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Questions tagged [theory]

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

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35 votes
12 answers
15k 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 ...
javatutorial's user avatar
  • 2,949
32 votes
11 answers
58k 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 ...
Tobi Alafin's user avatar
30 votes
15 answers
50k 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 ...
derekvinyard98's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
751 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,...
user929304's user avatar
  • 3,406
25 votes
4 answers
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?
Soufiane Hassou's user avatar
16 votes
7 answers
17k 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, ...
Ahmad Azwar Anas's user avatar
15 votes
4 answers
4k 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 ...
Salvador Dali's user avatar
12 votes
8 answers
7k views

Is triple check possible?

In my logic, triple check not possible. Because I assume there is a move with two pieces at once needed. The only move I know is castling. The King can not give a check. So is triple check impossible?
Superluminal's user avatar
  • 1,993
5 votes
5 answers
8k 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?
Prakhar Londhe's user avatar
27 votes
8 answers
5k 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, ...
Jonathan Garber's user avatar
13 votes
11 answers
31k 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. ...
Panzer's user avatar
  • 1,307
12 votes
1 answer
4k 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?...
silent-tiger's user avatar
39 votes
7 answers
5k 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.
Binoj Antony's user avatar
  • 3,371
30 votes
9 answers
18k 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 ...
postoronnim's user avatar
  • 1,034
25 votes
5 answers
8k 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 ...
james82345's user avatar
25 votes
9 answers
7k 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 ...
chubbycantorset's user avatar
23 votes
8 answers
12k 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 ...
Seth's user avatar
  • 897
21 votes
5 answers
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 ...
Dave H's user avatar
  • 579
19 votes
9 answers
104k 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 ...
landroni's user avatar
  • 299
19 votes
6 answers
3k 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 ...
Helio's user avatar
  • 1,456
2 votes
4 answers
938 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?
Pankaj Bisht's user avatar
31 votes
16 answers
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 ...
mr eyeglasses's user avatar
26 votes
7 answers
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 -...
NM Wesley Falcao's user avatar
25 votes
7 answers
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 ...
Valentin Brasso's user avatar
24 votes
7 answers
12k 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 ...
Eric Wilson's user avatar
  • 1,267
23 votes
4 answers
4k views

When moves are randomized, is there an inherent advantage to the player who goes first, or the player who goes second?

Imagine we are pitting two automated players (bots) against each other, but instead of thoughtful moves made by the players, they make completely random choices. I realize that this is not really the ...
Galen's user avatar
  • 396
21 votes
1 answer
17k 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 ...
Zitrax's user avatar
  • 313
18 votes
2 answers
5k 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 ...
Salvador Dali's user avatar
17 votes
3 answers
5k 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 ...
Zuriel's user avatar
  • 9,091
17 votes
2 answers
815 views

Has AI changed opening theory, and if so, how?

Pre-AI, it's hard to imagine that opening moves had changed much. Following the birth of computer engines, has AI changed opening theory, and if so, how?
blunders's user avatar
  • 4,147
14 votes
7 answers
9k 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 ...
Randomblue's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
3k 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" ...
supercat's user avatar
  • 1,182
11 votes
5 answers
25k 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 ...
DrZ214's user avatar
  • 749
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is the maximum number of passed pawns in a position?

Something I have wondered about recently is the maximum number of passed pawns that is theoretically possible. What is the answer, and the fastest way to achieve that result?
Rewan Demontay's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
391 views

Chess960 - can Black profit by being allowed to choose a custom setup?

In Chess960, the White position is mirrored. In some positions, White enjoys a larger first-move advantage than in standard chess. Could we make Chess960 fairer by allowing Black to choose his setup (...
Hauptideal's user avatar
  • 6,222
7 votes
3 answers
2k views

If both sides move at random, but legally, then how many games will be a win for White or Black, if not a draw? [duplicate]

I would guess that very few games, in terms of percentage, will end with a draw. The winning percentage will be roughly the same for both White and Black.
Zuriel's user avatar
  • 9,091
6 votes
4 answers
2k 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? (...
Cotton Headed Ninnymuggins's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ""] ...
Fate's user avatar
  • 4,848
6 votes
4 answers
2k 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 ...
Fate's user avatar
  • 4,848
4 votes
1 answer
1k views

Any reference material on the Franco-Benoni defense?

The Franco-Benoni defense is characterized by the black moves: [fen ""] [startply "4"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 c5 The books I've read on the French defense contain none or very little ...
Klangen's user avatar
  • 981
3 votes
2 answers
748 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 ...
Darren H's user avatar
  • 375
3 votes
5 answers
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.
Anon's user avatar
  • 635
2 votes
5 answers
968 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 ...
bwise's user avatar
  • 53
-1 votes
2 answers
405 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 "...
BCLC's user avatar
  • 2,162
30 votes
3 answers
6k views

Why is the Ruy Lopez a sensible opening for white?

As an amateur, I prefer the Scotch game as opposed to Ruy Lopez, since I feel that White loses tempo and Black seems to gain tempo with queenside counterplay in the main line. [title "Ruy Lopez"] [...
Adhvaitha's user avatar
  • 1,492
25 votes
2 answers
9k 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 ...
user929304's user avatar
  • 3,406
25 votes
8 answers
3k 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 may be signs ...
xaisoft's user avatar
  • 16.8k
22 votes
11 answers
15k 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 ...
user1764381's user avatar
  • 1,119
22 votes
1 answer
4k 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 ...
ETD's user avatar
  • 23.5k
19 votes
5 answers
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 ...
sco-ish's user avatar
  • 2,322