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.


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....

  • There appears to be two different "Chess for Beginners" books, each authored by a different "Horowitz". Will you clarify? Jan 15, 2023 at 19:54
  • Actually... it seems they're both the same author. Israel A. Horowitz and Al Horowitz. There are a lot of editions of his books, so that confuses things. Jan 15, 2023 at 23:45

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

  • 1
    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 ....


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