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Beginner Mating Patterns Redux - Part 3

  • IM Silman
  • | Dec 11, 2012

In my first article on beginner mating patterns, we explored Back Rank mates, Queen mates on h7, Queen mates on g7 (while also discussing general dark-square weaknesses around f6, g7, h6, and even h8), and smothered mates. In the second article we took a look at Scholar’s Mate (the weakness of the f7-square/pawn) and Fool’s Mate (weakness along the h5-e8 diagonal). I also pointed out the dangers of leaving one's King in the center for too long.

Though I say “beginner’s” patterns, the fact is these basic patterns are the building blocks to far more complex mating/attacking situations. In other words, they are equally important to every rating group.

In our third and final discussion on those particular patterns, you get to try your luck at lots and lots of puzzles. These will either ram home the points made in parts one and two, prove that you are a master of these patterns, or simply bring a smile to your face as you watch the tactical magic unfold.

As always, please look at comments and/or notes after you try to solve each puzzle (yes, there ARE comments and notes hiding under most puzzles!).

Our next puzzle features a lovely tactical sequence by the late American Grandmaster Arnold Denker. When I was 13 years old, a kid that was helping me with my game (he was a tad older and clearly stronger) somehow owned a book titled, If You Must Play Chess, by Denker (David McKay Company, 1947, hardback). Denker was famous for his wild attacking style and tactical genius. And though I had no idea who Denker was, I fell in love with his games in that book. Each and every one of them blew me away, and I carefully went through the whole book from cover to cover.

About 7 years later I found myself in an interesting situation. I was paired with Mr. Denker at one of the legendary Lone Pine events. I was, of course, delighted to play him, and though he was a thousand years old and I was 21, he systematically outplayed me and achieved a dead won position. However, he overlooked a 3-time repetition (it was hard to see since the 3 reps happened over a large amount of moves). When I called Kashdan (the tournament director) over, said I was going to repeat the position for the 3rd time with my next move and thus claim the draw, Denker said, “He’s lying Kash! He’s lying!”

Kashdan, in true professional style said, “Okay Arnold” and walked away! I had to physically drag Kashdan back to the board and demonstrate each rep before he finally accepted reality.

Over subsequent years, I played Denker four more times. One game was drawn, and I won the other three (okay, at that point he was one thousand and five years old). In one of my wins he made a move, let the piece go, realized it was an error, and then moved something else! In another game, he repeatedly kicked me under the table!

This guy was a hardcore competitor, but he was a real gentleman away from the board. In any case, I still cherish Denker’s book, and have used some of the examples there for various puzzles. Denker’s If You Must Play Chess can still be found at used bookstores and is well worth buying! The games and notes are exciting, charming, and instructive.


  • 2 years ago



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  • 3 years ago


    Very nice!

  • 3 years ago


    These games are fun and good for learning

  • 3 years ago


    thank you for the article.

  • 3 years ago


    very nice ..

  • 3 years ago


    The OP doesn't seem to harbour any ill will towards GM Denker & describes him as ferociously competitive but 'a true gentleman' away from the board so who are we to judge?

    Great talent doesn't always come with good manners but the kicking under the table is bad I grant you (I think I missed that part on my first read).  However in the end won't his brilliant playing eclipse the rest & perhaps some of those antics might be attributed to his age?

    If you object to the word forgive, perhaps 'overlook' but not absolve his bad behavior?

    Edit:  From Wiki' - Denker was born in 1914 & died 2005.  The OP was born in 1954, so played Denker when he (Denker) was 61 years old.  So on reflection, age isn't much of an excuse at least in their first game.

  • 3 years ago


    I don't agree that one should have to "forgive" Denker for anything. Being a chess genius does not forgive one for:

    a. blatantly cheating

    b. attempting to intimidate a chess official so as to cover up a draw


    What the h are you people thinking? "Forgive" him, indeed.

  • 3 years ago



  • 3 years ago


    Good sportsmanship is as important to me as chess proficiency but you have to forgive A. Denker's crass behavior at the board (see text above) after looking at some of his games above; particularly 'Simchow vs. A. Denker, 1936' - brilliant !

  • 3 years ago


      The more I read stuff for beginners, the more I realise how much of a beginner I am!  Thanks for the great puzzles!

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks again!


    After 21.Rf4 g5 22.Bg4,

    22...Kh8? 23.Bf5.    Smile

  • 3 years ago


    Aha, so much for me finding a better move than Lasker. Thx for the update Mr Silman.

  • 3 years ago

    IM Silman

    A couple people wanted to know why 21.Bg4 didn't work in the Lasker-Broderson puzzle. This move fails to mate after 21...Kh8! 22.Bxe6 Rg8. I added a small analysis of this in the puzzle's comments.

  • 3 years ago


    Thank you for a great article, Mr. Silman.


    I have the same question as dokter_nee: in the Lasker-Broderson puzzle, does not 21.Bg4 work?

  • 3 years ago


    @Tallinger, Yeah I guess we are just right. Rf4 is just not necessary, Bg4 straight away is fine.


    earlier post:

    in the Emanuel Lasker vs. Broderson puzzle(3rd last): it goes 19. f6!! exd4 20. Qh6 Ne6 and than  21 Rf4! g5 22. Bg4

    But isn't 21 Bg4(which threatens to remove the defender Ne6) just as good, I don't see any way for black to defend g7 without sacrificing the queen..

  • 3 years ago


    @dokter_nee: I was about to ask the same, I don't get the point why 21. Rf4 is necessary...

  • 3 years ago


    I appreciate the puzzles but I'm fascinated by your over-the-board experience with GM Denker.  At the age of 21 your were able to identify a 3-time repetition in a very long game.   I still have trouble remembering move sequences more than seven moves deep.  I
    volunteer and teach chess to kids on Saturdays.  Its important for kids
    to know, although they may be too young to notice it, that a game of chess posesses integrity.  Did you document your experience with GM Denker in one of your books?  Please tell me which one so I can buy it.  Thank you.Cool

  • 3 years ago


  • 3 years ago


    wow.......very help full.....Smile

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