Checkmate is the end of the chess game where one player wins because the other player’s King will be taken. The requirements for checkmate are:

  • The King is “in check”. It is under attack from an enemy piece (or pawn).
  • There are zero legal moves.

In practice, this means that there are about 4 specific things you need to check:

  • The King cannot move to any safe square. All of the squares where the King could move to are attacked by an enemy piece or pawn.
  • The King cannot take the piece that’s attacking it. (Note that it cannot take the attacking piece if another of the attacker’s pieces is defending that piece!)
  • No defensive piece can move to “block” the check
  • No defensive piece can take the attacking piece that’s giving check.

Note that it is possible to have “zero legal moves” but actually not be “in check”. That’s called “stalemate” and is a draw.

There are hundreds of different ways to achieve checkmate. But some of the most common ways are:

Learning to spot checkmates is critical for both attacking and defensive chess.

Related Chess Tactics

Read more about these related chess strategies: