[Retros] reward for stalemate
kevinjbegley at gmail.com
Fri Jun 20 02:30:55 EDT 2014
*>"I hope that GM Short mentioned that this idea came from Lasker! (And I
know that he reads a lot of books about chess history...)"*
Actually, GM Short mentions that this idea is not original, and it came
long before Dr. Lasker -- that is: stalemate was once considered the
equivalent of checkmate (and the reasoning is clear: if the goal is to
capture a King, and movement is compelled, stalemate and checkmate are an
equivalent guarantee that the aim will be realized, upon the following
This was a firm rule, adopted by several countries, long before there ever
was a chess game federation (before Lasker, and before Steinitz).
*>"At least an introduction of a 0.75/0.25 rule by FIDE would not spoil the
conventions of the problem community completely..." *
You seem to have missed my point, entirely...
FIDE can implement any rule it wants, and it should have absolutely zero
impact upon WFCC conventions (or rules).
Our conventions can not be based upon the rules of a game federation -- the
WFCC charter clearly grants authority to define our own rules, and our own
orthodoxy (which must be completely static, unlike the continually evolving
game of FIDE chess).
Once we do that, it will always be possible to correctly represent any
changes in FIDE rules (along with rule changes that FIDE is unlikely to
The first step is to acknowledge the independence of Problem Chess (from
the chess game) -- the chess game does not precede Problem Chess. The
selfmate and the camel came first.
FIDE is entitled to make any law they find agreeable to their own specific
purpose (to advance the game) -- and nothing they do can be permitted to
spoil (even slightly) the conventions of the problem community.
*>"...one would have to distinguish between draw studies and stalemate
studies; and this would be less of a challenge for solvers, because a
stalemate would have to be mentioned in the stipulation explicitly." *
Not in the stipulation -- the rules (or fairy conditions) of the problem
must be stipulated.
The trick here is to realize that FIDE chess can never be considered the
orthodox form of Problem Chess; this never was the orthodox form, and it
never be adopted as such.
A proper orthodoxy does not evolve (except when it must, to better
represent possibilities in problem chess -- and, such changes would
threaten all existing problems with broad impact (read: any change to the
orthodoxy of problem chess would necessarily require a profound
reconsideration of impacts to all existing work).
Recall that the folks who subscribed to the false belief that FIDE chess is
a proper orthodoxy, failed to notice that their own problems were being
impacted, by changes to the FIDE player's rule book (e.g., I have shown, as
have others, that FIDE's rule for dead reckoning destroyed the intent of
several sound studies -- which can no longer be considered orthodox; and
ravaged many formal problems, which were once based upon orthodox rules).
Any tiny deviation from orthodoxy, and you potentially impact every
problem, in every genre, based upon every condition!
Therefore, WFCC must take responsibility for its own orthodoxy, completely
independent of the rules of any game federation.
Once established, it will be possible to stipulate any set of rules, to
properly realize all possible FIDE rule books.
But, there exists no FIDE rule book which can provide Problem Chess with a
stable Orthodoxy -- orthodoxy is not what the popular majority wants (or
believes) the rules to be, it is the default rules, upon which any set of
rules may be easily declared.
*>"I agree with you that consistency is of prime importance for our rules;
and it would be helpful to have default settings. However, even these might
evolve over time (like in your picture of flowing bridges, if I understand
it correctly)." *
Yes, it is entirely possible that the Orthodoxy of Problem Chess may be in
need of structural repair (e.g., to allow for unforeseen circumstances),
but in general, there is one very good reason that we (problemists) should
strive to make this as stable as possible: any change to the foundation can
impact all the infrastructure depending upon it.
Every time we make a tiny modification , we have to carefully consider the
structural impact upon all kinds of existing compositions! This is a
daunting task. Therefore, it is important that we design this bridge to be
stable, and to do that, WFCC must begin by examining the very root of our
They can no longer ignore the fact that their classification is based upon
terms which have neither clear definition, nor clear meaning.
For example, WFCC has repeatedly failed to provide any definition for their
term "Fairy Chess," yet they happily segregate problems (and even recognize
judges) according to such meaningless terminology.
Note: the definition of Fairy Chess can not be found in the antonym of any
FIDE player's rule book (if it were, then countless problems drafted under
any previous FIDE rule books would necessarily become Fairy).
These old fights for dominance (who gets to be "Orthodox") are far too
petty for this community to continue.
At some point, we must take responsibility for the damage this has done to
the integrity of our art form... and to its legacy.
