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When playing a normal game of chess, assuming the opponents are cooperating:
In how many moves can a draw be unavoidable, excluding voluntary draws or draws by repetition of moves?

1 While not capturing anything. (fastest stalemate or ..?)
2 When capturing pieces is allowed. (fastest stalemate, blockade, depletion of material or..?)

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Question 1.

From Sam Loyd, 12 moves.
1. d4 e5 2. Qd2 e4 3. a4 a5 4. Qf4 f5 5. h3 Qh4 6. Qh2 Bb4+ 7. Nd2 d6 8. Ra3 Be6 9. Rg3 Bb3 10. c4 c5 11. f3 f4 12. d5 e3 { Stalemate. }

Try it online!

For question 2.

Also by Sam Loyd, 9.5 moves.
1. e3 a5 2. Qh5 Ra6 3. Qxa5 h5 4. Qxc7 Rah6 5. h4 f6 6. Qxd7+ Kf7 7. Qxb7 Qd3 8. Qxb8 Qh7 9. Qxc8 Kg6 10. Qe6 { Stalemate. }

Try it online!

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  • $\begingroup$ That was quick. I assume this is 'known' to be optimal. $\endgroup$
    – Retudin
    Nov 10 '20 at 15:10
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Even if repetition of moves is not allowed as a draw reason, I still feel this solves the puzzle. After

1. c3 f6 2. Qa4 Kf7 3. Qh4 Kg6 4. Qg4+ Kh6 5. Qh4+ Kg6 6. Qg4+ Kh6 7. Qh4+

Black is forced to do

7... Kg6 which leads to a threefold repetition.

So at that point, a draw is unavoidable (well, unlike stalemate, it needs to be claimed), as indicated in the question.

Try it online!

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    $\begingroup$ The last move is forced, so it is sort of according to my rules, and iirc. if you repeat twice more it is even a draw without claiming. So, nice solution , but not what I intended. $\endgroup$
    – Retudin
    Nov 10 '20 at 15:07

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