Basic Checkmates: King and Rook Mate!

  • missjessica
  • | Jul 8, 2011

Checkmate with the King and Rook, by Mrs Jessica Prescott 

Hi everyone! Now that you have all completed the King and Queen checkmate Dance, you are ready to learn the king and rook checkmate.  It's amazing that all you need is one king and one rook to force a checkmate to happen, but it's true!  Let's learn how...

First, let's look at our final checkmate position so that you can keep your "goal" in mind through out reading this article. What should white play?




Rooks are great at back rank mates because they can guard an entire rank, or horizontal line on a chessboard. However, unlike the Queen Dance -- your king must help create the mating net you see above. Before we learn the pattern, you should know that checking the long king all around the chessboard will get you nowhere:


Now, let's learn the pattern! First you must understand that the king and rook mate works a lot like the queen dance because they will slowly make the box around the king smaller and smaller and smaller until... CHECKMATE!


Step 1)  Get your king and rook working together.

Step 2) Make the box smaller and smaller...

The pattern is simple:  Ask yourself one question, "Can I make the box smaller (safely)?"  If so, move your rook, if not, move your king.  That's it!  Notice, NO CHECKS! Instead, you are using your king and rook together. How can you make the box smaller?



That's right!  Kg4 makes opposition.  We will talk more about this in other endgames, but it basically means there is an odd number of squares in between the two kings.  It's like football players holding each other back; the kings can't move forward.Keep going until the king gets into the corner.

Now that the enemy king is in the corner, your king needs to be a knight's distance -- NOTE how that "Knight's Distance" pattern repeats in both the King and Queen Dance and the King and Rook Checkmate??? -- away from the corner. So where is he headed? Well, the rook is on g3 so that won't work, but how about f2?

Once the king is in the corner and your king is a knight's distance away, there should be checkmate!  Can you find it?

Quick review:   
Step 1.  Kings and rook work together!
Step 2.  Ask yourself (in your head, not out loud), "Can I make the box smaller safely?" If so, do it!
Step 3.  Answer (in your head!):  Yes.  Then make the box smaller.  No, then bring in the king.  (And try for opposition.)

Step 4.  When the king is in the corner, get your king a knight's move away from the corner!
Step 5.  CHECKMATE!  (No stalemates, please.)
The end!!!


  • 10 months ago


    Heh missjessica,

    Just a word of thanks.  I had the most ridiculous mental block trying to figure out the boolean logic on this simple problem.  I went to videos and googled for solutions.  I couldn't understand any of it.  Your logic was the magic key for me.  Thanks.

  • 10 months ago


    it's cool!

  • 16 months ago


    smooth work

  • 23 months ago


    Good stuff to remember!

  • 24 months ago


    Thanks for this very interesting lesson.

    I have just written a blog post about the Rook versus King checkmate because I think it is very important to know it.

    Have a look at it at

  • 24 months ago


    more hard

  • 2 years ago


    yeah, good article
  • 3 years ago


    great article.

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks for sharing!! 

  • 3 years ago


    So here's a reverse question: how do you AVOID a king rook mate when you are the poor sot with a king? Try to stay in the middle and as close to the rook as possible ?

  • 3 years ago


    Found this helpful, thanks!

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks for these articlesCool

    We want more tactics from u

  • 3 years ago


    I prefer to checkmate like this (but I guess its longer

  • 3 years ago


    Great article for beginners!

  • 4 years ago


    Helpful for beginners. Cheers

  • 4 years ago


    Nice way to remember it...can i make the box smaller??? lol... Thanx for the article!!

  • 4 years ago


    Great article, I once checkmated my father with this strategy!

  • 4 years ago


    mastery of king and rook patterns for mate is  a must to avoid time troubles.

  • 4 years ago


    i think this is a great way for beginners until they find something better. I just started playing chess not to long ago and i have a very funny opening. but i think its really good.

  • 4 years ago


    @ultimifier: Seriously, don't complain about the article's contents. The title clearly says "Basic Checkmates: King and Rook", so it's not like you should have entered thinking it was some super high level tip tip top expert thing.

Back to Top

Post your reply: