What's up with stalemates?

Laezar

Ok, I know chess is an old game and I don't expect to change anyone's mind and I'm just going to be told to accept the rules as they are. But if I'm being honest stalemates are a really stupid part of the game and make chess a lot worse from a game design perspective.

I understand the concept : you can't do any legal move so the game stops.

The thing is the reason you can't make any legal move is because of good design decision to streamline the game but that make the stalematte make no sense.

First checkmates are a thing simply because the step of taking the king is unnecessary, but it's just removing an unnecessary turn, there is no reason for the king to actually never die (unless you've got some weird monarchy fetish going on but we'll ignore that).

Second the rule that "you can't move into check" is a thing simply because of the first rule, since games are lost on checkmate and you don't play it out until the end then moving into check is basically the equivalent of giving up. Realistically it shouldn't even be an illegal move, but it makes sense cause it's more beginner friendly when you don't realize you are moving into a loss and you're told "you can't do that" than if you're told "well, you just killed yourself". And also I'm pretty sure it probably feel like lacking sportsmanship to just give the king instead of just conceding so that's probably another reason it was forbidden.

Now the stalemate rule is just a thing that exist because people thought "well, there is situation where there are no legal moves and that's not ok so we should make it a draw in that case". Which make sense but also completely ignores the reasoning of the two previous rules;

Realistically a game should only be a stalemate if both players have no legal move. There is no logical reason that trapping the opponent king would be seen as bad, It's an intuitive strategy and feels a lot more natural that losing cause you didn't realize you trapped your opponent.

I know I'm not going to change the rules of the game, but I still want to propose a rule change cause why not, even if there is no point =p :

1) A stalemate happens if both players have no legal move

2) If one player has no legal move and the other has legal moves the first pass their turns and the second can choose to either declare a stalemate or take their turn. (to avoid being forced to play a move that can lose you the game when your opponent can't move).

I feel like it'd make a lot more sense, still be simple and avoid a lot of stupid draw when realistically one player has the advantage. The main issue is that this could lead to games where a player traps their opponent and toys with them which is quite toxic, but there are rules to prevent repetition of moves or extremely long inactive games so that's already covered in term of rules. It'd still be a problem and probably would need to be adressed as a mark of unsportsmanship but that's a rare edge case compared to the very high likelihood of stalemates happening otherwise (and I'll be honest, going for stalemates feels a lot more toxic to me and the rules encourage that).

That's just my two cents as someone who sucks at chess but is interested in game design in general. Again, I'm aware I'll just get the chess equivalent of "git gud" but hopefully that'll make some people think about improving the rules of the game, and if not I'll at least have got it out of my system =p

Anyway, I'll at least ask that people who disagree with me at least give a reasoning that doesn't boil down to "that's the rule because it's the rule" maybe there are good reasons for stalemate that I didn't consider and I'm open to that.

Also have a great day o/

notmtwain
Laezar wrote:

Ok, I know chess is an old game and I don't expect to change anyone's mind and I'm just going to be told to accept the rules as they are. But if I'm being honest stalemates are a really stupid part of the game and make chess a lot worse from a game design perspective.

I understand the concept : you can't do any legal move so the game stops.

The thing is the reason you can't make any legal move is because of good design decision to streamline the game but that make the stalematte make no sense.

First checkmates are a thing simply because the step of taking the king is unnecessary, but it's just removing an unnecessary turn, there is no reason for the king to actually never die (unless you've got some weird monarchy fetish going on but we'll ignore that).

Second the rule that "you can't move into check" is a thing simply because of the first rule, since games are lost on checkmate and you don't play it out until the end then moving into check is basically the equivalent of giving up. Realistically it shouldn't even be an illegal move, but it makes sense cause it's more beginner friendly when you don't realize you are moving into a loss and you're told "you can't do that" than if you're told "well, you just killed yourself". And also I'm pretty sure it probably feel like lacking sportsmanship to just give the king instead of just conceding so that's probably another reason it was forbidden.

Now the stalemate rule is just a thing that exist because people thought "well, there is situation where there are no legal moves and that's not ok so we should make it a draw in that case". Which make sense but also completely ignores the reasoning of the two previous rules;

Realistically a game should only be a stalemate if both players have no legal move. There is no logical reason that trapping the opponent king would be seen as bad, It's an intuitive strategy and feels a lot more natural that losing cause you didn't realize you trapped your opponent.

I know I'm not going to change the rules of the game, but I still want to propose a rule change cause why not, even if there is no point =p :

1) A stalemate happens if both players have no legal move

2) If one player has no legal move and the other has legal moves the first pass their turns and the second can choose to either declare a stalemate or take their turn. (to avoid being forced to play a move that can lose you the game when your opponent can't move).

