Chigorin’s Checkmates


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Checkmate Monday continues with a selection of Mikhail Chigorin’s checkmates.

Chigorin (1850-1908) lost two matches for the World Chess Championship against the defending champion, Wilhelm Steinitz, in 1889 and 1892.

He was a highly creative player who enjoyed a long and successful chess career, despite dying at the comparatively young age of 57.

His sharp tactical eye helped him win many games in style, which brings us nicely to our selection of Chigorin’s checkmates.

Unusual Back-rank Checkmate

Mikhail Chigorin - Emanuel Schiffers St Petersburg, 1880Mikhail Chigorin – Eugene Znosko-Borovsky
Kiev 1903

White to play

Chigorin spotted an unusual way in which to exploit a weakness on the back rank.


Forking the king and queen.


Or 26…R2xe7 27 Qxe7! intending 27…Rxe7 28 Rd8+ Re8 29 Rxd8 checkmate.

30.Rd8+ Re8

Black looks safe, until we see White’s next move.

Chigorin's Checkmates31.Qf8+!! 1-0

Black’s only move is 31…Rxf8 but then 32.Rxf8 is checkmate, so he resigned instead; 1-0.

Queen Sacrifice

Mikhail Chigorin - Alexander Solovtsov

Mikhail Chigorin – Alexander Solovtsov
Moscow, 1884

White to play

Black’s position certainly looks fragile, but what is the most efficient way to make it crack?


A queen sacrifice!


46.Nc7 checkmate.

Chigorin's Checkmates

A queen sacrifice and a knight checkmate to follow. Every chess player dreams of such things.

The Old Weakness

Mikhail Chigorin - Szymon Winawer

Mikhail Chigorin – Szymon Winawer
Monte Carlo, 1901

White to play

The weakest square in Black’s camp is f7. At the start of a game it is only protected by the king. It can remain a weak point even after Black has castled, as is the case here.


Black doesn’t have to capture the sacrifice but after any other move he is going to lose a lot of material.


Essentially, Black’s way of resigning the game.

20.Qe6 checkmate.

Chigorin's Checkmates

A disaster for Winawer, but it is only to be expected against Chigorin if one leaves f7 in such a weak state.


Mikhail Chigorin - Eugene Znosko-Borovsky

Mikhail Chigorin – Emanuel Schiffers

St Petersburg, 1880

White to play

Chigorin has already sacrificed material to develop this excellent attack and he throws more wood on the fire in order to keep it burning.


Another queen sacrifice!



Chigorin Attacking


Or 25…Kg8 26.Bc4+! Rf7 27.Re8+ Kg7 28.Ne6 checkmate. The attack still runs like clockwork after Black’s defense of choice.

26.Ne6+ Kg8

27.Re8+ Rf8

28.Rxf8 checkmate.

Chigorin's Checkmates

Fabulous play by Chigorin!

Chessable Course

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The Checkmate Patterns Manual

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