If the only pieces left on the board are the two kings and a knight, is it ever possible to force check mate? I mean, if the bare king avoids the edges and stays close to the opponent's knight, I don't see how the game can ever end. I was in this situation for more than half an hour yesterday and we were forced to draw.


2 Answers 2


No, it is not possible.

The knight simply does not cover enough space to checkmate the black king. When a position with insufficient material to checkmate occurs, a draw by insufficient material is declared.

Draw by insufficient material is declared when, and only when:

K vs K

K + N vs K

K + B vs K

Technically, a king and 2 knights versus a lone king can still result in checkmate. However, here the black king has to be dumb enough to cooperate and go into a corner and be checkmated. And so it is usually declared a draw by insufficient material.

  • I think in the OP's scenario, a helpmate would be possible. If White has a king at h8 and knight at f5, and Black has a king at f7, and knight at h4 (a position the players could easily cooperate to achieve), that would allow 1. Nh7 Ng6++
    – supercat
    Dec 11, 2018 at 18:02
  • Ooops.. I misread the question as both players having a king and knight each, which is an interesting scenario.
    – supercat
    Dec 11, 2018 at 18:02

No, it is not possible to checkmate with a lone knight (K+N vs K). However, Add another Bishop and you'll be able to Checkmate (K+N+B vs K)

There is a rule in Chess which goes like this "No Mating material = Draw"


K vs K = Draw

K+N Vs K = Draw

K+B Vs K = Draw

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