There are some defensive ideas to get one's own king stalemated in order to not lose the game (mostly in the endgame, but sometimes also in the middle game).

  1. Have (master) games been played where the only idea not to lose was to stalemate the opponent?
  2. What about any legal position (which need not have occurred in a real game)?
  3. What if you forget about the "only idea" requirement?

Edit: Although there is already a totally fine answer, I would not mind more answers using another patterns.

  • There are cases where a player can sacrifice a piece such that the only response leads to stalemate but these events are few and far between. – Tony Ennis Mar 20 '15 at 0:06
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    Cheat answer but you can stalemate the opponent not to lose on time in a guillotine finish. – magd Mar 20 '15 at 0:18
  • @magd: Ah of course, I have not thought of that. (And you are right, that is not really the answer I was looking for.) – Keba Mar 20 '15 at 0:24

It's possible to build a bit on magd's answer. Consider the following position.

 [Title "White to move"] 
 [SetUp "1"]
 [FEN "8/8/8/8/8/1N6/pk1K4/8 w - - 0 1"]

 1. Na1! Kxa1 2. Kc1

The only way to draw is 1. Na1! Kxa1 2.Kc1 (or 2. Kc2) stalemate. I think there are some nice studies with this theme, but I can't find them right now.

  • Still the same pattern, but a nice example. Thanks. :) – Keba Mar 20 '15 at 0:59
  • Note that the alternate lines for black are also stalemates: 1. ... Ka3 2. Kc2 Ka4 3. Kb2 and Black's pawn is lost. 1. ... Kb1 2. Kc1 and White maintains opposition, forcing Black to change to one of the other lines or allow White to invoke the repeated positions rule. – Esoteric Screen Name Mar 20 '15 at 10:16
  • The other lines are stalemate in the sense of a draw, not a real stalemate. Black isn't forced to go along with the stalemate. – magd Mar 20 '15 at 10:24
  • @magd Yes, it's true that black can move back and forth or abandon the pawn, but it's the stalemate idea that saves the draw for white. – Dag Oskar Madsen Mar 20 '15 at 10:36
  • It does in the pawn ending :) – magd Mar 20 '15 at 10:39

Real answer : W - Kh8 Ph7 B Ke8

Only ways to draw are Kf8 and Kf7 - both stopping Kg8 and stalemating the opponent. Surely this has been played in master games.

Edit : For a slightly more complicated pawn endgame see Anand - Kramnik. Black has to stalemate White at the end of this game otherwise he loses.

  • I feel somewhat stupid now, as I do know this exact idea. However, thanks for your quick answer. – Keba Mar 20 '15 at 0:26
  • You can add extra pawns on h6, h5, h4, h3 and h2 :D – magd Mar 20 '15 at 0:41
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    Yes, and some blocked pawns and even not too far advanced black passers. Even two Black knights on a1 and b1 do not change the position a lot (more central knights allow other defence methods). And even more obviously, one could just mirror the example you gave. – Keba Mar 20 '15 at 0:48
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    Here's another position W - Rh8 Kg8 Ph7, g7 B - Kd8. Black draws by Kd8- e8 or e7. In fact you can stalemate White's entire army this way. Hee-hee this is fun! – magd Mar 20 '15 at 1:14
  • Hah, you can even fill c7 to h7 with White pawns and d8 to h8 with white queens, rooks and bishops (if that‘s a legal position then), a white king on c8 and a black king an a6. Draws in an amazing way. :D You could even add some knights to the back rank if you add pawns on the sixth rank as well. I (now, at least) believe you could stalemate 16 white pieces with your lone king (knights on h8 and f8 only need pawns on g6 and e6 in order to be stalemated). – Keba Mar 20 '15 at 1:21

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