The Worst Chess Game Ever Devised And Played (published 2020-06-19)

Have you ever had an idea that seemed really interesting in theory, but in practice was easily solved and barely notable at all? This is the story of how I devised what is easily the worst possible game of chess.

The idea came when I was playing Really Bad Chess while taking a break from driving practice. For those of you who have never heard of Really Bad Chess, it's a mobile game by indie developer Zach Gage for iOS, later ported to Android by Noodlecake Studios, where you play chess with randomized pieces. Unlike Fischer's Chess960, Really Bad Chess makes no guarantees as to the pieces on the board, other than both players having one king each.

Particularly, this game, a daily board match, had an interesting assortment of pieces that led to me asking myself the question, "What if one side had all pawns, and the other all queens?" It seemed like an interesting question at the time, and I devised a plan to figure this out once and for all.

The board in question

First, I tried to use Stockfish, but Stockfish was not ready for the mayhem that was this game. Namely, after attempting to make a move, Stockfish reverted to the standard setup and refused to acknowledge what had happened.

Instead of trying to wrestle Stockfish into working with me, I instead opted to use Sunfish, a Python chess engine. After writing a short program based on the actual CLI interface from the original Sunfish distribution, I finally got it to work... somewhat.

To see why I say it worked "somewhat", let's take a look at what Sunfish cooked up for this state. In a match of this setup, Sunfish, playing against itself, found a check in one and a half moves by White. Namely:

  1. Qa2xf7+ g8xf7
  2. Qf2xf7#

In the first set of moves, White first plays Qa2xf7+, moving the queen on A2 to F7, capturing the pawn there and putting the king in check.


Black counters by using the pawn on G8 to capture the Queen (the only legal move in this scenario).


However, on the very next turn, White moves the Queen on F2 up to F7, capturing the pawn on F7 and putting the king in checkmate.


The only notable thing, therefore, about this board setup is that it results in a checkmate on White's 2nd turn, making for a quicker checkmate than the Fool's mate. A pretty boring conclusion to a question that was interesting in theory, to be certain.

You may ask yourself "but how is this only working 'somewhat'?" Well, Sunfish couldn't tell this was checkmate, and it continued with 2. ... ke8xf7. Sunfish, now playing as White, dutifully executed 3. Qf1xf7, which captured Black's king and caused Sunfish to crash.