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Depending upon your processor and internet connection speeds, game files may take several seconds to load in the pgn viewers. The blank chess boards will populate when ready for viewing. Credit is given for examples taken from actual tournament games. Otherwise, positions have been composed for this web page.

25 Standard

Check Mates

• Anastasia's Mate

• Anderssen's Mate

• Arabian Mate

• Back Rank Mate

• Blackburne's Mate

• Boden's Mate

• Damiano's Mate

• Damiano's Bishop Mate

• David & Goliath Mate

• Dovetail Mate

• Epaulette Mate

• Fool's Mate

• Greco's Mate

• Gueridon Mate

• Hook Mate

• Legal's Mate

• Lolli's Mate

• Max Lange's Mate

• Minor Piece Mate

• Morphy's Mate

• Opera Mate

• Pillsbury's Mate

• Reti's Mate

• Scholar's Mate

• Smothered Mate

 

1. Anastasia's Mate

     
Theory Position after Rh4#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Bayer-Falkbeer, Vienna 1852
Position after 22. Kh1 ...
 
More examples of Anastasia's Mate.
[Index]
 

2. Anderssen's Mate

     
Theory Position after Rh8#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Anderssen - Zukertort, Barmen 1869
Position after 29. Qxh7+ ...
 
More examples of Anderssen's Mate.
[Index]
 

3. Arabian Mate

     
Theory Position after Rh7#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Kotronios - Vallejo Pons,
Budva 2009
Position after 41 ... Rd1?
 
More examples of Arabian Mate.
[Index]
 

4. Back Rank Mate

(a.k.a. Corridor Mate)

     
Theory Position after Rb8#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Alekhine - Frieman, New York 1924
Position after 22 ... Qxf6
 
More examples of Back Rank or Corridor Mate.
[Index]
 

5. Blackburne's Mate

     
Theory Position after Bh7#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
NN - Blackburne, England 1880
Position after 13. Qxa8? ...
 
More examples of Blackburne's Mate.
[Index]
 

6. Boden's Mate

Horwitz - Popert, Hamburg 1844
     
Theory Position after Ba6#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Schulden - Boden, London 1853
Position after 14. Bxd5 ...
 
More examples of Boden's Mate.
[Index]
 

7. Damiano's Mate

     
Theory Position after Qh7#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Blackburne - NN, Hastings 1894
Position after 13. ... Kxh8
 
More examples of Damiano's Mate.
[Index]
 

8. Damiano's Bishop Mate

     
Theory Position after Qh7#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Makovetz - Charousek, Budapest 1895
Position after 26. ... Bh3
 
More examples of Damiano's Bishop Mate.
[Index]
 

9. David & Goliath Mate

     
Theory Position after b5 #
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Alekhine - Verlinsky, Odessa 1918
Position after 38. ... Rg6
 
More examples of David and Goliath Mate.
[Index]
 

10. Dovetail Mate

     
Theory Position after Qe8#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Szily - Bronstein, Budapest 1949
Position after 37. Bf2 ...
 
More examples of Dovetail Mate.
[Index]
 

11. Epaulette Mate

     
Theory Position after Qg6#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Tarrasch - Chigorin,
St. Petersburg 1893
Position after 24 ... Rf8
 
More examples of Epaulette Mate.
[Index]
 

12. Fool's Mate

     
Theory Position after 1. e4 g5 2. d4 f3??? 3. Qh5#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Teed - Delmar, New York 1896
Position after 6. ... Rh6?
 
More examples of Fool's Mate.
[Index]
 

13. Greco's Mate

     
Theory Position after Rh3#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Euwe - Wiersma, Amsterdam 1920
Position after 18. ... Be6
 
More examples of Greco's Mate.
[Index]
 

14. Gueridon Mate

     
Theory Position after Qe5#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Keres - Fischer, Bled 1959
Position after 52. ... g4
 
More examples of Gueridon Mate.
[Index]
 

15. Hook Mate

     
Theory Position after Rf8#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Marshall-Napier, New York 1898
Position after 49. ... Qd1
 
More examples of Hook Mate.
[Index]
 

