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Checkmating with Rook or Queen Against Lone King

If you are new to chess you may not yet have learned how to checkmate with a rook or queen against a lone king. This is one of the vital chess disciplines to master, so read along if you want to understand these two kinds of very common chess endings.

For both kinds of endings, you must force your opponent to the edge of the board to deliver the checkmate. To do this, you will need to hold hands with your king, to cut off the ranks or files on which the opponent king can wander. What you actually do is create a narrowing rectangle of squares, which the opponent cannot cross. First up we’ll study the queen’s journey along the board as she eventually delivers a checkmate.

The Queen vs. Lone King Endgame

The queen versus lone king endgame position may look similar to the illustration below.

Checkmating with queen vs. lone king - initial endgame position

To checkmate, the black king must be pushed to the edge of the board. A quick glance at the position tells us, that it will probably be fastest to push the opponent king towards the left edge of the board – the A file that is. So we’ll start cutting off the king on the C-file, leaving it to only move inside the rectangle of the A and B files.

Checkmating with queen vs. lone king - narrowing rectangle

Notice how quickly white narrowed the space for black’s king. As white’s queen cannot checkmate black by itself, the king needs to come to the rescue. But before this happens, white should move its queen a little, to avoid a stalemate, and at the same time make it easier for white’s king to get into position.

Checkmating with queen vs. lone king - getting into position

Now, white must move its king in front of black. Fast forwarding, here is the position.

Checkmating with queen vs. lone king - fast forwarding

White can now finally deliver a checkmate.

Checkmating with queen vs. lone king - white gives a checkmate

Thus, the moves were:

1. Qc5 Ka6
2. Qb3 Ka5
...
6. Kc5 Ka5
7. Qb5#

The Rook vs. Lone King Endgame

To checkmate with a rook versus a lone king will require many of the same techniques, you just learned with the queen. It’s a little more complicated though, as the rook cannot move diagonally like the queen. Here is a starting position similar to the one we saw earlier, but this time featuring a rook.

Checkmating with rook vs. lone king - initial endgame position

Again, white starts by cutting off the king. As you see, it is not quite as effective in the first move, as with the queen – it leaves a larger area for black to move within.

Checkmating with rook vs. lone king - larger area

The way to move on from here, is by getting white’s king in front of the opponent king and then slide the rook to the B file, forcing black to retreat to the A file. If you have difficulty achieving this position, because black’s king is one move ahead on the file, you can make a so called “waiting move” with the rook, as illustrated below.

Checkmating with rook vs. lone king - king in front of opponent king

Black can only move to b7, giving white the chance to check on the B file. This pushes black to the edge of the board.

Checkmating with rook vs. lone king - pushing king to edge of board

One thing to note is that unlike the earlier example with the queen, the rook cannot stand unguarded by itself. Should black decide to attack it from a diagonal square, the rook should be moved to the opposite side of the B file if it cannot be backed by its own king. This situation is pictured below.

Checkmating with rook vs. lone king - diagonal king attack on rook

From here it’s a matter of getting white’s king in front of the opposing king again, and then checkmate with the rook on the A file. A waiting move may be needed again to get the two kings to face each other.

Checkmating with rook vs. lone king - kings face to face

The complete list of moves where:

1. Rc2 Kb6
2. Ke2 Kb5
3. Kd3 Kb6
4. Kd4 Kb7
5. Kd5 Kb8
6. Kd6 Kb7
7. Kd7 Kb8
8. Rc3 Kb7
9. Rb3+ Ka6
10. Kc7 Ka5
11. Kc6 Ka4
12. Rb8 Ka3
13. Kc5 Ka2
14. Kc4 Ka1
15. Kc3 Ka2
16. Rb7 Ka3
17. Ra7#

Try Out the Queen vs. Lone King Endgame Here

Try Out the Rook vs. Lone King Endgame Here





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