Essential Checkmate Patterns


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Our Monday series continues with four of the essential checkmate patterns.

Everyone will fall for these checkmates from time to time before experience and logic are able to correct the errors which make them possible.

These are the essential checkmate patterns you really need to know.

Fool’s Mate

The rather unkind name of this checkmate suggests only a fool would allow it to happen.

By that logic, every chess player in the world must be a fool, because I doubt there is anyone, anywhere, who has never allowed this to occur in their games.

Before we are taught to play the best opening moves, anything goes. Novices already like to see basic checkmate patterns on the board and after…

1 g4 e5

2 f3

…the white pawns do appear to be cooperating and co-ordinating.

Fool's Mate

It is certainly a quick way to find out where the biggest weakness in a chess position is located. The h4-e1 diagonal is horribly exposed and Black takes full advantage of the situation with 2 …Qh4 checkmate.

Checkmate on the Second Move

This is the fastest possible checkmate. It is something that Black can do faster than White in a game of chess!

Scholar’s Mate

The famous four-move checkmate is the scourge of junior tournaments.

Scholar’s Mate, or Schoolboy’s Mate, can bring many wins until the opponents eventually figure out to prevent it from happening.

1 e4 e5

2 Qh5 Nc6

3 Bc4 

Scholar's Mate

Back is tempted to develop a piece and attack the white queen at the same time. Normally this would be a very good idea, but there is a big threat in the air.

3 …Nf6

4 Qxf7 checkmate.

Four-Move Checkmate

Juniors love to win games quickly. The problem is that once there opponent’s tighten up their defenses then the queen ends up in a very bad positions and it becomes a target for Black’s pieces. Juniors usually end up losing their queen and then the game.

Back Rank Checkmate

We frequently see back rank checkmates in games featuring juniors. They are taught to castle early in the game and they proudly keep the defensive wall of pawns firmly in place for the duration of the game.

Unfortunately, there are times when this leaves the back rank perilously weak, as the king is entombed by his own defenders.

Here is a case in point.

Back Rank Mate

White wins by playing 1 Rd8+, forcing 1 …Rxd8.

White now plays 2 Rxd8 checkmate.

Essential Checkmate Patterns Checkmate on the Back Rank

A clear indication of the danger the king is in if the wall of pawns remains in place a little too long.

Lawnmower Checkmate

The Lawnmower Checkmate is a very common way of finishing off a game.

Two queens, two rooks or one queen with one rook can run up the ranks, one by one, rather like a lawnmower cutting a lawn.

The technique is simple and will become second nature with a little practice.

Essential Checkmate Patterns Lawnmower Checkmate

1 Qh4+ starts the lawnmower. Then the queen and rook simply take it in turns to check the opponent’s king, which has to retreat towards the edge of the board every time.

1 …Kc5

2 Rg5+ Kd6

3 Qh6+ Ke7

4 Rg7+ Kf8

Queen and Rook Lawnmower Checkmate

Finish the job! What is the best move for White?

There are many more beautiful checkmate patterns in our course, The Checkmate Patterns Manual, by International Master John Bartholomew and CraftyRaf.

There is a shortened, free version of the course here.

Checkmate Patterns: Six of the Best

Famous Checkmate Patterns

Historical Checkmate Patterns

Beautiful Checkmate Patterns

Reversing Mate – World Champions Edition Vol. 2

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Check them on individual course pages