Lessons

Lessons

Essential Checkmate Patterns

Essential Checkmate Patterns

Are you ready for some tricky checkmates?

This module contains 130 challenges selected by FM Tomas Wolski that cover all common checkmates and most uncommon checkmates that occur regularly in middlegame positions and sometimes in openings. Nearly all of the positions come from actual games, and the various themes are repeated from simple to more complex examples. This module is suitable for novice players up to intermediate players with Elo or USCF ratings up to 1600, and will enable them to recognize checkmate possibilities in their own games. Try these tricky checkmates today!

This is what you will learn:

  • Practice calculating over 100 tactics!
  • Hone your instinct to hunt the opponent's king!
  • Understand how to find uncommon and tricky checkmates!

The Classical Back Rank Mate

The Back Rank Mate is the most common of all mating patterns and can arise in many different shapes and forms. We will now look at the cleanest and most straight forward one.
1 Challenge

The Classical Smothered Mate

The Smothered Mate is one of the most satisfying mates to deliver during a game.
1 Challenge

The Classical Epaulettes Mate with Queen

The board is wide open. Both sides have several threats.
1 Challenge

Two Rooks Mate

The double rook mate can be achieved when the rooks control two adjoining files. The king to be mated has to be on the edge of the board.
1 Challenge

Not Two Rookie Mate

This position is almost identical to the one we just observed in the challenge called "Two Rooks Mate".
1 Challenge

Anastasia's Mate

Anastasia's Mate is a distant cousin of the Back Rank Mate.
1 Challenge

Anastasia's Mate on the side

We have previously seen how a king may get trapped by Anastasia's Mate on the back rank. But Anastasia's mate often also occurs on the side of the board.
1 Challenge

Bishop and Knight Mates (1)

The bishop and knight often work very well together when the knight controls the squares of the color that the attacking bishop cannot cover. We will now see a few examples of this.
1 Challenge

Bishop and Knight Mates (2)

The attacking bishop can sometimes be very far away and have the same affect.
1 Challenge

Bishop and Knight Mates (3)

There are a few other less common bishop and knight mates.
1 Challenge

Legal's Mate

It is estimated that Legal's Mate first occurred in the early 1700s.
1 Challenge

Convincing Teamwork

White has sacrificed a queen to reach this position. Black is also dreaming of mating White's king and will surely be on top unless White finds something good real fast.
1 Challenge

Smothered Mate with Pawn

The smothered mate with an attacking pawn is a close relative of the Classical Smothered Mate.
1 Challenge

Gueridon's Mate

Black's king was pulled out from its defensive cover by a double sacrifice. White is now down two pieces, but has the initiative.
1 Challenge

Reaching Greco's Mate

White has been pushing Black's king around for several moves.
1 Challenge

The Corner Mate

White has given up a queen for a rook to reach this position.
1 Challenge

Blackburned in the Corner

This is a slightly different aspect of Blackburne's Mate
2 Challenges

Lolli's Mate

Lolli's Mate features a queen and an advanced pawn on the sixth rank.
1 Challenge

Mayet's Mate

Mayet's Mate occurs when the attacking side has a strong bishop that controls the long diagonal that ends on the square next to the attacked king.
1 Challenge

Anderssen's Mate

Anderssen's Mate is a variation from Mayet's Mate.
1 Challenge

Pillsbury's Mate

Pillsbury's Mate is usually reached with a rook and a bishop. There are some similarities to Mayet's Mate.
1 Challenge

Damiano's Pawn Mate

Damiano's Pawn Mate is very common. Often a lot of material is sacrificed to reach this position.
1 Challenge

Morphy's Mate

Morphy's Mate has similarities to Pillsbury's Mate and various back rank mates.
1 Challenge

Easy Choice

Sometimes the coordination of the knight and bishop vs. the defending king varies slightly.
1 Challenge

Gueridon's Mate on the Side

Black has just sacrificed an exchange to remove a White bishop on c2 and open up White's king more.
1 Challenge

