So, I was looking at the Chess.SE site stats today - I found them quite impressive, for the most part. However, one statistic was - ahem - not so great.

Area 51 says a healthy beta site has 10 questions a day, and a beta site with five or less needs work. Chess.SE averages 2.5 questions a day.

That's not so great!

So, what can we do?

I think that we need to expand the scope of the site a little bit.

Proposed Expansion #1:

Allow for chess puzzles on this site. Now, we would obviously get an influx of less-than-impressive puzzles. To combat this, I would suggest that we create a chess puzzle sandbox. Proposed puzzles with sufficient up-votes are allowed to be posted on the main site; puzzles that have not been run through the sandbox will be closed. Ideally, puzzles that make it onto the main site are not immediately obvious and show some originality. We could also add tags for various puzzle themes - skewer, pin, discovered attack, sacrifice, etc.

Proposed Expansion #2:

Allow questions about chess hardware and software, as long as they have definite, objective answers. This would include finding/identifying/creating certain styles of pieces/boards and asking about features in widely-used software/websites. We seem to get a lot of fairly reasonable questions in this area that are closed because they aren't about chess directly.

Proposed Qualifier #1

At the same time, we don't want to throw the gates open nilly-willy. I consequently incorporate my recent meta question into this expansion request, asking that as we open up to more types of questions, we also have definitive answers to what is and is not a chess variant that this site addresses. I would think that we would need to nail this down before expanding the site.


This site is kind of quiet. Let's broaden its scope a tad and maybe wake it back up.

Edit: So......do we have a consensus? Were would we go with this from here?

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    This meta question seems to agree with most of my proposals. However, I still see decent questions in my "expansion" categories received negatively (I can get some sample links, if you like). – Brandon_J Apr 4 at 20:22
  • Other than the variants, I don't really see where anything that you have proposed isn't already on topic. And, I don't know if you were aware, but unless the site has problems (overrun with flags, absent mods, nobody willing to help, etc), beta sites are no longer in danger of being closed, even with low activity. – JohnP Jun 5 at 14:38

Allow for chess puzzles on this site.

I think it would be a good idea to expand chess.SE's scope so as to include problem chess. The chess world contains not just people playing chess face to face over the board, but also people asking and answering questions on chess web sites, and people composing and trying to solve chess problems, etc., so problem chess should definitely be on topic here.

BTW the correct word is "problem", not "puzzle". For evidence, note the name of the British Chess Problem Society and its journal The Problemist, and the use of words related to "problem" in other languages, e.g. the titles of problem journals Problemkiste (German) and Probleemblad (Dutch).

The OP mentions questions which pose chess problems, but I favour expanding this site's scope so as to include

  • questions about chess problems, real or hypothetical, general or specific
  • questions about chess problem history
  • questions about chess problem publications (books; periodicals; database web sites)
  • questions about how to construct a chess problem

What genres of chess problem? I'd certainly include:

  • directmates and directstalemates
  • helpmates and helpstalemates
  • selfmates and selfstalemates
  • win & draw studies.

Moving further from the core of the chess problem world:

  • series-problems e.g. serieshelpmates and seriesselfmates
  • retros e.g. "what were the last 2 moves?", "where were the missing units captured?", proof-games
  • unusual goals (as in some of the problems on this site)
  • variants e.g. the various forms of Circe; Madrasi;...
  • fairy pieces e.g. grasshopper, nightrider

What tags would be appropriate? I'd favour problem subgenres for starters, e.g. helpmate, selfmate, so that problem fans who like specific kinds of problem can search on their tags, and those who hate 'em can exclude their tags. More generally, time will tell which concepts will appear in so many questions that they are worth making tags for. In the chess problem world there are dozens of named themes. Which of them will appear in several questions, though?

  • Thanks for the feedback! Do you have any thoughts on the other proposals? – Brandon_J Apr 9 at 17:55
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    I'm not too fussed about chess-playing engines -- I'll let others speak up for what they'd like. – Rosie F Apr 9 at 18:47

It's fine.

Don't let Stack Exchange guilt-trip you into thinking that there is something wrong with a site with fewer than 10 questions/day. Maybe it's bad from their point of view, because they want to gain users and (possibly) monetize them, but from my point of view it's perfectly fine. Actually 10 q/day seems too much for me for a smaller SE site, because it means I have to visit it more than once per day to keep up with all new content. In my experience, many of the smaller SE communities don't reach 10 questions/day, and still they are useful sites and nice communities.

