I wonder what is considered to be a polite way of giving mate on board. Should one announce the checkmate? If so, should one press the clock after making the move, or stop it, or simply do nothing?

Or should one press the clock silently as if it's a normal move and then wait until the opponent realizes (if they haven't yet) and shakes hands?

4 Answers 4


Checkmate ends the game immediately, so there is no need to press the clock after it.

Best is to play it as a normal move, look at your opponent and usually they'll shake hands. You can say "checkmate" as you move or if he doesn't immediately realize. Just don't overdo it :-)

Sometimes you mistakenly think it's checkmate. I once did (in extreme time trouble) and said "checkmate!". My opponent shook hands and I had won our club's cup final. Until a spectator pointed out he could just capture a pawn with his king -- the checkmate pattern I thought we had would have worked had it been his pawn... He didn't want to play anymore and said I had won as I he had resigned, but this is still a bad taste in my mouth twenty years later.

So be certain if you're going to announce it.

  • 1
    just say check and push the clock. if it really is mate he will eventually see it and if not he will move and push his clock. Feb 3, 2020 at 15:46
  • 8
    FWIW, your opponent was right; accepting a checkmate by mistake, shaking hands and stopping the clock is (or at least used to be, I haven't verified it in the current rules) considered a resignation. I typically will say something like, 'I think that's mate' and let my opponent confirm it on their own before offering to shake hands.
    – Arlen
    Feb 3, 2020 at 21:15
  • 1
    @Arlen Exactly. I'll never claim mate unless I'm absolutely sure. Usually I'll just consider it like every other checking move and let my opponent figure out whether it's mate. Last I checked, you've still won if you don't explicitly state checkmate. So there's no need to take the risk of a false mate.
    – Mast
    Feb 4, 2020 at 12:21
  • 1
    "this is still a bad taste in my mouth twenty years later"... there's the difference between us. I won in a similar fashion at a tournament in 1974, I was playing the treasurer who was ranked way above me. It was my finest hour, I won about $15 "most improved young player" or something. I still remember it with pride 47 years later. It was one of those flashy mates where you hurl your queen in next to the king, he is forced to take with the rook and your knight executes the smother mate. Except he could have just taken the queen with his king, as a bystander pointed out just after he resigned. Feb 5, 2020 at 12:07

This is really a question for fairly low-rated players, who tend to play things out to the bitter end. If you are reasonably strong, the only reason your opponent does not resign earlier is that he thought you played such a good game that he allows you to execute the checkmate (I have done this), or thinks that the final position is beautiful, and saw it coming.

A very good example of the latter is this game between Peter Svidler and Magnus Carlsen at Grenke this past year (2019), where Peter allowed mate on the board. Note the BIG smiles on the faces of both players in this video.

In the end, it is just common sense and human decency: Just be humble, nice, and say "checkmate" politely, and shake hands. Treat the person the way you would want to be treated.

 [Event "Grenke Chess Classic 6th"]
 [Site "Karlsruhe/Baden Baden"]
 [Date "2019.04.28"]
 [Round "8"]
 [White "Svidler, Peter"]
 [Black "Carlsen, Magnus"]
 [Result "0-1"]
 [ECO "B30"]
 [WhiteElo "2735"]
 [BlackElo "2845"]
 [FEN ""]

 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Bc4 Be7 5. d3 d6 6. Nd2 Nf6 7. Nf1 Nd7 8. Nd5 Nb6 9. Nxb6 axb6 10. c3 O-O 11. Ne3 Bg5 12. O-O Kh8 13. a3 f5 14. Nxf5 Bxc1 15. Rxc1 Bxf5 16. exf5 d5 17. Ba2 Rxf5 18. Qg4 Rf6 19. f4 exf4 20. Qg5 Qf8 21. Qxd5 Rd8 22. Qf3 Ne5 23. Qe4 Ng4 24. Rce1 Ne3 25. Rf2 Re8 26. Qxb7 g5 27. Rfe2 g4 28. Rf2 Qh6 29. Qc7 Ref8 30. h3 gxh3 31. g3 fxg3 32. Rxf6 h2+ 33. Kh1 g2# 0-1
  • 6
    Svidler saw the mate, of course, as he was smiling earlier, but allowed it because it was such a cool mate. Very nice video.
    – Akavall
    Feb 3, 2020 at 14:37
  • 2
    @Kostya_I I do not know the story behind the Karpov game, but it looks like Bareev blundered, and I know that Kramnik blundered since it was famously reported. In both cases, it was a different situation from what I described in my answer. Feb 3, 2020 at 14:46
  • 3
    Could someone show me why Qxg3 isn't played?
    – Brondahl
    Feb 3, 2020 at 23:17
  • 3
    Was Rxf6 just a humerous resignation? "I can see that I've lost this game, but lol look at the funny mate position we end up in, if I do this!"
    – Brondahl
    Feb 3, 2020 at 23:31
  • 4
    Qxg3 Rxf2; Qxf2 Qg5+ may last longer, but against Carlsen being down a rook or queen would be an easy win worthy of immediate resignation. The way it was played was just Svidler having fun showing a nice mate. It was not about prolonging an easily lost game. Feb 3, 2020 at 23:54

There's nothing impolite about delivering checkmate in the same fashion that you'd make any other move. If anything, e.g. in formal games and when there's no risk of losing on time, it might be considered bad etiquette by the losing player to continue playing on in a completely hopeless position, instead, players usually resign before the checkmate occurs (see also here for related discussions on etiquettes fo resigning or playing on).

As to what the right etiquette for giving checkmate is, there isn't really much to it and you've basically already summed it up, that is (in the following order, with first two points being most important assuming a formal game):

  • Typically, one simply delivers the checkmating move,
  • presses the clock (a move counts as officially registered [*] once the clock is pressed while your flag hasn't dropped).
  • and wait for your opponent to realise the checkmate if they haven't yet (also typically further signalled by making eye contact),
  • at which point they will extend their hand for the final handshake of the game and scoresheets are signed.

On a more fun note, sometimes resigning before checkmate can become a bit awkward too when the losing player realises checkmate is imminent having missed a combination, like in this game between Nepomniachtchi and Sarin, and sometimes delivering it can be plainly awesome like Ivanchuk checkmating the world champion ;)

[*]: This is to be on the safe side (in case the move wasn't actually checkmating), even though as pointed out by JiK in comments, according to FIDE rules ( if a move ends the game, it is completed by default, i.e., pressing the clock is no longer necessary when it is either a checkmate or stalemate.

  • 1
    "presses the clock (a move counts as officially registered once the clock is pressed while your flag hasn't dropped)" At least in FIDE rules, a move that ends the game, such as a checkmate, is considered to be completed before the clock is pressed (Fide Laws of Chess, so there's no need to press the clock after the move.
    – JiK
    Feb 4, 2020 at 12:17
  • 3
    @JiK indeed, good point (answer updated accordingly)! I guess, on the off chance one has mistakenly believed to have delivered a checkmate, it's safer to press the clock nonetheless as per usual, specially in dire time-trouble situations.
    – Ellie
    Feb 4, 2020 at 12:27
  • 1
    @JiK: If a player delivers checkmate without pushing the clock, and the flag falls without the arbiter having observed that the checkmate occurred first, there could be questions about what happened. Pushing the clock before the flag falls would avoid such issues.
    – supercat
    Feb 5, 2020 at 15:51

It usually “checkmate, endgame, thanks for the game”

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