Stalemate (1 move)

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Stalemate occurs if a player is not in check but has no legal move. Stalemate ends the game, and the result is a draw.


In the history of chess, the stalemate rules were changed several times. With today's rule that the game ends in a draw, stalemate sometimes happens during the final phase of the game if one player only has a king, and the other player is not careful when trying to set up the final checkmate. (In blitz games this can even happen to very strong players.) Apart from such blunders, stalemate can be used as a defensive tactic, forcing a draw when material down. This occurs usually in endgames with only a few pieces left.


White has a pawn against rook, and it looks like Black is going to be able to capture the pawn on the next move. However, by playing the king into the corner with 1.Kh8!, White can secure a draw. If Black captures the pawn, 1...Rxg7, it is stalemate, because White has no legal move available. If Black does not capture the pawn, White will be able to promote the pawn.

In the endgame of king and pawn versus king, stalemate is the only way to draw the game. This is a fundamental position, and White can force a draw with 1.Kg1!. Now the only move that doesn't lose the pawn is 1...Kg3, which results in a stalemate.

Stalemate is an important resource even in pawn endgames with several pawns, especially if the pawns are blocking each other. Here is an example:

It looks like White can no longer defend the pawn on c5 and will lose the game. However, the clever 1.Ka5! ensures a draw. Black is forced to capture the pawn with 1...Kc5, but this results in a stalemate, because the king on a5 blocks its own pawn on a4, and no legal move is possible. Any other move for Black would allow White to even win the game with Kb6.

Related motifs

Sometimes a stalemate can be forced by sacrificing the last piece that can move. This tactical solution to force a stalemate is called "Desperado".