Skip to main content
69 votes
Accepted

When (if ever) was it a rule that pawn promotion was optional?

Dummy Pawns Today, it is little known that for forty years at the height of the British Empire, dummy pawns were the scourge of tournament play, and even grandmasters ran scared. (Possible ...
Laska's user avatar
  • 12.2k
69 votes
Accepted

Why is there a 50-move rule and a 75-move rule?

From the FIDE Laws of Chess: 50-move rule: 9.3 The game is drawn, upon a correct claim by a player having the move, if: (...) the last 50 moves by each player have been completed without the ...
Annatar's user avatar
  • 5,938
58 votes

Why wasn’t Rashid Nezhmetdinov a grandmaster?

Rashid Nezhmetdinov, aka “Super Nezh”, was clearly GM strength, having a plus score in the 20 games he played against World Champions, including a plus score against his friend, Tal. He was also a ...
PhishMaster's user avatar
  • 32.6k
49 votes
Accepted

When was it possible for a player's king to be attacked by 3 of the opponent's pieces?

In my thread on the English Chess Forum, which seemed to make the world go crazy on the subject, I gave all the major and minor events in the history of the “legal” triple check that my extensive ...
Rewan Demontay's user avatar
42 votes
Accepted

Has O-O ever been played without moving the e or g pawns?

This CQL query: cql(input Mega_Database_2022.pgn) flipcolor { { move from K o-o Pg2 Pe2 } or { move from K o-o-o Pb2 Pd2 } } returns 224 (!) games when ...
double-beep's user avatar
  • 4,350
37 votes

When (if ever) was it a rule that pawn promotion was optional?

Edward Winter cites Owen J. Clarkin (Ottawa, Canada) who quotes from The Modern Chess Instructor by W. Steinitz (New York, 1889) which in turn cites this example from Lowenthal's Book of the London ...
Rosie F's user avatar
  • 6,425
31 votes
Accepted

Why do players in the past play much longer tournaments than today's top players?

There is nothing in principle preventing players from long tournaments. Or maybe yes if they are way too long, like the first Karpov - Kasparov match (had to be postponed for health reasons), but ...
David's user avatar
  • 16.3k
28 votes
Accepted

Why have engines not increased top rated chess players' Elo?

I think they certainly have increased their ELO, but more importantly, their overall chess strength. ELO is only a rating relative to others in the pool so it may tend to go up more slowly if everyone ...
PhishMaster's user avatar
  • 32.6k
26 votes
Accepted

Game in James Bond film "From Russia with love"

This game is based on a 1960 game between Boris Spassky and David Bronstein, on the 16th round of the USSR Championship: [FEN ""] [Event "URS-ch27 Final"] [Site "Leningrad&...
lodebari's user avatar
  • 3,373
26 votes

What do modern chess players understand about the game that previous generations did not?

The knowledge of previous generations was summed up in Aron Nimzowitsch's book, published in 1929, called My System. The advances in chess knowledge up to Kasparov's time are best summed up in John ...
Brian Towers's user avatar
  • 98.4k
25 votes

Was there ever a time when the goal in chess was to capture the king?

Wikipedia claims that In early Sanskrit chess (c. 500–700) the king could be captured and this ended the game. The Persians (c. 700–800) introduced the idea of warning that the king was under ...
dfan's user avatar
  • 14.7k
25 votes

Why did Bobby Fischer resign his title?

Bobby Fischer did not resign the title, although it may have looked that way. As the New York Times reported at the time: The International Chess Federation stripped Mr. Fischer of his title and gave ...
Brian Towers's user avatar
  • 98.4k
25 votes
Accepted

In which tournament did Karpov play his first move with white pieces and offer a draw?

Not sure if this is it but this is the shortest Karpov game I found in the database. Anatoly Karpov vs Peter Leko, Groningen 1995 where Karpov played 1.d4 and that's it. The first comment there says ...
cmgchess's user avatar
  • 2,742
24 votes
Accepted

Was playing with both hands ever allowed in chess?

Was playing with both hands ever allowed in chess? Yes, before 1997. Hence in 1995 Kasparov was not breaking the rules. The key article in the the FIDE Laws of Chess is: Article 4: The act of ...
Brian Towers's user avatar
  • 98.4k
23 votes
Accepted

What does this chess proverb mean?

