Let's do some basic checkmates here. Not the quick ones in the opening. We're going to look at the irregular endgames. These are the endgames with no pawns on the board. They will give you a feel for the pieces and what they can do in open country.
We'll begin with some very easy ones and then we'll try some slightly harder ones. But nothing too bad I promise. The major pieces to start with. They will chase down that King in just a few moves.
Then the minor pieces. The checkmate routines there can take 20 to 30 moves but the concepts involved are relatively easy to pick up. The last checkmate here will involve a pawn for the weaker team. You'll find out why.
This is just about the easiest one to close. You can treat the Queen like a Rook and complete the task with the Staircase Technique. Or you can speed things up by utilizing the Queen's diagonal powers.
The Staircase Technique simply involves taking space away from the enemy King file by file or rank by rank until you trap him on the edge of the board, winning the game.
If the opportunity is there you can bring the Queen right up to the fugitive, under the protection of the Rook if it gets the job done quicker. You don't need to use your own King at all, just keep him out of the way of the major pieces. The only thing you need to be careful of is accidental stalemate.
Now let's say the Rook disappears and you have just a King and Queen against a King. Can you still win? Yes of course you can but your King is going to have to pitch in.
That's okay. The King is a good piece. This one is going to take a good few moves. Basically the Queen will be used to limit the weaker King's space. Every time you get a chance to take away another rank or file take it.
Together the King and Queen will drive the weaker King to the edge of the board where the stronger King will cover the escape squares or support the Queen as she delivers the checkmate.
Let's add a minor piece to the ranks of the weaker side. Will this make a difference to the outcome? What's the story when the Queen goes up against a Bishop?
Well the cookie crumbles thus. The Bishop is just plain irrelevant here against competent play. Against a light square Bishop your King and Queen will play mainly on the dark squares.
Against a dark square Bishop your Royal Couple will be staying on the light squares. It's okay to ignore this rule here and there but for the main part that's what you do. The Bishop will be a spectator as the King and Queen close in on the weaker monarch.
Okay that's enough about Queens. Do Rooks have the power to get things done? Would you be confident of finishing the job with two Rooks against the King? Well you should be. This one's a walk in the park.
It's simply a case of using the Staircase Technique. Line your Rooks on one side of the board with one on the Rook file and the other on the Knight file.
You don't need your King for the attack, the Rooks have more than enough power. Just take space from the fleeing King rank by rank or file by file. Eventually you trap him on the last file or rank and deliver the checkmate.
If he gets too close to your Rooks at any time, simply slide them right across to the other wing and continue from that side. He won't be able to approach a second time.
Okay let's drop one of the Rooks. Can you checkmate a King with a King and just one Rook? The good news is yes you can. If you have this advantage in one of your endgames you can rest assured you have a won position.
But how to win? Well you have a system at your disposal to achieve the win. It's called the Box Technique. It involves your King and Rook working together to slowly but surely take ranks and files away from the weaker King until he is trapped on a home rank or Rook file.
Your King supports his Rook as he relentlessly drives the enemy King back, making that Box smaller and smaller. When he's on the edge your King will cover the escape squares and the Rook will deliver the checkmate.
The Bishop Pair also easily overcome the lone King. Working with their own King the same basic formula is applied. Drive the weaker King out of the center where he is most active, with 8 squares around him.
He will be forced first to the edge where he has only 5 adjacent squares to choose from. From there he will be marshaled toward the corner where there are only 3 possible flight squares.
He will be checkmated here with the stronger King and one Bishop covering these flight squares. The second Bishop checkmates the weaker King. By placing your Bishops side by side you create a barrier that the King can't cross.
The stronger King forces the weaker one to the edge and shadows him, not allowing him to leave it again. The two Bishops then drive the hunted one to the corner, taking one diagonal at a time before delivering the checkmate in the corner.
Bishop and Knight vs King is also a won position for the minor pieces. It's the most difficult one we've looked at so far and yet it is quite possible to master with just a little time and effort. The trick is to take it in stages. You have 50 moves to mate the King and it should be possible in 30 to 35 moves with even the worst starting position you can imagine.
The first thing you need to do is centralize your pieces and evict the prey from the center. When you drive him to the edge he will head for the corner your Bishop can't control. Your job is in the second phase is to use a well known routine to herd him along the rim to the corner your Bishop does have access to.
In the third and final phase your three pieces will surround the weaker King forcing him right into the corner. Again this will be done using well known techniques throughout. You don't have to reinvent the wheel here. Your King and Knight will cover the flight squares and the Bishop will move on to the long diagonal giving checkmate.
The Knight Pair does not join the forced mate club. Unlike the Rook Pair and the Bishop Pair, the Knight Pair cannot quite win by force.
Of course if the lone King makes a poor defensive effort and blunders then they might win. However with reasonable defense, the best they can do is stalemate the King. This endgame is therefore drawn. They, along with their own King, can only force him to the corner.
When it comes to the crunch they just don't have the mobility and activity to mate on the move after trapping him in the corner. The mating Knight needs a couple more moves to get back around to the mating square. That's why they can't quite get the job done.
What if we add a pawn to the weaker side in the Knight Pair endgame? Ironically this helps the Knights win the game. The pawn turns out to be a traitor.
As long as the pawn is behind the Troitsky Line, he won't be able to promote in time to turn the tables on the Knight Pair. Now the two Knights and their King have a formula for victory.
One of the Knights will blockade the pawn for the time being making sure he can't advance. Under no circumstances will you capture that pawn. That would just make it the drawn endgame we've discussed earlier. The other Knight and King will drive the King toward the four corner squares.
Now the blockading Knight will join the mating attack. This will release the pawn to move. This pawn deprives his own King of the stalemate defense that saves him in a pawnless Knight Pair endgame. The pawn keeps the game going long enough for the blockading Knight to head for the corner and give checkmate but not long enough for the pawn to promote and change the game.
Now you can enter the endgame in confidence. Provided you have a decisive material advantage of course. If you end up with any of these endgames, just play it like you saw it in the video at the top. You can also check out these routines in replayer mode.
The best way to really hone your skills is to practice them. When you feel like you've absorbed the techniques discovered here, why not practice some checkmates.
It's important to be able to play endgames very well. But remember you've got to get there first. Preferably with a half decent position. That means playing good chess middlegames.