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Basic Checkmates: King and Rook Mate!

Jul 8, 2011, 12:00 AM 51 For Beginners

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!!!

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