Endgames: King and Rook versus King Mate

Every chess player needs to learn how to mate an unaided King with his or her King and Rook.  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.  This common mate will need to be understood fully, as it will appear in your games.

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

  1. We will constrict the opposing King with our Rook to along a rank or file.
  2. As the King is forced to move back and forth along this rank or file, we will bring our King to push the Black King to the next file or rank until checkmate occurs.


Setup your chess board with your (White) King on e1, your Rook on d1, and the opposing (Black) King on e8.  There should be no other pieces on the board. 

Stage One (6th Rank) - Constrict

We want to constrict the opposing King along a rank or file in order for us to begin the second stage.  We begin this process simply and directly:

1. Rd6 Ke7 2. Ra6

We will move our King in for the constriction process, while switching our Rook to each side of the board when it is threatened.

Stage Two (6th Rank) - The King Aids in the Constriction

The next stage simply brings the King in for the constriction process.

2. ... Kd7 3. Ke2 Kc7 4. Ke3 Kb7 5. Rh6 Kc7 6. Ke4 Kd7 7. Ke5

We have reached our position.  The Black King must either retreat toward the weak side of the board or be forced to the next rank.  We will do the latter to save time.

7. ... Ke7 8. Rh7+ Kf8 9. Ke6

This move forces the Black King to move where it will go in the next line.  Note that 9. ... Ke8 will be checkmate with 10. Rh8++

9. ... Kg8 10. Ra7 Kf8 11. Rb7!

This move is necessary as we want the Black King to move directly in front of our King when it is our move for the checkmate (or, the opposition if you are familiar with that concept).

11. ... Kg8 12. Kf6 Kh8 13. Kg6 Kg8 14. Ra8++ 1-0

The Black King systematically has nowhere else to go upon any rank or file at White's choice.  Simple repeat this process until you reach the final rank or file for the checkmate.  Practice this mate against a friend or computer - you will need it in your chess games.

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