Beginner Reacts to Stalemate
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Beginner Reacts to Stalemate

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Hello there, and welcome to the Lightning Reports! Two months ago, I questioned 3 NCPs (Non-Chess Players) about chess because I thought it'd be funny (and it was). Why is that relevant, you ask? Well, one of those NCPs, who is also one of my few irl friends, recently played a few chess games against a level 1 computer on some random game site. He reached the position seen in the diagram below. My friend played black. 

Hey, not bad. My friend is up 3 queens and a rook there! The problem is that he stalemated the computer on the very next move by playing Qd2. Tough luck for my friend. And he did not take it well. The first thing he said to me was, "So I was winning and the computer did the internet equivalent of flipping the board. *Shows me the stalemate* So in essence I won that match. It couldn't move anywhere and rage quit."

While I love how he described all that... no. Just no. Stalemate is not a win. It is a draw. I attempted to explain this to him, and his response was, "Nah fam that's checkmate. They can't move without me being able to take them. That's what checkmate is." 

My friend just played Qd2. Now tell me, would you call that a checkmate? No... right? It can't be checkmate because white's king is not in check. White has no legal move in that position, meaning it is a stalemate. Find just one legal move for white in that position. If you can, I'll write a blog all about your greatness and I'll close my account. But assuming you can't find any legal moves for white without cheating, we can agree that was a stalemate.

Nah fam that's checkmate. They can't move without me being able to take them. That's what checkmate is.

-Lightning's friend

I explained to him, he has to be putting the king in check for it to actually be a checkmate. He didn't take that very well either. "That's some real crap. He moves, checkmate in any direction. And if that's a thing then this is why I don't play chess. I finally am about to win and it's a "sTaLeMaTe." Nah fam I won."

But... white has no legal moves. If there is no legal move then the game cannot legally continue, and that's the problem. My friend and I debated for a while whether it should count as a win for him or not. He remained adamant that his stalemate should count as a win for him. Eventually, our debate too ended in a stalemate, neither of us being able to convince the other that their opinion was wrong. Yes, I failed to convince my friend that a stalemate should not count as a win. I know. So sad. I am ashamed. 

It's totally a legit question. But seriously, gimme your thoughts on this. My friend is eager to hear what you have to say

In case you couldn't tell what the above image said, I would like to hear what y'all think about this. What do y'all think? Should stalemate really count as a win for the player who is so clearly winning before screwing up? Should my friend have been awarded the full point in his game?

Oh, and I think it shouldn't. Just thought I should say that since it totally wasn't obvious what my opinion on this was. Stalemate absolutely counts as a draw. Would I be saying that if I hadn't been on the fortunate side of many stalemates? Uh, maybe. Maybe not. I dunno. But either way, stalemate is a draw, it's in the rules. Ah, but what if we change the rules? Should we change the rules? In the past, stalemate did count as a win. It could be like that again. But then the question is... should it? I'm gonna stick with my original answer. No. And here is a position that I always point to when going over stalemate tactics. 

Take a look at the position above. I was playing against Alabama's top player, a very strong NM who very rarely loses. This was nearly 4 years ago now, apparently, but I remember it so well. It still brings a smile to my face, honestly. I was quite pleased with how it ended. My opponent just played Nd3. Now, see if you can spot the game-saving move. When you are ready, check out the next game diagram.


No? Oh, my bad.

How about now?

Still not ready? Oh well.

Chicken nugget.

Ok... here it is.

Not to give myself too much credit, but that was pretty cool. That's a move I'll never forget. Anyway, it's games like that which really make me appreciate stalemate in chess. If stalemate counted as a win, then I would not have had any such tactic in that game and I would have been depressed. Oh no, so sad. But for real, stalemate is just another part of the complex game of chess. If someone stalemates their opponent, it's on them, and they don't deserve to win. Conversely, if you need your opponent to stalemate you to avoid losing, then you also don't deserve to win. So yeah, meet in the middle with a draw. I think that's fine and I wouldn't change a thing.

But what do y'all think? Should stalemate count as a win? Should the rule be changed? Or is it just right as it is? Do let me know. Anyway, thanks so much for reading, I truly hope you enjoyed your time here. Share your thoughts below. I'll cyall in the comments!