Technical questions regarding Openings, Middlegames, Endings etc.
Paul McKeown
Posts: 3326
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:01 pm
Location: Hayes (Middx)

Re: Stalemate

Post by Paul McKeown » Wed Sep 22, 2010 8:55 am

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Surely the starting position is already lost for Black?
Nah, it's zugzwang. White is lost...

User avatar
IM Jack Rudd
Posts: 3990
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 1:13 am
Location: Bideford

Re: Stalemate

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Wed Sep 22, 2010 4:09 pm

It's certainly possible in principle to have a proof that the ten-move stalemate is the shortest one: create a list of all games ending on black's 9th move or earlier, and show that none of them end in stalemate. I'll leave you to figure out why this is unlikely to be workable in practice. :P

Michael Jones
Posts: 642
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:37 pm

Re: Stalemate

Post by Michael Jones » Thu Sep 23, 2010 3:56 pm

I can manage all the games ending on black's 1st move or earlier (421 of them, including the 'game' of no moves being made at all) - I leave the rest as an exercise for the interested reader. :)

Michael Jones
Posts: 642
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:37 pm

Re: Stalemate

Post by Michael Jones » Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:46 pm

While we're on the subject, Smeets - Short at the Olympiad was played out to stalemate.

User avatar
John Clarke
Posts: 366
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 1:07 pm

Re: Stalemate

Post by John Clarke » Fri May 20, 2011 11:22 am

A couple of examples from British Championships. First, 1966. The following position occurred in B N Green vs J M Aitken, after Black's 46th move:


In a final try for a win White played 47.g4+ fxg3 48.Qxf5. only to run into 48. ... Qe1+ 49.Kg2 Qe2+ 50.Kg3 Qe5+ 0.5-0.5

J E Littlewood, writing in CHESS, rather extravagantly called this "one of the most surprising finishes seen in many a year" and "a study in itself". The whole game can be downloaded from BritBase.

Wind back nearly 40 years and we arrive in time to see this denouement in W A Fairhurst vs T H Tylor, 1929:

/5R2/1pr3kp/3p2p1/3Pb1B1/4P3/6r1/8/5R1K/ - Black to make his 37th move.

Here Tylor made the obvious grab with 37. ... Rxg5? and had to settle for a half-point after 38.R1f7+ 0.5-0.5 (If 38. ... Rxf7 39.Rxf7+ Kxf7 - otherwise perpetual check.)

This finish was cited by Harry Golombek in his famous (though now rather dated) primer The Game of Chess.

The full story of how Fairhurst set up and then sprang this trap is given in Edward Winter's "Chess Notes" #5145.
"The chess-board is the world ..... the player on the other side is hidden from us ..... he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
(He doesn't let you resign and start again, either.)

Post Reply