# Copycat chess is back

This puzzle is inspired by and has similar rules to the series of puzzles by Sleafar.

Definition. A copycat chess opening is a sequence of moves starting from the conventional starting position, where every move by White (including the last one) is copied by Black identically, resulting in a symmetrical position with respect to the mid-horizontal axis. Every move must be legal, but the last move doesn't have to be checkmate, hence the name opening instead of game.

What is the shortest copycat chess opening in which a rook captures another rook?

• Does it need to be symmetrical up to the rook capture or after the rook capture? Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:10
• @Brandon_J every move, including the last one... Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:18

How about seven moves each

1) p-a4 p-a5 2) p-b4 p-b5 3) p(b)xp pxp 4) p-a6 p-a3 5) p-a7 p-a2 6) pxN=R pxN=R 7) RxR RxR

• Made it viewable here: lichess.org/study/CsNAXWW1 Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 6:20
• A mix of descriptive and algebraic notation Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 7:13
• @trolley813 That's because I am old-school - originally learned P-KR4 etc. Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 20:27
• @Penguino Here descriptive is even better since you have to write each move only once (e.g. 1. P-QR4 2. P-QKt4 3. KtPxP 4. P-R6 5. P-R7 6. PxKt=R 7. RxR, I probably write it wrong, since in my country DN isn't used at all). Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 5:56

I hope this answer doesn't get sniped...

It did get sniped, but @penguino had an answer that I built off of:

1. a4 a5 2. b4 b5 3. bxa5 bxa4 4. a6 a3 5. a7 a2 6. axb8=R axb1=R 7. Rbxa8 Rxa1

Explanation:

We can't have one of white's rooks that's already on the board take one of black's rooks across a file, since that move would not be copyable. Also, it's impossible for the rooks to capture each other along a rank, since that would require the rooks pass each other at some point, which cannot happen as they will mutually block each other each move they make.

The only other way to have a rook takes rook opening would be pawn promotion, whereby the mirrored pawns promote to a rook and then take the already-there rooks. This quickly leads us to the pawns on the a- and b-files (or g- and h-files), and thus, the solution above.

• Yes you did :) +1 though. Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:27
• Maybe if I added an explanation...
– HTM
Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:28
• Regarding your explanation, it's a tiny bit trickier: why couldn't the capture occur horizontally and hence be possible to copy? (with the 4 rooks involved...) Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:35
• @ArnaudMortier: for a horizontal rook capture a rook would have to move to the opposite side of the board. This can't be mirrored because the rooks would collide. ie assume no other pieces in the way to move a rook from a1 to a6 is possible but then the opponents rook would need to move from a8 to a3 - impossible due to the rook on a6. Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 11:54
• @Chris True. But PilsNot has edited his answer since then to add this point of explanation. Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 11:56

Here’s another way, but on the kingside.

1. g4 g5 2. h4 h5 3. gxh5 gxh4 4. h6 h3 5. h7 h2 6. hxg8=R hxg1=R 7. Rhxg1 Rxg8

And while I’m at it, here are the fastest way to do this with all other pieces, minus the kings of course.

Pawns:

1. a4 a5 2. b4 b5 3. bxa5 bxa4

Bishops:

1. b3 b6 2. Bb2 Bb7 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. Bxg7 Bxg2

Knights:

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. Ne5 Ne4 3. Nc6 Nc3 4. Nxb8 Nxb1

Queens:

1. b4 b5 2. c4 c5 3. cxb5 cxb4 4. b6 b3 5. b7 b2 6. bxc8=Q bxc1=Q 7. Qdxc1 Qxc8

Now I can say that I have predicted the future! ;¥ ;D

• (+1): Wow, I didn't know there could be variations of this puzzle in the way you have shown! Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 1:08
• Bishops not fastest: 1. b3 b6 2. Ba3 Ba6 3. Bxe7 Bxe2 4. Bxf8 Bxf1. Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 3:08
• It wasn't my intention to make the same puzzle with other pieces. For me the rooks are by far the most interesting because you have to find the trick, otherwise it's not possible (fastest or not). Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 9:44
• @ArnaudMortier Actually, the same thing applies to queens too. Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 7:15
• @trolley813 well, not exactly the same thing: White rooks can't leave the lower half of the board while Black rooks can't leave the upper half. Queens, however, can move diagonally and therefore reach the opposite half of the board easily. The only reason they can't capture another Queen is that there are only two of them. If there were four like the rooks, then you wouldn't need a promotion. Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 21:39

Could it be

1. h4 h5
2. g4 g5
3. hxg5 hxg4
4. Rxh8...?

• lol nice answer; beat me to it Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:16
• No idea if it’s right or not but that’s the first thing I thought of haha @Brandon_J Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:17
• I think both of you forgot to read the rules: every move, including the last one... :) Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:17
• @Brandon_J this entire puzzling experience has been very meta LOL Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:17
• "I'm So Meta, Even This Acronym" - XKCD Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:19

Here's

8 moves

lichess study

1. a4 a5 2. b4 b5 3. axb5 axb4 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. b6 b3 6. b7 b2 7. b8=R b1-R 8. Rxb1 Rxb8

• Think I just sniped you, friend! Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:16
• I think both of you forgot to read the rules: every move, including the last one... :) Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:18
• Weeeelll, I'm late to the party again @ArnaudMortier Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:27
• @Brandon_J I hope you had fun anyway :) Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 23:28