The Most Difficult Move in Chess: Ranking the Ultimate Challenge

Choose the move you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Jun 16, 2023 10:18 (Updated on Nov 30, 2023 06:31)
Welcome to StrawPoll, the ultimate hub for avid chess enthusiasts and strategic masterminds! We've set the board with the most mind-boggling, nerve-wracking, and intricate moves that have left even the grandmasters scratching their heads. Now it's your move! Dive into our latest ranking, "What is the most difficult move in chess?" and vote for the move that has you feeling like you're in a checkmate situation or suggest a missing option that deserves a spot in this intellectual battlefield. Unleash your inner Kasparov and join fellow chess aficionados in this captivating discussion that will not only challenge your wits but also elevate your appreciation for the game. It's time to make your move - the clock is ticking!

What Is the Most Difficult Move in Chess?

  1. 1
    This move involves moving the king and rook simultaneously and has complex rules regarding when it can be executed. It is an essential defensive move in chess.
    Castling is a special move in chess that allows the king and one of its rooks to move at the same time. The king moves two squares towards the rook, and the rook moves to the square next to the king on the opposite side. This move is mainly used for king's safety and to connect rooks. It is considered one of the most important defensive tactics in the game.
    • Type: Special Move
    • Purpose: Safety and Rook Connection
    • King's Movement: Two squares towards the rook
    • Rook's Movement: Next to the king on opposite side
    • Piece Restrictions: King and Rook must not have moved before, spaces between them must be clear, and king cannot be in check
  2. 2
    This move is unique to pawn captures and requires precise timing and understanding of the opponent's moves. It involves capturing an opponent's pawn that has advanced two squares from its starting position.
    En Passant is a special pawn capture move in chess. It can only occur under specific conditions when a pawn advances two squares from its starting position and lands beside an opponent's pawn. In this situation, the opponent has the option to capture the first pawn as if it had only moved one square forward. This capture is known as En Passant.
    • Move Type: Capture
    • Special Condition: Opponent pawn advances two squares from starting position
    • Position Requirement: The two pawns must be positioned beside each other
    • Capture Timing: Immediately after the opponent's pawn moves
    • Capture Destination: The square behind the opponent's pawn
    En Passant in other rankings
  3. 3
    This move involves promoting a pawn to a more powerful piece when it reaches the opposite end of the board. Choosing the right piece can be challenging, and it requires strategic planning.
    Promotion is a special move in chess where a pawn can be transformed into a more powerful piece after reaching the opponent's back rank. This allows the player to choose between promoting the pawn to a queen, rook, bishop, or knight.
    • Type: Promotion
    • Purpose: To replace a pawn with a more powerful piece
    • Movement: Promoted piece inherits pawn's position, can move freely according to its own rules
    • Piece options: Queen, rook, bishop, or knight
    • Strategic importance: Promotion can significantly change the dynamics of the game
  4. 4
    This move is a situation where a player is forced to make a move that weakens their position. It is a challenging position to be in, and it requires careful calculation to minimize the damage.
    Zugzwang is a chess term that describes a situation where a player is forced to move their pieces, even though every move leads to a disadvantageous position. The term originates from the German language, where 'zug' means move and 'zwang' means compulsion or obligation. In a zugzwang, the player whose turn it is to move has no good options available.
    • Difficulty Level: Considered one of the most difficult moves in chess
    • Forced Moves: The player is compelled to make a move, leading to a weaker position
    • Strategic Impact: Can completely change the dynamics of a game and significantly hinder a player's progress
    • Timing: Usually occurs in the later stages of games, particularly in endgame scenarios
    • Positional Sacrifices: May involve sacrificing pieces or positions to avoid zugzwang situations
  5. 5
    This move is a situation where a player has no legal moves, and the game ends in a draw. It requires careful planning to avoid or force a stalemate.
    The stalemate is a special situation in chess where a player whose king is not in check has no legal moves available. It occurs when a player's pieces are so constrained that he or she cannot make a move without putting the king in check. The stalemate results in a draw, with neither player winning or losing the game.
    • Type: Chess rule
    • Objective: To create a draw
    • Initiation: Occurs during the course of the game
    • Conditions: Player's king is not in check, and the player has no legal moves available
    • Outcome: Draw
  6. 6
    This move involves attacking two pieces simultaneously with one piece. It requires careful calculation and planning to execute successfully.
    In chess, a fork is a tactical maneuver where a single piece simultaneously attacks two or more opponent pieces. It typically involves the attacking piece in a position from where it can attack multiple pieces that perform important roles in the opponent's setup. The opponent must then decide which of the pieces to save or sacrifice, often resulting in material loss or positional disadvantage.
    • Difficulty Level: Intermediate to advanced
    • Objective: To simultaneously attack and potentially win two or more opponent pieces
    • Attacking Piece: Usually a knight or a bishop, but can be any piece
    • Attacking Multiple Pieces: At least two opponent pieces are targeted
    • Opponent's Response: Decide which piece(s) to save or sacrifice
  7. 7


