In this category of simple checkmates/basic endgames, we will examine various combinations from the easiest one (a Queen & King v. King), to slightly more difficult, but still simple checkmates involving the Queen and other pieces and/or pawns. There are nine parts in this tutorial developing the following checkmate mating patterns and mating nets: Queen & Rook v. King; Queen, Rook, & King v. King; Queen & Two Rooks v. King; Queen & Knight v. King; and Queen & Bishop v. King, and variations on these basic endgame mating patterns. As the tutorial progresses, the goal is to further develop the player’s overall knowledge with a view toward constructing complex checkmates. The tricky part in Queen simple checkmates lies in a player remembering the great power of the Queen (combined powers of the Bishop and Rook) to prevent blundering and stalemating the opposing King, which easily can be done if the player is not careful because of the Queen’s great power.
Queen & King v. King
Due to the Queen’s great power and mobility (combining the powers of a Bishop (move and attack along, and control, diagonal lines), and a Rook (move and attack along, and control, rnaks and files), the easiest checkmate of all to accomplish is Queen & King v. King (hereafter “QKK”).
The basic line of play for mating nets using QKK is a coordinated, progressive entrapment of the opposing King using the player’s Queen and King working in combination to force the entrapment, and then entomb the opposing King on the checkmate square.
The basic coordination for QKK maneuvering is to use successive moves by the Queen and King to force the opposing King to one of the sides of the chessboard by restricting (limiting) the opposing King’s mobility – the fundamental principle for all forced checkmates occurring through a mating net. By doing so, the player prevents the opposing King from escaping back toward the center of the chessboard, which would make checkmating more complicated.
QKK engames have two basic mating patterns:
- Position the King on a key square blocking the opposing King from moving to one of the outer squares in the six-square rectangle Anatomy of Mate pattern (the six-square rectangle applies for one of the sides of the board, but not in a corner square). However, see discussion of an important mating pattern variation below.
- Position the King on a key square blocking the opposing King from moving to one of the outer two squares in the four square Anatomy of Mate pattern (the four square applies for mating on a corner square).
The Queen then delivers checkmate on the file (one of the wings, a-file or h-file), or on one of the back ranks (1st rank or 8th rank), in which the opposing King is located. However, due to the Queen’s combined Rook and Bishop powers, there are two aspects for checkmating with a Queen, which cannot be used when checkmating with a Rook (reviewed in the Rook Simple Checkmates tutorial).
- The Queen may be located on a square in a file or rank other than file or back rank in which the opposing King is located.
- The Queen may be located on a square with no intervening square between her and the opposing King (i.e. on adjacent squares), in some mating patterns.
For checkmates utilizing the second aspect above – what I call the “adjacent-square mating pattern,” in addition to the Queen being located on an adjacent square to the opposing King, the King also must be located on a square adjacent to the square on which the Queen is located, so that the King may defend her. However, because of the rule in chess that the Kings cannot be located on adjacent squares, then for the King to defend and protect the Queen, the King must be separated by at least one square along a file, rank, or diagonal, from the opposing King. The the ability to checkmate the opposing King in this mating pattern variation is not available when using a Rook & King, because the Rook lacks the Bishop’s power.
In a QKK endgame using the “adjacent-square” mating pattern variation, the King is used only to defend and protect the Queen, instead of blocking the outer squares in the Anatomy of Mate pattern the player utilizes to checkmate. The Queen is blocking the outer squares in the mating pattern while also delivering checkmate. Although the King might be in a position on a square also to block the opposing King moving to one or more of the outer squares, this is essentially overkill because of the Queen’s combined Bishop and Rook powers.
Comparison with other endgames using a Queen. The premise of the variation (Queen checkmating while defended and protected) is a common one in many endgames using a Queen, not just QKK. The reason for this is any of the pieces, or a pawn, may defend and protect the Queen while she is checkmating the opposing King. A pawn must do so from a square diagonally adjacent to the one on which the Queen is located, because it may capture only diagonally. The is not true for a Rook (horizontal and vertical defense and protection along a rank or file, respectively), a Bishop (defense and protection along a diagonal), or a Knight (defense and protection from a distance due to the Knight’s unique L-shape moving pattern).
