Three Knights Checkmate: Everything You Need To Know

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For winning more and more chess games, you have to be familiar with most of the basic and important checkmate strategies along with various combinations of pieces. Which chess pieces can checkmate and which can’t… and while studying all these you might think, is it possible to checkmate with three knights? And from here our discussion starts.

Can you checkmate with three knights? 

The short answer is: Yes, you can checkmate with three knights although very rare. Out of these three knights, one of the knights is obtained by promoting a pawn to a knight.

In general, you can force checkmate with three knights against a lone king within 20 moves. However, force checkmate with the help of two knights against a lone king is not possible.

Now, ahead I am going to discuss from start to finish, covering each and every query that you might be having or might have in the future about three knight checkmate like what is it, how to do it plus some tips in the end. So to get the maximum benefit just scroll down!

What is the three knights’ checkmate?

Three knights checkmate means checkmating your opponent’s king with the help of your king and three knights (out of which one is obtained by underpromotion).

This kind of checkmating of a lone king with three knights rarely occurs in real chess games. But more often seen in chess puzzles.

This is mainly because we have only two knights in chess so the third knight is obtained by underpromotion (promoting a pawn to a chess piece other than the queen) and we generally promote a pawn to a queen. 

Also Read My Article: Why Would You Promote A Pawn To A Rook? (explained With Case Study)

How to checkmate with three knights?

You can’t force checkmate with only two knights and a king or a knight and a king against a lone king. But with three knights you can force checkmate.

These are the three basic steps you need to follow to checkmate with three knights:

  1. Firstly connect your three knights to protect them.

While making your moves, it is best to sort of connect the three knights because then the enemy could not take any of the knights.

Protecting the knights will also allow you to drive the lone king to move in the direction where you want it to move.

One thing you need to make sure of is that you only have 50 moves to deliver checkmate (otherwise it will be drawn by the 50 move rule). So you have to choose the moves carefully.

  1. Then drive the lone king towards the edge/corner of the board.

Your target should be to drive the lone king towards the edge of the board or towards the corner as per your strategy.

This is not just for this checkmate but for most of the others as well. Driving the opponent’s king towards the edges is a very basic skill that you need to practice.

But don’t worry, after playing and studying a few endgames you will be able to do that.

  1. Finally, use your king to checkmate.

After you have arranged all the three knights on your desired location and you are now all set to deliver the checkmate then just push your king and make your final move.

Things you need to take care of while checkmating with three knights

While checkmating with three knights you need to be very careful because many things can go wrong. You might commit some mistakes unknowingly. So here are the things you need to keep in mind while checkmating with three knights.

#1. Don’t let any of the knights be taken

Though you can force checkmate with three knights, many times it can happen that you bring your knight so much closer to the opponent’s king (and if it is unprotected) then the king will surely kill it.

Also Read My Article: Can A King Kill A King In Chess? (Solved!)

A Knight is a special chess piece that can’t kill other pieces in adjacent files. It can jump over but it can’t kill a piece on the next adjacent square. And this weakness makes it a soft target (if unprotected) for the opponent’s lone king.

And would you like to settle with two knights? No! So make sure that your knights are well protected and you can do this in three ways:

  1. Connecting the three knights as discussed earlier.
  2. Not bring your knights too closer to the opponent’s king unless they are protected.
  3. Using your king as a guarding piece for the knights.

#2. Make sure that you are not violating the 50 move rule

While hoping around with the three knights, you also need to make sure that you are not violating the 50 move rule.

In short, if there is no pawn movement and no capture done within the last 50 moves then according to this rule a player can claim a draw.

Tip 🙂 Do you want to know: How To Offer Draw And Accept It In Chess? What are the etiquettes and rules you have to keep in mind regarding this? Then check out my in-depth article on the same.

Thus, you need to be sure that you’re not violating the 50 move rule and also checkmating the opponent’s king with the three knights within the given time frame.

#3. Be careful of stalemate

In any kind of endgame, if you are on the winning side would you like to settle for a draw by stalemate? No!

And stalemate (which means no legal moves left with your opponent and the king is also not in check so the game ends in a draw) is a thing that happens most of the time accidentally. 

It can happen that you moved one of the knights and you are closer to checkmate but then suddenly stalemate occurs! 

One of the best things that you can do to prevent this is to not eat all the squares of the opponent’s king. By that, you allow it at least to make a move.

I have written a detailed article on how to avoid stalemate in chess. In that, I have shared 5 practical tips for doing this. You can check that out for further guidance.

Final Thoughts

Checkmating with three knights is rare but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do that. You just need to follow the basic rules of checkmating and with a little bit of practice you can do it.

Also Read My Article: Should You Trade A Bishop For A Knight (In-Depth Guide)

Now here is a quick summary of everything discussed so far:

  • Three knights checkmate means checkmating your opponent with three knights and your king.
  • You can force checkmate with three knights out of which one is obtained by underpromotion.
  • The three basic steps for checkmating with three knights: connect your knights, drive the lone king to the edge and finally use your king to deliver the checkmate.
  • Some extra tips: don’t bring the unprotected knights closer to the lone king, don’t break the 50 move rule, and take care of stalemate.

So that’s it! Hope you liked reading this article. Please do share if this helped you.

Thanks! And Good Luck!


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