We all understand SE is supposed to be a Q/A site, where questions are specific and answers are precise. However, in chess, there aren't many firm answers.

These questions are not appropriate:

  • What's the best book? (opinion)
  • What's a good opening to learn? (opinion)
  • What should I have done differently on move 37? (too narrow, or "plug it into Crafty/Fritz and find out")
  • If Fischer had had a "laser" on his frikken' head could he have defeated Kasparov? (opinion)

Also, rules questions have been deemed inappropriate since they are easy enough to look up on official sites.

I'm not sure what's left to discuss on this site.

6 Answers 6


"Subjective" is not the same as "too subjective" or "purely subjective". If you can support a move recommendation with a logical argument — angles of attack it prevents, pitfalls it avoids, was played by so-and-so and recommended by so-and-so, etc. — then it's a good answer.

What should I have done differently on move 37?

Personally I don't think that's too localized. As above, answers should be supported, and that should allow the reader to learn something applicable to more than the specific game or board position in question. I would think that an inability to learn from a specific game would mean that you're not going to be a very good chess player.

There are also more general techniques that can be asked about and real analysis that doesn't devolve into book recommendations or speculation. I think your fears warrant active community participation in shaping site policies and closing bad questions, but I don't think it means there's nothing left besides crap.


I share the same concerns. To my understanding SE is not only a strangely organized forum site, but all about collecting questions and storing answers with the goal of building a knowledgebase. Those questions can be searched by keywords and even years later someone might benefit from the answer given years ago, because he ran into the same problem. At least this is how I use the other SE sites.

Discussing concrete positions about improvements at move 37 do not lend itself for being searched. In regard to searchability or building up a knowledge base they are useless, or "too narrow" in the language of SE.

Open questions like "what is the best defense against opening XY" are useless, too, because the answer will vary depending on the meaning of "best", the playing strength of the reader etc. Many books are filled with Sicilian Theory or "Anti-Sicilian-Repertoires", so how useful might a three-paragraph answer to the question about the best defense against the Sicilian be? It will not exceed the quality of mere pub talk. A quality standard which is far below that of the answers of the other SE sites I know.

The opinions will have a place ("how should I train for a tournament", "how can I teach children",...), because we are dealing with soft facts here, not with mathematical theorems. There is no better answer than an opinionate one.

I was irritated that I do not see any effort yet to close questions that are too narrow or not answerable, although this is a necessary part of shaping the site, too. I must admit currently I am somewhat disappointed with chess SE and the questions being asked here.

  • I'm curious - have your feeling changes in teh past 9 years?
    – Shane
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 23:18

I agree with Tony. Chess can be a very subjective subject in many areas. Yes, there are concrete answers to some of the questions, but many of the questions have multiple answers. Also some of the best questions regarding chess are opinionated questions such as what is a good opening for white to learn? or what do you recommend as a beginner repertoire? Questions that maybe too narrow are exactly what this site needs. If someone asks what should I have done on move 37, you might get several answers and if you get some analytical input with those answers, it will make the question/answer more valuable to the community, basically, when someone asks what should I have done on move 37, they usually want to know the what and the why as well.

The mere fact that I have not seen a question in 2 days, the last one I see is the one I posted about the Scotch Game is not pleasing to me. This makes me agree even more with Tony. I believe the StackExchange is somewhat too strict for Chess. There needs to be an exception to the rule and questions that would normally not be allowed on other sackexchange sites need to be allowed on here. We are going to run into a lot of opinionated questions with Chess, but that is just life.


Let's consider what purpose is chess.SE fulfilling as compared to the other major sites.

  • It does not carry the latest news and happenings.
  • It does not relay live games of major events.
  • It does not track the live ratings.
  • It does not provide lookup of games, openings and other relevant statistical data.
  • It does not sell chess products.
  • It does not encourage banter.

For what that is remaining, it might be good for questions that pertaining to specific openings and endgames, but I tend to see it as limiting to fit the type of content that may exist in chesspub and other opening/engine sites into the boundaries of SE, and do not believe expert users on those sites would find it attractive.

Also, the Q&A format reminds me of the Evans on Chess column in Chess Life (US chess magazine) and the content is entertaining primarily for the amount of anecdotes available to the late writer, who had been part of the scene for many decades. I would seriously doubt it would be successfully had the content been limited to "objective content" with Informator-styled symbols.

