How to mate with king and rook vs king

How frustrating is it when you play a great game and find yourself with a rook against a lonely king but cannot deliver checkmate? This article teaches you everything you need to know about a checkmate with a rook to avoid that tragic situation.

Why Should You Learn How To Checkmate With A Rook?

Checkmating your opponent is your ultimate goal when playing chess. To do that successfully, you must understand the ideas behind basic checkmating patterns.

Since rooks usually are the last pieces to be developed and brought into the game, they are also the pieces that often stay on the board longer. Because of that, rook endgames are very frequent and, therefore, knowing how to checkmate your opponent with only a rook and a king is crucial.

How to mate with king and rook vs kingRook endgames are very common in chess.

How To Deliver Checkmate With A Rook And King

There are a few different methods you can use to checkmate your opponent using a rook and a king. We review the simplest of them, which is easier to remember and just as effective as more complicated techniques.

Before we start, here is the final position we are striving to achieve.

How to mate with king and rook vs kingThe enemy king has its back against the wall.

You must pay attention to two details in this position. The first is that you need to press your opponent’s king against the edge of the board so your rook can attack it from the side. The second is that your king has to be directly in front of the black king to block its access to the three escape squares.

How to mate with king and rook vs kingThe rook attacks the black king’s rank, and the white king blocks the three escape squares.

Here is an example of how you can get to this position.

How to mate with king and rook vs kingThe whole checkmating sequence.

Now that you have seen this mating pattern in action, let’s break it down so you can start delivering it yourself.

Step One: Put The Opponent’s King Inside A Box

Forcing the opponent’s king to the edge of the board starts with putting the enemy king inside a box. You can do that with the help of your rook.

Imagine the following starting position with the enemy king on c5 and your rook on f3:

How to mate with king and rook vs kingHow can you put the black king in a box?

Moving the rook one file below the black king creates a box that gets smaller and smaller as the checkmating pattern progresses. Every time the black king moves up, your rook moves closer to it to make the box smaller.

How to mate with king and rook vs kingThe rook impedes the king from going down the board.

After you finish this first step, you are ready to move on to step two. Just a reminder: Keep your rook safe at all times, or the game can end in a draw.

Remember to move your rook out of danger if the enemy king ever gets close to it.

Step Two: Stare At The Opponent’s King And Check

After you put the opponent’s king in a box, it is time to start pushing it to the board’s edge.

Remember how, in the final position, you were able to deliver checkmate because your king was blocking the escape squares for the black king? The second step of this checkmate follows that same idea. You have to put your king directly in front of the black king—giving it the death stare!

How to mate with king and rook vs kingFollow the black king around with your monarch until it is forced to step in front of you.

Do you notice what happens in this situation? Your king restricts the black king’s movements. If you give a check now, Black is forced to move backward, getting closer to the guillotine.

After your king faces its nemesis, a check forces your opponent to move their king up the board.

After you successfully do this, you are ready to repeat this two-step process until you get to the board’s edge and checkmate your opponent.

Waiting Moves

There is one last concept you need to learn to be able to mate your opponent with a rook.

Sometimes you need to perform a waiting move to complete the second step of this mating pattern. Imagine the following scenario:

How to mate with king and rook vs kingHow can you give the black king the death stare?

If you carelessly move in front of the opponent’s king in this position, Black can easily avoid your death stare by stepping aside with their king.

Trying to chase the black king like this is a fruitless effort since the black king can flee.

As you can see, you need to wait until the black king steps in front of your king. Only then do you have time to deliver a check and force the black king to move closer to its ruin. You can do that by making a waiting move with your rook. Since Black cannot refuse to move in their turn, there is no salvation for their king.

The rook moves to “pass” the turn back to Black.

Test Your Skills

Now that you know the theory behind this checkmating pattern, it is time to practice it. Solve the puzzles below by applying the two-step technique you have just learned.

Puzzle 1: You get to an endgame where you have a rook and a king against the opponent’s solitary king. What should you do to start the mating pattern?

Puzzle 2: The enemy king just stepped in front of your king. What should you do?

