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Exclusively Checkmates

IM Jeremy Silman, IM Marc Leski, FM Thomas Wolski, NM Mike Arne Avg Rating: 1014 Attacks

"Exclusively Checkmates" provides a series of simple checkmate problems.

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  • Fool's Mate

    This position is known as the "Fool's Mate". Some authors prefer to call it the two-move checkmate game: 1.f3? e5 2.g4??.
  • Finger Fehler Mate

    This position is known as the Finger Fehler Mate. (Fehler means mistake in German.) It occurs in the Center Counter Defense after the moves: 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5; White unfortunately touched the king, and Black forced him to apply the touched piece rule: 3.Ke2??
  • Scholar's Mate

    This position is known as the Scholar's Mate. Some authors prefer to call it the four-move checkmate game. One typical example of this famous mate (between beginners!) occurs in the Bishop Opening after the moves: 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Qf3 Nd4?? (correct was 3...Nf6).
  • Greedy?

    This position is totally won for Black. It originates from the following opening trap in the Italian Game: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4?! (With this strange move Black sets up the trap...) 4.Nxe5?? (This is a greedy capture which plans a knight fork on f7. White should instead castle or trade the knights off) 4...Qg5!! 5.Nxf7?? (consistent but fatal!) 5...Qxg2 6.Rf1 Qxe4+ 7.Be2.
  • A Tricky Move

    Black just fell for White's opening trap. This position occurs in the Caro-Kan Defense after the moves: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Qe2?! White sets up the trap and Black falls into it!: 5...Ngf6?? White can now deliver mate in one move.
  • A Wandering King

    Black's king just fled into the open after White's sacrificial attack on f7 in the Modern Defense.
  • King in Disarray

    White thought that he had survived the opening, but Black has a most unpleasant surprise in store!
  • Fried Liver!

    Black fell for one of the numerous pitfalls of the Fried Liver Attack. White can give mate in one move!
  • A Gambitted King!

    In the King's Gambit White sacrifices a pawn for a lead in development and a strong attack, however, here White just gambitted his king away.
  • Legal's Mate

    Never overestimate the power of a pin! Sir Kermur de Legal was Philidor's chess teacher and it is said that as a youngster Philidor succumbed to this pitfall while playing against Legal! After the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 d6?! 4.Nc3 h6? 5.d4 Bg4 6.dxe5 Nxe5?? (Exploiting the pin?!) 7.Nxe5!! Bxd1?? (Black can't believe his luck and candidly captures the queen!) 8.Bxf7+ Ke7, White now checkmates in one move!
  • King Stuck in the Center of the Board

    White suffers a huge material disadvantage. Fortunately there is a clear-cut way to take advantage of the poor disposition of the Black forces. White now checkmates in one move!
  • A Deadly Trek

    The Black king went for a deadly trek across the board.
  • A Cornered King

    This minor piece mate is most typical. Black mates in one move!
  • A Bad Convergence!

    White has sacrificed the house to reach this position. White mates in one move!
  • The King Catches a Bad Cold!

    White's lead in development + Black's exposed king = Mate in one move!
  • Boden's Mate

    This characteristic mate is known as "Boden's mate".
  • A Weak Spot!

    Black sacrificed two minor pieces to expose White's castled position. White's king has no more defenders ....
  • A Basic Weakness!

    Black's king is poorly defended.
  • A King in Trouble!

    Black has a huge material advantage, but it is White's move.
  • King in Disarray

    Black is a queen up, but White has the initiative, so ....
  • Cornered King

    White is up a queen for a rook, but his king is too exposed.
  • Poor King

    Black is a queen ahead but material is not everything!
  • Open lines to the king

    Black is a bishop ahead, but his king is too exposed!
  • King in the Center

    Black's exposed king and White's lead in development more than compensate for the small material deficit!
  • An Open Castle

    It is dangerous to castle on a wing where the pawn shield offers reduced protection!
  • King in trouble

    Black has enough forces to finish the attack.
  • Defenseless king

    This is the conclusion of a successful attack on the king.
  • Mating minors

    Black brings about a swift conclusion to the attack in this middlegame without queens.
  • Unlucky king

    White's king sits on the only square on the chessboard to allow checkmate in one move!
  • Wandering king

    Black sacrificed a queen to attract the White king deep into his camp.
  • Boden's mate

    Oblivious to the danger, White just castled long.
  • A king left to his fate

    Black just went on a rampage, taking away almost all of White's pieces. Unfortunately, Black forgot an important detail.
  • Traffic jam

    Black is a queen up, but White has a raging attack.
  • Weak line

    Black just grabbed the White queen on h5. But White has an unpleasant surprise in store.
  • Cutting Edge

    A series of exchanges produced this position. Black expected to hold this endgame, but forgot about White's sharp answer.
  • Inside the fort

    Black thought that everything was under control, since White's queen and bishop are threatened, but...
  • Behind in development

    White is up a queen for a rook, but the development leaves a lot to be desired. King safety proves to be an even more serious problem!
  • Smothered

    Black gave up a bishop to reach this position. What is the follow-up?
  • Unsafe king

    White is proud of the queen invasion to g7 and hopes to grab your h8-rook. But White's king is unsafe.
  • Trapped king

    Everything is set for the mate
  • Crossfire

    It would appear that everything is safe.
  • Sneaky mate

    White sacrificed queen and knight to reach this position. Figure out why!
  • Poorly Guarded Castled Position

    White has invested two minor pieces to open up Black's castled position. How will you conclude the game?
  • The end of the road!

    The Black king went for a "health walk" across the board. How does White "cure" the Black monarch for good?
  • A "centralized" king!

    With the Black king in the middle of the board, White has good reasons to be optimistic. What is the swiftest solution?
  • King on the edge!

    White sacrificed his queen to force the king deep into his camp. It's time to end the king's walk.
  • King too exposed!

    White is down a queen, but the Black king is so exposed that White has no reason to worry! The only difficulty is finding the final check!
  • Minor problem on the dark squares

    White is a queen down, but the weakness of the dark squares around the Black king enables him to execute the Black king in short order.
  • Strength of the Initiative

    The strength of Black's initiative is such that the material imbalance is irrelevant. Black can force a quick resolution.
  • Dark squares

    Black is down two minor pieces, but the weakness of the dark squares and the exposed position of the White king allow Black to quickly decide the issue.
  • Invaders!

    Black lost a minor piece for a pawn, but it doesn't take an expert to see that White is totally routed! Black's queen and knight have invaded White's camp! It should not take Black too long to conclude the game.
  • Weak light squares!

    White has won some material, but all valuable pieces are hiding in corners far from the king. Black's pieces, on the other hand, display a much superior example of teamwork.
  • Weak light squares!

    White sacrificed a bishop to weaken the light squares and to attract the Black king to f7. How will you pursue the attack? You'll eventually become very familiar with these typical positions after the ritual sacrifice on f7!
  • Deadly battery!

    The material imbalance is such that unless White finds some clever move, Black will ultimately prevail! Find the way to use a deadly battery to turn the tables!
  • Exposed spot!

    White sacrificed the queen to attract the Black king to an exposed spot. White has many tempting continuations, but which is the correct one?
  • Brutal awakening!

    Black made a few too many queen moves in this opening! While enjoying a large material edge, Black's pieces are undeveloped and, in the case of the Black queen, decentralized.
  • Weak kingside!

    Black has developed most of his pieces, but has left the king in the middle of the board. White's pieces are ready to jump into action.
  • Gasping King

    White sacrificed the queen to deprive the Black sovereign of breathing room. How can White exploit Black's king unfortunate state of affairs?
  • Deadly pin!

    Black has sacrificed the queen to reach this position. White's king appears to be safe; however, a deadly pin will be White's undoing.
  • Weak kingside

    White gave the queen away to decisively weaken Black's kingside. White has a great lead in development. However, the material disadvantage is such that White must swiftly conclude, otherwise Black's forces will ultimately prevail!
  • Light Square Weakness

    White has sacrificed a rook to force the Black king to g6 and to decisively weaken the light squares on Black's kingside. How can White turn these assets into something more tangible?
  • Surprise, surprise!

    White is a queen down, but Black's weakened kingside and the unfortunate position of his defensive forces allow White to conclude the game swiftly!
  • Crossfire!

    One often likes to sacrifice material to open the e-file against an uncastled king. Here White only had to give a knight and two pawns, but is much better developed.
  • Black strikes first!

    Black's position seems like a sad state of affairs. He is a piece down, the rook on h8 and the queen are under attack, and Black's king is exposed on d8. Fortunately for Black there is a way to turn the tables, since it is Black's move!
  • Classical conclusion!

    White sacrificed a minor piece to reach this typical attack on the kingside. Black is totally undeveloped while the king is not defended.
  • Powerless army!

    White went on a rampage with the lone queen, grabbing pieces in Black's camp. This severely neglected both development and king safety! It almost never succeeds to attack with only one or two pieces. All Black has to do now is to tie the knot around White's king.
  • Poor shelter

    White gave up queen and knight for this mating attack. The d8-square proves to be a poor shelter for the Black king. How should White proceed?
  • No defense!

    White sacrificed heavily to reach this setting. Black's king safety is terrible as there are too many open lines leading to the defenseless monarch.
  • Invaders!

    Often one should not attack the king if one does not have sufficient control of the center. Here Black's king is uncastled, but the central pawn mass keeps it sheltered.
  • Sitting duck!

    Considering the sitting duck on d7, White has obviously a very good game! The difficulty is the wide choice of apparently strong continuations. Which is the correct one?
  • Doomed monarch!

    White sacrificed heavily to reach this position. Black's sovereign is doomed! How will you conclude the attack?
  • Soaring rook!

    White has sacrificed the queen to decisively weaken Black's dark squares on the kingside.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: Damiano's Mate

    Things have not been going well for White, who is down a whole bishop. However, Heaven has opened its gates and handed White a rare chance for salvation! Can you find it?
  • Basic Mating Pattern: Back Rank Mate

    Black's back rank appears to be defended but White shows this assumption to be false.
  • Basic Mating Patterns: Dark-square knockout

    The game is quite even except that Black has weakened the dark squares on the kingside by playing ...g7-g6 at some stage of the game. The holes that result on f6 and h6 turn out to be comfortable homes for the White pieces.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: Discovered checkmate

    Black is a rook ahead, but the two remaining White pieces, the bishop and rook, are bearing down on the Black King. This problem demonstrates the power of a discovered check. It also demonstrates the long-range abilities of a bishop.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: Arabian Mate

    This position features a mate that was first recorded in a ninth century Arabic manuscript! Hence the name: the Arabian Mate.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: Back Rank Mate

    The back rank mate may be the single most common type of mating pattern in chess. Because of this, I feel it is imperative that the beginner thoroughly masters the whole concept.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: More Dark Squared Attacks

    Various mating possibilities often exist whenever a kingside pawn structure has holes on f6 and h6. This is clearly something you want to avoid in your own position and create in your opponent's.
  • Basic Mating Patterns: Lack of King moves

    White is so far behind in material that one would normally give up. However, the Black king has no moves, so any check will result in a mate.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: A variation of backrank mate

    Having two rooks doubled on the seventh is the most powerful way to make use of the rooks' capabilities. Mating possibilities abound, especially if the back rank is not adequately defended.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: Smothered Mate

    This problem shows that a mate defies all material considerations. You can be down a queen and two rooks and still mate your opponent with a lone pawn or knight.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: Dark square weakness

    Both sides have developed most of their forces, but White has managed to get a bit closer to the Black king. To make matters worse, the dark-squares around the Black monarch are without protection and, as a result, are vulnerable to infiltration by White pieces.
  • Basic Mating Patterns: Tropical punch on dark-squares

    Two of the White pieces are surrounding the Black king for a neat mating setup.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: Pawn Mate

    With an extra rook and bishop, it looks like Black must win. However, White has three pieces surrounding the Black king (the rook on f2, pawn on g5 and queen on h6) and is able to turn this fact into a mating attack. Once again we are shown that all material considerations become useless if your king gets mated.
  • Basic Checkmating Pattern: Two Rooks on the Seventh Rank

    It is known that a rook's ultimate home is on the seventh rank where it eyes the opponent's pawns and traps the opposing king on its first rank. It stands to reason that if one rook is strong on the seventh, then two rooks must be even better!
  • Basic Mating Pattern-The Combined Wonders of Two Rooks

    Both kings are being threatened by the opposing rooks. This means that whoever has the first move, also has the advantage, since the first move will enable you to guide the flow of the game.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: Swallow's Tail Mate

    Not only is White far behind in material, she is also about to be mated in a variety of ways. This would be a good time for White to resign if there wasn't something much better to do!
  • Basic Mating Pattern: Doubled Rooks on the Seventh with Help

    Black has two minor pieces for a rook which is usually to be preferred. To make matters worse, the Black c-pawn is about to promote to a queen. If White cannot find a mate, she will lose the game.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: Knight and Bishop mate

    This problem shows us the power of discovered, doubled checks when two pieces check at the same time. It also reminds us what happens when a king finds itself in a stalemated position.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: Queen and Bishop Mate

    Material is even, but such considerations are secondary here, since both sides are ready to go after each other's kings.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: The power of two Bishops

    Black is ahead by a pawn and the exchange (rook for bishop). This would normally be enough to win the game, but one other factor exists: a trapped Black king. Here we learn that two bishops working together, controlling two full diagonals, are extremely powerful.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: Epaulette Mate

    Vukovic, in his excellent book, "The Art of Attack", says that epaulettes are two Black rooks on the king's shoulders. This problem illustrates the epaulette mate by showing another case of a king being smothered by its own pieces, i.e. the two Black rooks.
  • Basic Mating Pattern: Queen and Bishop mate

    Black threatens two different mates via 1....Qxa2 mate and 1...Qxb2 mate. However, White has a strong attack as well.

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