Queen vs Pawn Endings

Queen versus Pawn endings are endings where one player has a Queen and the other player has one pawn (along with Kings). So itís a K+Q vs K+P endgame, although usually called a ďQvPĒ ending. The other types of Queen endgames include:

True ďQueen vs Pawn endingsĒ have only 4 pieces. These QvP endgames do not really occur in beginner games. Itís not likely that one side loses a Queen and ends up with only a pawn. It just doesnít happen that way.

The way that these Queen vs Pawn endings arise in more advanced games is from King-and-Pawn endings with ďpawn racesĒ. When both players have a passed pawn and are racing to Queen a pawn, often one player will get a Queen first.

Once a playerís pawn wins the race, that player has a Queen, but their opponent has a pawn. Itís a Queen vs Pawn endgame now. The other playerís pawn is also pretty close to Queening. Does the first Queen win?

Both Queen at the Same Move

Itís a draw if the other pawn immediately Queens. If their opponent is right after them in the pawn race, they Queen first, and then the opponent Queens too. You end up with a Queen-vs-Queen ending (i.e. a Queen endgame), where both Kings are usually without much cover, which is usually a draw by perpetual check. Thereís a few exceptions if there are skewers or tactics at the tail end of the pawn race, but usually itís just a QvQ ending.

Queen versus Pawn on the 6th or 7th

The theoretically interesting Queen-versus-Pawn endings only arise when one player Queens, and the other play then moves their pawn to the 7th rank just about to Queen on the next move (or its further way from Queening on the 6th rank, 5th rank, or whatever).

Does the Queen beat the pawn? Yes, usually the Queen wins, with 2 main exceptions. The Queen can usually stop the pawn from Queening by harassing its King, and then eventually win the pawn too.

Queen Captures Unsupported Pawn

The first basic point is that if the defenderís King is not supporting the pawn, then the Queen rounds up the pawn easily. The Queen can either move behind the pawn, or can move to somewhere that it controls the Queening square.

QvP where King Defends Pawn

But usually it happens that the King is nearby and can defend the pawn. The King has usually just eaten the other playerís pawns in order to make room for their pawn to move forward. So the interesting Q-vs-P endings with supporting Kings are actually the most common type in practice.

The result depends on how far the pawn is advanced, and surprisingly on what type of pawn it is.

Queen vs Pawn on the 6th (Easy Win)

If the pawn is only on the 6th rank or further back (5th, 4th, etc), even if the defending King is nearby, then the Queen wins easily. Itís quite a tricky method where the Queen has to do a few checks, force the King to block its own pawn, and then move the attacking King one square closer, then repeat the process until the attackerís King is close enough to help the Queen either take the pawn or checkmate the King. So itís slow, repetitive, and laborious, but quite easy once you see it.

Queen vs Pawn on the 7th (Usually a Win)

The same method works if the pawn is on the 7th rank (about to Queen), and supported by its King, except if the pawn is a Rook-pawn or a Bishop-pawn. For pawns on the 7th that are King-pawns, Queen-pawns, or Knight-pawns, the method is the same as for the 6th: lots of checks, the King blocks its own pawn, then one square closer for the attackerís King. This win works for most pawns: King pawns, Queen pawns, and Knight pawns on the 7th.

Exception: Draw: Queen vs Rook Pawn on 7th

The first exception is a Rook-pawn on the 7th, supported by the King, where the Queen cannot get to the Queening square. The King moves in front of the pawn, but if you move your King over, then the defending King is stalemated.

Exception: Draw: Queen vs Bishop Pawn on 7th

The second exception is a Bishop-pawn on the 7th, with the same provisos: supported by the King, and the Queen cannot get onto the Queening square. Again, itís a stalemate draw defence.

Alternative Queen Win: Blocking the Queening Square

Thereís also another method to win that is often easier than the repetitive Queen checking method. This can work against pawns on the 6th, 5th, etc., and can occasionally also work against pawns on the 7th (although not usually). The idea is simply to get the Queen onto the Queening square of the enemy pawn and leave the Queen there. The pawn is blocked by the Queen, the enemy King cannot get near, and hence the pawn cannot advance. Then you bring your King over until you can win the pawn, then with no pawns left, you checkmate with the basic K+Q-vs-K method.

Queen vs 2 Pawns

Queen versus 2 pawn endings: Interestingly, the Queen-vs-Pawn on the 7th ending is almost always a win if the defender has 2 pawns, rather than 1 pawn. Having a 2nd pawn actually means that the stalemate defence fails, so the Queen can win the pawn on the 7th even if itís a Rook-pawn or a Bishop-pawn. In the case of the Rook pawn, the Queen actually mates the King in front of the Rook-pawn if it has a spare move from another pawn. In the case of a Bishop pawn, the Queen can capture the Bishop pawn if the King moves to the corner (and thereís another pawn that can move, avoiding the stalemate).

Obviously, there are some rare exceptions, like if the 2nd pawn is very advanced and about to Queen too. But usually in practice, the positions that arise from a race to Queen their first pawn in a King-and-Pawn ending, thereís one pawn thatís made it to the 7th, and the second pawn is far back. The Queen wins the pawn on the 7th, then cleans up the other one at her leisure.

Queen vs 3 Pawns

Queen versus 3 pawn endings: Queen versus lots of pawns, like 3 pawns or more, can get quite tricky in theory. But they simply donít occur much in practice, if at all. Practical play of a Queen versus lots of pawns is usually a pretty one-sided cleanup by the Queen where it simply eats all of the pawns long before any of them head towards the other end of the board.

Related Chess Tactics

Read more about these related chess strategies: