Chess Terms
Boden's Mate

Boden's Mate

A bishop pair is a dangerous weapon when handled by a skilled player. Sometimes, not even a castled king is safe—especially if the attacking player knows about Boden's Mate.

Here is what you need to know about this checkmate.


What Is Boden's Mate?

Boden's Mate is a pattern in which two bishops checkmate the king via intersecting diagonals. For this mate to happen, some escape squares of the king must be blocked.

The Boden's Mate.
GM Lajos Steiner vs. GM Miguel Najdorf, 1937. The bishops work together to checkmate the king.

This type of checkmate usually happens against a king castled to the queenside, although it can also occur on other parts of the board.

Why Is Boden's Mate Important?

Like any other checkmating pattern, Boden's Mate can be the difference between winning or losing a game. Since checkmating the opponent's king is the main goal in chess, learning mating patterns is crucial.

In particular, this checkmate is dangerous because it can happen to a seemingly safe castled king. An example of this comes from the game that made this pattern famous: an encounter between R. Schulder and Samuel Boden in 1853.

Black can deliver a Boden's Mate.
Hiding behind pawns, the white king seems to be safe.

Boden found a stunning sacrifice that opened the gates to the white king. After Schulder captured the queen with his pawn, Black quickly finished the job with his bishop pair's help.

A sacrifice allows Boden to deliver checkmate.
Boden's dark-squared bishop attacks the king using the recently-opened diagonal to end the game.

As you can see, learning to recognize this pattern can help you to surprise your opponent and win more games.

Test Your Skills

Now that you are aware of this type of checkmate, it is time for you to put your skills to the test. Try to use Boden's Mate to your advantage in each of the following puzzles.

Puzzle 1: In this first game between GM Samuel Reshevsky and GM Edward Duncan, Reshevsky has just captured a black knight. What is the best response for Black?

Puzzle 2: In this game played in New Zealand in 1926, Australian chess master Richard Barnes had Black against Oscar Balk. Do you see how he employed Boden's pattern to win?

Conclusion

You now know what Boden's Mate is, why it is important, and how to identify it and use it in your games. Learn about other types of checkmating patterns by going to our Lessons page or watch GM Simon William's video about it.