The Shortest Checkmate

  • GM Gserper
  • | Dec 29, 2013

Today we'll talk about the positions with the shortest possible checkmates. I almost hear your question: “Are you talking about checkmate in one move?” No, we actually discussed this kind of checkmates here, but today we will talk about checkmates you can deliver faster than in one move! Do they exist? Well, if you read our series about “Impossible checkmates” then you'll know that there is nothing impossible in chess. So let's start with the next position where White checkmates in a half-move!

Checkmate in a half-move?? That's impossible for sure! But if you are reading this article around New Year's eve (the time when all kind of miracles happen) and most importantly have a great sense of humor, then solving this problem will be a piece of cake!

The solution is simple: you lift your Nf6 like if you are going to move it somewhere and this is the first half of a chess move. But now your knight doesn't block the bishop anymore, so it is a discovered check. Meanwhile your knight still covers the g8 and h7 squares, so this is a checkmate! Easy, right?

Now try to solve the next two puzzles on your own. Just like in the diagram above, you need to checkmate Black king in a half-move in both positions.

Puzzle One:

Puzzle Two:

Puzzle One: White moves his Ra1 to d1 and finishes his castle to the queenside which delivers a checkmate.

Puzzle Two: Since the last move by Black was e7-e5, White removes the black pawn from the board like if he captures it en passant (a half-move), but doesn't complete the move by moving his own pawn from d5 to e6. Checkmate!

So, if it is possible to checkmate in a half-move, why not checkmate in zero moves? Look at the next position:

Here the solution is very simple. You don't make any moves and just turn the board 180 degrees!

And finally let me offer you a super test! It will require all the ‘skills’ you've learned today!Laughing It is a checkmate in half a move again!

Are you ready for a solution? OK, here it is: first you turn the board 90 degrees to the left (which requires zero chess moves), which leads to a position with white pawn on the eighth rank. It happened because earlier White played e7-e8 (the first half-move), but didn't finish his move. Now you finish the job by promoting the pawn into a knight (the second half-move), which leads to a checkmate!

Happy New Year, folks!



  • 22 months ago



  • 2 years ago



  • 2 years ago


    Very clever! wish it was a new type of chess, that would be better, with half moves everywhere and backward pawns could easily promote.....

  • 3 years ago



  • 3 years ago


    i dont know if you can use these tricks in a real game

  • 3 years ago


    @memenc: Totally agree!

  • 3 years ago


    So cute ! I will vote for the best article of 2013 :D

  • 3 years ago


    If somewhen I play with the author, I'll use itCool

  • 3 years ago


    when you pick up a piece from the board (to move it elsewhere) it doesn't control its squares anymore. the first example (and similar ones) are simply wrong IMHO

  • 3 years ago


    Very clever and interesting!

  • 3 years ago


    I don't really care about whether this is funny.  I think it is abundantly clear that this is very clever.  No, this won't help you get better at the game, but it clearly is written by someone with a great appreciation for the game who has taken a unique look.  This is the type of article that could lead to whole new genre of chess puzzles for those who enjoy mental stimulation of a different sort.

  • 3 years ago


    ترجمه فارسی متن در اینجا

  • 3 years ago



  • 3 years ago


    If you do not have a "what if?" mental attitude strong enough to consider what you think the ridiculous is, you will miss a lot of winning combinations.  Please be relevant, helpful & nice!

  • 3 years ago


    overal it gives me hope, if someone who thinks thoughts this ridiculous, can become a GM, then surely I can too!

  • 3 years ago


    Great article, but the last one is not technically correct, since turning it by 90° would mean there is a  white square in the bottom left (where you normally have a black square). Nevertheless, a great article to wrap up the year.

  • 3 years ago


    A nice article.  I think some readers miss the point.  Although it seems to have no direct application to normal chess, it does delve into the ideas of checking your premises/assumptions and of shifting your perspective. Both of which are higher forms of thinking and which DO help in playing normal chess better.  By the way, Puzzle One could be presented as a "checkmate in zero moves" (instead of a half move).  Reference USCF Rules 9C and 9E.  And aadchesskid's objection is overcome by reference to Rule 11G.  Jack

  • 3 years ago


    Cute! I actually figured out the last one, but not the rest. A fun little lateral thinking exercise. Thanks.

  • 3 years ago


    great! Can I use the half moves also in blitz? (in 2014, seems many things will change)

  • 3 years ago


    Turning the board!  Clever ... and I liked it.  :)

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