If you’re a new Chess player, you may have heard the term Mate in One before and are wondering what does it mean exactly. That’s what we’re covering in this article.
What does “Mate in One” mean in Chess?
Mate in One is a term used to describe a position on a Chessboard that allows the player to move to give checkmate in one move without any previous forced checks or forced moves.
If there was a forced check that would need to happen before giving mate, the term to describe that would be “mate in two”.
You could also call Mate in One after making a move, meaning you will give mate in the next move regardless of what move your opponent plays as there is nothing they can do to prevent being checkmated.
Now, calling out “mate in one” during a game as a player is considered rude and unsportsmanlike in any serious game, especially during a Chess tournament. You can learn more about this in the guide on Chess Etiquette. Mate in One would be something you say to yourself or by a Chess commentator that’s covering a match.
The Chess myth that Grandmasters calculate 15 moves ahead isn’t the case. Grandmaster Maurice Ashley explains this in his Ted talk.
If the player knows it’s mate in one, they can simply checkmate their opponents King and win the game. If the player doesn’t see the mate in one, the game simply continues even though they could have won the game.
Mate in One Examples
In this example, White is in a mate in one position. White simply has to move the Rook to Rc8 and give a back-rank mate to Black’s King.
This example is of a more complex, realistic position that is not uncommon to see in games. Even though it’s still early in the game, nearly all pieces still remain on the board, it’s White’s move and it’s Mate in One. White sees it and moves Nf6# winning the game. White’s Rook protects the dark squared Bishop and the Bishop prevents Black’s King from escaping.
Mate in Two
We covered Mate in One, meaning checkmate next move, are there other terms describing the number of moves to give checkmate? Absolutely. Mate in Two for example, meaning it’s checkmate in two moves, those two moves being forced through checks leaving the opponent with a forced move or multiple forced moves, proceeding with mate.
For more information regarding specific mates, you can read the guide on all the different checkmate patterns.
This example is the same position as the first mate in one example, only this time Black’s Rook is on e5 instead of c5. White plays the same move, checking the King, but Black has the Rook that can save the King, but only for one more move. So instead of this position being a mate in one, it’s a mate in two. In two moves, it’s checkmate regardless of what Black does. Black is forced to move in a specific way, rendering the position forced and checkmate is inevitable.
Playing longer games will help you spot Mate in One moves. Bullet, Blitz, and even Rapid games just don’t give you enough time to carefully analyze the position after each move. We recommend you play Classical until you’re at least 1500 or so.
I hope this guide on Mate in One helped you. If you liked this post, you may also be interested in other Chess Terms like Decoy and castling.