13 Stalemate

13.1 Tutorial

In chess one side is stalemated when it is no longer able to make a move but at the same time its king is not in check. The game is then undecided, i.e. drawn. The player who is stalemated is often very far behind in material. In that case there is a greater probability that he will run out of moves. So sometimes stalemate is a cunning saving trick.

In practice stalemate is often the result of a mistake because the superior side could easily have liquidated a different way. In some endgames, on the other hand, stalemate is a central motif in efforts to save the game.

Stalemate as an endgame motif

Perhaps the practically speaking most important stalemate of all occurs in the ending of king and pawn against king.

In the following ending too the defending side uses stalemate as the last line of defence. The ending

is drawn when
  • the pawn is on the edge of the board (rook pawn)
  • the black king gets in front of the pawnt
  • the queening square for the pawn is not of the same colour as that on which the bishop moves
The reason: Black is stalemated in the queening square in the corner. White cannot win with a rook pawn and a bishop of the wrong colour.


In blitz games with only a few seconds thinking time left mistakes happen since it is all about moving fast. Then stalemate is often arrived at by mistake...

13.2 Exercises

Move directly on the board to input a solution. Either click first on the start square and then on the target square. Or click on the piece, hold on to it, move it tot he target square and let go of it. The button ‘Left arrow’ takes back the move.
Start again
Stalemate is an amusing trick to save the game in a totally lost position. In some simple endgames it is the central defesive technique.