I would like to clarify two things:

  1. Is it possible to checkmate with only a knight and a king against a lone king?

  2. What will happen when one side has a king and knight and the other has just a king, does the game have to be drawn due to insufficient material?


4 Answers 4


If you drive an enemy king into a corner, you still need to control four different squares to checkmate him. Your king can control two of those squares (but cannot approach the enemy king), your knight can control the third, but there is no way of controlling the fourth. That is, it is impossible for the knight to control both the corner square and the one adjacent to the enemy king (the one your own king doesn't control).

So the result would be a draw -- insufficient material to win.

  • 3
    Not only this, but N+N+K vs. K can't even win! This is one of the great tragedies of chess.
    – Dennis
    Jan 5, 2013 at 7:55
  • A knight can only mate if the opposing king is smothered by at least one pawn of his own. Two knights cannot force mate without first stalemating unless they make use of an enemy pawn. KNNkp is possible if you blockade the enemy pawn and use it to avoid stalemate while forcing the king into the corner. It's very tough.
    – Alan
    Jun 24, 2014 at 5:38
  • @Dennis There's nothing tragic about the knight. His strengths (which are formidable) easily make up for his weaknesses. Knights are about the most common piece to be undervalued, especially in lower ELOs. You can't blame your stalemates on the knight. Or any other piece for that matter.
    – arkon
    Jul 13, 2016 at 9:29
  • 2
    @b1nary.atr0phy I think you read a bit too much into my comment.
    – Dennis
    Jul 13, 2016 at 13:48

It is POSSIBLE to checkmate a lone king with a king and 2 knights but it cannot be FORCED. There is always an escape square for the lone king. If the player with the lone king is drunk or reckless he would possibly move his king to the corner square in which case he would be checkmated. If the player with the king and 2 knights fails to checkmate the lone king within 50 moves then the player with the lone king can claim a draw.

Checkmate with either 1 bishop or 1 knight and a king against a lone king is IMPOSSIBLE.

What CAN be forced is checkmate with a king and a knight and a bishop against a lone king. There is an exact pattern for this though. Consult a chess book. My favorite is "Chess for Beginners" by Horowitz....


Checkmate with K+N v K is not possible. The game ends in a draw by insufficient material.

  • 1
    Stalemate may be possible, but the player with the bare K will have to help. But this is still a draw.
    – Tony Ennis
    Aug 20, 2012 at 11:14
  • Explaining the why is generally encouraged.
    – arkon
    Jul 13, 2016 at 9:32

No it is not possible to checkmate a lone king with king and Knight ...

Even a lone king king cannot be checkmated using King and a bishop...

This is because knight controls only one coloured square a a time (either black or white), this is the case with bishop....

So the opponent king can run using the other color which is not controlled. even if you control that escaping square with your king that will be stalemate (Draw)...

Even two knights and a king cannot mate a lone king (True fact)...

The minor piece combination that will mate a lone king is King + 2 bishops or King + knight + bishop....

Since two bishops control both colored squares and in case of Knight and bishop, knight should control the opposite colored square as that of the bishop ....

  • 1
    Two knights ´can´ mate a lone king, they just cannot force checkmate.
    – downhand
    Apr 17, 2015 at 9:25

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