11 March 2011

Losing chess

The previous post already was about suicidal tendencies. This one continues in that direction though in a slightly different way. Losing chess is also known under many other names, e.g. antichess, giveaway chess or suicide chess. This chess variant is quite popular, as it is easy to understand:
  • Capturing is compulsory. In case there are different choices to capture a piece, a player may choose which piece to capture.
  • There is no check or checkmate. Therefore, the king plays no special role and can be taken as any other piece. This also means that pawns may also promote to kings.
  • Castling is not allowed.
  • A player wins by losing all his pieces. According to the International Rules, stalemate is a win for the stalemated player.
  • The game is drawn like in the orthodox game. Additionally, it's a draw when a win is impossible, e.g. if a dark-squared bishop and a light-squared bishop are the only pieces remaining.

On the internet, you'll find lot of links to software, sites to play it online, opening theory and even endgame databases. I'll give you a few addresses:

Moreover, there are chess problems with that condition. Here are some for you.

  1John Niemann  
Schachmatt, 1947
  White wins(2+2)  
  Losing chess

  2J. Iglesias  
France-Echecs, 2006
Special Prize
  SPG in 4,5 moves(15+15)  
  3 solutions
  Losing chess

This first problem is not as easy as it may look at first glance: 1. a5! Kxa5 2. Qh1 Not 2. Qg2? Ka4 3. Qh1 Kb3 and Black wins. 2. - Ka4 3. Qg2 Ka5 4. Qf3 and Black will have to capture the white queen with his next move. The attempts 1. Qh3? or 1. Qd1? are refuted by Kc5!

The solutions to the second diagram are
I) 1.e3 b6 2.Ke2 Ba6 3.Qe1 Bxe2 4.Qxe2 h6 5.Qd1
II) 1.e3 b6 2.Ke2 Ba6 3.Kd3 Bxd3 4.Bxd3 h6 5.Bf1
III) 1.e3 b6 2.Ke2 Bb7 3.Kf3 Bxf3 4.Nxf3 h6 5.Ng1

Vincent van der Bilt
Internet (?), 1997
Black to move and win (2+16)
Losing chess
This is a retro! White's last move was not h3-h4, otherwise White would have had to capture the pg4. Also, g3xh4 was not possible, for all black pieces are still on the board. Thus, the last move had to be h2-h4. You know what that means, right? Yes, Black is allowed to capture en passant.
1. - g4xh3 e.p.! 2. gxh3 g4 3. hxg4 Lf5 4.gxf5 Qe6 5.fxe6 Nd7 6.exd7 Ka8!
Not 6. - Kc8? 7. dxc8=B! and Black will always keep his dark-squared bishop.
Also not 6. - Ka7? 7. d8=Q! Rh1 8. Qxd5 Bg5 9. Qxa2! Rh3 10. Qxa4! and now Pa6 is protected by the black king.
Now, White has the choice:
a) 7. d8=K b3! 8. Kxc7 Kb7 9. Kxb7 Ba5 10. Kxa6 Bb6 11. Kxb6 Nc2 12. Kxc5 Rc1 13. Kxd5 Nd4 14. Kxd4 Rc4 15. Kxc4 a3 16. Kxb3 Rd2 17. Kxa3 Ra2 18. Kxa2 or
b) 7. d8=B Ka7 8. Bxc7 Kb6 9. Bxb6 Bf4 10. Bxc5 Re1 11. Bxb4 Be5 12.Bxe1 a5 13. Bxa5 Bc3 14. Bxc3 Rg2 15. Bxa1 d4 16. Bxd4 Rb2 17. Bxb2 a3 18. Bxa3 or
c) 7. d8=N Kb7 8. Nxb7 Rf1 9. Nxc5 a3 10. Nxa6 b3 11. Nxb4 Be3 12. Nxd5 Rd2 13. Nxe3 a2 14. Nxf1 Nc2 15. Nxd2 Nb4 16. Nxb3 a1=K 17. Nxa1 Nc2 18. Nxc2 or
d) 7. d8=R Ka7 8. Rxd5 Be1 9. Rxc5 Nb3 10. Rxc7 Na5 11. Rxa7 Bf2 12. Rxa6 Re2 13. Rxa5 Rh1 14. Rxa4 Bd4 15. Rxb4 Rg1 16. Rxd4 Rg4 17. Rxg4 Re4 18. Rxe4 or
e) 7. d8=Q! Rh1! 8. Qxa8 b3! 9. Qxa6 Ba5 10. Qxa5 Rg2 11. Qxa4 Nc2 12. Qxb3 Rg6 13. Qxc2 etc.
Of course, not all Black moves are unique. Anyway, the retro idea together with the Allumwandlung is quite nice.

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