Puzzle 3: Your opponent is trying to trick you. They just stepped back with their king again before you could approach it with your king. What should you do?


You now know how to checkmate using only a rook and your king. Try out our premium membership and head over to our Drills page to practice this essential mating pattern against the computer so you can do it effortlessly over the board.

sorry if this has been asked here already, but I’m a newbie and I couldn’t find the answer here on anywhere on the internet.

My question is: Is it always possible to mate king+rook vs king+bishop(no pawns)? If yes, are there any guides, how to mate?

depends on where the king is what color bishop. say you have a king on a8 and a dark bishop if you can get your bishop to b8 or a7 its a draw

thanks for your reply, however I still dont get it 😀

In a following position, how can I decide whether it’s a draw or a win? In general, what are the conditions for a white to win?

in the position you give black will get his king to a1 or h8 since the white rook cuts blacks king off from h8 then a1 is his best chance but black can also hold off mate in center by keeping king on dark square and bishop dance around keeping whites like off light square that would mate here is a line i think is best

thanks for your reply, however I still dont get it 😀

In a following position, how can I decide whether it’s a draw or a win? In general, what are the conditions for a white to win?

A general rule on when white can win can be hard to say. If the position is such that white can combine mate threats with threats against the bishop and black can not get around that then you have a winning condition. But normally king+rook vs. king+bishop is a draw.

Here is a white win position I found on the net, a difficult one I would say, it is a mate in 29:

It is not an easy end game I would say.

If you are the one with the rook you can try out and see if you can win the bishop (or check mate) before 50 moves are up, or you can decide to not bother and offer a draw, I think that in most cases it would be a drawn position anyway. Before you offer a draw you might want to at least play out some moves just to look for tactics and get some idea of the possibilities.

If you are the one with the bishop you would of course go for the draw, so resigning is not an option unless you end up in a position with no rescue. Look for tactics, especially look for possibilities to pin the opponent’s rook to his king with your bishop.

Checkmate with a Rook & a King in the Endgame – In this chess tutorial, I will show you a simple step-by-step method to win this endgame quickly within 20 moves. The strategy is to use your rook & king to restrict your opponent’s moves, avoid stalemate and finally mate the white/black king on any side of the board. In this chess video, you will learn an easy & probably the best method to win the king & rook vs king endgame. Here are some basic tips:
1. Understand key concepts such as opposition, mating patterns, zugzwang & waiting moves
2. Drag your opponent’s king to an edge of the board by using the idea of restriction
3. If you have the opposition, you can mate him straight away with your rook
4. If you don’t have the opposition, play waiting moves & drag him to a corner
5. Follow with your king & avoid stalemate
6. And finally Checkmate your opponent with the rook within 50 moves to avoid a draw

0:00 Basic Chess Endgames – King & Rook vs King
0:18 King & Rook Checkmate Pattern
0:52 How to checkmate when the king is on the side of the board?
1:25 Zugzwang & waiting moves
2:32 How to drag the enemy king to a side of the board?
5:43 A Faster Way to checkmate
6:43 King-Rook Endgame Test – Chess Puzzle

If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments below. I will be happy to answer & help you out.

If you like this video, don’t forget to Like, Comment & Share. If you want to learn some cool chess tips & tricks and become a better chess player, then Subscribe to my Channel “Chess Talk” by Jeetendra Advani.

For some Useful Chess Books & Resources, check out my Amazon Store:
Also, Check out my previous chess videos:
How to Checkmate with 2 Bishops & a King:
How to Checkmate with a Queen & King:
How to Mate with a Knight & a Bishop #1:
How to Mate with a Knight & a Bishop #2:
How to Play Chess: Rules for Beginners:
#ChessTalk #JeetendraAdvani

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It’s checkmate with a rook and king vs. King! This is the endgame. Chess has taken you all over the board, but now it comes down to this moment. You have two pieces left: your rook and your noble king. In this post, I will explain how to win with just these two pieces in an easy-to-follow basic checkmate method.

Gaining a checkmate with a rook and king vs a king is similar to the situation you have with Queen and King vs King, but it is going to take a bit longer. You could be looking at up to 20 moves to finally corner the king on a rank or file with the rook and king. This is well explained in the video above.

3 Steps for getting checkmate with Rook and King

1. You must have the lone king on one of the edges of the board

Because of the limitations in movement with the King and Rook combination, it is only possible to gain a checkmate if the enemy king is on one of the outer ranks or files.

Once you get the king there, the rook can hold the king out, and use your king in support, playing waiting moves with your pieces until in the right position to make the final move and rook checkmate.

By knowing and playing the right moves at the right time (and this means avoiding playing check moves], you use Zugzwang to force your opponent toward defeat.

2. Use Zugzwang

Here experienced players are not going to continuously get the enemy king in check, there will always be an out whilst trying to get the king to the edge of the board, What we need to do, is corner off the board and use zugzwang.

In chess Zugzwang sees one player placed in a situation whereby they are compelled to make a move that will place them in a more disadvantageous position than they were in previoulsy.

This is the key to not checking the king, and playing a ‘waiting move’ with the rook, closing the box of available squares that can be moved to.

By not rushing into the check position, it is much easier, if still long-winded, to push the opponent’s king to one of the edges of the board where the final moves are played out with your rook and king to achieve checkmate.

With fewer options available when compared to the Queen King scenario, it can take 20+ moves to force the checkmate this way. The bad news is, there is no quicker route.

3. Practice the King + Rook Over and Over

If the enemy king is centrally located when this phase of the endgame begins, it is going to take a lot of moves to finally get the king to the edge of the board. This will be particularly true if you are playing a strong player who understands, how long it could take, especially if there is time pressure.

If you are in a position that you know, before you make the next move, what it will be in terms of playing waiting moves or forcing moves, then you will be able to make them very quickly in time-control games when your time may be running low.

What is a Rook & King vs King endgame in chess and how does it work

Rook and King endgame are when one player is down to a lone king, whilst the other player has the advantage of a rook.

3 Reasons Why Your Opponent Has Not Resigned, Despite Not Being Able to Win.

You might wonder why your opponent has not resigned in the game, despite the fact that it is impossible to gain a victory with insufficient material and a lone king. What could they continue playing for?

Time Victory

If you are playing a game of Rapid or Bullet chess, to gain a win by checkmate, you have to achieve it within the allocated time. Already, even if a 10-minute game, to be at this position is going to have taken quite some time already, and with possibly more than 20 further moves to be made, if you do not complete the checkmating pattern for the rook and king vs a king, in time, your opponent ill be awarded the win if you run out of time before them.

This is why it is key to learn this endgame and the rook mate so that you can execute the required moves in the shortest time possible.


If you do not know how to complete the quickest checkmate in a position of possessing both a rook and king against a king, it will become apparent as soon as you place the King in check from a square with your rook.

At this point, a strong player will have been able to identify that you may not know how to finish the game and could be susceptible to falling for a stalemate attempt and always have an escape square at hand as part of their defense.

To end a game with these pieces in stalemate would be a disaster if you were the player with the extra rook, it would be almost as bad as a defeat.

So ensure you learn these principles for finishing the game off.

Draw [By Repetition or Maximum Moves Limit]

Whilst it may take up to 20 moves for chess players successfully complete the forcing of the king to the edge and final waiting moves to deliver the quickest checkmate, if you are not proficient at this endgame, you may end up taking many more moves than the limit and thereby being forced into a draw.

How to Practice Rook and King vs King Endgame

There are many endgame strategies involving specific pieces and checkmate positions. Learning as many as you can prepares you for actual games and all possible outcomes as well as this type of checkmate and ways to finish off your games, as well as trying to avoid defeat if you identify your opponent is not so well versed in endgames. Take a look at the Basic Checkmates section to find out more.

Here you will get a feel for zugzwang among endgames practice too.

How do you checkmate with a Rook and King versus King? Is there a good and fast method? Can you explain it in a good way? Thanks!

How to mate with king and rook vs king

5 Answers 5

I know you’re a FIDE Master :), so I suppose you’re more interested in this question from a teaching perspective.

