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Basic Checkmates: Checkmate patterns

In this part, we will be looking at the most common configurations of pieces for achieving a checkmate. It's important to know which pieces you will need to corner the enemy king, so you don't start an attack without enough firepower to finish the job. These patterns can appear in many different positions, and later parts of this tutorial will focus on some of those in more detail.

Queen checkmates

The queen is the most deadly of the pieces for performing a checkmate - at close range, the queen can trap the enemy king at the side of the board and cover all his escape squares by herself. Despite this power, the queen can still be captured like any other piece, so usually the queen relies on the support of a second piece when delivering checkmate. Here are some examples.

Checkmate with queen and knight

Checkmate with queen and bishop

Checkmate with queen and rook

Checkmate with queen and pawn

Checkmate with queen and king

Sometimes the queen is able to checkmate the enemy king all by herself if one or more of the king's escape squares are blocked by his own pieces. The following two examples are worth remembering.

Checkmate with queen alone

Epaulette mate

Rook checkmates

Rooks are less powerful than the queen, and so usually need at least one other piece to cover the enemy king's escape squares. A common type of rook checkmate is the back rank mate, which is so important it will have its own part later. Here are some of the most common checkmate patterns featuring rooks.

Checkmate with rook and king

Checkmate with rook and queen

Arabian mate (Rook and knight)

Anastasia's mate (Rook and knight)

Checkmate with rook and bishop

Checkmate with two rooks (1)

Checkmate with two rooks (2)

Bishop and knight checkmates

Checkmate with the minor pieces is less common than with the rook and queen, as the bishop and knight cover fewer squares, and therefore must rely on more pieces to help them in surrounding the enemy king. However, there are still a few notable checkmate patterns featuring bishops and knights that are worth remembering. Knights have a special type of checkmate called a smothered mate, which will have its own part later in the tutorial.

Checkmate with bishop and queen

Morphy's mate (bishop and rook)

Checkmate with king and two bishops

Checkmate with knight and queen.

Checkmate with knight and rook.

Checkmate with king, knight and bishop.

Blackburne's mate (knight and two bishops)

Pawn checkmates

Even the lowly pawn can checkmate the enemy king with adequate support from the other pieces. The limited mobility of the pawn makes this kind of checkmate somewhat rare, but they are known to happen when the enemy king is restricted in his movements.

Checkmate with king and two pawns.

Checkmate with pawn and rook.

Suggested Books

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