There are many similar questions on Chess SE. Examples are:

Those questions can be easily answered by feeding the given game/position to a chess engine. They have no value to future readers. Should I vote to close such questions? If yes, what reason should I select?

  • 2
    Unrelated to this discussion: if only the title of that kind of questions can be made more informative...
    – Andrew T.
    Oct 20 '18 at 6:21

I think this question (and the answer provided by fuxia) point out why this site will never work as a useful resource for chess players. Analysis should be the main focus of any chess discussion site! Let me explain myself:

  • Sometimes, engines get it wrong. There was a game during the Carlsen-Anand match for the World Championship (2014, game 7) where, in a clearly disadvantageous position, Anand sacrificed a piece. Most commentators were looking at their engine, seeing how its evaluation shifted towards a Carlsen win, and even suggested that Anand should retire, pointing at him with their fingers. Obviously, Anand achieved a very easy draw with his fortress.
  • A chess engine will tell you which side is better, even give you a hint for a continuation, but it won't explain you any of the reasons that justify that. When people ask "who is winning?", it's reasonable to assume that they imply "why is so?"
  • Chess engines assume "perfect" play by both sides, which is not the case in real chess. An engine evaluation will not have into account which side has it more difficult to find the right moves.
  • Sometimes, engines disagree. Which one should we trust in that case? With a detailed explanation, you can judge yourself, but if all they tell you is a number, it's tougher
  • Talking about numbers, what on Earth does +1.14 mean in a BPPP - NPP endgame? There is no such thing as a +1.14 result, it's a win, a loss or a draw! Not every +0.80 position is more "likely" (whatever than means) to finish in a win than every +0.60 position.
  • Not everyone is aware/willing to use a chess engine (I'd personally advice it only for professionals, as, for amateurs, it does way more harm than good). They also may not known which ones are more reliable, or how long/deep should a position be analyzed before the conclusion is meaningful

The grandmasters commentating at major chess events do not use chess engines. This is because it's more interesting to hear their human analysis, which helps over-the-board players to develop their own analytic skills further.

So the goal paradoxically is not to find the absolute best answer in a given position: but to practice strategic analysis, which can perhaps best be done in a concrete position.

Such strategic discussions of interesting positions are a valid part of the chess.stackexchange experience. Even though I am not really an over-the-board player, I would always vote to keep such discussions open.

  • 4
    Absolutely right! If those questions were not allowed, then what would be the point of the site? Asking questions about how to integrate some API into Python? Looking for "stalemate in 327" problems? We should close the site altogether!
    – David
    Aug 26 '19 at 15:44

I think these question are what we once called too localized: They will never help anyone else, and the answer can usually be found with an engine.

I don't see how they add any value to the site.

  • 6
    This is simply wrong! Analyzing an interesting position is the main source of improvment. If you believe the answer to that question can be found by a chess engine, either you don't see that these questions often come with a "why?", or you don't understand chess at all
    – David
    Jul 11 '19 at 9:18
  • 1
    @David maybe then the questions should be like 'who is winning in (this rook endgame/this queen and knight endgame/this london system middlegame)' ? then it can be helpful to people looking to improve their specific endgames or openings. But otherwise...i think i kinda agree with fuxia. ostensibly, your comment argues that such questions will help users (specifically the ones who ask), but it doesn't seem to argue against that the questions will help the site. i'd compare it to ethics/advice questions on academia SE or workplace SE. i recall they don't accept if it's too localised.
    – BCLC
    Sep 1 at 12:51

Not really sure I have an opinion on this, but if they seem too localised (whether or not too localised is a problem), I think I know a way to make them less localised:

Perhaps make the questions say what kind of endgame it is (if it's in an endgame) or what opening it came from eg 'Who is winning in (this rook endgame/this queen and knight endgame/this london system middlegame)' and then tag them appropriately with tags like 'london-system' or 'rook-endgame'?

Then I think these can be helpful to people looking to improve their specific endgames or openings.

I think what could be used as a substitute (say if the opening isn't relevant or if the position arises from chess960/9LX/fischer random) is pointing out the relevant features of the position eg strengths/weaknesses (eg weak pawns), semi-open files, opposite coloured bishops, bishop pair, threats of certain tactical possibilities (eg pin, skewer, mate threat, weak back rank, attraction, sacrifice, distraction/deflection/overloading, etc), etc and then tag them appropriately with tags like 'bishop-pair' or 'open-file'.


Yes, because they tend to be asked by LQ users who contribute LQ content and are akin to "Can you do my homework for me?" or "Can you help me beat my dog at chess?". A stronger player would have done their homework by checking with an engine or asked a more critical question and offered their own perspective.

  • 4
    Engines can't do everything for you; sometimes it takes a human to see some things, and thus it needs asked. Jul 26 '19 at 9:07
  • Yes bad questions get asked but they should be faced with giant stick..
    – prusswan
    Jul 26 '19 at 10:24
  • 6
    So, if we consider that "who is better" questions can be answered by an engine, we can also say opening questions can be solved by a database and endgame questions can be solved by a Nalimov chart. Shouldn't we close the site altogether? What other kind of question could there be?
    – David
    Jul 31 '19 at 16:06
  • Because on a site dominated by LQ users, it attracts more LQ content (even your comments are looking LQ). Like you don't want to play weaker opponents if you want to be a strong player.
    – prusswan
    Sep 12 '19 at 1:54
  • 1
    @RewanDemontay ask bad questions get upvoted by stupid users
    – prusswan
    Sep 12 '19 at 1:56
  • 3
    Using abbreviations like "LQ" without explaining their meaning is a typical practice among LQ users
    – David
    Sep 30 '19 at 15:50

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