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Stalemate as Win -- the Implications?

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tlay80

At regular intervals, we see posts demanding that stalemate be changed to a win.  Typically, this is sour grapes from someone who just botched a won game.  I'm curious, though, what the implications would be if we took the suggestion seriously and created a variant that made stalemate into a win.  (Perhaps someone already has?)  How extesively would endgame theory would have to be rewritten -- and, by extension, how much would middlegame play and even opening theory be affected?

The most important implication would be that king and pawn vs king would always be a win (excluding cases where the pawn can be captured before it can be defended).  That, in turn, would surely have significant affects for earlier endgame positions.  Most importantly, perhaps would be this: If I'm not mistaken, the Philidor Position would no longer work, since it depends on positions where the side with the pawn can't trade off rooks without reaching a drawn king-and-pawn ending, which in a no-stalemate variant would become a win.  For instance:

Would there be any drawing techniques in rook-and-pawn endgames that would survive this rule change (apart from situations where the pawn can be immediately won)? Would the result be that KRP vs KR is always a win?

What other endgame positions would be changed -- and what wouldn't?  I suspect that many, but not all, opposite colored bishop endings that are drawn under standard rules would remain drawn.   Of course, the bishop and wrong-rook-pawn save would no longer work, which would affect some endgames, but not a huge number.  And, even rarer, KNN vs K would become a win (and KNN vs KP would lose its special status), but I could play a thousand games without that mattering.

As a general rule, KN vs K and KB vs K would remain drawn, but there would surely be some exceptions when the king is trapped in the corner.    I wonder how often in practice you could take advantage of that -- only rarely?

What other implications would there be?  And how would they affect middlegame play, piece values, and even opening theory?

tlay80

One more immediate thought: KR vs Kb becomes a win, doesn't it?  Or is it merely that one easy drawing techinique would be elimianted?  If it's indeed changed, that would have pretty big practical implications too.

Arisktotle

It's probably more fun to let the stalemated side win! That will give you some shockers, especially in speed chess!

tlay80
Arisktotle wrote:

It's probably more fun to let the stalemated side win! That will give you some shockers, especially in speed chess!

I think I remember hearing that there was a time and place where that was true.  But, unlike with letting stalemate win, it wouldn't have a significant impact on how endgames work.  There are occasional positions where you can force your opponent to stalemate you, but I can't think of any where the opponent couldn't avoid that a move or two before.  So we'd really be only looking at a few games where someone goofs and gets a result they weren't expecting, whereas making stalemate a win would change a huge amount about how chess is played, maybe even into the opening (is the Berlin no longer sound?), even while leaving a lot unchanged.  Where that line is is what intrigues me.

tygxc

This has been investigated with AlphaZero.
Even if stalemate = draw, chess is still a draw.
https://arxiv.org/pdf/2009.04374.pdf 

tlay80

Interesting -- thanks.  I'm surprised by their conclusion that " it seems to almost always be possible to defend without relying on stalemate as a drawing resource," though I believe them.  Still, I suspect that may be less true fore a practical defense by humans as it is for computers.  Then again, humans can learn new defensive techniques -- it might just take us a while to understand them.

Do they games themselves give any indication of how you'd draw KRP vs KR without relying on the stalemate KP vs K line in the Philidor position?

tlay80

Oh, maybe the point is that if you can get into a Philidor Position, then you can also get into a position where side checks are effective?

tygxc

Philidor is not the only defence
https://www.chess.com/forum/view/endgames/kling-horwitz-defence-vs-philidor-why-the-need-for-philidor-defence 

MARattigan

One implication is that you'd have to rewrite the dead position rule - otherwise a stalemate position would be simultaneously won and drawn. 

The implications on the game would be dependent on how the rules are rewritten.

tygxc

#9
The FIDE Laws of Chess would remain. Instead of "checkmate" it should be changed to "either checkmate or stalemate"

TheRussianPhoenix

... if that were the case my rating would be U2100 in blitz so plz, no.

pfren

You have gone too far.

 

 

White to play and win, under this new "rule".

tlay80

Except nobody’s proposing it as a new rule. I was just asking, theoretically, what the implications would be. At most, I’d be curious about it as a variant that might or might not be interesting to explore.

Also, what's your point?  Is it self-evidently ludicrous that, in a different version of the game having an extra rook pawn would be enough for a win?

MARattigan

KNNK wouldn't necessarily become a win. E.g.

Black to play

 

would still be a draw (but a win with the white king on e.g. f3).

Even more obviously

 

Either side to play
 

 

Not sure what the "special status" of KNNKP is, but winning with the White pieces would become easier from existing White winning positions and the number of White wins would increase, e.g. this would become a White win

Black to play

 

Edit: I've added some analysis to the first and last diagrams. (Tarrasch didn't understand the new rules, so he still thinks the last one's a draw.)

 

ThrillerFan

Only an idiot would look to change the rules of chess, usually because of their own ineptitide!  Learn how to win a game.

Here's a draw I had over the board in 2008!  I was White!

 

 

I had to actually work for that draw.  The fact that you want to give them away for nothing is your own problem!

MARattigan

@ThrillerFan 

You clearly didn't read OP's post #13. 

ThrillerFan
MARattigan wrote:

@ThrillerFan 

You clearly didn't read OP's post #13. 

Nobody reads an entire thread.  I responded to the original post.

Either way, doesn't matter.  The rules are the rules.  When it comes to variants, it needs to be a variant.  Not just some stupid single rule change.  3-check chess.  That's a variation.  Suicide Chess.  That's a variant.

 

Stalemate = win or Stalemate = Loss and everything else the same is not a variant.

 

So again I will say, those looking to remove the Stalemate rule simply don't know how to play chess and had some horrible experience of a moronic stalemate, or else are advocates of those morons.

FaultyBagnose

Btw, stalemate as win could make the rules simpler by allowing the king to be taken. The games would last one move longer and no checkmate rule would be required. Zugzwang would apply to stalemate positions, so they would be lost.

After all, chess is a model of war. Hitler couldn't demand a draw from his bunker, right?

tlay80
Thrillerfan, I thought I was pretty clear in the original post too…

Thanks to all who have taken the question seriously. When I have time tonight, I hope to follow up on some of your good points.
ThrillerFan
tlay80 wrote:
Thrillerfan, I thought I was pretty clear in the original post too…

Thanks to all who have taken the question seriously. When I have time tonight, I hope to follow up on some of your good points.

I answered your original question.

I said clearly that using stalemate as a win being a "Variant" is stupid.