In order to checkmate an opponent who is left with only a King on the chessboard, it is necessary to have the following pieces.
- King and Queen (a King and Pawn can become a checkmating force provided you can Queen the Pawn).
- King and Rook
- King and two Bishops
- King, Knight and Bishop.
- King and three Knights (this is an unlikely event). However it is possible to gain an extra Knight by way of a pawn reaching the eight rank and promoting the pawn to a Knight.
It is clear that if a player has more pieces than reuired then it should be considerably easier to checkmate an opponent.
The examples that follow only deal with the two first cases. The last three contain difficult concepts to tackle at this stage, and will be dealt with in the advanced section of this site.
You cannot checkmate if you have fewer pieces than those listed above
You cannot checkmate with just:
- King and Bishop against King.
- King and Knight against King
- King and two Knights against King.
Where there are other pieces on the board as well a mate might be possible - but just those pieces remaining means that you can never finish the game. It is a stalemate.
The links below take you to detailed analysis and examples of forced checks. They will open in a new page.
To appreciate these moves it is best to set up a chessboard with the starting position as shown, and then follow through the moves.
This will help you get the 'feel' of forcing a checkmate on your opponent.