Chessplayers Have A Different Word For Everything!

Chessplayers Have A Different Word For Everything!

| 32 | Tactics

Yes, you've caught me! Whenever I see a checkmate, I cannot help but re-phrase the well-known joke of Steve Martin. You see, Wikipedia has a page about different mating patterns, and it turns out that the checkmates I knew since childhood all have fancy names! There are so many of them that I am absolutely sure that no grandmaster or even world champion knows all of them.

Take for example the famous game that ruined Mikhail Chigorin's hopes for the World Title. I awarded Chigorin's blunder the dubious honor of being the second-worst blunder ever made in a world championship match!

Mikhail Chigorin

Mikhail Chigorin was not a small man.

I have no doubt that Chigorin would be delighted to learn that not only did he blunder away the world championship match, but he also got "blind swine mated" because this is exactly how this checkmate is called! The abundance of these bizarre names is head spinning.

Sometimes a little detail means a totally different name. Take for example a well-known "epaulette mate."  I bet you saw the following famous game in one of your books on tactics:

Since my childhood I believed that any pattern where a queen checkmates opponent's king surrounded by two of his pieces (usually rooks) is called an epaulette checkmate. For example, see this more modern game:

Therefore, I had no doubt that the following two checkmates from the games of Viswanathan Anand were both perfect examples of this pattern. In one of them, he was on the receiving end.

And then very recently he had his sweet revenge.

You can imagine my surprise when I learned that neither of these checkmate was an epaulette! The first checkmate was "the swallow's tail mate," and the second one was " the dovetail mate." I kid you not, those are the real names! As I already mentioned above, a little difference in the placement of your pieces means a totally different bird's tail! To make sure you'll never confuse these two, here is a short quiz for you to solve.

The swallow's tail mate:

The dovetail mate:

Before solving the puzzles, you might want to watch GM Williams' video on this subject. 

I hope my dear readers, from now on you will never get confused in this 'chess ornithology"!

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