Stumbling into Checkmate with a Knight Fork

Stumbling into Checkmate with a Knight Fork

Jul 11, 2017, 7:38 PM |

In a 10-minute blitz game today, all I wanted early was to attack the enemy queen. As my opponent then weakened the structure around his king, I began looking for an opportunity to fork the enemy queen and king with my knight.  

After 11 moves had been made, the diagram below shows the positions on the board. The computer analysis program of indicates that White has a +2.54 advantage. (In an earlier inaccurate move, I had lost the king knight pawn and weakened the support around my king.)

For the 12th move, White relocated the queen to e2. Because it is immediately in front of  White‘s king, I looked for a way to pin the queen.  To create an open e-file, I pushed the king pawn to e5. Rather than opening the center, White retreated the bishop to g3. With exd for Black, I began opening the e file more with the idea to move Black’s queen off that file and then place the f- rook on it.  

After White played cxd, White’s d-pawn would be free for the taking if I could successfully place a rook on the f-file instead of the queen. I moved the queen to c1. After White moved the knight to g4 and I moved a rook to the e-file, the board had changed to the positions shown in the diagram below.

Then White castled queenside, which shifts the advantage from the first player to Black (-3.61). Now my knight on c6 could take White’s e-pawn and attack the queen without worry of being captured. Seeking safety for the queen, White moved her to d3, setting up the board positions in the diagram below.

I narrowed my next move to two choices, both involving the light-square bishop: move from d2 to f5 or b5 where it could continue to attack White’s queen and be protected on either square by the knight, which itself is protected by the g-bishop. At first, I thought b5 would be better to enable the knight to land on e2 and continue to harass the White king. Fortunately, I chose f5, which led White to move the queen and seek safety on c3. The diagram below now shows the board positions after White’s blunder: Mate in 1.

My natural instinct was to move the knight to e2 to fork White’s king and queen, the objective I had set seven moves earlier. In the time pressure, I missed that this move would end the game (not to mention give an extra attack on the queen by the g-bishop) because the only open squares adjacent to White’s king were under attack by my f-bishop.

The game ended with Black’s 18th move: Ne2#. Forking the enemy king and queen with a knight is always a good objective – sometimes it even ends the game.