500+ Friends and Still Lonely? - Smothered Mate and The City

500+ Friends and Still Lonely? Smothered Mate and The City

It's quite ironic that many people living in New York City feel so alone. Considering that New York City has the densest population in the United States with 8,175,133 distributed over a land area of just 305 square miles, you would think that loneliness and finding genuine friendship and companionship would be the least of one's troubles.  

Major cities in general share this dichotomy, as such a general truth can be found in the statement, “
quantity of contact does not translate into quality of contact.”  An overly populated place often presents a conundrum; a person can be surrounded by people and still feel friendless and helpless.  Even still, many people will have five hundred-plus friends on social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and still be single, unemployed, and have no one to call during a late night emergency or friendly consolation.  This is the king's dilemma when he's facing smothered mate.

A smothered mate is a checkmate delivered by a knight in which the mated king is unable to move because he is surrounded (or smothered) by his own pieces.
While chess is driven by acute attacks, it is a game of territorial control.  Checkmate is the taking away of space; creating a situation where the enemy king has no where to reside.

From a novice's point-of-view the natural inclination when under attack is to run or hide behind fellow comrades.  While the former may be an option, a king hiding closely behind its men is often self-sabotage, a move that limits the king's mobility and gives the opponent an opportunity to win by smothered mate. 

The solution to this common problem, in chess as in life, is to communicate effectively with those around you.  When working on a project or task, delegate responsibilities to individuals on your team.  In chess, your pieces should be in communication with one another; interacting in ways that carryout defined roles. 

You're the king, so put your men to work:

  • Are your rooks  maintaining open files?
  • Do you have a knight staked out to guard the king's castle?
  • Put your pawns to work by being outposts for pieces.
  • Identify potential pawn "candidates" for promotion. 

So if you are "smothered in the city," just know that your friends genuinely want to help, they just need you to communicate your needs.  And if you are feeling a little lonely, seek out a local chess club!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  If you are on Twitter, please follow me @chesspoet AND if you have yet to join chess.com, please do so through my referral code by clicking this link.  CHESSPOET TOLD ME THAT CHESS.COM WILL UP MY GAME!  #


  • 11 days ago


    Yvette you have a way with words that produces an almost magical affect to say the least, I truly enjoy your words to the fullest, thanks for sharing these words of wisdom my friend!

  • 5 years ago


    very simple and metophoricly true and well delivered...aka WELL DONE!

  • 5 years ago


    Thanks Henry!  Hope to see you next Thursday.

  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    I have won that way before but very few and far between, its one of the greatest ways to win though for sure! Enjoyable article, thanks!

  • 5 years ago



  • 5 years ago


    Excellent and interesting article!Yes smothered mates are beautiful. Notice that you can tell black miss managed his game by a glance at the board. Pawn structure is a mess as all the pawns are weak, isolated and doubled. The king is still in the center and the KB is still on its home square. In contrast the white king is nicely castled, all the white pawns are good pawns ( excellent!) and piece development is much  better. The victory is not a surprise but I guess the method of victory was a surprise to black. 

  • 5 years ago


    WOW i actually enjoyed that thanks

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