Checkmate is a covert operations agency originally operating under the jurisdiction of the United States of America before becoming a United Nations agency tasked with maintaining the balance between Earth's human and metahuman communities.
Named after the winning move in chess, the agency's original hierarchy was modeled after the various pieces of a chess game; one King, one Queen and several Bishops, Rooks, Knights and Pawns. (The Bishops oversaw the Rooks while the Rooks planned missions and supervised the field agents (Knights) and their support (Pawns).
Following a change in the command structure the hierarchy was remodeled to possess Black and White sets of Kings and Queens, as well as Bishops, Rooks, Knights and Pawns. The Black set is intended for operation management and the White set is intended for intellegence gathering.
Following an additional remodel by the United Nations, the Rooks became a specialized black ops group and the Knights became specialized agents.
Originally known as The Agency, The Agency was first set up by Amanda Waller to serve as a small branch of Task Force X under the command of Colonel Valentina Vostok (Negative Woman) to perform worldwide operations that were considered vital to the security of American interests.
Harry Stein (Vigilante) was eventually appointed Valentina Vostok's replacement in The Agency's command position by Amanda Waller and Stein began recreating The Agency into a new image and organization.
To do this, Stein sought out the most stable personnel available from the American and international intelligence and law enforcement communities. His agency would field only the best-trained and well-equipped of agents, working under the strictest rules of secrecy. For the organizational structure of the re-organized Agency, Stein chose the game of chess as his working model, and named the new organization "Checkmate".
In the incident known as "The Janus Directive"; an inter-agency war between Checkmate, the Suicide Squad, and Project Atom, who are manipulated by Kobra in order to distract the United States intelligence community from their activities, Checkmate lost at least 38 Knight agents (tallying to more than two thirds of Checkmate's Knight force) and its headquarters (as well as its cover, Konig Industries) in Shelby, Virginia in the incident. In the aftermath, Sarge Steel took Waller's place as head of Checkmate, and Checkmate relocates to a new NORAD base in Colorado.
While initially keeping the agency offline, Sarge Steel reactivates Checkmate in order to find the comatose body of Deathstroke (Slade Wilson). Following Harry Stein's indefinite leave of absence, Phil Kramer is promoted to King and Kalia Campbell to Queen. Ultimately, Checkmate works alongside its Russian counterpart and double agents Roy Harper and Deathstroke to prevent a nuclear attack enacted by Cheshire.
During David Said's role as King within the organization, Checkmate invades the Batcave in order to recruit the Huntress into their ranks. On Batman's word, she agrees to temporarily assume the mantle of Queen, using this position to relay information to Batman on at least one occasion.
Bruce Wayne's bodyguard and partner, Sasha Bordeaux, is also recruited as a Checkmate operative following her and Wayne being framed by David Cain for the death of Vesper Fairchild.
Some time following his stint as founder of the Justice League and awakening from a comat, Maxwell Lord assumes the position of Black King within Checkmate with the intent of manipulating the agency to kill all of the metahumans present on Earth; whom he now deemed a threat to mankind's survival.
In order to hide his activities, which included hijacking and reprogramming the super-spy satellite Brother I and creating and implementing an army of nanobyte robots known as OMACs, Lord murdered former ally Ted Kord (Blue Beetle). He also mind-controlled Superman, sending the hero after other former allies such as Batman and Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman then proceeded to kill Lord in order to break his control on Superman's mind, which left Checkmate dismantled as an organization.
In the year following the Infinite Crisis and the unleashing of Brother Eye and Lord's OMAC army, Martian Manhunter spent months undercover in various efforts to undermine the remnants of Checkmate to convince the President of the U.S. to disband the organization.
While this worked, Within days, Checkmate is reorganized as the United Nation’s Chartered Metahuman Monitoring Force pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1696, with the specific purpose of maintaining "balance" between Earth's human and metahuman communities.
With Alan Scott (Green Lantern) as White King and Sasha Bordeaux as Black Queen, the organization was restructured utilizing the “Rule of Two”. Each "enhanced" member in the “Royal Family” must have an un-powered counterpart in a corresponding position of power. Following the United States representative removing Alan Scott from his post, Scott elected Mister Terrific as his successor. Following the revelation that Amanda Waller, White Queen, was conducting secret ops behind the other royals' backs and was responsible for Operation: Salvation Run, Waller was evicted from the agency.
At the start of the Brightest Day, Maxwell Lord returns from the dead and uses his mental abilitis to erase all memories of his existence from everyone on the planet, save for several former members of the Justice League International. The members of the new Justice League International eventually infiltrate Checkmate headquarters by disguising themselves in stolen Rocket Red suits, but the mission goes awry and they are forced to flee before they can capture Lord. Max eventually reveals that one of the major goals of his plan was to have the Justice League International discredit Checkmate by making them look incompetent, causing the United Nations to pull their funding and fire Khalid and most of the other senior Checkmate higher-ups, leaving Max the opportunity to regain control of the organization. Once he regains control of Checkmate, he then releases a video onto the internet where he blames the rogue superhero Magog for an accident in Chicago that resulted in the deaths of a thousand civilians, and vows to use Checkmate's resources to keep an eye on similar superheroes and prevent future metahuman catastrophes