Checkmate title


In a game of Chess, checkmate -or ‘mate’ for short, refers to a position on the board in which a King is threatened with an imminent capture and there is no possible way to avoid such threat. Checkmate is the ultimate goal or objective of a Chess game. Diagrams below show several ways to checkmate a King.


A classic back rank checkmate:

The black King has no legal moves. Squares c7, d7, and e7 are guarded by the white King and squares c8 and e8 are attacked by the white Rook (Fig. 1)

Back rank checkmate

Fig. 1


Another typical back rank checkmate:

Black King is trapped behind his own Pawns. This may happen after the King had just castled. The King has no safe square to flee or block the threat (Fig. 2)

Back rank checkmate

Fig. 2


Back rank checkmate with two Rooks:

While the Rook on g7 prevents the black King from fleeing away towards the center of the board, the second Rook delivers the mate at h8 square (Fig. 3)

Checkmate with two Rooks

Fig. 3


Back rank checkmate with Queen and Rook:

The Rook at f7 keeps the black King hemmed in at the eighth rank with few options, while the Queen moves to the h8 square and finishes the game (Fig. 4)

Checkmate with Queen and Rook

Fig. 4


Checkmate with Queen and Knight:

Supported by a minor piece (a Knight), the Queen checkmates the black King by moving directly in front of him.  The black King has nowhere to flee (Fig. 5)

Checkmate with Queen and Knight

Fig. 5


Checkmate with a Knight:

A lone Knight can easily checkmate a King stuck and hemmed in along any of the board’s edges.  With no way to avoid capture, the King is mated (Fig. 6)

Checkmate with a Knight

Fig. 6


Checkmate with a Bishop:

Squares the black King could flee are controlled by white pieces. b5, b4, and c4 are guarded by white Pawns, c6 and d6 by the Rook and d5 by the King (Fig. 7)

Checkmate with a Bishop        

Fig. 7


Checkmate with a Pawn:

Despite having the smallest value, a Pawn has the power to checkmate a King. Supported by his King, the white Pawn checkmates the black King (Fig. 8)

Checkmate with a Pawn        

Fig. 8


Fool's mate:

A two-move checkmate known as the Fool’s Mate, is the quickest possible checkmate in the game of Chess. The moves are: 1. f3 e5  2. g4 Qh4#  (Fig. 9)

Fool's mate        

Fig. 9


Scholar's mate:

The Scholar’s Mate is a checkmate quite common among beginners. White can mate in only four moves: 1. e4 e5 2. Qh5 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6? 4. Qxf7#  (Fig. 10)

Scholar's mate        

Fig. 10


The following Applet lets you practice the checkmate maneuver. You have white pieces and move next. You can move your Rook or Bishop to attack the black King, but only one move leads to mate.

White to move and mate

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More about Checkmate

From the Arabic language, Schach or Shah, signifies King and Matt signifies Dead. Thus, Schach Matt (the King is dead), is the origin of our “Checkmate”.

Even that a King is never actually captured in a game of Chess,  a player who is checkmated loses the game because said player has no legal moves.

If either white or black King is under attack but the threat can be met, then the King is said to be in check, but is not a checkmate.

The game ends as soon as the King is checkmated. Most players resign a game before being mated. It is bad etiquette not to resign in a hopeless situation.

In Chess notation, a checkmate is annotated like any other move and a “++ or #”  sign is appended after the move notation, e.g. Nb6++ or Nb6#.

The Board The Pieces The King The Queen The Rook The Bishop

The Knight

The Pawn

Check Checkmate Draws Notation

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