Why is this a checkmate?

It seems there's some arbitrage problem with these kinds of questions. Ostensibly, I could just pretend to be a beginner and then ask beginner questions like these and instantly attract 25 upvotes within a few days.

Are these kinds of questions really ok? If so, then should these kinds of questions really be ok? I think of making certain new questions or FAQs off-topic to prevent these kinds of things. r/chess has a "Helpful Links" part in the sidebar.

I mean, I have nothing against n00bs or anything, but what's to stop me or anyone from pretending to be a beginner and posting all these easily answered questions about basic things like pins or checkmates? I could even say I reached a stalemate (without using the term stalemate) and wonder the lone king can't move. I'll even make sure to use an image instead of FEN/PGN.

Some food for thought, I guess.

One idea came to mind as I finished typing all this. Perhaps migrate to the Board Games SE if it's too much of a beginner question. I was thinking it would be something a little (A LITTLE) like MathOverflow and Math.SE (not the best analogy which is why I emphasised 'little').

By the way, here is another example, but this time to do with etiquette/ethics/rules rather than actual gameplay.

  • 6
    Do it. On Arqade I asked a pretty easy question of what a well known gaming term referred to, and got 20+ votes from it. Not only is it easy rep, but you re helping out those people who “don’t know what they don’t know.”
    – PausePause
    Feb 15, 2021 at 19:44
  • 1
    I think those kind of posts should be simply downvoted (but I see you only have 5 downvotes right now). By the way, if you want some ideas, ask "what is this weird pawn capture?" and add a JPG screenshot from your cellphone of an en-passant, or "rook and king moving at the same time" for a castling move :)
    – user24703
    Feb 18, 2021 at 19:55
  • @PausePause LOL ok thanks!
    – BCLC
    Feb 20, 2021 at 0:24
  • known issue...beginners are an over-represented demographic in this SE (as compared to other chess-focused communities): chess.meta.stackexchange.com/a/251/46
    – prusswan
    Mar 17, 2021 at 17:38
  • 1
    If someone asks a basic question that is useful to other people who cares if they're getting their reputation inflated with that?
    – David
    Sep 12, 2021 at 16:13
  • @PausePause "why is this [particular position] a mate?" is not helpful, reusable, searchable knowledge in the same way that "what is head bobbing?" is
    – minseong
    Jan 8, 2022 at 0:43

2 Answers 2


I could just pretend to be a beginner and then ask beginner questions like these and instantly attract 25 upvotes within a few days.

This beginner got lucky; the question became a Hot Network Question. Likely because it attracted more than one answer (which IMHO wasn't really necessary in this case) and everybody with a bit of chess knowledge, including visitors normally only active on other Stack Exchange sites, can verify the correctness and upvote because of the association bonus. Many consider this a flaw of the Hot Network Question list, there's quite a bit of discussion on Meta Stack Exchange.

Are these kinds of questions really ok?


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.

(emphasis mine)

Chess Stack Exchange doesn't see much questions per day or traffic, so we don't have the luxury to rashly close questions which (to experienced chess players) may seem to lack research. Rather, we should put some energy in them to edit into decent shape. Of course, there are still questions for which there is no hope at all and should be closed, but 'too basic' has never been a close reason here, unlike e.g. on History Stack Exchange.

It seems that you think it's unfair that some well-researched or interesting questions or answers get much less attention than (some) basic ones like this. Well, that has been known for more than 10 years and nobody found a good solution yet. I guess it's the same kind of issue where a simple novel written for the masses (50 shades of a certain color) is way more profitable than a true literary masterpiece.

