Like most Stack Exchange sites, the FAQ states:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

How should we interpret that when submitting puzzle questions to the site? Should only positions that are reachable in an actual game be considered, or are contrived examples okay too?

Or am I wrong in assuming that puzzle questions are on-topic here at all? After a quick look through the top questions on the main site I don't see any. I'm talking about the "black to mate in 3" style puzzle questions that you often see in books and magazines.


I wouldn't post the question if you know the answer, or the answer is obvious to you once you see the solution.

However if the position is complicated and the thought process to find the solution isn't immediately apparent, then it's probably a good problem/question.

For instance the following position is not really a good problem IMO because it's relatively simple to understand once you find the key idea.
White to move and mate in 3

1.Qh6+! Bxh6 2.Ng5+ Kh8 3.Rh7#

This, on the other hand, is a much more complicated position (taken from Quality Chess Puzzle Book)
White to move and win


Here I think that asking about how to find the move and the evaluations of different variations that come out of the position is very useful. There is no immediate mate, so understanding the nuances of the position is required and there is a real answer to the question that is not trivial.


I'm bumping this question up because this seems to be the trend on chess.SE; questions that are basically - 'hey look at this cool puzzle'. Example: Can you solve this chess problem of a single pawn against numerous opposing pieces?

I don't think there's great value in having chess.SE just becoming a sub-category of puzzles.SE, though positional analysis is often needed to properly analysis practical questions posed.

I propose adding a community-specific close reason along the lines of "Puzzle questions that amount to simply posting for solutions is not well-suited to chess.SE, and may be better placed on Puzzles.SE with a 'Chess' tag".

Others may disagree, of course.

  • Chess problems are relevant to chess. You can't just shut down a big portion of people's interest. And at that rate, you might as well close EVERY single question tagged "problem" and "puzzle" This is simply an absolutely unacceptable idea. – Rewan Demontay Feb 19 at 19:38
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    @RewanDemontay Surely there is a difference between asking about a concept conveyed in a puzzle, and merely posting a puzzle 'as-is'? This is what I take issue with. I fully accept this is my personal preference, so if it is not shared by the majority of course I don't want such questions stricken from the site. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Feb 19 at 19:52
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    Mixed feelings from here. Simply tactics puzzle that could as well entered into an online engine are fun to solve on flyby, but methinks not that good on CSE. (Note that the engine answer might give the beginner no "why" - in blitz I play Rxc6 without second thought, but even on third thought I haven't found out why it actually works!) Puzzles that also Rewan would like (e.g. the one with maximally many pieces needed for a mate) methinks definitely are well placed on CSE. Grayzone is gray, use best caution. – Hauke Reddmann Mar 12 at 14:56
  • @HaukeReddmann I completely agree - I would much rather see a question like "This is the position [either from the user's play, a found game, or a puzzle], and I don't understand why the answer is 'x'", because explaining why a tactic or position is chosen by the engine is something that the engine itself is bad at. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Mar 12 at 15:04

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