I have two questions.

1) Is there a position with all pieces on board such that the side to move loses?

2) Is there a position with all pieces on board such that the side to move is checkmated in 1?

Regarding question two, here is one example position that I’ve made where the side to move is checkmated immediately, but the knights are still missing.

[FEN ""]
[startply "54"]

1. Nc3 Nf6 2. Na4 Nh5 3. Nc5 Nf4 4. d4 e5 5. h4 a5 6. Bxf4 Bxc5 7. a4 h5 8.Ra3 Rh6 9. Nf3 Nc6 10. Ng5 Nb4 11. Qd2 Qxg5 12. Qxb4 Qf6 13. Qc3 Qa6 14. Qh3 Rb8 15. Rg1 Qa8 16. Qh1 Ba7 17. Rh3 c5 18. Bh2 Ra6 19. f4 Kd8  20.Kf2 Kc7 21. g3 b6 22. d5 Kb7 23. Kg2 f5 24. b4 e4 25. b5 g5 26. c4 e3 27. d6 g4

Maybe, someone can improve this.

  • 2
    Actually, for all we know, the starting position of chess could be such a position. Though, admittedly, this seems rather unlikely. – Jester Apr 14 '15 at 7:22
  • Perhaps one could find something by locking up most of the pieces so they can't move - i.e. embed a simpler zugzwang into a bigger board. The set up would be highly implausible though – Korone Apr 14 '15 at 12:13
  • It is not relevant if the position is reachable with plausible moves. But I admit that it is very hard, perhaps impossible, to find a position with this proprty. – Peter Apr 22 '15 at 21:21

If you literally mean all pieces, the simple answer would be no, there are simply too many free pieces to move that you cannot enforce a real zugzwang scenario there.

Note that, if all pieces are still in board, it means there hasn't been any promotion yet either. Without capturing, the pawns cannot change their files, and continuing on the same file they'll toss on the opponent's pawn.

The side to move is checkmated in 1 is legit, but if you add the zugzwang condition that (let's assume the side to move is not under check to make it a legal scenario) without moving that same player would have survived the position, but only because of the necessity to move, they will get checkmated in 1; then we end up in the same disclaimer above: there's simply too many (16!) pieces around to enforce a full zugzwang.

Edit: Actually, if being realistic is not a requirement, you can reach a zugzwang scenario with all pieces on board with the real meaning: if not moving were an option, that would be the best move. With mate in 1, that's pretty much impossible to achieve. Also without being realistic, I don't see the point of setting up a zugzwang position, because the idea of such a position is that things were more or less equal up to now, but the next move will cause damage. Whereas in a scenario like this, the opponent already had many trivial chances to win material advantage. Anyway, for the sake of completeness, I'm posting such a position. Anything that doesn't resemble this will mean that one side has too many free pieces, hence that won't work.

Further edit: proof that it is legal, it just doesn't make any sense.

[fen ""]

1. b3 a5 2. d3 a4 3. f3 a3 4. h3 g5 5. Nc3 g4 6. Nb1 g3 7. Nc3 e5 8. Nb1 e4 9. Nc3 e3 10. Nb1 h5 11. Nc3 h4 12. Nb1 f5 13. Nc3 f4 14. Nb1 d5 15. Nc3 b5 16. Nb1 c5 17. Nc3 c4 18. Nb1 b4 19. Nc3 d4 20. Nb1 c3

enter image description here

  • Can you proof that there are no mutual zugzwangs with all pieces on board ? – Peter Apr 14 '15 at 19:31
  • Concerning the promotions, you are certainly right. – Peter Apr 14 '15 at 19:31
  • See my edited answer. – downhand Apr 15 '15 at 6:35
  • Is this a legal position? Can you provide a proof game from the starting position to show how this position might be reached? – magd Apr 15 '15 at 8:55
  • @magd I added proof that it's legal. – downhand Apr 15 '15 at 11:31

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