The Sparkling Bishop Combo

| 21 | Tactics

Back rank checkmates are very common in chess. As a matter of fact, many tactical textbooks start with exactly this kind of combination due to their simplicity. The vast majority have one thing in common: You need to deflect your opponent's back rank defenders.

It is difficult to imagine an experienced club player who has never seen the finish of the next game. This is probably the most famous combination ever!

Today we will discuss a very unusual form of bank rank checkmate. In this case, you don't deflect any of the back rank defenders. The best example of this combination is the next classical game.

25.Be8!! opens White's heavy pieces for an invasion along the f-file and simultaneously blocks the Black rook from defending the back rank. Alekhine called this move "sparkling." Hence I call this quite rare version of a back rank combination, the "sparkling bishop" combination

Fourth World Champion Alexander Alekhine.

Surprisingly, this kind of combination happens quite infrequently. You can find some combinations that look similar, but they are not quite the same. For example, look at the following well-known game:

But this is not the "sparkling bishop" combination. The bishop just cleared a file for his heavy pieces. It didn't block the back rank for the defender's pieces! The same can be said about the next famous combination.

The following pattern is very close. White clears the f-file for his pieces and blocks the back rank for his opponent's pieces. Even the critical e8-square is the same in both combinations, but alas, it is a "sparkling knight," not a "sparkling bishop"!

When I had lost all hope of seeing any new incarnations of the "sparkling bishop" combination, I discovered it was used in an open tournament in Germany!

It is more likely that you'll spot a yeti than witness another "sparkling bishop" combination.

If you do see a yeti, be sure to photograph it!

If you are lucky enough to discover a game where such a combination was played, or if you have executed it in your own game, please share it with our fellow members!

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