Checkmate With King And Queen

Checkmate With King And Queen

Learning basic checkmates and other types of common checkmate patterns is an essential skill for chess improvement. Knowing how to checkmate with a king and queen versus a king is a very common checkmate that is extremely valuable to know! But how do we do it? Let's find out! 

Here is what you need to know about checkmating with a king and queen:


What Method Should I Use? 

There are many different ways and methods to checkmate with a king and queen versus a king. In this article, we learn a method that some call the "boxing" or "rectangle" method. It is a proven and effective method that isn't too difficult to learn.

It consists of four steps:

  1. Putting the opponent's king in a box by moving our queen a knight-move away,
  2. Decreasing the size of the box by "dancing with the king,"
  3. "Freezing the queen" after the king is in a corner, and
  4. Walking our king over to deliver checkmate! 

This may sound a little daunting at first, but after you see this method in action, you will see how simple conducting this checkmate can be!

Step One: Put The Opponent's King In A Box

The first step is easy: we can put the opponent's king in a box by simply moving our queen a knight-move away. In the position below, we can see White's queen and king are facing a lone king. We can move our queen to e4, c4, c8, or f5 to complete step 1 and place our queen a knight-move away from Black's king. For this exercise, we start with Qe4 (please note that placing the queen on e4 makes the smallest box for the black king).

king and queen checkmate
By moving your queen a knight-move away from the enemy king, you put their king in a box.

After the queen moves to e4, we can see the box where the black king is now stuck. We will not let it escape this box for the rest of the game! 

king and queen checkmate box
The queen on e4 puts the black king in a box.

Now that we have the enemy king in a box, we can start "dancing with the king."

Step Two: Dance With The King! 

In this step, we literally copy the moves of the opponent's king with our queen. If the opponent's king moves up a square, then our queen moves up a square; if the opponent's king moves diagonally to the right, then our queen will move diagonally to the right—whatever their king does, our queen does and always maintains the knight-move distance away from the enemy king.

This can be viewed as "dancing with the king." In the diagram below, Black's king has just moved from d6 to c7, moving one square away from us diagonally to the left. What should we do?

king and queen checkmate dance
How can White dance with the king?

That's right—we move our queen one square towards their king and diagonally to left also with Qd5! 

king and queen checkmate box smaller
After Qd5 the box that the black king is in grows smaller.

With each move (or dance step), the box that the enemy king is in grows smaller. We continue this process of copying the opponent's king moves until that king reaches the corner of the board. Here is a great GIF that illustrates the white queen forcing the black king into the corner:

king and queen checkmate gif
The queen chases the black king into the corner.

As soon as the opponent's king reaches the corner, we must freeze the queen! In other words, we must stop moving the queen for the rest of the game until it is time to deliver checkmate. 

Step Three: Freeze the Queen!

The first point to know about step three is that we must never forget it! There have been many, many games where this step is overlooked, and then the checkmate does not occur. Always remember: we must freeze the queen once the opponent's king reaches the corner! 

You may be wondering why we must stop moving our queen once the enemy king reaches the corner. Well, take a look at what happens if we keep moving the queen a knight-move away after the enemy king reaches the corner. In the following position, Black plays Ka8, and White continues to dance with the king and plays Qb6.

king and queen checkmate blunder

Stalemate! The game is drawn because Black has no legal moves!

Stalemate! Our opponent has no legal moves (since a king can never move into check), and the game is a draw. When you are up a queen, you don't want a draw! You want to deliver checkmate!

By freezing the queen after the enemy king reaches the corner, we can now see that Black's king is in a tiny box where it can only move two squares. This means that it is time for step four: Walking the king over to deliver checkmate. 

king and queen checkmate king in corner
After the opponent's king reaches the corner, we must freeze the queen!

Step Four: Walk The King Over To Deliver Checkmate

Now that the enemy king is in a box, we bring our king over to help deliver checkmate. Note that the black king can only move to two squares, like a prisoner in a jail cell pacing back and forth. We now know our opponent's moves for the rest of the game! They are helpless while we bring the king in for the final blow. The correct idea, once our opponent's king touches the corner of the board, is to bring our king over to help. In the diagram below, we can start this process by playing Kc3 and then eventually walk our king to c7.

king and queen checkmate
The black king can only move back and forth while White brings their king into the action!

Since we already know Black's moves for the rest of the game (moving back and forth from the a7-square to the a8-square), our king continues to walk over until it reaches the c7-square:

king and queen checkmate king walk
The white king moves into the action until it is across from the black king.

Now that our king is directly across from the enemy king, we may deliver multiple different checkmates. Qb7#, Qa5#, and Qa4# are all checkmates! Be careful not to miss checkmate, or you may let your opponent's king out of the box and have to start the process all over!

king and queen checkmate
There are now multiple checkmates for White to play!
checkmate
Checkmate!

Test

Now that you know the method, here are a few tests. In the following position, how can Black put the White king in a box by placing it a knight-move away?

king and queen checkmate box
Where should Black place the queen to put the white king in a box?

Yes! Black can move the queen to d4 (or b4, or d8) to put the white king in a box! Note that d4 is the best square for Black's queen as it puts the white king in the smallest box! Let's try another one. In the following position, White has just played Kh1. What should Black do?

king and queen checkmate
What should Black play?

Yes! Freezing our queen and starting our king walk is correct! Kf3 is the best move, while Qg3 would be stalemate! Ok, one final test. In the position below, Black has just played Kh7. How can White deliver checkmate?

queen and king checkmate
What should White play?

Very good! There are multiple checkmates in this position! Bonus points if you recognized all four checkmates (Qg7#, Qh5#, Qh4#, and Qh3#)!

Conclusion

You now know a proven method for checkmating with a king and queen against a lone king. This is one of the most common checkmating patterns, as it can arrive naturally or after promoting a pawn to a queen in a king-and-pawn endgame. Enjoy putting this new knowledge into practice in your own games!