jeudi 12 décembre 2013

Is it Mate or Stalemate ? An introduction for beginners

Mate or Stalemate ? This can be confusing for the beginner, as both situations are very much alike, in a sense. Nevertheless, making the difference is crucial as the Mate leads to a win whereas the Stalemate leads to a draw.
I am going to explain the differences in this post. I will use many situations to stress my point. All the screenshots are taken from Chess Trainer.

As a reminder, here are some definitions:
Checkmate: a position in which a player's king is directly attacked by an opponent's piece or pawn and has no possible move to escape the check. The attacking player thus wins the game.

Stalemate: a position counting as a draw, in which a player is not in check but cannot move except into check. Stalemate results in a draw.

Let's start with a short quizz, what is the best move here ?

If you answered "Rook takes h6", well done !

On the other hand, "Rook takes g6" is a huge mistake, here is why:

Look at the final position: the Knight is pinned and cannot move. The black King cannot move either. This is stalemate, draw !

There is sometimes a thin line between a checkmate and a stalemate. Always remember to be careful in winning positions:
- if the opponent no longer has pieces on the board
- or if all the opponent's pieces are blocked, for instance pawns that cannot move

In the next example, a careless queen move is all it takes to transform a winning position into a draw.

Look at the squares controlled by the white King and the white Queen. The black King cannot move. Stalemate.

Add a few blocked pawns and the situation remains the same.

On this diagram, White has just move a Knight to f6

Now a fundamental endgame position, take some time to think about the solution.

Answer: White cannot keep the pawn unfortunately.

The squares controlled by the black King reduce White's possibilities on the next move.

White either loses the pawn...

...Or moves the king to e6.

And here comes the stalemate !

I hope you enjoyed this overview and that you are able now to recognize a Stalemate configuration without hesitation.

This chapter is a part of a bigger lesson, available on the Chess Trainer iPhone app. I you want to have a look at the complete lesson, please have a look below.


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2 commentaires:

  1. in the first case, when Rxg6, the black king can move to h7. Is not Stalemate.

    1. Hey Joaquin. Thanks for the comment, I have corrected this