Labelle founder Nona Hendryx
wrote this song at the request of her friend, Dusty Springfield. In a conversation with Songfacts, Hendryx said that the chess-metaphor of "Checkmate" is a double entendre. The surface layer has to do with love and romantic relationships, with references to kings, queens, bishops, and knights played against each other in a battle for power. Neither the lyrics nor Springfield's vocal performance are cynical or defeatist, but there is an edge of anger in lyrics like:I'm a Queen to your King
Yes, I've been told that you use your pawn to hurt me
Springfield seems to enjoy the game, though, when she asserts:You can bait me, fake me
But I keep on comin' at ya
So this is a chess game between two evenly matched opponents who trade wins and losses, even if such a power struggle in a relationship may not sound entirely healthy.