Game length records
The longest tournament chess game (in terms of moves) ever to be played was Nikolić–Arsović, Belgrade 1989, which lasted for 269 moves and took 20 hours and 15 minutes to complete a drawn game. At the time this game was played, FIDE had modified the fifty-move rule to allow 100 moves to be played without a piece being captured in a rook and bishop versus rook endgame, the situation in Nikolić versus Arsović. FIDE has since rescinded that modification to the rule.
The longest decisive tournament game is Danin–Azarov, Turnov 2016, which Danin won in 239 moves. In the 9th round of THT Extraliga (highest Czech team league), Danin needed to win his game to make the match end in a 4:4 draw. Although he managed to do that, his team (TŽ Třinec) was relegated from the highest league in the end.
The second longest decisive tournament game is Fressinet–Kosteniuk, Villandry 2007, which Kosteniuk won in 237 moves. The last 116 moves were a rook and bishop versus rook ending, as in Nikolić – Arsović. Fressinet could have claimed a draw under the fifty-move rule, but did not do so since neither player was keeping score, it being a rapid chess game. Earlier in the tournament, Korchnoi had successfully invoked the rule to claim a draw against Fressinet; the arbiters overruled Fressinet’s argument that Korchnoi could not do so without keeping score. Fressinet, apparently wanting to be consistent, did not try to claim a draw against Kosteniuk in the same situation.
The longest game played in a world championship is the fifth game of the 1978 match between Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov. Korchnoi’s 124th move, as White, produced stalemate.
The fewest number of moves required to deliver checkmate in chess is two, in what is known as Fool’s mate (1.g4 e5 2.f3?? Qh4# and variants thereof). This has been known to occur in amateur play. Chessgames.com gives a game L. Darling–R. Wood, 1983, that was published on April Fool’s Day in Northwest Chess magazine (1.g4 e6 2.f4?? Qh4#). Bill Wall lists, in addition to Darling–Wood, three other games that ended with Black checkmating on the second move. In a tournament game at odds of pawn and move, White delivered checkmate on move 2: W. Cooke-“R____g”, Cape Town Chess Club handicap tournament 1908 (remove Black’s f-pawn) 1.e4 g5?? 2.Qh5#. The same game had previously been played in Leeky-Mason, Dublin 1867.
There have been many forfeited games (which could technically be regarded as losses in zero moves), the most notable examples being Game 2 of the 1972 world championship match between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer, which Fischer defaulted, and Game 5 of the 2006 world championship match between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov, which Kramnik defaulted.
Under recently instituted FIDE rules, a player who is late for the beginning of a round loses the game, as does a player whose cellphone makes any sound in the tournament hall. The former rule was used at the 2009 Chinese Championship to forfeit Hou Yifan for arriving five seconds late for the beginning of a round. The latter rule was used to forfeit Aleksander Delchev against Stuart Conquest after the move 1.d4 in the 2009 European Team Championship.
The German grandmaster Robert Hübner also lost a game without playing any moves. In a World Student Team Championship game played in Graz in 1972, Hübner played one move and offered a draw to Kenneth Rogoff, who accepted. However, the arbiters insisted that some moves be played, so the players played the following ridiculous game: 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Ng1 Bg7 4. Qa4 0-0 5. Qxd7 Qxd7 6. g4 Qxd2+ 7. Kxd2 Nxg4 8. b4 a5 9. a4 Bxa1 10. Bb2 Nc6 11. Bh8 Bg7 12. h4 axb4 (draw agreed). The arbiters ruled that both players must apologize and play an actual game at 7 p.m. Rogoff appeared and apologized; Hübner did neither. Hübner’s clock was started, and after an hour Rogoff was declared the winner. Wang Chen and Lu Shanglei both lost a game in which they had played no moves. They agreed to a draw without play at the 2009 Zhejiang Lishui Xingqiu Cup International Open Chess Tournament held in Lishui, Zhejiang Province, China. The chief arbiter declared both players to have lost the game.
More rarely, a player might decide to protest by resigning a game rather than forfeiting. A game between Fischer and Oscar Panno, played at the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal 1970, went 1. c4 resigns. Panno refused to play to protest the organizers’ rescheduling of the game to accommodate Fischer’s desire not to play on his religion’s Sabbath. Panno was not present when the game was to begin. Fischer waited ten minutes before making his move and went to get Panno to convince him to play. Fifty-two minutes had elapsed on Panno’s clock before he came to the board and resigned. (At the time, an absence of sixty minutes resulted in a forfeit.)