Surprise from Behind

This position could have occurred in the Evergreen game Andersson-Dufresne, Berlin 1954.
1 Challenge

The Arabian Mate

The Arabian Mate always involves a knight near the opponent's king in the corner.
1 Challenge

The Epaulettes Mate with Rook and Bishop

Black has sacrificed a queen to reach this unusual position.
1 Challenge

The Epaulettes Mate with Rook and Knight

Black has sacrificed a queen and a rook to reach this unusual position.
1 Challenge

The Epaulettes Mate with two Rooks

Black has sacrificed a queen to reach this position. However, White has several mate threats against Black's king.
1 Challenge

The Lateral Epaulettes Mate

White went on a sacrificing spree and gave up a queen and two knights to reach this messy position. Black has most of his pieces developed, yet the king is not safe.
1 Challenge

Stuck in the Middle

Both sides have played some odd moves in the opening. This has left their kings in the middle of the board.
2 Challenges

A Poor Greco's Bishop Sacrifice

Sometimes Greco's Bishop Sacrifice on h7 gets played without adequate preparation or analysis.
1 Challenge

Aiming for Legal's Mate

The possibility of reaching Legal's Mate can arise only when the losing side moves a bishop to an unprotected square where it appears to be safe.
2 Challenges

Anastasia Refuted

Generally speaking it is difficult to defend against Anastasia's Mate once the forced sequence of moves has started.
4 Challenges

Blackburne's Mate from afar

This is one of the variations from Blackburne's Mate.
1 Challenge

Caught in the corner

White sacrificed a queen to reach his position. Yet now all of his three attacking pieces (the h4-rook, the d3-bishop and the e5-knight) are attacked by Black pieces.
2 Challenges

Finding Greco's Mate

It is almost impossible to defend against Greco's Mate once certain conditions are reached and the combination leading to mate has started.
3 Challenges

Finding the correct check

This position arose in the game Andersson-Dufresne, Berlin 1854. White has just sacrificed a lot to keep his attack going and is now down a queen, a rook and a knight.
2 Challenges

Finishing the Exposed King

White has used Greco's Bishop Sacrifice to open up Black's King. Note that Black doesn't have any defensive piece anywhere near Black's king.
4 Challenges

Futile Attempt to escape

In many cases it is very difficult to protect the mating square in Damiano's Pawn Mate (here the h7-square). This is especially the case when there is a piece on g7 blocking the seventh rank.
2 Challenges

Greco's Mate

Greco's Mate should not be confused with Greco's famous bishop sacrifice on h7.
2 Challenges

Leading to the Arabian Mate

Black has tried to attack White's kingside and sacrificed a piece for a pawn to reach this position. But it appears as if White is still holding everything together.
2 Challenges

Legal's Relative

White has made many mistakes in this opening, including not castling, moving the knight to h4 and allowing Black to favorably sacrifice a queen for a knight.
2 Challenges

Looking for Twisted Gueridon

Material is even in this sharp position. Both sides have a slightly exposed king.
2 Challenges

Not Blackburne

Black had an advantage due to his control of the long a8-h1 diagonal. Rather than trying to build on this edge slowly, Black was eager to deliver Blackburne's Mate and played ...Qd8xh4.
2 Challenges

Not Boden

Since Boden's Mate is usually reached with a forcing sequence of moves, it is hard to defend against it. It is more a case of it either working for the attacker or not.
2 Challenges

Not Legal's Mate

White's opening looks a little suspect due to the position of the knight on e2 and the unprotected bishop on g5. But is this enough to justify Black's last move ...Nxe4?
1 Challenge

Not the Arabian Mate

Black sacrificed many pieces to reach this attacking position, thinking that he could force the Arabian Mate.
2 Challenges

Shepherd's Mate

This type of pawn structure often occurs in a middle game resulting from the Benoni Defense.
2 Challenges

Slight Miscalculation

Many players feel more comfortable attacking than defending. Good players, however, need to know how to do both.
3 Challenges

Smothered or Surviving?

White has sacrificed a piece to start a combination culminating in the Smothered Mate.
2 Challenges

Stopping the Corner Mate

Material is roughly even in this position with Black having an extra pawn for the exchange (White has an extra rook vs. a Black knight).
1 Challenge

The Two Knights Mate

Two knights can never mate a king by themselves. Similar to the Smothered Mate, there need to be some defensive pieces obstructing the king to be mated.
1 Challenge

Too Optimistic

On his previous move Black moved his rook on to the e-file. White didn't pay much attention to Black's ideas and instead attacked Black's h6-pawn by moving the dark-squared bishop from a5 to d2.
2 Challenges

A Big Surprise

White is up an exchange for a pawn. This is considered almost level. Had Black played the correct ...f7-f5 on his previous move, a long battle would have been guaranteed.
4 Challenges

Attack or Defense?

Material is even. Black has decided that it was time to mate White's king. After playing ...Nh6-g4, Black exerts pressure against h2.
2 Challenges

Bishop in Disguise

Sometimes a queen can fulfill the role of a bishop!
2 Challenges

Blackburne's Mate

Blackburne's Mate is delivered by two bishops and one knight.
2 Challenges

Ruthless Penetration

White has just played Rf1-e1 to avoid Blackburne's Mate. We have seen in the main line how White gets mated quickly after he played e2-e3 instead.
6 Challenges

Blackburne's Pawn

The players have castled on opposite wings and tried to attack each other's kings. So far, both defenses appear to remain in control.
2 Challenges

Boden's Mate

Boden's Mate has surprised many strong players over the board. The main features are the attacker's bishop pair and the defending king's lack of space.
2 Challenges

Boden's Relative

One careless move is often what makes the difference between a normal balanced position and running into a mate.
2 Challenges

Cutting the Defense in Half

The position appears to have a very drawish character. Material is even and the opposite-colored bishops are both rather ineffective since they are on the color of their central pawns.
3 Challenges

Damiano's Bishop Mate

Damiano's Bishop Mate is similar to Damiano's Pawn Mate. The supporting piece will be on the same square. But instead of a pawn it is a more versatile bishop.
3 Challenges

Damiano's Pawn Power

When there isn't a pawn on the square diagonally from the corner (g2, g7, b2 or b7), then the king can try to run for his life and won't get mated on the typical square (h2, h7, a2 or a7).
3 Challenges

Deadly Diagonal

Certainly one needs to use all means possible to reach a checkmate.
2 Challenges

Defending against Anderssen's Mating Attack

Black has sacrificed a piece and is now threatening Anderssen's Mate.
4 Challenges

Defending Against Damiano's Mate Threat

Without sacrificing any material, White was able to start a mating attack on the kingside. His last move, Qh5, created a serious threat.
3 Challenges

Defending against Greco's Bishop Sacrifice

After Black played ...Bb7 previously, White advanced the e4-pawn to e5 and attacked Black's f6-knight.
4 Challenges

Defending against Lolli's Mate

Sometimes the defense has to be creative in order to avoid falling to Lolli's Mate.
3 Challenges

Defending against the Arabian Mate Threat (1)

Defending against the Arabian Mate is often impossible because the attacking rook controls the seventh rank cutting off the cornered king.
4 Challenges

Defending against the Arabian Mate Threat (2)

The Arabian Mate can also occur on the other side of the board after one has castled queenside.
2 Challenges

Defense too slow

Sometimes the defender is able to fend off Lolli's Mate, but will be helpless against a different mate.
3 Challenges

Diverting the Defense

Black has sacrificed a piece to reach this position. He has two pawns for it and was hoping to make use of his earlier initiative.
3 Challenges

Double Smothered

A lively middle game battle is taking place in this position. Black has sacrificed two pawns for some attacking chances.
2 Challenges

Doubled Pawns at Their Worst

Doubled pawns are usually seen as a positional burden, especially as one gets closer to an endgame.
3 Challenges

Ever heard of Boden?

