stalemate max

Here, white is stalemated. The king is not in check, but white has no legal moves. Not because any move white makes would put the king in check -- which is how stalemates normally happen -- but because no white piece can move at all, even if we temporarily ignore the no-self-check rule.

(Black is not stalemated: king takes bishop.)

Now, this example is a bit wasteful, 62 white pieces plus the two kings. Also, it can't be reached from the starting position.

Come up with an example, using the fewest pieces (total both sides). Can it actually be reached from the starting position?

Small hint:

there is essentially only one answer. [EDIT: OP screwed up]

  • 10
    $\begingroup$ If I'm black in the above example, I think I'm happy with the draw. $\endgroup$ – jafe Oct 19 '18 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ Now for another challenge: produce a legal position where both sides are likewise stalemated [so that even being forced to move into check would be a loss, and a player could pass if no pieces could move at all, the game would be drawn]. $\endgroup$ – supercat Oct 19 '18 at 21:18
  • $\begingroup$ @supercat - if you want to post part 2, go for it! $\endgroup$ – deep thought Oct 19 '18 at 21:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @deepthought: I actually did, quite some time ago, but on a different SE board: chess.stackexchange.com/questions/4836/… $\endgroup$ – supercat Oct 19 '18 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ @supercat - ah nice, thanks for the link $\endgroup$ – deep thought Oct 19 '18 at 22:57

Here are my first idea (both sides are essentially the same answer, so the hint fits too):

enter image description here

Both positions seem to be independently reachable by a legal game. It might be possible to find a legal game leading to the whole position too, but that would take a bit of time.

Before that, I'm going to double check for any simpler solutions. :-)

Since OP commented that only one side needs to be stalemated in this rigorous fashion, this should do the trick:

enter image description here

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ White needs to have promoted 4 pawns, no? There are only 3 white pawns missing. $\endgroup$ – jafe Oct 19 '18 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ Note only one side needs to be stalemated $\endgroup$ – deep thought Oct 19 '18 at 20:05
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ oops, there are too many same coloured bishops. Imagine the G and H files swapped for a more reachable position please :-) $\endgroup$ – Bass Oct 19 '18 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ +1 but still not minimal! $\endgroup$ – deep thought Oct 19 '18 at 20:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think there's another 6+1 solution, given in my answer. $\endgroup$ – supercat Oct 20 '18 at 3:22

How about

enter image description here

I think that's an alternative 6+1-piece solution.

  • $\begingroup$ Before posting the puzzle I proved my solution was unique [OP vanishes in a puff of logic] $\endgroup$ – deep thought Oct 20 '18 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ I'll award a bonus, but it looks like there's a delay enforced. $\endgroup$ – deep thought Oct 20 '18 at 15:44

The general idea is

To fill the 8th rank with major pieces which block pawns from advancing, and fill the 7th rank with pawns which block the pieces from moving. We can't have knights on the 8th, though, because they would still have 6th rank squares available.

Here's a solution with 14 pieces total.

Promote three pawns to two rooks and a bishop.

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Correct +1, but not minimal! $\endgroup$ – deep thought Oct 19 '18 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ @deepthought got it down to 13 :) $\endgroup$ – jafe Oct 19 '18 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ great! but keep going :-D $\endgroup$ – deep thought Oct 19 '18 at 20:14

I believe that I have found a better solution based on a (debatable) loophole. Here’s my 4+2 solution. (Or 4+1 if you don’t count the black king, since it is not being used.)

enter image description here

Now, about that loophole.

To my understanding, all legal chess laws apply. The ONLY change here, as given by the puzzle, is that kings are allowed to move into check. Seeing as that is the only given difference, the laws abouts pins still apply.

Moving the white bishop is therefore not allowed under the terms of this puzzle. Moving the bishop is not “moving the king into check,” but it is “PUTTING the king IN check.” Thus, this is a valid solution in my opinion

  • $\begingroup$ Um, none of white’s pieces can move. Am I missing something here? $\endgroup$ – Rewan Demontay Apr 27 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ Oh. I’ll see what I can do then. $\endgroup$ – Rewan Demontay Apr 27 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ Nice try :-) But I think the meaning was clear. And in fact, in your answer (current version), you make the distinction between "moving the king into check" and "PUTTING the king IN check". And you agree that moving the bishop DOES put the king in check. Well, my wording was always the latter: "...not even to put yourself in check" and "...would put the king in check". $\endgroup$ – deep thought May 1 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ Oof. Well, at least I tried! $\endgroup$ – Rewan Demontay May 1 at 0:45

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