Questions tagged [theory]

Theory commonly refers to the erudite study and the philosophy behind the moves in chess (like opening or endgame theory) but this tag can also be used for questions about the game theoretic study of the game itself.

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27
votes
11answers
10k views

How do you win with a queen against a rook?

What's the technique behind the moves of the stronger side in order to win? Are there situations where the side with K+R can force a draw against K+Q? I've read plenty of examples of K+Q vs K+R, but ...
14
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8answers
9k views

Database of every possible move in chess

Imagine that there is a chess database of every possible move and position. This database contains all possible moves from opening to end game. If I played using my intuition against a chess engine, ...
23
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4answers
4k views

What is the theory behind center control?

Center control is an important aspect of playing chess, most openings are built around controlling the center, but why? Is center control really that important for winning a game?
28
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8answers
4k views

Does the first-move advantage for White have real meaning apart from the highest levels of play?

Most games that involve taking turns, with one player going first by lot or agreement, have some sort of advantage to going first. Tic-tac-toe, for instance, is a guaranteed draw for player 1, ...
31
votes
14answers
38k views

Does white have an advantage?

It is often debated that white has an advantage over black. Some even say that with perfect play on both sides, black simply cannot win. Is there any research that backs up this claim, or is it mere ...
12
votes
11answers
27k views

What can I play against 1.d4?

I've been playing chess for some time and I've studied lots of theory, but I don't know what to play against 1. d4. I'm searching for something with good chances for black but without much theory. ...
4
votes
2answers
472 views

Conceptually, what makes the Sicilian opening sensible for black?

We all know the Sicilian as shown below, is one of the most famous and commonly employed openings in chess. But compared to the other replies, which tend to be more about fixing the center (such as e5,...
19
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6answers
2k views

How do I learn a new opening?

Often times, when I find myself going through the lines of a new opening, one that I would like to start using in my games I hit the concrete wall after a couple of days of studying it. Due to the ...
38
votes
8answers
4k views

When does the middlegame end and the endgame begin?

Is there any specific point where the middle-game ends and end-game begins? E.g. after x number of pieces are exchanged, or say 40 moves, etc.
24
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8answers
6k views

Systematic approach to learning opening/endgame theory?

Some relevant information: I've been playing chess for 4 years, and for 3 in tournaments, although I've only played in about 10 tournaments so far (3 big ones, like the Pan Ams and Chicago Open). My ...
30
votes
11answers
38k views

Is chess a solved game?

Chess is a zero-sum game of limited decisions. The number of possible moves at any given point, and the number of possible states of the board, are all finite. Tic-Tac-Toe, is one of the easiest ...
21
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5answers
6k views

What is 'space' on a chessboard?

I know, I know, this sounds like a ridiculous question, but bear with me. As an example of my lack of understanding, let's take the advanced variation of the French defense. [title "Advanced ...
12
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1answer
2k views

What is the longest proven forced win (including 50 & 75 move rules)?

What is the longest (currently discovered) number of moves for a forced mate position where players will use both the 50-move draw rule and the 3-fold repetition rule if it will help them avoid losing?...
5
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5answers
5k views

If there was perfect play from both sides, will it be draw or win for one?

If there was perfect play from both the colors, will white win because of the first move advantage or will it be a draw?
28
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16answers
11k views

How to learn chess if you're still a 3-digit rating after a few years

I know how all the pieces move and I've learned about castling and en passant. But all I do is play online against other people and get wrecked because I don't know how to "play." I make ...
17
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9answers
95k views

Is the number of possible chess games infinite?

This question is somewhat related to Can the total number of possible wins/draws/losses be calculated?, but slightly different. There is a recent TV show episode that claims that there are "more ...
14
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4answers
2k views

Starting positions in Chess960 where black is definitely worse

In article in wiki about chess960, it is stated that: It has been argued that two games should be played from each starting position, with players alternating as White and Black, since some ...
23
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7answers
4k views

Which notable players in chess history successfully used dubious openings?