This is my initial response about the feasibility of chess.SE, and it does look like the users have already given the answer, so the problem now is accepting the reality.


The main problem is that it has no real niche except for "free" training tips and trivia (you can consider that either as a specialty or degeneration). The problem about training is that:

1) Professional trainers are either too busy or understandably reluctant to participate since the profession pays rather poorly.

2) To become experts (in the sense of playing strength), you would literally have to put in hours of work to play, study and calculate, and that has very little to do with going through Q&As.

The format is also not helping because existing chess sites provide more relevant content and function and do not limit themselves to merely Q&As of a certain nature. Having a site like this only looks like an attempt to fit an existing solution onto a non-existing problem instead of solving any real one.

  • What is the answer that the users have already given, and what is the reality that needs to be accepted?
    – ETD
    Commented Aug 29, 2012 at 23:21
  • 1
    @EdDean The site is filling the holes left behind by the major sites, but otherwise it isn't really a strong competitor as a source of expert information.
    – prusswan
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 16:19
  • I agree with you that this site isn't a competitor as a source of expert information at this point in time. And if you are right (and you may well be) that this site is ultimately unable to attract strong players that frequent places like chesspub as users here, then indeed the future here is bleak. I suppose where I disagree with you is that I don't consider any final verdict to have been given, as the site as yet is flying under the radar and has generated little traffic. So as of now, I think there's too little data to conclude (1) People just don't like the format enough, ...
    – ETD
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 16:27
  • ... as opposed to (2) Not enough people have been exposed to the site yet. If we start getting a lot more visitors (as a mod I have access to such stats) and yet no one sticks around, I'd start agreeing with you more and more. But so far, we're just not getting many "first looks" to begin with, and that's something that needs attention.
    – ETD
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 16:30
  • 1
    (Re: the update) I personally think the SE format has great potential, and actually has an edge over typical forums (e.g. chesspub). Whereas at a place like chesspub you can end up with pages and pages of posts on a single topic, some of which might have interesting/useful content, but many of which are just noise that need to be sifted through in order to find good content, here the community has a built-in way to make cream rise to the top, and precisely because of that I like chess.SE far more than any chess forum I've ever seen (that's why I stuck around here when I found it). ...
    – ETD
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 19:06
  • 1
    ... That's just my personal preference, of course, and many others will certainly agree with you that the SE format is offputting, preferring the more free-flowing discussion found elsewhere. But I think it's just as likely that many folks could come to appreciate it. Again, only time will tell, and it seems way too early to know whether most everyone will feel the way that you do about it, or whether a big enough slice of the pie will actually enjoy the format the way that, say, I do.
    – ETD
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 19:10

I do not know how well Chess.stackexchange.com fits the original conception of a classic Stackexchange site, but I do know that I like this chess site better than any other I have visited. Ideally, one might adapt Stackexchange's standard software to this particular site's needs, but of course that almost certainly is not realistic. In the meantime, if this is a nice site with interesting questions and even more interesting answers, a site run by interested people, then is there any reason it should not continue as long as it has moderators willing to continue it? I mean, is there a critical need to kill it off, just because it fails quite to fit the preconceived Stackexchange profile?

If Chess.stackexchange.com seems to work, more or less -- even if its volume is a little low -- then cannot we just keep it? I like this site.

  • 1
    Interest does not necessarily lend itself to generating expert information
    – prusswan
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 16:14
  • 1
    thb, my understanding is that so long as questions are generally receiving quality answers, and it's not an absolute ghost town, the site will continue to exist. Now if it were to go untended at all, that could of course get the site the ax.
    – ETD
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 16:33

Questions like these are best for chat - while I've never seen this done before, and maybe there's a reason why... maybe the solution is to have a single meta-community wiki question where each answer is a discussion that's linked to and up/down voted based on popularity. Again, not sure how chat works, or opinion on how systems "should" be used, but seems like a solution to me.

  • 2
    CW questions are for extremely narrow cases, see blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/08/the-future-of-community-wiki. Meta is for discussing the site, not as a dumping ground for off topic questions. Chat is the best place, discussing opinions on chat leads to some community bonding as well :) Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 3:50
  • +1 @Manishearth: Agree.
    – blunders
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 13:09

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