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Chess/Checkmate with Two knights.


Dear Howard

Is it possible to checkmate with two knights?


First, sorry about the slight delay----I'm dependent on public library computers since I don't have one of my own.

As far as your question, the short answer is no---but the matter is slightly more complicated.

A lone king and two knights cannot force mate against a lone king as long as the weaker player is reasonably alert.  The defensive task that the weaker player faces is actually EXTREMELY simple !  Just keep his king out of the corners, and he'll have no problem holding the draw. In fact, even an outright beginner could hold the draw.  It's really very, very simple.

Granted, this question does confuse people because if you get out a board and those four pieces, you CAN set up positions where the lone king is mated. But, forcing such a position is impossible unless the weaker side is an outright idiot.

Thus, the answer to your question (to repeat) is no.

By the way, such a position did come close to occurring in Game 8 of the 1981 world championship match between Karpov and Korchnoi.  I'm pretty familiar with that position.  The two players agreed to a draw because this situation was just a few moves from occurring, but Karpov (who would have had the two knights) knew better than to try to win.

Hope this helps !



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Howard S Sample


First, I can't answer analytical questions on chess because my United States Chess Federation (USCF) rating is definitely below average. However, I am very knowledgeable about chess history and general chess trivia. I've been a chess trivia buff for 35 years! Furthermore, my research and writing skills are far above average! I've been researching chess questions on the Internet for over 10 years and pretty much know where to look for answers to them. My strong devotion to chess will show in many of the questions I can answer for your website. In other words, I can give specific, detailed answers if the need may be.


I have been a USCF member for 35 years (as of next month) and also have a very substantial collection of back issues of chess magazines, not to mention a lot of chess books. I am also familiar with many chess websites, such as ChessCafe and Chessbase. To be quite frank, chess (playing, studying, researching, and so on) has been somewhat of an obsession to me ever since I was about 12. I just can't seem to get enough of it.

United States Chess Federation (since 1975)

Interesting question! If you Google my full name (Howard S Sample) you will see that I have made many contributions to chess websites. I send in questions and comments very regularly although they don't always get printed. Admittedly, I can be a bit picky when writing to correct errors but I've submitted corrections many times (and not just to chess websites). Incidentally, I am also entering the field of freelance writing though, admittedly, I plan to write mainly about issues such as investments, federal taxation, and accounting/finance topics. But freelance writing on chess topics is also a field I'm exploring.

I have two degrees in business, of which one is an MBA (from the University of Toledo).

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