I am reminded of a famous game between Karpov and Tony Miles where Miles played 1...a6 against Karpov's 1. e4 and still won the game. [FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/4P3/8/PPPP1PPP/RNBQKBNR b KQkq -...
24
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5answers
5k views

Is it a draw by insufficient material if the board is K vs K, N & N?

It isn't possible to force checkmate with King vs. King, Knight & Knight. A checkmate position, however, is still possible to achieve, so does that mean the 50 move rule applies, or does ...
15
votes
1answer
14k views

Maximum number of queens possible

I was thinking about what the maximum number of queens can be on the board after only legal moves. The theoretical upper bound would be 18, the original 2 queens plus 16 promoted pawns. However, to ...
16
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3answers
4k views

Is there an easy way to detect a draw in a King + Pawn vs King endgame?

I know the basics of opposition, but I am struggling to evaluate positions for drawishness in King + Pawn VS King endgame. A lot of times it is useful to know whether you should make an exchange. For ...
7
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3answers
1k views

Of all the possible legal chess games, how many end in white win, draw and black win (assuming 50 move rule)?

If both sides make moves completely randomly but legally, how many different games are there? Since the 50 move rule applies, this number should be finite (but HUGE). For example, there are 20 ...
6
votes
1answer
669 views

What are all the most common transpositions between the Caro-Kann Panov–Botvinnik Attack with 5…e6 6. Nf3 Bb4 and the Nimzo-Indian Defence?

I would like to know what are all the most frequent transpositions between the two following openings: . The Caro-Kann Panov–Botvinnik Attack with 5...e6 6. Nf3 Bb4: [StartPly "12"] [FEN ""] ...
5
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5answers
2k views

What are the first moves chosen (White), by brute force chess engines?

Title says it all. Feel free to add comment, theory, or explanation. Just to clarify, this is only regarding turn 1 of White, and no proceeding turns after it.
23
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7answers
3k views

What proofs for refuted gambits are there?

I've stumbled upon this article a while ago, and I've also seen refutations for the Muzio Gambit (Joseph Kling & Bernard Horwitz - Chess Studies on Endings of Games). I'm wondering what other ...
13
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7answers
7k views

If there is a winning strategy, is it for White?

We do not know, given two perfect players White and Black, whether the game would necessarily end in a draw, or necessarily end in a win (for either Black or White). However, can we prove that if ...
6
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4answers
860 views

What are all the possible combinations of openings which work well together? (like the Slav+Caro-Kann combo)

One well known very good combo is the Caro-Kann + the Slav: The main objective of both of these openings is to develop the light-squared Bishop to f5 before it gets locked inside the Pawn chain. They ...
3
votes
4answers
796 views

What is the farthest away a game can be from a guaranteed checkmate?

What is the maximum number of moves away from checkmate that a player can be where checkmate is guaranteed? There are many positions that are a guaranteed win for a player if played perfectly, right? (...
3
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2answers
552 views

How to analyse an endgame quickly?

I am a relatively new player (less than 1 year, ungraded) but I feel I have made good progress so far. I am playing competitively with players in the 1300-1500 region and would like to continue my ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Maximum number of pieces on board in dead position

It is possible in a chess game to have a dead position in which both players have all eight pawns, one bishop, and a king--20 pieces total. If the two players' pawns are interlocked in "zig-zag" ...
8
votes
4answers
11k views

What is the longest forced win with 3 to 6 pieces (ignoring 50 & 75 move rules)?

I am wondering, what endgame, with 3 to 6 pieces, has the longest checkmate with optimal play? Right now, the longest I'm aware of is the two knights versus one pawn endgame, which in certain ...
2
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5answers
913 views

Do I have to follow the openings moves when the response is different?

This question concerns the opening. For example, in the Danish gambit: [FEN ""] 1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Bc4 cxb2 5. Bxb2 white reaches the desired position. But what happens if the ...
1
vote
1answer
129 views

Patterns in Chess960 positions

I have two questions. Where can I find more studies like this Lichess one, please? I got it from this answer elsewhere on this site. The Lichess study is talking about this position [White "...
0
votes
3answers
463 views

What is zugzwang in chess?