The Boden Mate has several different aspects to it. It is important to be familiar with them and recognize them quickly when they occur in a game.
3 Challenges

Fighting for control of the mate square

Sometimes the attacking side must go to great lengths in order to be able to deliver Lolli's Mate.
4 Challenges

Finding Mayet's Mate

Sometimes Mayet's Mate occurs in an unusual form.
2 Challenges

Finding Morphy's Mate

Morphy's Mate usually features a rook and a bishop. Several friendly pieces have to obstruct the king for a mate to be possible.
3 Challenges

Finding the Smothered Mate with Pawn

To reach any smothered mate generally requires a sacrifice that pulls one of the king's defenders away from the mating square. While doing so, this defender often ends up smothering the king as well.
3 Challenges

Grazing for Shepherd's Mate

Black has sacrificed an exchange to obtain active piece play. His last move, ...Nc5-d3, leaves White's pieces on c1, b2 and d5 attacked.
3 Challenges

Insufficient coverage

Many of the most exciting positions occur when both players attack each other's kings on opposite sides of the board.
3 Challenges

Keeping Tight Control

There are a few different aspects of Damiano's Bishop Mate.
4 Challenges

Leading to Anastasia's Mate

Both sides are attacking each other's king. Black is up a knight for two pawns, but his king is wide open.
2 Challenges

Leading to Pillsbury's Mate

Pillsbury's Mate can be reached when the pawn shelter in front of the enemy's king is ripped open.
3 Challenges

Leading to The Two Knights Mate

Black has barely been able to defend his king. Finally, he thought, he was able to start some counter play with ...g4-g3.
2 Challenges

Looking for Anastasia

Having the initiative, i.e., being able to move first in a sequence of moves and making the other person react to one's moves, makes the difference.
3 Challenges

Looking for Epaulettes

White has invested two pieces to stop Black's king from castling to safety.
2 Challenges

Looking for the Classical Smothered Mate

The Smothered Mate can often be reached by the combination of queen and knight. In most cases it requires the losing side to have his king run out of air in the corner of the board.
5 Challenges

Not an Absolute Pin

White is lacking in this respect due to his uncastled king in the center of the board.
3 Challenges

Not Anastasia's Mate

Some positions can look very similar to the ones that produce fantastic mating nets. It is important to be able to distinguish between the real thing and the positions that are illusions.
4 Challenges

Perpetual Check or More?

The two sides have castled on opposite wings and have tried to create some pressure against each other's monarchs.
4 Challenges

Queen and Rook vs. an Exposed King (1)

Time is of the utmost importance in a chess battle. The player who wastes too much time with useless maneuvers will certainly find himself reacting to his opponent's moves.
4 Challenges

Queen and Rook vs. an Exposed King (2)

This is the variation that could occur if Black doesn't accept the original rook sacrifice 1.Rxg7+ and tries to hide in the corner with 1...Kh8.
4 Challenges

Reaching Lolli's Mate

Lolli's Mate can be reached on either side of the board by either player.
3 Challenges

Reaching the Corner Mate

White is down a pawn, but White's knight is more actively placed than Black's.
4 Challenges

Reaching the Two Rooks Mate

White's last move, Bf5-d3, pinned Black's rook on b5 to Black's queen. White was hoping that the exchange of rooks would leave him with a superior endgame.
2 Challenges

Searching for Anderssen's Mate

Anderssen's Mate can arise from seemingly ordinary and harmless positions.
4 Challenges

Searching for Damiano's Pawn Mate

To reach any checkmate the defender must have made a mistake. In this case the root of the problem was carelessness and a premature attack.
5 Challenges

Setting up Pillsbury

Sometimes it appears as if Pillsbury's Mate is close, but cannot be reached.
3 Challenges

Smothering Assistance

Whenever a player has more attacking pieces near the king than the defender has defending pieces, tactical combinations are likely to work.
3 Challenges

Superior Pieces

After a series of piece exchanges, Black was quite happy to have won the exchange.
2 Challenges

X-Ray Vision

Often the defender will think he has the mate square adequately covered.
2 Challenges