16. Legal's Mate

Kermur Sire De Legal - Saint Brie, Paris 1750
     
Theory Position after 7. Nd5#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Pillsbury - Fernandez,
Havana (Simul) 1900
Position after 7. ... Bxd1
 
More examples of Legal's Mate.
[Index]
 

17. Lolli's Mate

     
Theory Position after Qg7#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Kushnir - Zatulovskaya,
Beltsy 1970
Position after 35. ... Qg4
 
More examples of Lolli's Mate.
[Index]
 

18. Max Lange Mate

     
Theory Position after Qg8#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Anderssen-Lange, Breslau 1859
Position after 32. ... g6
 
More examples of Max Lange's Mate.
[Index]
 

19. Minor Piece Mate

     
Theory Position after Nh7#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Maczynski - Pratten,
Portsmouth 1948
Position after 19. Qxh8 ...
 
More examples of Minor Piece Mate.
[Index]
 

20. Morphy's Mate

     
Theory Position after Bd4#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Reshevsky - Shainswit,
New York 1951
Position after 28. ... exd3?
 
More examples of Morphy's Mate.
[Index]
 

21. Opera Mate

     
Theory Position after Rd8#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Morphy - Duke Karl of Brunswick and Count Isouard, Paris 1858
Position after 15. ... Nxd7
 
More examples of Opera Mate.
[Index]
 

22. Pillsbury's Mate

     
Theory Position after Rg1#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Pillsbury - Newman,
Philadelphia 1900
Position after 16 ... Qxg2
 
More examples of Pillsbury's Mate.
[Index]
 

23. Reti's Mate

     
Theory Position after 11. Bd8#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Reti - Tartakower, Vienna 1910
Position after 8 ... Nxe4?
 
More examples of Reti's Mate.
[Index]
 

24. Scholar's Mate

     
Theory Position after Qxf7#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Amillano - Loefflar,
Mar del Plata 1972
Position after 4. ... Nd4?
 
More examples of Scholar's Mate.
[Index]
 

25. Smothered Mate

     
Theory Position after Nf7#
PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Grischuk - Ponomariov,
Torshavn 2000
Position after 25. ... Rxd8
 
More examples of Smothered Mate.
[Index]
 
 

 
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Historical Names of

Checkmate Patterns

In addition to the four basic checkmates covered in How to Play Chess, twenty-five standard (named) checkmates are presented on this web page. There are other checkmates documented in chess literature. Some checkmates have more than one name, others are variations on a theme (the Cozio Mate is just the Dovetail Mate turned upside down.) The Gueridon (French for "pedestal table") Mate is also known as the "pedestal" mate and as the "swallow's tail" mate. The ubiquitous "back rank" mate is called a "corridor" mate by many authors. The names are not important. What's crucial is understanding and memorizing these patterns so they will be recognized when they're about to occur in a player's games. These checkmate themes are not confined to chess problems and puzzles. As will be seen, they occur in the games of grandmasters and even world champions.

Each checkmate's theoretical pattern is presented as a diagram, with an example from an actual game (live pgn viewer.) It is suggested that students set-up and play through these checkmates from black's viewpoint as well. Most difficult of all is recognizing patterns when they occur horizontally (i.e., rotated 90-degrees) from the normal orientation (the great Keres likely stumbled into a Gueridon Mate because Fischer had "upset his table" (see example.) The key to each pattern is the status of the squares surrounding the king: which ones are obstructed, which are potential flight squares that can be controlled with the pieces available. Players are advised to know these patterns forward, backward and upside down!

Novice players often complain they are unable to inflict these checkmates on their opponents, that opponents spot the threat and find a defensive move to prevent mate. Part of the reason is choice of openings; double KP openings are not popular today and the closed formations of the QP openings do not create as many open lines and potential mating attacks. Knowledge of the game and defensive skill of today's players, even at the amateur level, is much greater than what existed a hundred and fifty years ago. Players should remember Nimzovich's advice: "A threat is stronger than its execution." A threatened mate can force an opponent to make a defensive move that may weaken his position elsewhere. The knowledgeable player uses a mating threat as one more tactic to gain an advantage. Just like knowledge and skillful use of the 24 Basic Tactics in chess, a mate threat can be a potent tactical weapon in a player's arsenal.

