I was playing on chesstempo and came across the following setup:

[FEN "k1r4r/p6p/5p2/3Q4/1R5P/PPqn4/3N1P2/1K1R4 b - - 1 1"]

With black to move. I was unable to solve this tactic - it seemed to me the best move was to place the queen on b2. In my mind this was mate. The queen is defended by the knight on d3 so the king could not escape.

However, the tactic said this was the wrong move. I ran it through chessbase and it was the same result.

Why is queen to b2 the wrong move here? The correct move was rook to c6, but I have no idea why.

  • 9
    You are too focused on your own ideas, and need to also look at what your opponent is doing, and not just in this one position. Nov 16, 2019 at 12:29

2 Answers 2


1...Qb2 is not a legal move because black is in check; 1...Rc6 blocks the check. Another alternative to block the check is 1...Qc6, but that would drop the knight on d3.

[FEN "k1r4r/p6p/5p2/3Q4/1R5P/PPqn4/3N1P2/1K1R4 b - - 1 1"]

1... Rc6 (1... Qc6 2. Qxd3)
  • 2
    Ah yes, beginners tactics. I am in check. Thanks for this. I feel really dumb.
    – CL40
    Nov 16, 2019 at 6:39
  • 11
    A very common mistake (one I am dreadful at) is to forget to think about what my opponent is trying to achieve, and only concentrate on my own evil plans - chess is a game for two players!
    – Ian Bush
    Nov 16, 2019 at 12:09

Black is in check, so Black is forced to deal with that first.

Black can't move out of check and can't take the checking piece so their only option is to block it. If Black blocks it with the Queen (Qc6) then White can take their knight which ends the immediate checkmate threat and leaves White up on material.

If Black blocks it with the rook (Rc6) then White still has to deal with the checkmate threats by Qb2 and Qc2. It seems to me that all White's options from this point result in a loss of material for White.

If (after Black plays Rc6) White use their rook or queen to check Black on their back rank then Black just captures the attacker with their rook. This leaves Black up on material and does nothing about the checkmate threat.

If White captures Black's rook with their queen (Qxc6+) then Black captures their queen with theirs (Qxc6). White gave up their queen in exchange for Black's rook.

Rc4 by White blocks the threat of mate by Qc2 but does nothing about the threat of mate by Qb2, so that doesn't help.

Nc4 by White mitigates the immediate threat of mate, but Black can capture their rook with their knight (Nxb4) reinstating the threat of a mate by Qc2. To stop that threat White pretty much has to capture Black's knight with their pawn (axb4).


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