Borrowing from Mayet and Anastasia

When you are familiar with certain mating patterns, you will recognize them in different types of positions. Sometimes you can combine different mating patterns to reach the desired result.
5 Challenges

Breaking Down the Arabian Defense

White is up a pawn in this position. But has been fully immersed in defending against Black's efforts to create an Arabian Mate.
4 Challenges

Cutting off Communications

Material is even, but Black's pieces are more active. White, on the other hand, is hoping to win the c4-pawn.
4 Challenges

Decisive Edge in Development

White has an edge in development. But Black's last move, ...Ng8f6, attacked White's queen. Since White's knight on d4 is also unprotected, White appears to be in trouble.
4 Challenges

Defending against Mayet's Mate

Often one will have a free move to defend against Mayet's mate threat. But not always does one have enough defensive resources available to survive such an attack.
3 Challenges

Defense or Attack?

Black is up a pawn and has just created some mate threats by moving his queen from c5 to a3. Yet his lack of development could be a problem.
3 Challenges

Extraordinary Efforts

Sometimes the attacking side must make extraordinary efforts to break through.
5 Challenges

Giving up Everything for Mate

Sometimes there is only a very narrow path to victory.
4 Challenges

Greco's Delightful Sacrifice

This position could occur in a French Defense if Black plays carelessly. However, the overall characteristics of this attack can be found in many positions in the late opening or early middlegame.
8 Challenges

Mayet's Mate with Heavy Pieces

Again we see the absence of a defensive dark-squared bishop in Black's king position. This makes it possible to think about reaching Mayet's Mate.
4 Challenges

Pillsbury's Original

This position occurred in the game Pillsbury-Lee from 1899.
4 Challenges

Rook Power

When players have opposite colored bishops in a middle game, it is common that one attacks the opponent on the squares of that color.
4 Challenges

Searching for Gueridon's Mate

This type of position can easily arise from common King's Pawn Openings (after 1.e4 e5). Both sides have made normal developing moves until Black's last move, Nf6-d7.
4 Challenges

Setting up the Epaulettes Mate

This complex middlegame position is full of tactical complications. White's king is more exposed than Black's, but his advanced pawns promise victory if Black doesn't find a quick solution.
4 Challenges

Stalling the Eager Defense

When the defending side has a rook next to the king (here c8) and a full pawn shelter (here pawns on c7, b7 and a7),
5 Challenges

Straight forward

The two sides have castled on opposite wings with the intention of throwing everything they have at each other's kings. It is surprising how quickly the second player will collapse.
4 Challenges

The supremacy of the double check

Material is even, yet Black is attacking two of White's pieces with his pawns. Black's position also appears very solid, so White must create something special.
4 Challenges

Defensive Collapse

White has played an opening similar to the Hedgehog defense with an extra tempo. However, things got messy quickly when White opted to win a pawn on g7.
3 Challenges

Favorable Simplifications

The board is on fire with many pieces facing each other.
4 Challenges

Morphy's Paralysis

Sometimes a sacrifice doesn't lead to immediate checkmate, but to a dominating position that will lead to mate sooner or later.
8 Challenges

Sacrificing the House

Sometimes a seemingly innocent position can turn into a wildfire if one is willing to tolerate the heat and escape victorious.
5 Challenges

Staying in Control

When your opponent has a difficult position it is important to know which move(s) would allow the opponent to escape and to make sure there's no time to recover.
9 Challenges

The Evergreen Game

The current position arose in the game Andersson-Dufresne, Berlin 1954. Due to the fantastic finish, it has been called the Evergreen Game.
5 Challenges

The Evergreen Variation

We will now explore a highly fascinating variation that could have occurred in the Evergreen game Andersson-Dufresne, Berlin 1852.
7 Challenges

The Original Anderssen

A similar position to this one occurred in the game Anderssen- Zukertort from 1869.
5 Challenges

Essential Checkmate Patterns

Attacking
130 Lessons
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353 Challenges
Released November 12, 2007
140,326 Students