Below is a diagram with White having a QKK endgame against Black. From this position, examples of the above mating pattern principles are shown in the following three sets of diagrams along with the move orders used in a mating net yielding the three checkmates. The reader should note that there are literally many variations, which may be used to reach checkmate in QKK endgames. The ones shown are not necessarily the quickest ones, and there are other move orders available as mating net lines to accomplish the checkmates shown.
|Diagram QKK #1
Checkmate on the a-file
from a distance
The above example shows the principle of using the King to block the three outer squares while the Queen delivers the checkmate from a distance (away from her King). In this checkmate example, after White”s move Kc6, Black had two possible replies: Kb7 and Ka5. Once Black chose Ka5 and White replied Qc5+, Black had only two options: Ka6; or, the alternate line [Ka4 Qb4#]. Further, after Black’s fifth move of Ka5 in this mating pattern and mating net, White had the above checkmate (Qa8#) or alternative checkmate (Qb5#), the “Queen-sandwich” discussed below.
|Diagram QKK #2
Checkmate on the a-file
corner square – a8
The above example shows the principle of checkmating in a corner square, by taking away the three outer squares with the Queen which also checkmates the opposing King, with her King protecting and defending her. This example shows a partial overkill when the Queen is used to checkmate and block the outer squares in a corner square checkmate. While White’s King also blocks Black’s King from moving to a7 (but not b7), this is overkill because White’s Queen does a fine job herself of blocking that square. The King’s job is to protect and defend the Queen, not to block one of the escape squares.
|Diagram QKK #3
Checkmate on the a-file
King defending Queen
The above example shows one of the methods of checkmating on a wing on the chessboard, but not a corner square. The principle also applies for a checkmate in similar positions on the back ranks. In this example, there is partial overkill again, because the Queen not only checkmates but also blocks the opposing King from moving to all five of the other squares in the six-square rectangle anatomy of mate pattern. Thus, the block on b5 square by White’s King is overkill. Again as above, the King’s job is to protect and defend the Queen, not to block one of the escape squares.
Variations for the corner square checkmate
|1.||Position the King on the third rank from the corner square in the adjacent file (for corner checkmates: at b3 for checkmates at a1; at b6 for checkmates at a8; at g3 for checkmates at h1; and, at g6 for checkmates at h8). The the delivers checkmate from any of the squares in the back rank except the square adjacent to the checkmate sqaure. This mating pattern variation for corner square checkmate in QKK utilizes Misaligned King Opposition (defined and discussed in the Rook Simple Checkmates tutorial). Squares on which the Queen can be located in this mating pattern:
In these checkmates, the King’s job is to block the opposing King from moving to the two outer escape squares while the Queen delivers the checkmate.
|2.||Position the King on the third rank from the corner square in the same wing file (for corner checkmates in the a file: at a3 for checkmates at a1; at b6 for checkmates at a8; at g3 for checkmates at h1; and at g6 for checkmates at h8). The Queen delivers checkmate directly from a square adjacent to the squares on which the opposing King and King are located:
The King’s job is to protect and defend the Queen, not to block one of the escape squares, and thus there is overkill because while the King blocks one of the escape squares, the Queen performs that function very well herself.
The vertically aligned checkmates in the above pattern (a1-a2-a3; a6-a7-a8; h3-h2-h1; and h6-h7-h8) are examples of the Queen-sandwich. This simple checkmate is where the Queen is delivering checkmate while located on the square between the two Kings (i.e., sandwiched) aligned directly diagonally between the opposing King and her King.
Variations for checkmate on a wing or back rank
All variations include positioning the King on the third file from the wing [c-file for wing checkmates on the a-file; f-file for checkmates on the h-file)], or the third rank from the back rank [(3rd rank for checkmates on White’s back rank (1st rank); 6th rank for checkmates on Black’s back rank (8th rank)], to aid in either:
- Blocking the opposing King’s escape to the three outer squares of the six-square rectangle Anatomy of Mate pattern, while the Queen delivers checkmate from a distance (away from her King and the opposing King); or
- Defending and protecting the Queen, while the Queen delivers checkmate on a square adjacent to the squares upon which both the opposing King and her King are located (overkill blocking by the King).
The Queen-sandwich is a prime example for the later variation, where the Queen delivers checkmate while located on the square between the two Kings (i.e., sandwiched) aligned directly horizontally with the opposing King and her King for wing checkmates or vertically for back rank checkmates. In these types of checkmates, there is overkill because while the King blocks both other outer escape squares in the six-square rectangle anatomy of mate pattern, the Queen does a fine job herself of accomplishing that goal.
Examples of variations for QKK mates are shown in the next part of the tutorial.