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How to Checkmate the Lone King with a King and a Queen

Updated on February 19, 2012

It’s amazing how often I see two inexperienced chess players reach an endgame where one player has a King and a Queen vs. his opponents lone King, yet has great difficulty winning the game. First, he tries chasing the lone King around the board with his Queen only to discover that the Queen, with all her power, can’t mate the King by herself. Finally, the King is brought in to help, but sometimes it’s too late. 50 moves have gone by, and it’s a draw.

The King and Queen vs. the lone King is not only the most common of all the simple endgames, it’s the easiest to master once you understand the guiding principles behind it.

Diagram 1
Diagram 1

Checkmating the King

First, you must drive the enemy King to the edge of the board. This is accomplished by placing your Queen a Knight’s move away from the enemy King. A Knight’s move away from the King means that if Your Queen were a Knight, it would be attacking the enemy King. In other words, two squares over and one square up (see diagram 1). Staying a Knight’s move away cuts the enemy King off from the rest of the board and gives him no choice but to move closer to the edge.

Diagram 2
Diagram 2

As the enemy King moves, your Queen should remain a Knight’s move away. 1. …Ke6 2.Qc5 Kf7 3.Qd6 Ke8 4.Qc7 (see diagram 2).

Diagram 3
Diagram 3

Now that the enemy King is trapped on the edge if the board, drive him into the corner. 4. …Kf8 5.Qd8 Kg8 6. Qe8 Kh8 (see diagram 3).

Diagram 4
Diagram 4

This is a critical position. The White Queen must not approach the Black King from here. If she moves any closer, the Black King will be trapped and will be unable to move. This will result in a stalemate.

The Next Step is to bring your King into the action. 7.Kf2 Qg8 8.Kg3 Kh8. Notice that the Black King has no choice but to helplessly shuffle back and forth between the h8 and g8 squares. 9.Kg4 Kg8 10.Kg5 Kf8 11.Kg6 Kg8 (see diagram 4).

Now, with the King’s help, the White Queen can make the final blow. 12.Qg7#.

That’s all there is to mating the lone King with a King and a Queen. Just remember that there are three steps:

1. Drive your opponent to the edge of the board and then to the corner by staying a Knight’s move away from his King.

2. After you have him in the corner, don’t stalemate him. Leave two squares so that he can shuffle back and forth.

3. Bring your King in to help. It takes both the King and the Queen to checkmate your opponent.

The final step is to practice. You should be able to perform this ending without having to stop and think about each move.

Video: How to Checkmate a Lone King with a King and Queen

The following video shows you step-by-step the moves that I just outlined. Please feel free to watch it as many times as is necessary to understand the concepts. And don't forget to practice.

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