Difference between Checkmate and Stalemate in chess

June 27, 2015 by Editorial Team

Chess is a great game of strategy that can end in several ways. The two most common are checkmate and stalemate. In only one way can the game end with a winner.

Definitions

checkmate
Example of checkmate (black to move)

Checkmate is achieved when one player corners the other player’s king. For checkmate to occur neither the king nor any other piece can be moved without also creating a check. The person who achieves checkmate wins the game.

stalemate
Four examples of stalemate (black to move)

Stalemate occurs when one player is not in check but has no legal move to make with any piece. Stalemate ends in a draw, which means a tie in which there is no winner.

Comparison Chart

CheckmateStalemate
Has a clear winnerResults in a draw or tie
Requires one player to be in checkRequires no player to be in check
Requires one player to be unable to make a legal moveRequires one player to be unable to make a legal move

Checkmate vs Stalemate

What is the difference between checkmate and stalemate in chess? Let’s compare them by how they end the game and their end result.

  • Checkmate ends the game with a clear winner, while stalemate ends in a draw or tie.
  • Checkmate requires one player to be in check and unable to move out of it, while stalemate requires that the play not be in check.
  • Both checkmate and stalemate require one player to be unable to make any legal move.

Video

Below is a good video that explains differences between check, checkmate, and stalemate in detail.