After we have explained the basic chess rules and movement of the pieces, we can take the next step. And that is learning the elementary ways of checkmating the opponent’s king.
Checkmating enemy king is the goal of every chess game. Therefore, learning how to checkmate should be one of the first steps of every chess beginner.
Since there are numerous ways to checkmate the enemy king, the question is where to begin.
While one could theoretically start with more complex mates, it wouldn’t make much sence. For educational purposes I think it is better to keep things rather simple. Therefore, learning to mate the “bare” opponent king is probably one of the very first thing every chessplayer should learn.
Because of their nature, such mates are also known as elementary mates.
The easiest way is to start with the queen checkmate and than to gradually introduce mates with other pieces. Due to the queen’s great mobility, mating only with “her majesty” is the simplest and the fastest of all elementary mates.
Before we get to the mating technique, let us examine the final position we are aiming for. Because without knowledge of the mating picture it often happens that a player is moving aimlessly without clear idea what he should do in a certain position.
The basic principle of the queen checkmate (and any other elemenatry checkmate, for that matter) is to bring the enemy king either to the corner or the edge of the board.
Several possible mating pictures are given on the diagrams below (please note that for simplicity’s sake I have assumed that White is always the stronger side)
The reader can notice that the White king is especially relevant in every diagram. Without the participation of the monarch, none of the elementary mates can be delivered.
While White is trying to deliver the checkmate, it is also important to avoid a few pitfalls. Because instead of checkmating, White may end up STALEMATING his opponent instead. Typical stalemate positions are given on the following diagrams:
After defining the mating picture we can start learning the mating mechanicsm. The main goal is to force the enemy king to the edge or the corner of the board. Fortunately, with the queen checkmate that task is rather straightforward.
Therefore, we will examine two possible ways of doing so.
First of all, we will consider the beginner’s method, where White uses both the king and the queen to push the enemy king back. This method is more reliable, but also somewhat longer.
MATING MECHANISM #1
Let us consider the following position, where White’s goal is to give the queen checkmate.
White can start by either moving his king, or moving his queen.
I recommend moving the queen, because it is easier to restrict the enemy’s king movement. After the text move the black king cannot ever cross the 3rd rank:
Black can fall back of course, but then White can either move his king as in the game, or move his queen to take one additional rank under her control. The text move is therefore comparatively best, because it prolonges the queen checkmate to a maximum extent.
After the queen has “cut” the board horizontally, the king can come and help.
2… Ke4 3 Kc2
Ideally you don’t want to prevent the queen influence with the king.
When your king is close enough to enemy king, you can use your queen to force the opposing king back.
Now the black king is forced back.
4… Ke5 5 Qc4
After we have forced the black king back, we move the queen again, so we can again restrict his movement.
5… Kd6 6 Kd3
Once we have restricted the king, we can repeat the process of pushing him back.
6… Ke5 7 Qe4+
Voila. The king is pushed again.
7 … Kd6 8 Qf5
Restricting the king horizontally on the 5th rank.
8… Kd7 9 Qf6
I have delibaretely gone back with the Black king. White could come with the king, but it is not neccessary, since White queen can now take an additional, sixth rank, under her control. Especially relevant to note is how the Black king gradually finds himself in the smaller and smaller box.
9… Kc7 10 Kc4
Now again the White king can join.
10… Kd7 11 Kd5 Kc7 12 Qc6+
One of the final checks, finally forcing the king toward the edge of the board.
12 … Kd8
BEWARE! Whereas earlier the choice between king and queen move was a matter of taste, with the king approaching the edge of the board the player has to be careful not to STALEMATE the opponent.
If White now plays Kd6 or Ke6, the Black king will have no moves and the game will be drawn.
13 Qb7 Ke8 14 Ke6
Now the White king has managed to catch the Black one, and it only remains to deliver the mate next move.
14 … Kd8 15 Qd7 mate
Note that 15 Qb8 would have also mated.
MATING MECHANISM 2
The second mating mechanism that will be examined is somewhat more sophisticated and includes mostly only queen moves.
But what’s the point of learning another mechanicsm if one is already known? Well, since the second mechanicsm is much faster, it might come in handy while trying to mate someone with little time on the clock while playing chess on internet.
Other practical value is nonexistent. Nevertheless, this banal example shows that often there are multiple solutions in chess.
Let us examine the starting position once again.
Already after the first move we will see the change in philosophy:
Especially relevant from the diagram is the position of the White queen toward the black king. It seems like it has the same L shape that a knight has when performing his movement.
While mating according to the 2nd mechanism, remember that getting the L shape is pretty much the whole point.
Because after the queen has been positioned toward the Black king, the latter can only move backwards. And that is the moment when the so – called dance begins.
Basically, the main idea is to repeat the move that Black king has just made, in order to keep the L shape persistently.
1 … Kf4 2 Qd3
From the diagram it is obvious that the L shape is conserved (green arrows). It is important to note that the Black king has moved one square to the right, and that the White queen has repeated that move (red arrows).
This process is repeated untill the Black king is brought toward the edge of the board.
2 … Kf5 3 Qd4
Both pieces move 1 square vertically.
3… Kg6 4 Qe5
Both pieces move 1 square diagonally.
4… Kg7 5 Qe6
Both pieces move 1 square vertically.
5 … Kh8
BEWARE! When the Black king steps into corner, it is time to stop following his moves with your queen. Because here is what would have happened if White played Qf7 here:
A STALEMATE position already examined in the post.
Therefore, it is neccessary either to bring the king closer, or first to cut the king on the back rank (or file). I prefer the latter approach:
This restricts the Black king’s movement only to squares g8 and h8. It only remains to bring the king either to g6 or h6, and to deliver the queen checkmate.
6… Kg8 7 Kc2 Kh8 8 Kd3 Kg8 9 Ke4 Kh8 10 Kf5 Kg8 11 Kg6 Kh8 12 Qh7 mate
It is noticable that the 2nd method is much faster.
But then again, there is a very old story about a rabbit and a tortoise.
Congratulations. You have just learned the basic way to win a chess game – a queen checkmate.
If you have any questions, comments and suggestions, please comment below, or contact me in any way, I will try to answer 🙂