Tactical Patterns Everyone Should Know: Semi-Smothered Mate

Tactical Patterns Everyone Should Know: Semi-Smothered Mate

47 | Tactics

The combination we are going to discuss today happens mostly in openings. The key features of the pattern are:

  1. The opponent's king is surrounded by his own pieces that block all the escape squares except two.
  2. Your bishop covers two remaining escape squares.
  3. Your knight is ready to deliver a checkmate, but the key square is controlled by one of the opponent's pieces (usually by the queen).
  4. You deflect the opponent's piece and your knight delivers a checkmate.

 The next memorable encounter demonstrates how it is done in the real game. It was the first ever win of the great Bent Larsen (then just a master) over a grandmaster.  The victim, GM Ossip Bernstein, was celebrating his 72nd birthday that day. Look at the nice 'gift' Larsen presented him in their game:

Kenneth Rogoff is a famous economist at the International Monetary Fund. In the following position he shows his tactical skills (well, he is a grandmaster!)

Here's two more combinations-twins:

Finally, it should be mentioned that sometimes this combination doesn't lead to immediate checkmate, and yet, as a rule, the effect of this combo is devastating:

As you could see, the tactical pattern that we analyzed today is very simple and easy to remember. I am sure that when it happens in your game next time you are not going to miss your chance!  Laughing


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