The Queen is the best piece of all for getting checkmate because it is so
powerful and controls so many squares on the board. There are very many
ways of getting CHECKMATE with a Queen. Let's have a look at some of them,
and also some STALEMATE positions you must learn to avoid.
You've already seen how a Rook can get CHECKMATE with the help of a King.
Put the Black King on the side of the board, the White King two squares
away towards the middle, and a Rook or a Queen on any safe square on the
same side of the board as the King will give CHECKMATE. In the first diagram
the White Queen checks the Black King while the White King, two squares
away, stops the Black King from escaping to b7, c7 or d7. If you move
the Black King to d8 it's still CHECKMATE: the Queen stops the Black King
moving to e7. But if you move the Black King to b8 is that CHECKMATE?
No: the King can escape to a7. We call this sort of CHECKMATE the GUILLOTINE.
The Queen comes down like a knife to chop off the Black King's head.
But there's another sort of CHECKMATE that you can do with a King and
Queen. We call this one the KISS OF DEATH. Put the Black King on the side
of the board, the White Queen on the next square towards the middle and
the White King where it defends the Queen and you get something like our
next diagram. The White Queen KISSES the Black King while the White King
holds her hand. But it's a POISONED KISS so the Black King dies. Move
the White King to b6 or d6 and it's still CHECKMATE. But move the White
Queen to d7 and the Black King can go to b8. Or move the White Queen to
b7 and the Black King can go to d8. Now move the White Queen to b7 and
the Black King to a8, with the White King still on c6. Is this CHECKMATE?
Yes: it is. The King is trapped in the corner. Now go back to the diagram
and move the White King back to c5. Is this CHECKMATE? Certainly not:
the Black King can take the Queen. The Queen must have somebody to hold
her hand before she can deliver the KISS OF DEATH.
The position on your right, with Black to move is not checkmate but STALEMATE
- a draw. You should be able to work out for yourself that the Black King
is not in check but has no moves. Move the White King to d6, e6, e7 or
e8 and what happens? It's still STALEMATE!
The next diagram is another STALEMATE position with Black to move. Here
the White King could be anywhere on the board: it would still be STALEMATE!
On your right you see another KISS OF DEATH. This time it's the White
Rook who holds the Queen's hand. Move the Rook from g7 to b2 and it's
still CHECKMATE. Move the Queen from g2 to g1 and the King can go to h3.
Put the Queen on g3 and the King can go to h1. Put the Queen back on g2,
take the Rook off the board and replace it with a White Bishop on b7 and
again it's a KISS OF DEATH, with the Bishop holding the Queen's hand.
Next, another Queen and Bishop CHECKMATE - rather a neat one. The Bishop
on g3 checks the Black King and also stops him moving to f2. The White
Queen controls all the other squares: d1, d2, e2 and f1. Again, make sure
you agree that it's mate before moving on.
Now to look at some CHECKMATES using a Knight, starting with the position
on your right.
Surprise, surprise! It's the KISS OF DEATH again. This time the Knight
holds the Queen's hand as she delivers the POISONED KISS.
A Rook and Knight can CHECKMATE a king in the corner, as shown in our
next example. The Knight is two squares diagonally away from the corner
and the Rook is on the next square to the King. With the Rook on g1 instead
of h2 it would still be CHECKMATE. This sort of checkmate is called the
ARABIAN MATE. (MATE is another word for CHECKMATE: they mean exactly the
A Bishop and Knight need the help of their King to get CHECKMATE. On your
right you see how it can be done. The Bishop controls the squares on the
diagonal: g7 and h8. The Knight stops the King going to g8. And the White
King stops him going to h7.
Even a pawn can help in getting CHECKMATE. Here's another KISS OF DEATH.
The Pawn on d6 holds the White Queen's hand while she CHECKS the Black
Two Pawns can get CHECKMATE with the King's help. Here, the White Pawn
on d7 says "CHECK", the Pawn on e7 stops the Black King moving sideways
and, as usual, the White King stops Black CAPTURING either Pawn or moving
up the board. Remember that the White Pawns are on the SEVENTH RANK, one
square away from PROMOTING.
With just a King and a Pawn you can't get CHECKMATE: you have to PROMOTE
the Pawn to a Queen (or Rook) to do that, but you can construct a STALEMATE.
Just remove the Pawn on d7 in the last diagram and, with Black to move,
You can also get a KISS OF DEATH with lots of pieces on the board. Sometimes
the Queen is on the next square DIAGONALLY to the enemy King and his escape
squares are blocked by friendly pieces. Here's an example, with the Bishop
on c4 holding the Queen's hand.
And now another one, with the Knight on g5 this time holding the Queen's
hand. If you learn and understand this type of position you can use this
idea to win lots of games.
You can also use the idea of the GUILLOTINE with more pieces on the
board. What often happens is that a Rook or Queen comes down to give CHECKMATE
and the Black escape squares are blocked by Pawns. Here's an example.
Make sure you see why it's CHECKMATE. The Rook gives CHECK. Black's own
Pawns stop his King escaping. He can't CAPTURE the Rook. He can't BLOCK
Now try moving the Black Pawn from h7 to h6. Is this CHECKMATE? Yes, it's
still CHECKMATE. Black can't move his King to h7. Why not? Because he'd
be in CHECK from the Bishop.
Now put the Pawn back on h7 and move the Pawn from g7 to g6. Is it CHECKMATE
this time? No, it's not. The Black King can escape to g7.
Going back to the diagram position, of course if White had a Queen instead
of a Rook it would be just as good.
Finally, you remember the CHECKMATE with two Rooks. Here it is again,
this time on the side of the board. We call this CHECKMATE the FIRING
SQUAD. The White Rook on a7 shoots the Black King. he cannot escape onto
the b-FILE because there he'll be shot by the Rook on b8. Can Black BLOCK
the CHECK or CAPTURE the Rook on a7? No, so it's CHECKMATE.
If the enemy King is away from the side of the board you need two Rooks
and a Queen to form the firing squad. In this example, the Queen fires
the fatal shot. If the King tries to dodge the bullet by jumping either
left or right he'll be shot by a Rook. Can Black CAPTURE the Queen or
BLOCK the CHECK? No: again it's CHECKMATE.
There are thousands of different ways of getting CHECKMATE, but these
three, the KISS OF DEATH, the GUILLOTINE and the FIRING SQUAD are the
easiest to learn and remember, and the ones that will happen most often
in your games.