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67 votes
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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 ...
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60 votes
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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 ...
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  • 9,408
57 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 ...
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41 votes

Are contemporary chess players now stronger than players in the 90's or 80's?

No. The vast majority of club level players still play like the vast majority of club level players always did. Changes in knowledge about chess mostly apply to high levels of play; the kind of ...
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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 ...
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37 votes
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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 ...
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29 votes
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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 ...
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27 votes
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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 ...
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26 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 ...
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26 votes
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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&...
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  • 3,203
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 ...
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23 votes
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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 ...
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23 votes
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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'...
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22 votes
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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 ...
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21 votes
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Has 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 ...
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  • 14.9k
20 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 ...
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  • 75.7k
19 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 ...
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19 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 ...
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18 votes
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Has any other grandmaster gone as long undefeated like Capablanca?

From this Chess.com Discussion In terms of games played, it would be Tal with 95 games (46 wins, 49 draws) from October 23, 1973 to October 16, 1974. He also has the second longest streak of 84 ...
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18 votes
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Why are there separate tournaments for men and women?

Chess as an activity is not appealing to many women. Because there are so few women in open tournaments, it can be quite intimidating for a girl or woman to start playing the game. Imagine being one ...
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  • 7,388
18 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 ...
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  • 9,408
18 votes
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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 ...
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18 votes
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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 ...
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17 votes
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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 ...
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17 votes
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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 ...
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16 votes
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Who were the first GMs, and how did they become GMs?

In order to qualify for the title of Grandmaster, a player must achieve three Grandmaster norms. That is not accurate. The regulations for the award of FIDE titles are given here. There are two ...
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  • 75.7k
16 votes

Are chess players getting better, given the same rating?

Everybody seems to agree that "ELO inflation" is real (I found an article from 20 years ago claiming this exists)...except scientists. Here is a 2011 paper that vehemently denies the ...
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15 votes
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What was the longest World Championship game?

The longest game is now 136 moves long.* See the other answer to this question: https://chess.stackexchange.com/a/37544/15543 The now second longest ever World Championship game was played between ...
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15 votes
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Why do some openings have Indian in their name?

In many cases, openings are named after a notable first master game (or games). The master or country does not necessarily must have contributed to it. Apparently in the case of Indian openings (1. d4 ...
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  • 20.4k
15 votes

What is the origin/history of the traditional piece values?

In Claude Shannon's paper of 1949, he quotes those values as part of his evaluation function: Most of the maxims and principles of correct play are really assertions about evaluating positions, for ...
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