What is the zugzwang? I have read this term in chess book but the term not much clear to me. Anyone know to to use this and what are the advantage of this?
24
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6answers
14k views

Has anyone attempted to characterize chess mathematically?

From years of being student, researcher, and practitioner of chess, I feel like it possesses completeness and elegance that are found in mathematical proofs and theories. Thus, it seems only natural ...
22
votes
2answers
6k views

What is the Dorfman method in chess?

On various occasions in commentaries or interviews, e.g. during the World Championship commentary with Peter Svidler and Anish Giri, I've heard the Dorfman method being mentioned. I then learned that ...
21
votes
8answers
11k views

Is learning opening theory necessary?

I have never studied opening theory. The closest I've gotten was briefly reading about several openings in books, but never memorizing or using any. While I haven't ever played in tournaments I have ...
21
votes
10answers
12k views

What are the things that a 2000 player knows that a 1800 player doesn't know?

I'm stuck at 1600-1800 in chess.com. My rating fluctuates within that range. There must be something that I still don't understand that is already understood by a 1900-2000 player. So I am asking for ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

In the Classical Variation of the Caro-Kann, what is the most positional, strategic, quiet, slow, closed, boring, dry and solid variation for Black?

I am not sure what to play as Black in the Classical Variation of the Caro-Kann, after 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. h5 Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 [...
16
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3answers
2k views

Is the pawns only variant a draw?

In the pawns-only variant of chess, each side starts with 8 pawns and a king on the usual squares, no pieces, with other rules being the same as in regular chess, including promotion. While general ...
13
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4answers
2k views

Top sources for opening theory

Can anyone recommend any good sources such as periodicals, websites, or what not to stay up to date on the latest opening theory? I am willing to pay if the source requires such. How do the top ...
23
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8answers
2k views

What should I do about the dilemma of castling early?

OK, it has been said that one of the opening fundamentals is to castle early, but I have a dilemma with this and it may very well be a natural dilemma that has to be dealt with or there many be signs ...
11
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2answers
13k views

What are the main ideas and goals in the Queen's Indian Defense?

There's no real surprise when it comes to the strategy for the King's Indian Defence: storm white's king side, maybe sac a few things, and mate (ideally). But what does a practitioner of the QID hope ...
17
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1answer
3k views

What is the theoretical consensus on the Roscher Gambit?

Edit: My mind played a trick on me after the fact. As Akavall notes in a comment, the Chadaev-Carlsen blitz game that I mention below actually proceeded 1. e4 g6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nf3, a different gambit ...
10
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2answers
2k views

Improving the endgame: Principles

I find I am weakest in the endgame, which is arguably the most important part of chess. Usually when I reach the endgame I have an advantage, often a pawn or a "winning" pawn formation, but I am not ...
5
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2answers
2k views

Is the Reversed Sicilian / King's English 1. c4 e5 more of a positional and quiet opening or a wild and tactical opening?

The only thing that deters me from playing 1. c4 followed by a Kingside Fianchetto is 1...e5 the Reversed Sicilian (also called the King's English). I like quiet, positional, strategic and ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Has the King's Indian Defense been refuted at the Grandmaster level?

I know about b4 in the bayonet and the Kramnik-Kasparov games of course. I also know that Mr. Radjabov has been unhealthy (hope he gets better soon) lately. Thanks in advance, your site is awesome, ...
22
votes
6answers
9k views

What is a good French-like defense against 1. d4?

I enjoy playing the French Defence as black against 1. e4, for the following reasons. It often creates a closed position without wild tactics It takes white away from the more familiar lines (1... e5 ...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

Why is 1. Nf3 not nearly as popular as 1.e4 and 1.d4?

The opening move 1. Nf3 is considered as a perfectly sound opening and it is popular, but not nearly as popular as 1.e4 and 1.d4. Here are my thoughts about this: In most openings, white will make ...
12
votes
4answers
3k views

What are good openings for White during a blitz game?

It seems as though White can easily dominate the tempo in a blitz game through a strong, aggressive opening. Is this the case? What openings are strong for White when there is a short time limit (e.g.,...