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Mate with only pawns and no promotions.

I started playing chess some years ago, and to be honest I’m not very good at it. However, I like to think about things, and at some point the following question pop into my head

Is it possible to mate using only pawns without doing any promotion?

I googled a little bit and I didn’t find anything, so I just thought that maybe my idea didn’t make any sense.

And the question remained unsolved in some forgotten corner of my mind until today, while randomly 1 watching the endgame of this game I got inspired. After some tweaking, I reached the following position

Which is a mate in two (lichess evaluation). The cool thing about this mate with only pawns is that is optimal, in the sense that it can’t be achieved in less than two movements.

I’ve found some positions that needed fewer pawns to finish the game but were using the king to assist the mate. This is the smallest example I’ve found that only uses pawns to deliver the mate.

However, some questions remain unsolved

  • is this position reachable in a standard game?
  • exist some mate with only pawns with less pieces on the board?

To answer these questions I’ve thought of downloading the lichess database and filtering for positions that ended in checkmate and that only had pawns on the board, but this is work for another day.

If you can think of any other setup that allows to mate only using pawns feel free to contact me and I’ll update this page :)


  1. Don’t even dare to ask me why I was looking at this particular game, because I have no idea. I guess ending up watching random games in Lichess is one of my ADHD powers. 

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

Computability Theory (ii): uncomputable numbers.

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