Having fun with the Mega

by Johannes Fischer
6/29/2017 – The ChessBase Mega Database contains more than 6.8 million games, the whole history of chess, from 1560 to 2016. And the Mega has a powerful search mask which gives ample opportunity for a little chess fun. For instance, if you want to know what is the shortest game of all time that ended with stalemate.

Mega Database 2017 Mega Database 2017

The "Mega" is the database every serious chessplayer needs. The database contains 6.8 million games from 1500 to 2016, in highest quality standard, full of top level analyses and completely classified.


To find this game you first open the Mega Database 2017 and then you go to "Filter List" to open the search mask. In the search mask you checkmark "Stalem.(ate)" and "Moves". Under "Moves" you enter "0-50". This tells the program to search for games that lasted 50 moves or less and ended with stalemate.

After a short while the program comes up with a list of games. A click on "Moves" ("Mo... in the image below) orders the list. Clicking once lists the longest games first, clicking twice lists the shortest games first - and this is what we are looking for.

But are there really so many games that ended with a stalemate after 3, 10 or 12 moves? No, of course not. If you take a look at the examples you quickly notice that the first six examples are not complete games but positions taken from games. This explains why only a few moves are given.

But with the game "May against Loef" things start to get interesting. In this game both sides showed that they did not believe in fighting out every game to the end and both players also proved that they knew something about the shortest theoretically possible stalemate.


However, as the list indicates, this is not a particularly original idea. Players of all levels have repeatedly shown how to stalemate in 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17 or 19 moves if the opponent is willing to help.

But if you go down the list you come across a game between Mario Sibilio and Sergio Mariotti, played at the Italian Championship 1982 in Ravenna, that ended with a stalemate after 27 moves and was a real fight.


Stalemate after 27 moves - in a real game. Is this indeed the shortest game ever played that ended with a stalemate? Well, it depends. First of all, the unusual end of this game attracted imitators. 2013, during the semifinals of the St. Petersburg Championship, Daniel Nedostup and Rafael Barhudrian were unable to resist the charm of the Italian predecessor and decided to reproduce the entire game between Sibilio vs Mariotti. This decision might have reduced the boredom of pre-arranged draws and it might have impressed a couple of innocent spectators but is, of course, not particularly creative.

However, there is another game that ended with a stalemate and which was fought out to the end - and this game was even half a move shorter than Sibilio vs Mariotti. It was played in 2006 between Louise Beukema and Juliette Falk in the fifth round of the Dutch Championship for Girls U11 in Waalwijk.


Strictly speaking this is the shortest known tournament game that was not pre-arranged and ended with a stalemate. However, because of the rather low quality of the game and its random end it seems fair to say that Mario Sibilio and Sergio Mariotti have the honor of having played the shortest serious tournament game of all time that ended with a stalemate.

Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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