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Ladder mate by two rooks

Ladder Mate is a common checkmate pattern, performed by two Rooks, one Rook and one Queen, or two Queens, generally in the endgame. It is very easy to follow and can be used in many situations. The biggest banes of the ladder mate are other pieces; getting in the way of the rooks' line of sight of the King.

In an ideal scenario for a beginner, the board would be completely blank except for the rooks and the kings. Both the rooks (same color) would be on different files or ranks, i.e., file a and b, or 1st rank and 2nd rank. The opposing king would be as far away from those files/ranks as possible, let's say file h (8th rank), and near one of the two horizontal edges, like on the 6th rank. The coinciding king, sitting on h1, would not interfere with the rooks' vision.

Moves and instructions[]

This is a normal setup for a ladder mate (see diagram below).

If you have two rooks (one rook and one queen, or two queens) like this, you can set those pieces up yourself. In the example below, every step is a move (bolded), follow by the instruction.

a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 kd 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 rl c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 rl b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 kl 1
a b c d e f g h
Ladder mate demonstration, starting position (example).
The white rooks are on a3 and b4, and the black king is on h6.

1.Rg5 - Move the b-file rook one rank below the opposing king, which is the fifth rank.
1...Kg6 - The king doesn't move off the rank.

2.Ra6+ - Move your other rook one rank above the first rook.
2...Kf7 - The king is in check! He can't stay on the rank attacked by the second rook, and he can't move to the rank below, covered by the first rook. So, he must move one rank up, closer to the eighth rank, which is the edge.

3.Rb7+ - Repeat again. Move your first rook above the second rook.
3...Ke8 - The king moves to the edge!

4.Ka8# - Make the final move: the second rook above the first one. The king cannot move upwards any further, because that is off the board. Therefore, the king is checkmated. White wins!

Notes[]

  • If one of your rooks is attacked by the king, you can choose to move it to a different file or move your other rook to the same rank to protect it.
  • Same goes for if the king attacks the square you would move your rook to on the next move.
  • You can use the ladder mate in any direction, even sideways!
  • Always think where the king can move! If you check without covering the rank below, the king can go in the opposite direction as intended! That is not a ladder mate!

Gallery[]

a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 k d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 R b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 R c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 K 1
a b c d e f g h
Play 1.Rg1, then if 1...Kb6, play 2.Rh5.
a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 R 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 R h5 5
4 a4 b4 k c4 d4 e4 p f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 P b2 P c2 P d2 e2 K f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
Backwards ladder mate with a Pawn Barrier
a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 k 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 K h2 2
1 a1 R b1 R c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
A perfect position for ladder mate.
a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 k 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 p f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 p g3 h3 3
2 a2 R b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 K b1 R c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
Don't play 1.Ra5+ to
put the black king away
from an edge (1...Kg4).
Yet a simple 1.Rg1, preparing for 2.Rh2,
forces a sideways ladder mate in 3
(2...f2 3.Rxf2 Kh4 4.Rh2#) even though it
doesn't check the king.


Rook and Queen[]

Queen and rook ladder mate

Ladder mate with a rook and queen can be dealt with even easier and faster!

If you use your queen as the outer rook (rook farthest from king), and place your other rook on a file adjacent to the queen, then your pieces will never be under attack, nor will the king be able to hinder the rook from moving. The queen will always have control over where the rook moves.

See also[]

a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 K e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 r f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 q g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
Black can play 1...Qd4+ or 1...Qf6+ because the Rook will still be guarded by the Queen.

King and Rook Mate Back rank mate

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