I have no agenda to supplant the crumbling orthodoxy with something
similarly unstable, for the purpose of gaining a dominant advantage for my
own vision of chess problems -- far from it (I have repeatedly resisted
this temptation, even when others pretend to want my proposals, I
understand very clearly, that improvements must come from the larger
problem community, and decided in accord with the WFCC charter).
I depend upon the full objectivity of this community to design a stable and
lasting orthodoxy, from the most fundamental level, wherein no kinds of
problems will be systematically treated as an inherently inferior product.
The longer we delay this project, the further we erode the integrity of our
own structures, the smaller this community will become...
If we don't put aside the petty political fights (for our own advantage),
and help encourage WFCC to build a proper foundation, we encourage the
abandonment our own legacy.
Fundamental honesty (and fairness!) is the cornerstone of a lasting
*No title will endure, if the art of problem composition is not upheld.*
*>"Now I will have breakfast and then start a short holiday, without e-mail
Have a good breakfast, and a great holiday.
On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 10:27 PM, "Bernd Gräfrath" <retromode at web.de> wrote:
> Hi Kevin,
> I hope that GM Short mentioned that this idea came from Lasker! (And I
> know that he reads a lot of books about chess history...)
> At least an introduction of a 0.75/0.25 rule by FIDE would not spoil the
> conventions of the problem community completely: you could still have mate
> problems and studies with the stipulation to "win" (which then would have
> to be augmented to "by mate"). However, one would have to distinguish
> between draw studies and stalemate studies; and this would be less of a
> challenge for solvers, because a stalemate would have to be mentioned in
> the stipulation explicitly.
> I agree with you that consistency is of prime importance for our rules;
> and it would be helpful to have default settings. However, even these might
> evolve over time (like in your picture of flowing bridges, if I understand
> it correctly).
> Now I will have breakfast and then start a short holiday, without e-mail
> Best wishes,
> *Gesendet:* Mittwoch, 18. Juni 2014 um 21:25 Uhr
> *Von:* "Kevin Begley" <kevinjbegley at gmail.com>
> *An:* "The Retrograde Analysis Mailing List" <retros at janko.at>
> *Betreff:* Re: [Retros] reward for stalemate
> Hi Bernd,
> *GM Short actually covered this option (awarding 0.25 for the stalemated
> player, 0.75 for their opponent). *
> *I am struggling to recall why he concluded that this would be a terrible
> mistake. *
> *I know he was adamant that stalemate should be worth the full point. *
> From my perspective, it does not matter so much.
> Whatever might improve the game, for fans of the game, is certainly worthy
> of the college try.
> The "game of the mad queen" was never logical (not in my eyes, nor in the
> eyes of most theoreticians in the day -- even Capablanca and Bird
> considered it theoretically improperly balanced) -- it just happened to
> win-out, over other alternative rules (becoming the default -- the
> "orthodox" -- version), because it happened to play better, as a game.
> The default rules for Problem Chess require a completely different
> orthodoxy (because the rules of the game are becoming increasingly
> turbulent, given how significantly computers have impacted play). Nobody
> scoffs at Capablanca's "Draw-Death," for example, after carefully observing
> the statistics from high level correspondence chess matches, today!
> I think we all probably share the opinion that stalemate is an important
> component of great studies (even GM Short goes out of his way to concede
> this point), but I find no credible reason to believe that a great study
> can not be based upon an alternative set of rules -- even within rules
> which completely eliminate stalemate (by regarding it equivalent to
> checkmate), a talented composer will manage to find (and exploit) new
> And, regardless what changes the board game may experience, in the
> interest of securing a television audience (or for whatever purpose FIDE
> may deem desirable), the orthodoxy of problem chess should be divorced from
> FIDE's healthy turbulence. Our default rules require consistency (after
> all, virtually every fairy problem ever constructed will have stipulated a
> default to a specific set of rules, which can not evolve).
> The trick for the problem community, in my view, is to achieve two goals:
> 1) Seek an optimal default, which will endure (even if the chess game sees
> radical changes), and
> 2) Keep bridges flowing between chess problems and the chess game, which
> can be easily instantiated, for every subtle change to each FIDE rule book
> (past, present, and future).
> On Tue, Jun 17, 2014 at 10:29 PM, "Bernd Gräfrath" <retromode at web.de>
>> Dear retro-friends,
>> in SCHACH 10/2013, Arno Nickel discussed the increasing number of draws
>> in correspondence chess; and against this, he recommended something which
>> was previously suggested by Emanuel Lasker:
>> While a win would give 1 point and a loss 0 points, stalemating the
>> opponent might be rewarded with 0.75 points (and the stalemated opponent
>> receives 0.25 points).
>> Best wishes,
>> Retros mailing list
>> Retros at janko.at
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