If the only way to move up the numbers is including content that the users here don't like to see, then why chasing that meaningless statistic? It's even more "useless internet points" than reputation.

Also, keep in mind that I think that SE has greatly reduced the number of communities that "graduate" (i.e., move out of beta), so even if you tick that box it's unlikely that chess.se is moved to a permanent site (which means what, anyway, a slightly different theme?)

  • I disagree; the downvote isn't personal, I promise. – Brandon_J Apr 16 at 19:13
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    @Brandon_J Thanks for the comment, but don't worry, I know that downvotes (especially on meta) simply mean business, and I know that this is a controversial opinion. :) – Federico Poloni Apr 16 at 19:14
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    Let me add that even if all you want is more questions, arbitrarily widening your scope does not seem to be the best way. It would be better to find a way to get more users with (preferably good) questions. – Discrete lizard Apr 18 at 11:51
  • I don't think you should feel compelled to keep up with every question on the site. That doesn't seem healthy in the long term. – corsiKa Apr 18 at 16:12

I agree with you an the intent of growing chess.SE, but further down I would like to make a point against the inclusion of chess problems/puzzles on this site - conditionally at least.
As always: Feel free to disagree with me here - I am looking forward to a constructive dialogue on this topic.

First of all: I find it really hard to ask a good question about chess!
If we compare it to, let's say Stack Overflow and programming, the "rules" and constraints of chess are well defined (with some exceptions) and rather easy to learn, which does not leave a lot of room for beginner questions.
Furthermore the problems that arise while you improve usually do not have a specific "solve-it-all" answer; Many suggestions (rightfully so!) contain the phrase "it depends" and point to some possible although rarely definitive answers.

I always considered SO as some kind of great online encyclopedia for people to learn from and grow on. I think, as the chess.SE community, we should ask ourselves, if we want to adopt this approach for this site - and adapt it to fulfill the needs of a different domain (as mentioned above, chess questions tend to go a different way than programming questions do). And if we come to the conclusion, that this is, indeed, the way we want to grow this site, I would like to suggest, that we encourage collections of suggestions, knowledge and resources for a given topic.
There recently was a question (closed) along the likes of "Tips for DIY chessboards" that would have fitted this format quite nicely. A potential answer-wiki could have for Example contained:

  • Ideas for board designs
  • Measurement for FIDE/USCF/DSB approved chessboards
  • Pitfalls while working
  • ...

Formats like this would encourage questions/threads like "Collection: Ruy Lopez, Morphy Defense" or "Defending Moves" or, to get back on the ideas of problems/puzzles, "Tactical ideas" on which an aspiring chess player could base his studies.

Lastly on @BrandonJ's suggestions: I would agree on the proposition and constraints about software/hardware questions if we have the knowledge present to also be able answer them.

Regarding chess-puzzles (I fear the term "problems" might commonly be misleading in a SE-Environment) I would encourage puzzles demonstrating a tactical motive or idea (skewer, fork, trapping pieces, backrank mate etc...), maybe in conjunction with my above proposition. This, as well as studies, would, of course, fit quite nicely with my imagination of a "knowledge database". :)

Still, I oppose regularly posting puzzles for the sake of creating questions. I highly value the quality of chess.SE and SE/SO altogether - I would rather not sacrifice this for quantity.

On a side note: Thank you for starting this discussion. I have started to really enjoy this community - and I'd like to contribute to its well-being!

  • My question was linked? 😺 Yayyyyyy!!!! – Rewan Demontay Apr 21 at 21:42

Chess problems are already on-topic according to the help center,

Questions that have to do primarily with chess in its standard form are on-topic here. This includes questions about theory, rules, specific positions/games (including puzzles), chess-specific events, chess players, hard facts such as statistics and other historical data, and physical items such as chessboards, pieces, and clocks.

but I think that the full scope of chess problems should be included (Rosie F lists some examples).

We should do the same for chess variants. See my question on Shogi variants, EuroShogi and Arimaa for a few examples here. Standard (Western) chess is just one particular regional variant of about a dozen standard regional chess variants (shogi, xiangqi, shatranj, ...). Then there are the historical variants (e.g. courier chess, modern variants (like Omega chess and Big Battle, tiny variants, hard for computer variants, etc. Basically there is a whole world of chess out there if you want to expand on Western chess a bit. Which variant(s) will be standard chess in 100 or 1000 years?


Sure but rename the site to Chess Puzzles and Trivia

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