“Modern Chess is too much concerned with things like pawn structure. Forget it, checkmate ends the game!” ~ Grandmaster Nigel Short

An encyclopaedic knowledge of checkmating patterns is the key to winning chess games, no matter what your level of play is. At the amateur level, most games end in checkmate – it often becomes a case of “You miss, I hit.” As you move to relatively stronger levels, you see more and more players resign before the inevitable. Yet, you can find countless examples where a strong player misses a typical checkmating idea which is duly spotted by his opponent, helping the latter clinch the game. Not just that, checkmating patterns come in handy even if they don’t appear on-the-board. For instance, knowing these patterns may help you avoid potential pitfalls, thus indirectly helping you inch closer towards the result you desire.

Bearing the above in mind, I have picked five checkmating patterns that will help you get started on your journey to chess mastery. Without any further ado, let’s explore some checkmates!

Back-rank mate

This one, right here, is the big daddy of checkmating patterns. I cannot emphasize enough how many games at the amateur level are decided with one player missing a checkmate on the last row of the board. At the higher levels, back rank checkmates are still seen, although in convoluted forms. Let’s learn more about this idea:

Now, let’s jump into a slightly advanced case of this classic checkmate. And finally, let’s wrap this segment with a real-game back rank finish.

The Queen and Bishop tango

This is a super-common pattern. And yet, I have never really encountered a formal name for it. As such, I decided to take some liberty and christen it as the ‘Queen and Bishop Tango’. You will soon see why!

Arabian Mate

The Arabian Mate is an ancient checkmating pattern involving the Rook and Knight duo. On the outside, it looks like a simple idea. However, it is surprisingly common and can often be tricky to anticipate, especially if you aren’t attentive enough!

Often in chess, you will have to do something ‘extra’ to execute the eventual idea, since the opponent will rarely offer you opportunities on the platter. Bearing that in mind, let’s look at ways to ‘create’ an Arabian Mate.

And one final example to further your understanding of this pattern.

Smothered Mate

Eyes wide open. Eyebrows raised. A look that combines shock and astonishment. This is the reaction I usually get from my students when I introduce them to the fascinating concept of Smothered Mate. And why not? Smothered Mate is one of the most pleasing patterns in all of chess. One should consider themselves blessed if they get an opportunity to execute this pleasing sequence!

So what does Smothered Mate exactly mean? Well, it’s a scenario where the King is surrounded by his own pieces and the opponent uses this opportunity to deliver a checkmate relatively ‘remotely’ with the Knight. Let’s look at the skeleton of this pattern.

Once again, it’s crucial to note that you will rarely get an opportunity to deliver such a mate without any interference from your opponent. Most times, you will have to ‘create’ the mate. In the case of Smothered Mate, you can use a certain sequence of moves involving a Queen sacrifice that leads you to this lovely checkmate.

Anastasia’s Mate

We revisit the Rook and Knight duo as they continue their deadly checkmating escapades. First, let’s examine the basics of this exotic checkmating pattern.

Usually, Anastasia’s checkmate is set up by a Queen sacrifice that exposes the opponent’s King to the final attack from our Rook. 

We will conclude this segment with an example from the current World Chess Champion’s praxis. The Queen sacrifice takes the centrestage yet again, albeit in a slightly different manner.

Final remarks:

That’s all from this introduction to the world of checkmating patterns. If you wish to apply these to your own games, be on lookout for two things: 1) Positions similar to the patterns examined in the article; and 2) Forcing Moves – Checks. Captures, Threats . A combination of these two factors will benefit you greatly, not just while trying to apply the aforementioned patterns but also while trying to apply any tactics that you may learn in your quest to play better chess. And perhaps, we will be back with a part two of checkmating patterns to help you win more games!? Until then, play more chess and have fun!

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

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