How drawish does stalemate make chess?

There are quite a few endgames that are draws due to stalemate. I was wondering if there's any information on just how large that impact is. For example, could we tweak the programming in an engine to consider stalemate a win and then see if the games are just as drawish?


There are tons of positions where one side has an extra pawn that are objectively a draw because if they got played out indefinetely they would end with the famous king and pawn vs king stalemate. With this change I would guess that most if not all those endgames would be considered a tablebase win. It would completely change the game.


Looking at the professional chess sphere, some have argued that removing stalemate has a chance of making chess more drawish because being at a material disadvantage becomes a lot more sketchy without being able to rely on the possibility of stalemate (i.e., players will be scared to even sac a pawn in the opening for initiative).


Without stalemate that would increase the winning chance considerably. Just the mistakes ending in stalemate would be significant already. Considering the white starts the game with the initiative, the rule change would increase the odds of white winning the game.


I agree, I think that much is intuitive. I suppose I was interested in seeing if there was anything concrete in terms of just how much it would change.


Arno Nickel was pushing correspondence/freestyle chess with 75-25 split for stalemate, and I think he held some events with this (over a decade ago by now). I don't think it made that much of a difference, as usually the weaker side could aim for a repetition instead, even in a pawn-down ending. Larry Kaufman similarly said 10-15 years ago that he thought all chess in some number of years would have this rule, but again I don't know if he codified how much difference it made. I generally think people overestimate its effect, but I don't really know either. Again I don't recollect everything, but I think some people (on the Rybka forum maybe?) built at least 5-piece TBs for one of these Nickel events, so at least statistically you could see how much it mattered at that point.