    This move involves immobilizing an opponent's piece by attacking it with a more powerful piece. It requires careful calculation and planning to use effectively.
    In chess, the 'Pin' is a tactical maneuver where a piece is attacked and bound to defend a more valuable piece behind it, rendering it immobile.
    • Type:: Tactical maneuver
    • Objective:: Immobilize a piece
    • Pieces involved:: Two or more
    • Pieces in the pin:: At least one pinned piece and one attacking piece
    • Pinned piece:: Usually a lesser valuable piece
  8. 8
    This move involves moving a piece to reveal an attack by a previously blocked piece. It requires careful planning and calculation to execute effectively.
    The Discovered Attack is a tactic in chess where one piece moves to reveal another piece that is attacking the opponent's king, queen, or another valuable piece. This type of attack often creates a double threat, forcing the opponent to defend against both the original piece and the newly revealed attacker.
    • Level of Difficulty: Advanced
    • Usage: Tactical maneuver to gain a material advantage or put opponent's king in a vulnerable position
    • Common Examples: Knight moving to reveal an attacking bishop or queen, or a pawn advance revealing a threatening rook
    • Double Threat: Often creates a situation where the opponent must defend against two simultaneous threats
    • Timing: Typically employed when the opponent's pieces are not ideally positioned for defense, or when creating a diversion
  9. 9
    This move involves intentionally giving up a piece to gain a strategic advantage. It requires careful calculation and planning to use effectively.
    The Love Language of Sacrifice is a way of expressing love by willingly giving up something valuable or important for the sake of the relationship. It involves putting the needs and desires of your partner above your own and making selfless acts of love.
    • Selflessness: The act of sacrifice requires selflessness, putting the needs and desires of your partner first.
    • Giving up something valuable: Sacrifice involves willingly giving up something that is meaningful, valuable, or important to you.
    • Unconditional love: It requires expressing love without expecting anything in return, demonstrating unconditional love.
    • Acts of self-denial: Sacrifice often involves acts of self-denial to ensure the happiness and well-being of your partner.
    • Support and commitment: Sacrifice shows unwavering support and commitment to the relationship and the person you love.
  10. 10
    This move involves attacking two pieces simultaneously with one piece. It requires careful calculation and planning to execute successfully.
    The Double Attack is a powerful tactic in chess where a single move simultaneously attacks two or more enemy pieces, forcing the opponent into a difficult decision. It involves a clever combination of moves that puts pressure on multiple targets at once, often resulting in material gain or checkmate.
    • Difficulty: High
    • Purpose: Gaining material advantage, forcing opponent into a disadvantageous position
    • Key concept: Simultaneously attacking multiple enemy pieces
    • Types: Direct Double Attack, Discovered Double Attack, Double Attack in Conjunction with Other Tactics
    • Targeted Pieces: Can be used against any combination of pawns, knights, bishops, rooks, or the king

Missing your favorite move?


Ranking factors for difficult move

  1. Complexity of the position
    The arrangement of pieces on the board is a critical factor in determining the difficulty of a move. Complex positions with many interacting pieces and threats can make it challenging to find the best move.
  2. Depth of calculation
    Analyzing several moves ahead is essential in chess. The further you can calculate, the more accurate and well-informed your moves will become. Some positions may require deep and precise calculations, making the move difficult to find.
  3. Pattern recognition
    Chess players rely on their experience and knowledge of patterns to quickly spot tactics and threats on the board. Unfamiliar positions or rare motifs can make it challenging to find the best move.
  4. Intuition and creativity
    Some moves in chess may not be part of a well-known trove of tactics or strategy but might require a more creative or counterintuitive approach. Recognizing these unconventional moves can significantly increase the difficulty in finding them.
  5. Psychological factors
    Chess is also a mental game, and psychological factors like stress, focus, and confidence can affect the difficulty of finding the best move. Playing against a stronger opponent or in a high-stakes match may make it more challenging to remain objective and maintain mental clarity.
  6. Trade-offs and sacrifices
    Identifying moves that involve sacrificing material for strategic gains can be tricky. Understanding when to give up pieces and calculating the potential returns can add to the difficulty of finding the best move.
  7. Positional understanding
    Some moves may require a deep understanding of positional play and long-term planning, making it hard to recognize their value. Often, strategic moves can be subtle and not immediately obvious, adding to their difficulty.
  8. Endgame knowledge
    The endgame is a unique phase in chess where precise moves and deep understanding are necessary. Finding the best moves in endgames often requires specialized knowledge and experience, making it more difficult for players who have not mastered this aspect of the game.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult move in chess. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or move is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 173 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each move once every 24 hours. The rank of each move is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most difficult move in chess

Chess is a game of strategy, where players use their pieces to outmaneuver their opponents and checkmate their king. One of the most challenging aspects of the game is mastering the different moves that each piece can make. While most moves are straightforward, there are a few that require a lot of skill and foresight to execute properly. When it comes to the most difficult move in chess, opinions vary. Some players argue that the knight's move is the hardest, as it can be tricky to calculate the potential threats and opportunities that come with its unique L-shaped path. Others argue that the bishop's move is the most challenging, as it requires a deep understanding of diagonal lines and the ability to anticipate your opponent's next move. Regardless of which move is deemed the most difficult, it's clear that chess requires a lot of practice and dedication to master. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced player, studying the intricacies of each piece's movement can help you develop a stronger game and improve your chances of victory.

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