Sunday, 21 February 2010

Is this position stalemate?

Is the diagrammed position stalemate? Clearly not, as White has 20 legal moves that can be played. Of course one piece that cannot move is the King, (amongst others), but that hardly matters now does it?
However anyone arbiting school events, where the knowledge of the rules of chess usually exceeds the understanding of them, has often come across an incorrect stalemate claim based on the idea that 'the king has no safe squares but isn't in check'. Usually I listen to such claims before pointing out the other pieces on the board that can move. Interestingly such an explanation is often met with a look of confusion ('but the king cannot move'). So to drive home the point I ask them if the king can move at the start of the game. After they answer 'no' then the truth usually dawns. But to cheer them up I usually tell them that under 'their' rules, they could easily draw with the World Champion, by claiming stalemate on move 1!

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