Chess Checkmating Basics and Patterns

The End Game

The end game is that stage in a chess match when there are much fewer pieces remaining, and where the checkmate usually takes place. Sometimes, however, especially with novices, the checkmate can take place earlier due to oversight or poor strategy execution.

Checkmate is the goal of chess. It is derived from a Persian phrase announcing the death of the king. In the end game, checkmating patterns often repeat themselves. These are the basic checkmating patterns. Look for these situations in chess games; it is these placements you want to create with your tactics and strategies.

Checkmating with the Queen and/or Rooks

Rooks and the queen are the most often used checkmating material. You want to save these pieces for the end game, so don't develop them too early. Because the king can move only one square at a time, it is common to checkmate by placing two rooks or a queen and a rook side by side on the same line as the king on the edge of the board. This can leave the king with no escape squares.

A lone queen or rook can also checkmate on its own with the help of the back rank effect. Suppose we use this partial scenario as an example:


The white rook and white queen attack the black rook. The black king is in his castle. White queen captures the black rook. This results in a checkmate. The king cannot perform a recapture as this would put him on check.

Checkmating with the Queen and Pawns

Believe it or not, it is possible to checkmate the king using only the queen and pawns and blocking. The example actual game below shows this:


The black king is partially surrounded by his pawns and knights. In front of him are two white pawns and the white queen. This example scenario shows how friendly chessmen can prevent the king's escape. Also note how white manages to win despite being down in material.

Checkmating Patterns

A checkmate pattern must make it impossible for the king to escape the check, or to capture without going into a new check. Since the king can move in all eight directions, you do not want him on the center of the board. Don't give the king plenty of room to run around in. Force him to the edge of the board or to a corner.

A checkmate can sometimes by done by a lone piece, for instance:


shows a checkmate at ranks 1 and 2. The black rook has trapped the white king in its castle with no chance of escape.

Without the back rank trap, however, it usually takes a combination of pieces to make a checkmate. Common checkmating patterns include:

- A queen and king checkmate - Two rooks checkmate - A queen and rook checkmate

Insufficient Checkmating Material

Have you ever wondered why bishops and knights have lesser value than rooks and the queen? One reason is the checkmate factor.

It is impossible to checkmate with:

- King vs. king - King vs. bishop - King vs. knight - King vs. knight & knight

When both sides haven't enough pieces left to carry out a checkmate, the game is a draw.

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