Historical Checkmate Patterns


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Another week begins and what better way is there of keeping your mind sharp than studying some historical checkmate patterns?

While we are waiting for you to come up with more attractive alternatives it is already time to consider the first position of the day.

Cozio’s Mate

Cozio's Mate

White to play

Our first example is named after the Italian chess player, Carlo Cozio (1715-1780). Cozio, as with a significant number of the pioneers of chess, was also a writer and theorist.

There is also an opening named after him. The Cozio Defense to the Ruy Lopez (or Spanish Game) is 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nge7.

From the position above, play continues:

1 Qd8+ Kg7

2 Qh8 checkmate.

Dovetail Mate

The queen and rook cover all of the squares around the king except the two which are occupied by Black’s own forces.

This pattern has an alternative name of the Dovetail Mate, as everything locks together perfectly.

Max Lange’s Mate

Max Lange (1832-1899) was a very successful German chess player and composer of chess problems.

The opening 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 d4 exd4 5 O–O Bc5 6 e5 is called the Max Lange Attack. We will be covering this in our forthcoming series on openings.

Max Lange’s Mate doesn’t need many pieces. In fact all we need is a queen and one bishop. A little fancy footwork is required to prevent the black king from slipping out of the net via g6.

Max Lange's MateWhite to play

1 Qe8+ Kh7

2 Bg8+ Kh8

3 Bf7+ Kh7

4 Qg8 checkmate.

Queen and Bishop Checkmate Pattern

Nice and simple.

Damiano’s Mate

The name of the Portuguese chess player Pedro Damiano (1480-1544) lives on thanks to his writings on chess.

This memorable checkmate pattern bears his name too.

Damiano's Mate

White to play

Materially, White is in bad way. However, a cunning sacrifice sets up a fine checkmate.

1 Rh8+!

Black has to accept the rook sacrifice, but then his king ends up on a square where it can be checked by the queen.

1 …Kxh8

2 Qh5+ Kg8

3 Qh7 checkmate.

Historical Checkmate Patterns

There is an opening called Damiano Defense. 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 f6? It is weak, because of 3 Nxe5! with the threat of 4 Qh5+

Ironically, it was Damiano himself who said it was weak, yet because he analysed and wrote about it his name became associated with 2 …f6?

To make up for this historical faux pas we shall present a second checkmate in Damiano’s honour.

Damiano’s Bishop Mate

Damiano's Bishop Mate

White to play

1 Qxh6+

Juniors tend to quickly capture the queen with 1 ….gxh6 before being told the g-pawn cannot move, as it is pinned by the bishop.

1 …Kg8

Sadly forced.

2 Qxg7 checkmate.

Historical Checkmate Patterns

There are many more 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.

The other episodes in this blog series are:

Checkmate Patterns: Six of the Best

Famous Checkmate Patterns

Tune in next week for more checkmate patterns.

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Check them on individual course pages