The simplest way to understand a checkmate with King and Rook vs King is the idea of the rectangle of the opposing king. Consider this position-

How to mate with king and rook vs king

Here, the Black King is restricted by the White Rook in this giant rectangular area of the chessboard. For simplicity, I am not considering the area restricted by the White King, which would be like this –

How to mate with king and rook vs king

A simple way (I’ll deal with optimizations later) to checkmate is to ensure that this rectangle gets smaller and smaller, so that the Black King is pushed to a corner of the board (more visual representation below with diagrams).

How to mate with king and rook vs king

How to mate with king and rook vs king

How to mate with king and rook vs king

How to mate with king and rook vs king

How to mate with king and rook vs king

How to mate with king and rook vs king

How to mate with king and rook vs king

How to mate with king and rook vs king

How to mate with king and rook vs king

How to mate with king and rook vs king

Of course, with this method, the one mistake that White must avoid is stalemate –

How to mate with king and rook vs king

Optimizations and Tricks.

More experienced players can get to smaller rectangles quicker by looking further ahead.

One trick is to trap the king in a smaller rectangle if it comes too close to the rook. For this, White also has to use the king more actively.

How to mate with king and rook vs king

Another trick is to give a rook check when the kings are in opposition.

How to mate with king and rook vs king

This trick is not necessarily optimal. In the above example, White can actually mate faster with the move 1. Rd1!

How to mate with king and rook vs king

The above optimization is also made possible by the rook-waiting-move trick. If, in the above position, instead of going to c6, the Black king tries to escape via a4, then the following checkmate is possible.

One more idea is to use king-opposition (in combination with the rook) to push the enemy king behind.

Combining these different ideas, here are two of the most optimal mates possible from the starting position –

I would teach the slow but safe and easy way first: The rook divides the board in two halves. Then the attacking king tries to get in opposition to the enemy king (sometimes the rook has to swap sides or needs to make a waiting move for this to happen). Then the rook gives a check, hence pushing the king one field closer to the edge of the board. The mate follows exactly the same pattern.

How to mate with king and rook vs king

I would suggest — Play this out with an opponent. That’s the best way to get the feel of it. Otherwise just google and you will see lots of explanation — with some nice graphics. and even have some practice board where you can learn.

Rule of thumb for checkmate with Rook against lone king:

  1. Use the Rook to restrict the opponent’s King.
  2. Support the Rook with the King.
  3. Confine the King to a box and make the box smaller if possible.
  4. If it is not possible to make the box smaller, move the King (a waiting move to force back the opponent’s King.).
  5. Last but not least which leads to victory is
    Force your opponent king to corner ( Rank – 1st or 8th or File – a or h ).

How to mate with king and rook vs king

Wes already gave a good answer from the teaching perspective for the OP. This answer is complementary to his answer. I am concentrating on the optimization and tricks still keeping beginners in mind (may not be useful to OP). If you haven’t seen the basic technique read that form Wes’s answer first, then read these tricks and finally go back to optimisation and tricks section of his answer.

The most basic tool in making it faster is flexibility
(eg: not sticking one method always whether it is king-in-opposition method or box-in-method)

Also, just to recall, our purpose is to confine the king to an edge, not to a corner. And we are not preoccupied with which edge it must be.

Though obvious, these fact helps to make it shorter.

Trick 1) When you use king-in-opposition, there is no need to go all the way to the end of the side.

So, instead of the following, you can make the check earlier if the king is confined enough (see the variation).

5. Kh5 6.Kg3 Kg5 7.Ra5+ *

Trick 2) King can be inside the rectangle instead of outside

When I was very young I remember learning the point values of the pieces. And then I ran into something very confusing.

I was able to learn king and rook vs king mates pretty easily, but king and 2 bishops was trickier–and bishop/knight took me much longer to learn.

This confused me. B+B/B+N = 6 points > R = 5 points. So I did not understand why the rook did things more quickly. Was it just me seeing things linearly, or was there something about how pieces interacted?

I have some ideas for how to express this simply, but nothing concrete. It seems like there should be such an explanation.

How to mate with king and rook vs king

How to mate with king and rook vs king

4 Answers 4

King and Rook mate faster because the 2 pieces coordinate better together.

