Checkmate Flashcards: Legal's Mate

Jul 21, 2011, 8:40 AM |

First recorded in 1750 in a game of Legal's, this Mate pattern often turns up today in the opening of beginners.  Make sure you know it to avoid becoming its next victim!  It teaches a valuable lesson about Queen sacrifices.

The mate needs an undefended enemy Bishop on g4 (often there trying to pin the Knight to the Queen), and the ability to cause mate using 2 Knights and a Bishop.  White will offer his Queen as bait.

The first diagram is a series of moves in a common opening sequence showing how we may arrive at an opportunity to use Legal's Mate:





We have arrived at a position that allows us to demonstrate the Queen sacrifice that leads to Legal's Mate.  After Nxe5 Black should accept the loss of the e5 pawn and trade Knight for Bishop by dxe5 Qxg4:





However, if Black accepts the bait and takes the Queen then Legal's Mate brings the game to an end:






The real lesson here is not necessarily Legal's Mate, but Queen Sacrifices are powerful bait!  We should study all the checkmate patterns that don't use the Queen to deliver checkmate so that we can then use the Queen as a powerful sacrifice to create a winning position! 

Read through my other Checkmate Flashcard blogs to see more examples of using the Queen as a powerful sacrifice leading to checkmate with other pieces.