Skip to main content

The allure of checkmate is obvious. Recollect the first time you delivered a checkmate. You feel a certain sense of joy and pride that is unmatched. Your mind tries to comprehend ‘what just happened’, as you lead your army of sixteen to a triumph over an adversary. Your mind almost says: achievement unlocked! And perhaps you feel on the top of the world as well?

Funnily, the ‘what just happened’ thought also arises when you find yourself checkmated by the opponent. What connects these two opposing feelings is the knowledge of checkmate, something that we explored in some depth earlier by outlining five essential checkmating patterns. And today, it’s time to learn yet another five motifs in our bid to become a master at the ultimate objective of a chess game!

Queen and Bishop battery

Battery is the combination of Queen and Bishop along a diagonal. One of the most integral checkmating patterns in all of chess is based on the theme of battery, usually with the Queen at the front and the Bishop backing it up.

Let’s look at a basic example:

version 3

Now let’s examine the same position but with Black’s turn to move.

Having learnt the basics, let’s get ourselves acquainted with an advanced version of this pattern.

Boden’s Mate

One of the most fascinating checkmates in chess is the Boden’s Mate, also known as the Criss-Cross mate. What adds to the beauty of this pattern is its sheer suddenness, which can pretty much leave your opponents bamboozled. It features two Bishops/one Queen & one Bishop/two Queens delivering the inevitable along different diagonals. Have a look: 

The name Boden’s Mate is derived from the fact that Samuel Boden is the first known player to have used this pattern way back in 1860. We join the game a move in anticipation of the ‘Big Bang’:

Damiano’s Mate

First published by Pedro Damiano in 1512 AD, Damiano’s mate is one of the oldest checkmating patterns known to us. The essence of this pattern is simple: 

However, this pattern is usually achieved after a sacrifice of one or two Rooks, with the latter being particularly spectacular.

Pillsbury’s Mate

Named after the American chess genius Harry Nelson Pillbury who played it in 1899, this pattern features a deadly pairing of a Rook and a Bishop. Let’s look at the basic skeleton of this motif:

Now, we delve into the original game where Pillsbury wheeled out this pretty checkmate.

Despite looking exotic, the Pillsbury’s mate is a surprisingly common motif and deserves close attention.

Legal’s Mate

Just like the Boden’s Mate, the Legal’s Mate is another pattern that can come as a shocker to your opponents. Originally unleashed by Kermur Sire de Légal against Saint Brie in the year 1750, the checkmate forms an integral part of learning the basic 1.e4 e5 openings.

We now visit a more conventional version of the Legal’s Mate.

Final words:

As noted in part one of the article, it’s necessary for us to focus on two key aspects in order to apply these patterns:(1) Have a good understanding and recall of these typical motifs.(2) Look out for ‘forcing moves’ during games: Checks, Captures, and Threats in decreasing order of priority.

These two elements put together generally help you apply any tactics, and not just the checkmating ideas outlined above, to the best of your abilities,. So go ahead, play some slow games, and try and apply these wonderful array of motifs to score pleasant wins!

The above blog has been written by Shubham Kumthekar, our Team member. For more such articles, stay tuned to Square Off’s Blog space.

Check out the world’s smartest AI chess board, that makes its own moves!