The Elusive En Passant Checkmate
Edited the thumbnail to include @alphaous's en passant mate

The Elusive En Passant Checkmate

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The Elusive En Passant Mate

Common Patterns

Finding En Passant Mates

Fastest Possible En Passant Mates

Fastest En Passant Mates

Best En Passant Mates

The Bender Mates



This is a smothered mate. It's one of the most beautiful and rare checkmate patterns in all of chess. First, you get a double-check. Then, you sacrifice your queen! Finally, you checkmate the opponent king with just a knight! If you get one of these, chances are, you're going to be pretty happy. 

However, the real rarest chess checkmates are much, much rarer. Let's look at the below rarity comparison of some of the rarest checkmates.

Pawn Mate: 1 in 1,000 games

King Mate: 1 in 20,000 games

Castle Checkmate: 1 in 95,000 games

Seeing how most people never play 95,000 games of chess, the stats here seem pretty amazing. However, we're missing one rare checkmate...

En passant checkmate:  1 in 200,000 games 

Note: If you're wondering what en passant is, the below explanation may help.

The Elusive En Passant Checkmate

Being the rarest checkmate in chess, it is obvious that there are very few known examples of this happening. The most famous of these examples is Gunderson vs Faul, 1928. The game ended in an en passant mate after just 15 moves. Not bad.

However, in Round 4 of the British Chess Championship 2019, the tournament winner Nicholas Pert uncorked another en passant mate!

However, even more recently, Norweigan Grandmaster Jon Ludvig Hammer uncorked another en passant mate. And he did it against none other than Magnus Carlsen himself! What an achievement!

Pretty amazing, huh? Well, most people don't know too many en passant mates other than those. However, later in the blog article, I find many more examples of en passant mates occurring in real games. 

However, if you feel envious of the above players, and want to get an en passant checkmate yourself, the next section is for you. 

Common Patterns

Two fundamental patterns exist in en passant mates. The first is the Direct Mate, and the second is the Discovered Check.

Pattern 1: Direct Mate

However, how does the Direct Mate method work in a real game? Let's find out:

Pattern 2: Discovered Check

The discovered check method is more common and easier to accomplish. All you need to do is cover all the king's squares, give the king a diagonal check, and when a pawn intercepts, capture it en passant. Here's a bare-bones example of what that would look like:

Here's what it would look like in a real game:

Finding En Passant Mates

Now for the main event: for this blog post, I challenged myself to gather 100 en passant mates. I ended up stopping at 250, and that makes it the largest collection of en passant mates in the world. If you want to see it, I have a Game Collection for you.

However, sorting through 250 different games is probably too much, so I'll only share the highlights of my findings. Let's start with the Fastest En Passant Mates.

Fastest Possible En Passant Mates

Hold your horses! Before we answer that question, let's answer the below question.

What is the fastest possible en passant mate? This type of puzzle is called a helpmate, where you play both sides to solve a bizarre puzzle.

A famous helpmate that was given to Kasparov is: "Create a game, starting with 1. e4, where Black plays knight to the corner checkmate in 5 moves." The solution is 1.e4 Nf6 2.f3 Nxe4 3.Qe2 Ng3 4.Qxe7+ Qxe7+ 5.Kf2 Nxh1#

Our helpmate here is to find the fastest possible en passant mate, which is in 6 moves for White. There are many different ways to do it, so I'll share my three favorite ways:

Fastest En Passant Mates

The above positions are cool and all, but realistically would never occur on the board. The following games, from my 250-game collection, are just a bit shorter. Let's start!

#5: Black Wins in 12 Moves 

#4: White Wins in 12 Moves 

#3: White Wins in 11 Moves 

#2: White Wins in 10 Moves 

#1: Black Wins in 8 Moves 

Best En Passant Mates

To end off the post, we have five of the best en passant mates from the collection. An en passant mate itself is something to treasure and brag about for the rest of your career, but if you pull off something like this, then you're a legend. Let's start with...

#5 - The Grandest of Masters

Yes, you read that right! In our #5 game, our protagonist is none other than a Grandmaster! His username is Mrjoeyg, but I am not fully sure who he is. However, if his username is @gmjoey1, then his full name is Rogelio Antonio Jr. Anyways, let's get into his game!

#4 - Rook Out!

In the next game, our protagonist plays the Jobava London, plays Bh6, then sacrifices the ROoOOoOoOOOoOK!

#3 - Black Attack!

In this game, Black wins with a very quick kingside attack! The game ends in Black's favour by en passant mate in a mere 12 moves!

#2 - The Domain of The Gods!

Our #2 game involves Black playing a meticulous and careful kingside attack and finishing it off with en passant mate. Black makes no errors throughout the whole game. (No, I checked, they are not a cheater.) With this epic game, our protagonist, JeremyPietra, has trespassed into the domain of the gods!

#1 - Two Queens, Zero Kings

Our final game has one of the best en passant mates I've ever seen. I won't spoil anything, let's start!

Hold up! I'm going to stop the game there and put it into puzzle format. Up until move 36, neither side was winning, but after White's 37th move, Black is winning. But can you find Black's winning move? Have a try below!

That was amazing! Thanks for checking out this list, and onward to...

The Bender Mates

To send you off on a good note, here's a legendary chess story for you:

"There's a Russian chess story involving the fabled Ostap Bender, who gives a simul and loses on every board but one, and then buckles down to salvage a single point from his "exhibition." Suddenly he sees it... he pushes his pawn to f4 and proudly declares 'Checkmate!' The chess fan says, 'Oh no, Grandmaster, you have overlooked en-passant!' He then plays en-passant, revealing a rook against Ostap's king, and declares, 'It is checkmate for you, Grandmaster!'"

From my collection of 250 games, I have found three in which a check is immediately replied with an en passant mate! Here are the positions for you:


That's about it! I know that was a pretty long blog post, but I hope it was interesting enough for you to read all the way until the end!

If you have any en passant mates in your personal games, please send them to me! Otherwise, thank you for reading the Daily Rat.