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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38
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7answers
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.
31
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14answers
39k 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 ...
30
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11answers
41k 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 ...
30
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3answers
5k 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"] [...
29
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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 ...
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, ...
27
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11answers
11k 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 ...
26
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8answers
4k views

Is preventing an opponent from castling considered an advantage?

All else being equal, if you have forced your opponent to move their king, thus preventing castling, would that be considered an advantage?
25
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5answers
2k views

Chess games that advanced endgame theory

Single games of chess can routinely have a significant impact on opening theory, of course, but it should be quite uncommon for a single game to significantly advance endgame theory, since that's a ...
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 ...
24
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5answers
6k 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 ...
23
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10answers
4k views

Is there value to learning openings as a new player?

Am a new player (had played before hadn't picked up a board for 3 years having never taken the game that seriously) and am going to try and commit to at least 1 rapid (10+5) game per day. Have made it ...
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 ...
23
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9answers
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 ...
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 ...
23
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4answers
8k views

Playing the French Defense Exchange Variation

In the French Defense Advance Variation, 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 ..., there are some clear game plans for both sides, areas where you want a pawn break, where you want to attack, etc. However, in the ...
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 -...
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?
23
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3answers
2k views

What are white's plans in this Scotch Gambit position?

I'll skip the long explanation, but it's not uncommon for me to reach the following position as White out of the opening: [FEN ""] 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bb4+ 5.c3 dxc3 6.O-O cxb2 Bxb2 (...
22
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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 ...
22
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3answers
3k 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 ...
22
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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
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10answers
13k 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 ...
21
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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
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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 ...
19
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11answers
8k views

What projects have been undertaken to solve chess completely?

Chess is not completely solved yet but what efforts have been undertaken to solve it? Has there been a large project like the HGP or is something like that even worth pursuing? What failed efforts ...
19
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5answers
4k views

What is the theoretical maximal material difference of a dead draw which is not a stalemate?

I have noticed the following example, which should be a dead draw: I am wondering what is the theoretical material difference of a dead draw which is not a stalemate? (I am not asking about agreed ...
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 ...
18
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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 ...
17
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1answer
2k views

Stockfish is considering a move in a book by GM Mihail Marin as a blunder

In the book English opening volume 1 by Mihail Marin at this position [fen "3nrrk1/bppq2p1/p4p1p/2Pp4/1P1P3N/P1BQ2P1/5PKP/4RR2 w - - 2 21"] 1. Qg6 (1. Ng6) He suggests Qg6 whereas ...
17
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9answers
97k 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 ...
17
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9answers
17k views

Why is the light-squared bishop considered White's best bishop?

The same question applies to Black where the dark-squared bishop is considered Black's best bishop. This was from the book "Logical Chess Move by Move" by Irving Chernev where he quotes Siegbert ...
17
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2answers
1k views

Is game analysis based on “squares” instead of “pieces” of any value?

Most all analysis I've seen in chess focuses on pieces development, and not the development of unoccupied spaces. Is there any value in analyzing game play in this way, and if so, how is this done? ...
17
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2answers
2k views

What influenced the development of the King's Indian Defense?

The King's Indian Defense is characterized by the moves 1. d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6. (As opposed to 2. . .e6, with the intention of developing the Bishop to the Queen-side.) Black aims for a strong King-side ...
16
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3answers
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 ...
16
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3answers
4k 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 ...
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 ...
15
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12answers
5k views

Is there a single best move in every position?

If it were possible to analyse every possible outcome of a position, would there ever be a single move that could be considered "best"? I know that this is how computers evaluate positions, but they ...
15
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11answers
7k views

Chess Tournaments Without Studying Theory?

I have played chess since a very young age and my tactics are very developed in my opinion. However, I never bothered to read chess related books about opening or related theory. This often leads to ...
15
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5answers
11k views

How to blunt the Albin Counter Gambit?

I dislike open, highly tactical games. I wouldn't mind them so much if I won them, but that isn't what happens. I was recently destroyed by the Albin Counter Gambit. I'm curious if there is a known ...
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 ...
14
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8answers
10k 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, ...
14
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3answers
2k views

What is the earliest queen move in any strong, modern opening?

I have noticed a tendency of weaker players to move their queen out very early (e.g. move 2-5), and conversely, a tendency for strong players to move their queen much later (usually later than move 5, ...
14
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3answers
6k views

What are the common themes in the Catalan?

I have looked over some of the main lines of the Catalan in MCO-15 and feel pretty lost as to what's going on in them. What are some of the key positions and goals for either side? Or is the opening ...
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 ...
14
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4answers
1k views

Theoretical relationship between Caro-Kann exchange and Queen's Gambit exchange

Is there a book, or an article, which examines the relationship between these two openings? The Caro-Kann exchange (non-Panov) is 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5, and the Queen's Gambit exchange is 1.d4 ...
14
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5answers
1k views

What is the highest known lower bound for mate in N from starting position?

Edit: It seems my question was not clear enough. Let me rephrase: What is the largest N for which we can knowingly say "chess, from the starting position, is not a forced mate in N moves"? Chess is ...
13
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4answers
3k views

Is it good to have a tendency to exchange pieces?

This is how I am playing nowadays. I can beat ~1500 player 50% of the time (the rest is due to tactical errors): Play the opening (upto 12 moves) Don't blunder At the point where my pawns and pieces ...
13
votes
14answers
33k views

An aggressive opening for Black against 1. e4

I am a novice at chess. I am around 1400-1600 chess rating. I have struggled to find any sound aggressive openings for black against E4. As white I play the Scotch Gambit which I have great success ...
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 ...

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