The shortest decisive tournament game that was decided because of the position on the board (i.e. not because of a forfeit or protest) is Z. Đorđević–M. Kovačević, Bela Crkva 1984. It lasted only three moves (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 c6 3.e3?? Qa5+ winning the bishop), and White resigned. This was repeated in Vassallo-Gamundi, Salamanca 1998. (In a number of other games, White has played on after 3…Qa5+, occasionally drawing or even winning in this line.) The shortest game ever lost by a grandmaster because of the position on the board was by future world champion Viswanathan Anand, who resigned on move 6 against Alonso Zapata in 1988 (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nc3 Bf5?? 6. Qe2 winning a piece, since 6…Qe7 is answered by 7.Nd5 Qe6? 8. Nxc7+).
A game may be drawn by mutual agreement in any number of moves. Traditionally, it has been common for players to agree a “grandmaster draw” after playing about 10-15 moves of known opening theory and making no serious effort to win. This is usually done to preserve energy in a tournament, after a devastating loss in the previous round of the tournament, or in the final round when no prize money is at stake. There has been some debate over the ethics of the practice, and recently there has been a trend away from such games, with many tournaments adopting measures to discourage short draws. If the tournament officials (unlike those at Graz and Lishui) do not object, a game may even be agreed drawn without a single move being played. According to ChessGames.com, in the 1968 Skopje–Ohrid tournament Dragoljub Janosevic and Efim Geller agreed to a draw without playing any moves. Tony Miles and Stewart Reuben did the same thing in the last round of the Luton 1975 tournament, “with the blessing of the controller”, in order to assure themselves of first and second places respectively.
Shortest World Championship game
As mentioned above, Fischer (in 1972) and Kramnik (in 2006) each forfeited a world championship game without playing any moves. Other than those unplayed games, the shortest game in a world championship was the 21st match game in the World Chess Championship 1963 between Mikhail Botvinnik and Tigran Petrosian. The players agreed to a draw after the 10th move by White (Petrosian). The shortest decisive, non-forfeited world championship game occurred between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand in game 8 of the World Chess Championship 2012. Gelfand resigned after Anand’s 17th move, 17.Qf2.
Chessboard480.svg f8 black bishop g8 black knight h8 black rook e7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black queen e6 white queen f6 black pawn g6 black king h6 black rook h5 black pawn h4 white pawn e3 white pawn a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 white pawn d2 white pawn f2 white pawn g2 white pawn a1 white rook b1 white knight c1 white bishop e1 white king f1 white bishop g1 white knight h1 white rook
Shortest possible stalemate after 10.Qe6
The shortest composed stalemate, devised by Sam Loyd, involves the sequence 1.e3 a5 2.Qh5 Ra6 3.Qxa5 h5 4.Qxc7 Rah6 5.h4 f6 6.Qxd7+ Kf7 7.Qxb7 Qd3 8.Qxb8 Qh7 9.Qxc8 Kg6 10.Qe6. The shortest stalemate with all of the pieces on the board, composed by Charles H Wheeler, occurs after 1.d4 d6 2.Qd2 e5 3.a4 e4 4.Qf4 f5 5.h3 Be7 6.Qh2 Be6 7.Ra3 c5 8.Rg3 Qa5+ 9.Nd2 Bh4 10.f3 Bb3 11.d5 e3 12.c4 f4 (minor variations are possible). These games are nonsensical from the point of view of chess strategy, but both have occasionally been played in tournaments as a joke, as part of a prearranged draw. The shortest known route to a position where both players are stalemated, discovered by Enzo Minerva and published in the Italian newspaper l’Unità on 14 August 2007, is 1.c4 d5 2.Qb3 Bh3 3.gxh3 f5 4.Qxb7 Kf7 5.Qxa7 Kg6 6.f3 c5 7.Qxe7 Rxa2 8.Kf2 Rxb2 9.Qxg7+ Kh5 10.Qxg8 Rxb1 11.Rxb1 Kh4 12.Qxh8 h5 13.Qh6 Bxh6 14.Rxb8 Be3+ 15.dxe3 Qxb8 16.Kg2 Qf4 17.exf4 d4 18.Be3 dxe3. The shortest genuine stalemate in a serious game was played in Ravenna 1982, when the Italian master Mario Sibilio forced a stalemate on move 27 against grandmaster Sergio Mariotti.
Fewest moves played in a tournament
In the Premier I group at the 2003 Capablanca Memorial tournament, Péter Székely took just 130 moves (an average of 10 moves per game) to draw all 13 of his games.
