Endgames: King and Queen versus King Mate

Every chess player needs to learn how to mate an unaided King with his or her King and Queen.  If you do not know this mate yet, now is the perfect time to learn; it is not difficult if you understand how the pieces move and can read basic chess notation.  You will need to know this mate forwards and backwards - you are just about guaranteed to use this in time pressure.

Before the mate is demonstrated, we should walk through how we will accomplish checkmate with our King and Queen against the unaided King.  The easiest way to think of this mate is to view it as a two-step process:

  1. We will constrict the opposing King with our Queen (only) to a few squares.
  2. As the King is forced to move back and forth between these squares, we will bring our King to aid in the execution of the checkmate.


Setup your chess board with your (White) King on e1, your Queen on d1, and the opposing (Black) King on e6.  There should be no other pieces on the board.

Stage One - Constrict the Opposing King

We want to constrict the opposing King, reducing his squares more and more, until it is left with only a few for us to begin the second stage.  We begin this process simply and directly:

1. Qd4 Kf6 2. Qe4 Kf7 3. Qe5 Kg6 4. Qf4

The Queen chooses (well, we do!) to constrict the King's movement along the file, and not the rank (vertically instead of horizontally).  One could choose the other approach; it does not matter.

4. ... Kh5 5. Qg3 Kh6 6. Qg4 Kh7 7. Qg5 Kh8

At this point 8. Qg6?? would be a horrific blunder.  As of 7. ... Kh8 the Black King only has two square to move back and forth from - to constrict it to one would result in stalemate, a draw.  Constrict the opposing King to no less than two squares.

Stage Two - The King Aids in the Checkmate

The next stage simply brings the King in for the checkmate.

8. Kf2 Kh7 9. Kf3 Kh8 10. Kf4 Kh7 11. Kf5 Kh8 12. Kf6 Kh7 13. Qg7# 1-0

As the Queen restricts the Black King to a couple of squares, White only needs the King to support the impending checkmate.

Practice this mate with a friend or computer until you are comfortable.  Then, if you have not learned other basic mates, move on to them!


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