Can you stalemate with 2 kings?

Answered by Cody Janus

It is not possible to stalemate with just 2 kings on the board. Stalemate occurs when a player is not in check but has no legal moves to make. However, with only 2 kings remaining, both players can continue to move their kings around indefinitely, resulting in an endless repetition of moves. This is commonly known as a “perpetual check” and it leads to a draw, but it is not considered a stalemate.

In a game of chess, the objective is to checkmate the opponent’s king, which means putting it in a position where it is under attack and cannot escape capture on the next move. When a stalemate occurs, it is usually because the player who is about to move has no legal moves available and their king is not in check. This can happen due to a lack of available squares for the king to move to, or if the player’s other pieces have been blocked or captured.

However, when there are only 2 kings left on the board, there are always legal moves available for both players. Each king can move to any adjacent square that is not under attack. Since there are no other pieces to block the kings’ movements, they can simply move back and forth between adjacent squares indefinitely.

I remember a situation in one of my chess games where we reached a position with just two kings remaining. At that point, it was clear to both me and my opponent that there was no way for either of us to checkmate the other. We continued moving our kings around for a few more moves before agreeing to a draw.

It is worth noting that perpetual checks, where one player continuously checks the opponent’s king without being able to deliver checkmate, can also occur in other situations with more pieces on the board. In such cases, the game can also end in a draw.

To summarize, while it is not possible to stalemate with 2 kings on the board, it is possible to reach a draw through perpetual checks when only kings remain. This is different from stalemate, which occurs when a player has no legal moves but is not in check.