Recall that the mating procedure for King and Rook is about making a box with the Rook, then making that box smaller. This is quite straight forwards. Compare this to mating with King, Bishop and Knight, which is hard even for masters!

This brings me to discuss your misconception on the point value of the pieces. They relate to trading pieces. So if you trade Rook and Pawn (6 units) for 2 minor pieces (6 units), then on a point only basis, material is even.

Note also that the point value system is a guideline. It is not a cast iron law of the universe. In the example above, which side is better after trading Rook and Pawn for 2 minor pieces depends on the concrete position. But that is a different topic.

by Sam Wayne Novice
Can a rook and king expertly played capture a king expertly guarded by a knight, if so how?

The pawnless endgame king and rook versus king and knight is a draw if the king and knight are placed in the center. Then the opponent who has the rook will not be able to chase the king to the edge of the board.

Only if the knight or king are badly placed then a win is possible.

For example if the king and knight are far apart or if the king or knight are placed at the edge of the board then this can lead to a loss of the game by losing the knight.

White moves
How to mate with king and rook vs king
White is winning by cutting off the knight and capturing it later on. He has three good moves to cut off the knight and after that he will attack the knight with the king and capture it.
1. Kf3 or 1. Ra3 or 1. Rg4

White moves
How to mate with king and rook vs king
White plays 1.Ra6 pinning and winning the knight.

White moves
How to mate with king and rook vs king
White plays 1.Rg4 and if Black plays 1…Kh6 then 2.Rh4++ checkmate. Or Black plays 1…Nf7 and loses the knight.

Don’t spend too much time on that because these endings occur extremely seldom.
Better invest your time learning chess strategies and positional play, which is extemely important.

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How to checkmate using King and Two Rooks vs. King

In this article, let us discuss the ways in which the opponent King can be checkmated using the King and Two Rooks at your disposal.

The King, as we know, can move only one square either on any of the sides, front, back or on either of the two sides. The rooks, on the other hand, are capable of moving any number unoccupied squares either horizontally or vertically, but they cannot move diagonally.

When you have Two rooks at your disposal, the King need not have a major role to play. The two rooks by themselves can complete the job of capturing the opponent king. However, it has to be ensured that the two rooks should not be in the same file, as they would get in each other’s way. The two rooks should be two different files. The opponent king need not be forced to move to any of the four corners to effect the check mate. It is sufficient that the opponent King is forced to move to the first or the last rank, and either to the “a” file or the “h” file.

To make the point more clear, let us assume the positions in a chessboard as follows: The opponent King is in “c6”; your king is in “d1”, one of your rooks in “h4” and the other rook is in “g5”.

Now the opponent King is restricted from moving into the 5th rank from its existing 6th rank. The king can move in any of the squares in the 6th, 7th or 8th ranks.

If it is your turn to make the move, it would be better if you use the rook in “h4” to attack the king in the 6th rank, than the rook in the 5th rank. While victory is any ensured, moving the rook in the 5th rank will offer a chance for the opponent to come to 5th rank and you need one more or a few moves to corner the king to the flanks or to the 8th rank of the 1st rank.

You can move the rook in “h4” to “h6” and say “check” for the opponent king. Since there is another rook in the 5th rank, the opponent King has no other alternative but to move to the 7th rank.

Having forced the opponent King to the 7th rank, the next move from your end would be the rook in the 5th rank at “g” file and not the rook at the 6th rank at “h” file. Your move of “Rg7” will force the opponent king to move to the 8th rank.

Then the last move from your end will to move the rook in “h” file in 6th rank to the 8th rank and attack the opponent king. The King cannot move in to the 7th rank and as such, he is captured.

Your king will have little or no role when you have two rooks at your disposal.

Here, I would like to share an interesting point with you. In value terms, two rooks combined have a value higher than that of a queen, which has a value of 9. Two rooks joined together give a value of 10, while a combination of a rook and a bishop or a combination of a rook and a knight will give you a value of 8, which is less than the value of the Queen.

Two rooks are more powerful than a Queen is, though they are allowed to move only horizontally and vertically.