Checkmate Types

Checkmate Types

Checkmating your opponent is the ultimate goal in chess. To do so effectively, it helps to know the types of mates you can deliver depending on which pieces you have at your disposal.


What Are Types Of Checkmate

Types of checkmate, also known as "checkmating patterns," are models that you can use to force a checkmate upon your opponent. Each pattern requires a specific combination of pieces, either from your own army or taking advantage of the placement of your enemy's pieces.

As you get familiar with those patterns, your game will improve. You will become a more efficient attacker, as well as a solid defender.

Using Only Your Own Pieces To Checkmate

You've played a great game, wiped your opponent's pieces off the board, and you are ready to defeat them. The enemy king is free to move around and will do everything in its power to stall the game or force a draw. Can you bring home the victory?

Check out the mating patterns you can use in this sort of situation. Notice that those are also the minimum piece combinations you need to force a mate. If you end up with fewer pieces than each combination mentioned below and you cannot promote any pawn, it will be impossible to mate your opponent, and the game will end in a draw.

Two-Rooks

Two-Rooks checkmate is one of the most straightforward basic mating patterns you should know how to perform. Also known as "rook-rolling" or "lawnmower mate," this is how you can checkmate your opponent with two rooks. To do that, you use both rooks to cut down the king and push him to the edge of the board, where he won't be able to escape.

Mating with two rooks
Checkmating with two rooks.

King And Queen

Frequently, pawns are promoted to queens during endgames. For this reason, you should know how to perform this mate. With the help of your king, you can checkmate your opponent's monarch once you force it to one of the edges of the board. The "boxing method" for checkmating with a king and queen vs king is shown below:

Checkmate with king and queen
Checkmating with a king and a queen.

King And One Rook

Another basic checkmate pattern, the idea behind this mate is to push your opponent's king to the edge of the board, use your king to protect the escape squares of the opponent's king, and then use your rook to deliver the final blow.

Mating with a king and a rook.
Checkmating with a king and a rook.

King And Two Bishops

Like many other mating patterns, you first have to force your enemy's king to the edge of the board. After the king reaches one of the sides of the board, you can then push him to one of the corners, and after that, use your king and bishops to end the game.

Mating with king and bishops
Checkmating with a king and two bishops.

King, Bishop, And Knight

For this mate, you have to coordinate your king, bishop, and knight with precision to create an inescapable "box" that will keep your opponent trapped.

For this mate, you have to take your enemy's king to one of the corners of the board before you start the mating pattern. After that, you will have to force it to the adjacent edge of the chessboard to deliver mate.

Checkmate with king, bishop, and knight.
Checkmating with the king, a bishop, and a knight.

Arabian Mate

The Arabian Mate is reached when a knight and rook work together to checkmate the king. The knight protects the rook and also blocks the escape square of the king.

Arabian Checkmate.
The Arabian Mate.

Taking Advantage Of Your Opponent's Pieces To Checkmate

More often than not, chess games are not necessarily decided just after removing your enemy's forces from the board. Frequently, you can even make your enemy's own army work against them to secure a victory.

Below you will find a list of many types of checkmates that can be delivered using the support of your enemy's pieces.

Fool's Mate

The Fool's Mate is the fastest checkmate in chess, happening only after two moves! To accomplish this feat, you need to play as Black (White can checkmate in three moves), and your opponent must play very poorly. It involves attacking the weak e1-h4 diagonal against White or the e8-h5 diagonal against Black.

The Fool's Checkmate.
The quickest checkmate in chess: the Fool's Mate.

Scholar's Mate

The Scholar's Mate is an opening trap that catches many beginners off guard. It is also a quick mate that can happen after just four moves and involves attacking the weak f2 and f7-squares.

Scholar's checkmate.
Another speedy mate: the Scholar's Mate.

Legal's Mate

The Legal's Mate is another opening trap that comes after one player sacrifices the queen to force a mate. These are the moves that need to be performed by both players for this mating pattern to occur.

The Legal's Checkmate.
An opening trap: the Legal's Mate.

Back Rank Mate

The Back Rank Mate is very common in chess, so it's a good idea to be able to identify when this pattern appears on the board.

This mate involves taking advantage of a wall created by your opponent's pieces in front of their king, leaving just one rank for it. You can then use a rook or a queen to attack that rank, checkmating your opponent.

Back Rank Checkmate
The Back Rank Mate.

Smothered Mate

The Smothered Mate gets its name from the fact that the king has no "breathing room" and thus cannot escape any threat. That's when a knight can jump in and take advantage of the king's restricted moves to end the game in style!

The Smothered Checkmate.
No room for breathing: the Smothered Mate.

Anastasia's Mate

This mate is more common after the enemy king has already castled. It involves one piece blocking a square right next to the enemy king (usually a pawn). You will also need a knight and a rook to checkmate your opponent.

Anastasia's Checkmate.
The Anastasia's Mate.

Epaulet Mate

This mating pattern got its name because the position you get on the board from it resembles the epaulets worn by some members of the armed forces on their shoulders. It involves two enemy pieces blocking the two sides of the king (its "shoulders," just like the armed forces ornaments), all sitting on the edge of the board. A queen then comes in to deliver the final blow.

Epaulet Checkmate.
The king's "shoulder ornaments" trap him: the Epaulet Mate.

Boden's Mate

If the enemy king has pieces on one of its sides blocking its way, you may have a chance to apply this beautiful checkmate using your bishop pair.

The Boden's Checkmate.
The Boden's Mate.

Dovetail Mate

This checkmating pattern happens when your enemy's pieces restrict their king's escape squares, and your queen comes in to finish the game. Notice in the image below how the enemy's forces resemble a dovetail. This pattern gets its name because of its shape.

Dovetail Checkmate.
The shape of this pattern gives away its name: the Dovetail Mate.

Swallow's Tail Mate

This pattern gets its name because the resulting position resembles the "V-shape" of the tail of a swallow. For this mate, you will need to have your queen supported by any piece attacking the enemy king.

Swallow's Tail Checkmate.
The "V-shape" of this pattern is the reason why people call it the Swallow's Tail Mate.

Opera Mate

This mating pattern got its name from the world-famous game played by chess genius Paul Morphy while he was at the opera. You can apply this checkmate with a rook and a bishop.

The Opera Checkmate.
The Opera Mate was made famous by chess legend Paul Morphy.

Blackburne's Mate

You can deliver a Blackburne's mate to your opponent's castled king using two bishops and a knight.

Blackburne's Checkmate.
The Blackburne's Checkmate.

Damiano's Mate

This pattern occurs when the queen is supported by a pawn or a bishop to checkmate the opponent.

Damiano's Checkmate.
The Damiano's Checkmate.

Test Your Skills

Now that you learned how to checkmate your opponent in many different ways, it's time for us to test your skills!

Puzzle 1: Can Black deliver checkmate in this position?

Puzzle 2: Can White checkmate their opponent?

Puzzle 3: Can you take advantage of your opponent's careless play?

Conclusion

You now know many mating patterns that you can use to dominate your opponent! Head over to the Lessons page and learn everything you need to know about the basic types of checkmate!