I disagree with all answers treating the gnat and elephant as allegory for players of varying skill level. Rather, the actions of the gnat and elephant are the main point. Chess as a game with rules ...
Nij's user avatar
  • 336
23 votes
Accepted

Does the new Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit" resemble any real life chess master?

The character Beth Harmon is purely fictional. The series is based off a book by the same title by Walter Tevis. The author had a tendencie to base books drawing from personal experiences but he wasn'...
Dheebs's user avatar
  • 2,454
21 votes

Why do players in the past play much longer tournaments than today's top players?

Perhaps another factor is that transport and communications were so much more limited in the 19th century, that a short tournament would not have justified lengthy travel, particularly for ...
Laska's user avatar
  • 12.2k
21 votes
Accepted

Have there been any blunders in resignation?

The official source that people link to when this question comes up is Tim Krabbe's excellent blog post from more than 20 years ago now: The ultimate blunder. He collected every single game in the ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 15.2k
21 votes
Accepted

Arbiter's top work cause

The answer is wholly dependent on the level of competition. Beginners tournaments result in many more and completely different arbiter "interventions" than norm tournaments, for example. ...
Brian Towers's user avatar
  • 98.4k
21 votes
Accepted

Positions where pawn promotion to queen is worse than to other piece

Knight promotion is reasonably common (though not nearly as much so as Queening); Rook and especially Bishop, much less so, because the only motivation is stalemate avoidance(*). Tim Krabbé has a ...
Noam D. Elkies's user avatar
20 votes

Is the chess problem a dead form?

An unsorted list of arguments for the vitality of chess problems (probably my answer is a little bit biased because I am an enthusiastic chess composer ...) Computers: A lot of new ideas have been ...
Oliver Sick's user avatar
20 votes

Why do some openings have Indian in their name?

In Indian Chess, the game that was played in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries in India (not to be confused with its ancestor Chaturanga), the rules allowed no castle, and double-step pawn moves ...
Evargalo's user avatar
  • 16.4k
20 votes
Accepted

Has there ever been a consultation chess match?

A chessgames.com user has made a compilation of consultation games. For example, it contains Lasker / Pillsbury vs Steinitz / Chigorin. According to a comment by user TheFocus, it was "played in ...
Brian McCutchon's user avatar
20 votes

What are the main changes in the latest (January 2023) version of the FIDE Laws of Chess?

There are three main differences: FIDE has finally adopted inclusive pronouns. "He" is replaced by "He/She". "Him" is replaced by "Him/Her", etc. The normal ...
Brian Towers's user avatar
  • 98.4k
19 votes

Are chess players getting better, given the same rating?

How would say a 1700 rated player of say 50 years ago who is no longer .around go against a 1700 player of today? Speaking as a player who was around 50 years ago and was rated the equivalent of 1800 ...
Brian Towers's user avatar
  • 98.4k
18 votes
Accepted

Did Fischer really have a 180 IQ?

From Quora: What was Bobby Fischer's IQ? (2018): Short answer: In 1958, when Fischer sat a Stanford-Binet test at the age of 15, his score was 180-187. But in today’s terms, Bobby Fischer’s IQ ...
TheSimpliFire's user avatar
18 votes
Accepted

Famous grandmaster games of "torturous" winning or flaunting out of arrogance?

Are there such examples of torturous winning, where a grandmaster resists his urge to resign and lets the opponent take all of his pieces before he gets checkmated? No, there aren't, for the simple ...
Brian Towers's user avatar
  • 98.4k
17 votes
Accepted

Is Beth Harmon behaviour in her game vs Georgi Girev acceptable (then and now)?

Following an adjournment, Beth Harmon is not spending any time at all at the table, whenever she made her move, she would wander around the hotel, looking at the game from far away. She would also sit ...
Hauke Reddmann's user avatar
16 votes

Why are the symbols 0-0 and 0-0-0 used for castling in algebraic notation?

The castling notation was invented by Johann Allgaier and used for the first time in his 1811 2nd edition of his Neue theoretisch-praktische Anweisung zum Schachspiel. He didn't explain why he came ...
Queeg's user avatar
  • 684
16 votes

Why do players in the past play much longer tournaments than today's top players?

Today we get tournaments such as: Chess World Cup 2005 - 128 players Chess World Cup 2007 - 128 players Chess World Cup 2009 - 128 players Chess World Cup 2011 - 128 players Chess World Cup 2013 - ...
Brian Towers's user avatar
  • 98.4k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible