How to Deliver Checkmate with a King and Queen in Chess

One of the basic mating patterns in a game of chess involves an empty board with only the two kings and the queen. We’ve all been there before, trading everything else (or messing it up) before pushing a pawn all the way to promotion. Now what? Now is the time to close the game, which can be a little difficult when time is of the essence and you’re not one hundred percent sure of the correct technique. Never fear: after reading this how-to article, you’ll never mess up a king and queen in checkmate again.

cut the king

You can only deliver checkmate to the side of the board where the enemy king’s potential movement squares drop from eight to five. Otherwise, you just can’t cover everything with your own king and queen. This means that the first step is to lock the opponent in a corner. The queen is excellent at this since the enemy king cannot approach her from any direction, forcing them back again and again as she gets closer, setting up a barrier in the process.

Image via lichess.org

You don’t even need to check the enemy king – in fact, you don’t even want to because that would let your opponent escape the box.

Don’t forget to bring your king with you for the ride. Her Majesty will be needed to protect the Queen as she enters to deliver the checkmate move.

Image via lichess.org

Avoid deadlock

There’s really only one way to mess up this kind of position: by blocking the enemy king. (Yes, technically you could also let your queen hang or break the 50 move rule, but neither possibility is realistic.) Deadlock means your opponent has no legal moves in position but his king is not in check: it is a draw.

Image via lichess.org

Since your position is completely winning, you can afford to be careful and cautious. It would be a shame to lose half a point after coming so close to victory. Whenever your opponent’s king approaches the corner of the board, make sure he still has a legal move after getting your queen close.

Once the enemy king is stuck on the back row, you don’t need to get any closer to your queen unless you’re ready to checkmate: line up your king with theirs to support the operation and complete the job.

If you really wanna play it safe

The checkmate pattern with just a king and a rook is quite similar to this, and unlike when a queen is involved, there is no way to block your opponent’s king. However, you also only have one specific setup to repel the king (and possibly to checkmate, where the two kings clash and the heavy piece delivers checkmate from afar, like this:

Image via lichess.org

You can also use the exact same approach with a queen, negating the risk of any deadlock traps at the cost of a few extra moves to close out the game. It can, however, be worth it if you want to avoid the one goofing opportunity you have.

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