One of the critical elements of position analysis is king safety, both one's own king and the opponent's. Armed with knowledge of checkmate patterns, players can be alert for opportunities to bring their games to a speedy conclusion (or prevent a disaster if they find themselves under such pressure). Frequently these mating possibilities occur king-side, because players typically castle on that wing, or else in the middle of the board due to a player's failure to castle. An exception is Boden's Mate, peculiar to positions involving queen-side castling.

Boden's Mate is exceptional for another reason. Apparently it should be called Horwitz' Mate, as Bernard Horwitz played the seminal game (Horwitz-Popert, Hamburg 1844) nine years before Schulden-Boden, London 1853. This historical "fact" can only be inferred, as the position had been published in the Chessplayer's Chronicle of May, 1847 with the players' names but not the game score, tournament or date. The Horwitz-Popert position (again, sans gamescore) was later found in the Schachjahrbuch (Chess Yearbook) for 1894, p. 108, which gave the playing site and date as Hamburg, 1844.

PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo
Horwitz-Popert, Hamburg 1844
Position after 1 ... Qxh5
 

A further complication is the existence of another Horwitz-Popert gamescore, also Hamburg 1844, a victory by Horwitz with the white pieces having absolutely nothing to do with a "Boden's Mate;" see volume two of Aus Vergangenen Zeiten (From Times Past,) pp. 167-168 by L. Bachmann (Berlin, 1922.) If Hamburg, 1844 was a double round robin, it's highly unlikely Howitz would have had the white pieces twice. Horwitz and Josef Kling co-authored Chess Studies in 1851, a classic work on the endgame. More's the pity the checkmate Horwitz first played was named after someone else. Horwitz also played a Reti Mate decades before Reti (see Schulten-Horwitz, London 1846).

Pillsbury's Mate, named after American master Harry Nelson Pillsbury, is the basis of another chess mystery. The game score (Pillsbury-Lee, London 1899) referenced in Art of the Checkmate, a classic by Renaud and Khan does not match the official tournament record. The game Pillsbury-Newman, Philadelphia 1900, coincides with Renaud and Khan's version through 16 ... Qxg2, but Pillsbury played 17. Qd2 and went on to win the game after 17. ... Qxf2+ 18. Kc1 Kh8 19. Rg1 Ne5 20. dxe5 1-0. Note Black resigns here; he is not checkmated. It turns out Renaud and Kahn merely got the date wrong; Pillsbury-Lee, London 1889 did feature Pillsbury's Mate: 17. Qf3 Qxf3 18. Rg1+ Kh8 19. Bg7+ Kg8 20. Bxf6+! Qg4 21. Rxg4#.
      A new question arises: did Pillsbury forget what he'd played against Lee in 1889, or did he fear an improvement for Black? After 17. Qf3, Black's alternative doesn't look too promising: 17... Qg6?! 18. Bxf8 Rb8 19. Be7 Re8 20. O-O-O Kh8 21. Rhg1 Qh6 22. Rg2 Rxe7 23. Rdg1 Qg6 24. Qa8+ Kg7 25. Qd8 Re6 26. Rxg6+ hxg6 27. Qxd7 and Black is a queen down.
      Even more disconcerting is the following game, a "Pillsbury's Mate" played more than a decade before Pillsbury was even born!

Anderssen-Suhle
Breslau 1860:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Bc5 6. O-O d6 7. d4 exd4 8. cxd4 Bb6 9. d5 Na5 10. Bb2 Nf6 11. Bd3 Bg4 12. Nc3 c6 13. Ne2 O-O 14. Qd2 Rc8 15. Qg5 Bxf3 16. gxf3 cxd5 17. Kh1 Nc4 18. Rg1 Ne8 19. Qxg7+ Nxg7 20. Rxg7+ Kh8 21. Rg8+ Kxg8 22. Rg1+ Qg5 23. Rxg5#.

Position after 23. Rxg5#
"Pillsbury's Mate"
 
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