  • 1
    'Chess Stack Exchange doesn't see much questions per day or traffic' --> AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH so that's the thing! you don't want to close these kinds of things FOR NOW because (or partly because) of your low number of questions? XD XD but in the future YOU MAY consider closing (with an amendment of rules) if, say, chesse gets as many posts per day as maths se?
    – BCLC
    Feb 13, 2021 at 15:03
  • the low posts per day thingy applies here as well? chess.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/950/… and even here? chess.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/948/…
    – BCLC
    Feb 13, 2021 at 15:04
  • 'It seems that you think it's unfair that some well-researched or interesting questions or answers get much less attention than (some) basic ones like this.' --> part 1. ok i've read the link succeeding and it's very interesting. i've even followed other links. and if that's how i came off - like kinda jealous or something - that's not what i intended.
    – BCLC
    Feb 13, 2021 at 15:12
  • part 2. my intention is absolute, not relative. it's to do with gaming the system in that i could ask any damn beginner question i want, get a lot of upvotes and therefore have enough rep to set bounties. i don't really care that my questions are not getting upvoted enough or anything. so...it's like i'm evil. but i'm not shallow/jealous evil. i'm manipulative (of the reputation/rules/bounty) evil. (this is last part a joke to be clear. i don't really - necessarily - intend to waste time posting beginner questions just to be able to set bounties)
    – BCLC
    Feb 13, 2021 at 15:14
  • 2
    I think I was the 3rd or 4th answer on this and tbh it did feel necessary, because at the time all of the answers were using basically "it's pinned" which is useless if you don't already know what a pin is, as I doubt the asker did. Getting 78 upvotes for an explanation of basic rules is pretty absurd though.
    – llama
    Feb 18, 2021 at 22:21
  • 3
    "which (to experienced chess players) may seem to lack research" -- to be honest, you don't need to be an experienced chess player to judge that that question lacks research. Just knowing the rules is enough. (source: I'm not even a chess player, let alone experienced.) The question even mentions a proposed counter-move, but apparently they hadn't bothered to actually make the move and look at the board position after it... Sometimes I wonder if the association bonus should permit downvotes too, just for things like this. I know I would use that option.
    – ilkkachu
    Feb 19, 2021 at 10:08
  • @ilkkachu yes, being able to downvote with the association bonus would probably help. I've found another solution.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Feb 19, 2021 at 15:53
  • 1
    As I said earlier in this meta answer, justifying bad questions just because there are 'not enough' questions per day here seems a bad idea to me. Feb 19, 2021 at 16:34
  • @FedericoPoloni trolololol. of course i agree with you. i just think the mods/admins should admit that's what they're doing if that's what they're doing. thanks for commenting.
    – BCLC
    Feb 21, 2021 at 11:33
  • @ilkkachu thanks for commenting. i upvoted your comment, but i don't think the question should be downvoted though. in this case, i think it's more like hate the game not the player. if the site doesn't have a rule, then well why downvote the player?
    – BCLC
    Feb 21, 2021 at 11:34

Don't worry about it. It is largely self-correcting.

Numerical rep is only correlated with the reputation that really matters: the respect of knowledgeable community members. Posting a lot of overly basic questions might give a person an initial boost, but they will rapidly hit a ceiling if they stick to such a strategy (since those upvoting basic questions from a new user are less likely to upvote it for more established users) and they won't gain the sort of reputation that really means anything.

  • thanks. the rep doesn't have to mean anything. the rep could be for bounty. is your answer still the same after i mention this?
    – BCLC
    Feb 20, 2021 at 0:24
  • @BCLC I'm not completley sure what you are getting at. I haven't seen a lot of overly basic questions (of the "why am I in checkmate"? sort) that have had a bounty attached to them. But even if there were, I would stand by my answer. Rep is an imperfect measure of what is actually important. Some people can game the system, but so what? There is a limit to how far they will get if they do so (it is safe to say that almost everyone over 10k has earned it) and even if they could, they are just winning at a game which is more boring than chess. Feb 20, 2021 at 0:34
  • i mean if i ask a beginner question and gain say 50 points from it, then it's like i can set a bounty on other or future questions i, resp, have or would have. meanwhile, i did not really or necessarily contribute anything to the site. seems like arbitrage, rent-seeking or something
    – BCLC
    Feb 21, 2021 at 11:38
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    @BCLC You'll notice that many (not all, of course) of those askers are one-time users, they ask and go away for good, and don't care of acknowledging an answer. They couldn't care less about reputation or how much effort they put before asking.
    – user24703
    Feb 22, 2021 at 12:26

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