Latest first capture
In Rogoff–Williams, World Junior Championship, Stockholm 1969, the first capture (94.bxc5) occurred on White’s 94th move. Filipowicz–Smederevac, Polanica Zdroj 1966, was drawn in 70 moves under the fifty-move rule, without any piece or pawn having been captured.
Latest first capture in a decisive game
Nuber–Keckeisen, Mengen 1994 lasted 31 moves without a single capture. In the end Keckeisen, facing imminent checkmate, resigned.
Chessboard480.svg e8 black knight f8 black bishop g8 black rook h8 black knight d7 black bishop e7 black queen f7 black rook h7 black king d6 black pawn f6 black pawn g6 black pawn h6 black pawn c5 black pawn d5 white pawn e5 black pawn a4 black pawn b4 black pawn c4 white pawn e4 white pawn f4 white pawn g4 white pawn h4 white pawn d3 white bishop f3 white queen g3 white knight h3 white knight a2 white pawn b2 white pawn h2 white rook c1 white bishop g1 white rook h1 white king
Yates vs. Znosko-Borovsky 1927, after 39 moves
In the decisive game Yates–Znosko-Borovsky, Tunbridge Wells 1927, the first capture occurred on move 40.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 Na5 9.Bc2 c5 10.d4 Qc7 11.h3 0-0 12.Nbd2 Bd7 13.Nf1 Nc6 14.d5 Nd8 15.g4 Ne8 16.Ng3 g6 17.Kh2 Ng7 18.Rg1 f6 19.Be3 Nf7 20.Rg2 Kh8 21.Qd2 Qc8 22.Rh1 Rg8 23.Rhg1 a5 24.Kh1 b4 25.c4 a4 26.Bd3 Qa6 27.Qe2 Raf8 28.Nd2 Qc8 29.f3 Ne8 30.Ndf1 Kg7 31.Bc1 h6 32.Ne3 Kh7 33.Rh2 Nh8 34.h4 Rf7 35.Nd1 Bf8 36.Nf2 Bg7 37.f4 Bf8 38.Qf3 Qd8 39.Nh3 Qe7 (diagram) 40.g5 Bxh3 41.f5 hxg5 42.hxg5 Rgg7 43.Rxh3+ Kg8 44.fxg6 Rxg6 45.Nf5 Qd7 46.Rg2 fxg5 47.Rgh2 Bg7 48.Rxh8+ Bxh8 49.Qh5 Rff6 50.Qxh8+ Kf7 51.Rh7+ Ng7 52.Rxg7+ Rxg7 53.Qxg7+ 1–0
Largest number of helpless pinned pieces
Chessboard480.svg c8 black rook d8 black queen e8 black king f8 black rook g8 white queen a7 black pawn b7 black pawn d7 black knight e7 black bishop f6 white knight b5 white bishop c5 white pawn d4 white bishop h4 white pawn f3 white pawn a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 white pawn c1 white king e1 white rook
Final position of Chandler–Kynoch, 1981.
In the final position of G. Chandler-R. Kynoch, Edinburgh Club Championship 1981, White’s knight on f6 administered checkmate with three black pieces capable of capturing it, except that all three could not do so because they were pinned against Black’s king.
The book 1000 TN!! The Best Theoretical Novelties contains the games with the ten highest-ranked theoretical novelties (TNs) that appeared in each of Volumes 11 through 110 of Chess Informant. The earliest such novelty occurred on White’s fourth move in Karpov-Miles, Bugojno 1978, namely 1.c4 b6 2.d4 e6 3.d5 Qh4 4.Nc3! The latest occurred on Black’s 34th move (34…Kd5!) in Shulman-Marin, Reykjavík Open 2009. The only game to receive a perfect rating from Chess Informant’s panel of judges was Miles-Belyavsky, Tilburg 1986, which featured the novelty 18.f4!! It received 90 points, 10 out of a possible 10 from each of the 9 judges.
Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has continued to hold the record for greatest number of grandmasters. In the January 2016 rating list, 217 of the 1506 grandmasters were from Russia.
Greatest concentration of resident grandmasters
In 2005, Reykjavík, Iceland, with eight grandmasters (Jon Arnason, Jóhann Hjartarson, Margeir Petursson, Fridrik Olafsson, Throstur Thorhallsson, Helgi Gretarsson, Hannes Stefansson, and Bobby Fischer) had a higher percentage of resident grandmasters per capita than any other city worldwide;the city of 114,000 had, therefore, one grandmaster per 14,000 residents.