Most Common Pieces That Deliver Checkmate in Chess (Percentages)

Chess is endlessly fascinating, and one of its intriguing aspects is how games conclude, especially those ending in checkmate.

A deep dive into a database of over 10 million chess games reveals some compelling insights about the most common pieces that deliver checkmate.

Which piece most commonly delivers checkmate in chess?

• Queen: 57.0%
• Rook: 27.1%
• Bishop: 5.5%
• Knight: 5.3%
• Pawn: 5.1%
• King: 0.04%

First and foremost, it’s important to note that not all chess games end in checkmate.

In fact, among skilled players, it’s quite common to resign once a loss seems inevitable, thereby avoiding checkmate altogether.

In this particular database, only 13.9% of games actually concluded with a checkmate.

When examining the final moves of these checkmated games, it’s interesting to consider what constitutes a “checkmate with a pawn.”

There are various scenarios: a pawn could deliver the checkmate directly with its move, it could reveal a discovered check from another piece, or it could be promoted, and the newly promoted piece delivers the checkmate.

For the purpose of this analysis, let’s consider all these scenarios as valid.

Piece Statistics for Checkmated Games

Looking at the statistics of the last move in these checkmated games, the distribution of pieces delivering checkmate is quite revealing:

1. Queen: Dominating the endgame, the queen is responsible for the checkmate in a whopping 57.0% of cases. Its versatility and range of movement make it a formidable piece in delivering the final blow.
2. Rook: The rook comes in second, delivering checkmate in 27.1% of games. Its ability to control entire rows and columns plays a crucial role in cornering the opposing king.
3. Bishop: Responsible for 5.5% of checkmates, the bishop’s diagonal movement can be especially deadly in the endgame when combined with other pieces.
4. Knight: Close behind the bishop, knights account for 5.3% of checkmates. Their unique L-shaped movement can catch opponents off guard.
5. Pawn: Pawns are directly responsible for checkmate in 5.1% of games. Interestingly, about 42% of these pawn-related checkmates involve a promotion, highlighting the pawn’s potential to turn the tide in the endgame.
6. King: Extremely rare, but still possible, is a checkmate delivered by the king, occurring in only 0.04% of games.

These statistics underscore the dynamic nature of chess and the varying roles each piece can play in securing victory.

While the queen reigns supreme in delivering checkmate, each piece, from the powerful rook to the humble pawn, has its moment to shine in the complex ballet of chess.

• Queen: 57.0%
• Rook: 27.1%
• Bishop: 5.5%
• Knight: 5.3%
• Pawn: 5.1%
• King: 0.04%