4 Ka7 34. h4 c5 35. Rge1 Rb7 36. Rc1
f6 37. Rc3 g5 38. hxg5 fxg5 39. Qe5 Rd7 40. Qe4 h4 41. Qg4 Re7
42. Re4 Qe8 43. Rce3 Rxe4 44. Rxe4 Qxa4 45. Re7+ Kb8 46. Bb3
Nxb3 47. Qf4+ gxf4 48. Rb7+ Kc8 49. Rc7+ Kd8 50. Rd7+ Ke8
51. Re7+ Kf8 52. Rf7+ Kg8 1/2-1/2

And here a more human example: Black ditches his last four pieces ...

rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Bb4 5.O-O O-O 6.d3 d6 7.Bg5
Bxc3 8.bxc3 Qe7 9.Re1 Nd8 10.d4 h6 11.Bc1 a6 12.Bd3 Bg4 13.h3
Bd7 14.a4 a5 15.Nh4 Nc6 16.Nf5 Bxf5 17.exf5 Qd7 18.g4 exd4
19.cxd4 Nxd4 20.Bb2 c5 21.Bxd4 cxd4 22.Bb5 Qc7 23.Qxd4 d5
24.Re2 Rad8 25.Rae1 Rd6 26.Re7 Qxc2 27.Rxb7 Ne4 28.Re2 Qc1+
29.Kg2 Qc8 30.Re7 Qd8 31.Qa7 Nf6 32.Rc7 d4 33.Ree7 d3 34.Rxf7
Rxf7 35.Rxf7 d2 36.Rxg7+ Kh8 37.Be2 d1=Q 38.Bxd1 Rxd1 39.Rg6
Qd5+ 40.Kg3 Rd3+ 41.Kh4 Rxh3+ 42.Kxh3 Qh1+ 43.Kg3 Nh5+ 44.gxh5
Qf3+ 45.Kh2 Qg2+ 46.Kxg2 1/2-1/2

Well, if the player can force stalemate, then he isn't lost. So the strict answer is no :-)

There are many elementary endgames where a successful defence is possible only because of stalemate, like king + pawn vs pawn:

[FEN "8/3k4/8/2KP4/8/8/8/8 b KQkq - 0 1"]

1...Kc7! 2.d6+ Kd7 3.Kd5 Kd8 4.Kc6 Kc8 5.d7+ Kd8 Kd6 =

or king + queen vs king + pawn with the pawn on the c file:

[FEN "7K/8/6Q1/8/8/8/2p5/1k6 w KQkq - 0 1"]

1.Kg7 Kb2 2.Qb6+ Ka1 3.Qc5 Kb1 4.Qb4+ Ka1 5.Qc3 Kb1 6.Qb3+ Ka1!

and if white takes the pawn now, it's stalemate, so he can't progress.

  • 1
    An immediate 1. ... Ka1 is more thematic.
    – user58697
    Jan 15, 2015 at 7:54

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