I ended up struggling quite a bit to finish off this position against a better player (I had the knight) and I'm pretty sure he did not play optimally. I've not found much info of this end game. Is a King, Rook and Knight vs King and Knight end game generally a win for the player with the rook?

  • 2
    You can always put some random positions (with at most 6 pieces) into shredderchess.com/online-chess/online-databases/… and see what it says, but that isn't very instructive.
    – JiK
    Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 15:36
  • 1
    Generally, YES! Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 16:25
  • @Jik interesting tool! I'll have a look and see if I can analyse how the end game was going based on that. Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 16:34
  • Seems I was doing OK but any wrong move and the number of moves to mate increases considerably. It looks like it is a win that requires really accurate play. Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 16:41

3 Answers 3


I think the way to approach the problem of winning this type of position is to look at what the textbooks have to say about KRvKN and try and apply that with the benefit of having an extra knight.

Nunn identifies two wins, one where the knight and king are widely separated and one where the king gets trapped near a corner. The drawing plan for the K+N is to keep the two pieces together near the center of the board.

Fine (still a useful reference more 70 years after being published!) identifies 3 winning strategies:

1) Mating threats

2) Pinning the knight against the king when the king has to abandon the knight

3) Stalemating the knight and capturing it.

With an additional knight these threats can be more generalized because if the knights are exchanged the win is easy and the stronger side can even sacrifice his knight to lure the opposing knight far enough away from the king to make it winnable.


King + Rook + Knight versus King + Knight. Win? Yes!

My spontaneous thought is to win in two stages.

  1. Catch and win the enemy knight or exchange knights.
  2. Checkmate the enemy king

The first stage should be achieved by hunting down the enemy knight. The second stage is a K+R vs K checkmate.

  • Capturing the knight is pretty much impossible. With extemely accurate play you can win but capturing/exhcaning the kight is rarely the solution. Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 14:21
  • @Reluctant_Linux_User Extremely accurate play?
    – user2001
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 15:55
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    Have a look at it on shredderchess, if you make one or two moves that are innacurate you can easily fall fowl of the 50 move rule. Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 17:06
  • @Reluctant_Linux_User: I tried it and won easily. After exchanging the knight you get 50 more moves, so the 50 move rule isn't much of an issue. Commented Dec 20, 2014 at 20:04

The Win for the player with the Rook would be very hard to achieve. There is no real way to explain it without an in depth book reading im sorry to say.

  • Rook + Knight vs Knight is hard to win? Really?
    – user2001
    Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 16:58
  • Yes! If you make a mistake you can lose the win! For those well versed in endgames maybe not but in the general sense it can be challenging. Your opponent still has a dangerous piece on the board so you can NEVER view the situation as an "easy win" Material wise yes you have the win but the player with the knight will be doing everything in his power to get a draw. When I say hard I am more refearing to the fact if you careful you may lose your chance. If you know what your doing then yes its easy but when the game is on the line dont take such situations so lightly Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 17:36
  • I downvoted because it is really extremely easy. Beginners are prone to give check or to attack the knight at every move without having any plan in mind. The two elements of a correct plan are deciding the direction in which you want to drive the King, and controlling the squares available for the K or N to move to, rather than the squares they are already on. The Knight is not a dangerous piece. True, you might get forked if you fall asleep, but that is not enough to make this endgame difficult
    – Philip Roe
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 17:09

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