I feel like it'd make a lot more sense, still be simple and avoid a lot of stupid draw when realistically one player has the advantage. The main issue is that this could lead to games where a player traps their opponent and toys with them which is quite toxic, but there are rules to prevent repetition of moves or extremely long inactive games so that's already covered in term of rules. It'd still be a problem and probably would need to be adressed as a mark of unsportsmanship but that's a rare edge case compared to the very high likelihood of stalemates happening otherwise (and I'll be honest, going for stalemates feels a lot more toxic to me and the rules encourage that).

That's just my two cents as someone who sucks at chess but is interested in game design in general. Again, I'm aware I'll just get the chess equivalent of "git gud" but hopefully that'll make some people think about improving the rules of the game, and if not I'll at least have got it out of my system =p

Anyway, I'll at least ask that people who disagree with me at least give a reasoning that doesn't boil down to "that's the rule because it's the rule" maybe there are good reasons for stalemate that I didn't consider and I'm open to that.

Also have a great day o/

"The existing rule has this in its favor, that it appeals strongly to the sporting instincts of mankind,; and the last chance it afforts to a player who appears to be hopelessly beaten , never fails to add a new zest to a game in which the interest has begun to flag. and has been the origin of some of the most ingeneous master-play known."  HJR Murray 1903 

I suggest you do a search for notable stalemates. They are not always owed to careless time pressure errors..  Sometimes, absolutely amazing play has brought them about.

https://www.chess.com/blog/Michel2426/5-amazing-stalemates-video

eric0022
Laezar wrote:

Ok, I know chess is an old game and I don't expect to change anyone's mind and I'm just going to be told to accept the rules as they are. But if I'm being honest stalemates are a really stupid part of the game and make chess a lot worse from a game design perspective.

I understand the concept : you can't do any legal move so the game stops.

The thing is the reason you can't make any legal move is because of good design decision to streamline the game but that make the stalematte make no sense.

First checkmates are a thing simply because the step of taking the king is unnecessary, but it's just removing an unnecessary turn, there is no reason for the king to actually never die (unless you've got some weird monarchy fetish going on but we'll ignore that).

Second the rule that "you can't move into check" is a thing simply because of the first rule, since games are lost on checkmate and you don't play it out until the end then moving into check is basically the equivalent of giving up. Realistically it shouldn't even be an illegal move, but it makes sense cause it's more beginner friendly when you don't realize you are moving into a loss and you're told "you can't do that" than if you're told "well, you just killed yourself". And also I'm pretty sure it probably feel like lacking sportsmanship to just give the king instead of just conceding so that's probably another reason it was forbidden.

Now the stalemate rule is just a thing that exist because people thought "well, there is situation where there are no legal moves and that's not ok so we should make it a draw in that case". Which make sense but also completely ignores the reasoning of the two previous rules;

Realistically a game should only be a stalemate if both players have no legal move. There is no logical reason that trapping the opponent king would be seen as bad, It's an intuitive strategy and feels a lot more natural that losing cause you didn't realize you trapped your opponent.

I know I'm not going to change the rules of the game, but I still want to propose a rule change cause why not, even if there is no point =p :

1) A stalemate happens if both players have no legal move

2) If one player has no legal move and the other has legal moves the first pass their turns and the second can choose to either declare a stalemate or take their turn. (to avoid being forced to play a move that can lose you the game when your opponent can't move).

I feel like it'd make a lot more sense, still be simple and avoid a lot of stupid draw when realistically one player has the advantage. The main issue is that this could lead to games where a player traps their opponent and toys with them which is quite toxic, but there are rules to prevent repetition of moves or extremely long inactive games so that's already covered in term of rules. It'd still be a problem and probably would need to be adressed as a mark of unsportsmanship but that's a rare edge case compared to the very high likelihood of stalemates happening otherwise (and I'll be honest, going for stalemates feels a lot more toxic to me and the rules encourage that).

That's just my two cents as someone who sucks at chess but is interested in game design in general. Again, I'm aware I'll just get the chess equivalent of "git gud" but hopefully that'll make some people think about improving the rules of the game, and if not I'll at least have got it out of my system =p

Anyway, I'll at least ask that people who disagree with me at least give a reasoning that doesn't boil down to "that's the rule because it's the rule" maybe there are good reasons for stalemate that I didn't consider and I'm open to that.

Also have a great day o/

 

It's hard to choose the rules when a lot of players debate over the topic. Eventually, someone has to ultimately decide on the rules of chess, on whether stalemate should count as a draw or not.

 

It's like chess players winning a chess tournament on tiebreaks. Someone has to come up with a tiebreaker system to split the players on equal game points.

Laezar

I kinda get the idea of current stalemates rule leading to occasionnal spectacular game, but it does sounds like it does this at the cost of making most casual games worse. I understand the argument but that doesn't make the games where stalemates happen or are threatened more fun x)

Strangemover

Stalemate adds an extra level of complexity to an already complex game. 

JMHammeriscool

honestly I like stalemates bc the game never ends without it