By Donny Gray
When I start lessons with a new student, the very first thing we do is the king and queen mate. If you cannot do this, then how are you ever going to win a game of chess? Knowing openings and middle game ideas will mean nothing if you cannot mate at the end with a queen.
Before we look at the way to set up a win with this, lets take a look at the different ways a king and queen can checkmate the other king.
The first thing you must understand is what exactly is checkmate and what is meant by stalemate.
Checkmate is where the king is in check and there is no way to get out of check.
Stalemate is where the king is NOT in check and there is no legal move. You cannot make an illegal move in chess, which means a king cannot move into a check. So stalemate means a draw.
The second thing you must realize is the queen is not strong enough to do mate alone. It must have help from the king. The queen can check a lone king forever and a day but it will never be able to deliver mate without help from the king.
The third thing to know is you must have your opponent’s king on the edge or corner of the board. You cannot mate him in the center of the board. Once he is trapped to the edge, then you can bring your king close to help in the mate. Once he is trapped to an edge, you will have no need to move your queen ever again, except when it is time to mate.
Notice in our first example the black king is trapped to the edge of the board by the white queen. There are five different checkmates in one here. There is also one horrible move! Stalemate is possible, so you must be careful. Now, before you go any further, can you list all the possible mates in this position, and the one stalemate?
The five different mates in one are as follows:
The worst move on the board would be stalemate:
1.Qf7 stalemate and draw
Let’s take a look at the position that is stalemate:
White has just played Qf7 resulting in stalemate. As you can see, black is not in check and anywhere he moves would be check. Therefore it is stalemate.
Now we move on to how to force this position from any position.
The first thing we must do is get the opponent’s king on an edge of the board. Any edge will do. Sometimes after the smoke clears on a board and you are left with a queen, there is very little work to be done. If your opponent is already on the edge, you can trap him to the edge in one move.
In this position, white can trap the black king to the edge in one move. That move is Qg2!
As you can see, the white queen creates a barrier (or wall) that traps the black king to the edge. All it can do is move along the edge. Now all we have to do is bring the king up. Play could go as follows after 1.Qg2:
The black king is in check and there is no way to escape. Therefore we have checkmate!
Now let’s take a look at when the king is out in the middle of the board and how to force him to an edge.
In this example, we see the black king is in the middle of the board and the white king and queen are as far away as possible. The easiest way to get the king to an edge is use your queen only. The queen may not be strong enough to checkmate by herself, but she is fully capable of forcing the king to an edge. Placing the white queen a knight’s hop away is how I do it. My first move here would be Qc6!!
As you can see here, I have placed the queen a knight’s hop away from the black king. This puts the black king in a box with no where to go but towards an edge.
Now, no matter which way the black king moves, I will follow him with my queen, always a knight’s hop away!! In just a few moves he will be forced to one of the edges. It does not matter which one, as either one works just as well. Play could go something like the following after Qc6:
And now the black king has been trapped to the edge!
Now all we have to do is bring the king up close and it will be mate. Remember, we will not move the queen again unless it is mate.
On closing, let’s take a look to see what would have happened if on black’s 13th move he had moved Kf8 instead of Kh8. We would have the following position:
Since the white king is now close to the black king, there are mates everywhere. There are three different mates in one now. The hardest part now is deciding which of the three mates you want to do!!