In a chess game, when a checkmate occurs, the game is over. The winner is whoever initiated the checkmate. We will look at some strategies you can use to create a checkmate condition, but first let’s cover what a checkmate is.

white queen captures black kingCheck and Checkmate

If the king is being attacked by another piece from the opposing side, that king is said to be in check. Now the game can still continue at this point, but the potential for checkmate is high.

The king has to get out of check as quickly as possible, since he is the most important piece. He can do that by moving out of harm’s way, away from the attacking piece. Additionally, another piece can be moved between the king and the attacking piece. Finally, the attacking piece can be captured by the king’s pieces. Any of these methods will end a check.

The checkmate occurs when the king is blocked and none of the above options are possible. The king has to be taken out of jeopardy right away on a check situation, otherwise checkmate can occur. Once it does, the game is over and the checking side wins.

Strategies for Initiating Checkmate Conditions

white queen checkmated by blackNow any chess player worth their salt is going to be watching for moves you make that could jeopardize their king. They know the importance of that piece, and they will often do everything they can to protect him. That’s why you probably want to start with some misdirection. You can make it look like you have an attack focused elsewhere and slowly build up for a play on the king.

That’s going to be obvious to your opponent if you are only moving a sole piece toward the king. So, your best strategy is usually to move several pieces in concert across the board and keep their attention focused on multiple pieces so they can’t tell what your next play is.

Your goal needs to be to cordon off the king. This not only puts him out of play against your other pieces, but it can also lead to checkmate conditions. That should be your primary goal if you are going for a checkmate. It’s the quickest way to finish the game, and if you are successful, you can end the game in a just a few moves. That’s going to take some oversight or egregious errors on your opponent’s part, but it’s still possible.

To get the king alone or trapped, you need to do one of two thing- draw out the king to your pieces or move your pieces across the board. The most common way to trap the king is to take your queen over to where the king is and block his exit. If that’s your move, then you’ll have to do it quickly, right from the start. Otherwise, the king will have a chance to move out of the starting position and get into a wider space with more room to work.

There are tons of different paths you can use to end up at checkmate, so it’s a good idea to look into a few of them to get an idea of how other people have managed this feat and how you can replicate their success.