King’s Indian Checkmates


Table of Contents

Malcolm Pein featured a game in the King’s Indian Defense in his column this morning, showing a typical race of attacks. We stay with the King’s Indian Defense for today’s instalment of Checkmate Monday.

Our checkmates today bring victory to the lower-rated player in each of the four cases. They also see the famous King’s Indian dark-squared bishop in a pivotal role.

Miles Behind

Tony Miles - Praveen Mahadeo Thipsay

Tony Miles – Praveen Mahadeo Thipsay
British Championship, Brighton, 1984

White to play

Tony Miles didn’t have the best of British Championships in 1984. White is miles behind in the race of attacks and the storm clouds are gathering around his king. Miles, perhaps in time-trouble, cracked under the pressure.


Allowing the simple


37.Nxe1 Rxc1 checkmate.

King's Indian Checkmates: Miles - Thipsay

Ignoring the Bishop

King's Indian Checkmates Michael Stean - Ole Christian Moen
Michael Stean – Ole Christian Moen
Oslo, 1981
Black to play

It is unwise to ignore Black’s dark-squared bishop in the King’s Indian, but here is an example in which the second player declines to capture one of White’s bishops. Michael Stean was in Viktor Korchnoi’s camp for the World Championship matches of 1978 and 1981 and one would expect him to be well-versed against the King’s Indian Defense. However, in this game, he is on the receiving end of a sacrificial attack.


Crashing through on the dark squares; a typical King’s Indian strategy. Black ignores the bishop on c2. 35…Qa1+ actually forces checkmate in nine moves. That can be your homework!




37.Kd2 allows 37…Bxc3 checkmate.


38.Bc2 Qb2+

Ignoring the bishop yet again – but checkmate is much more important than material.

King's Indian Checkmates: Checkmate in One Move

Stean resigned here (0-1) because of 39.Kd2 Bc3 checkmate.

The Powerful Bishop Pair

Jan Timman - Heikki Westerinen

Jan Timman – Heikki Westerinen
Geneve, 1977
Black to play

This is a tense position, with a battle going on all over the board. We also have a fascinating tussle between the two white knights and Black’s bishop pair.

Timman has just played 35.Ne6, attacking Blacks rook. Westerinen’s next move is surprising.


King's Indian Checkmates - Black Sacrifices the Exchange

The King’s Indian bishop makes its presence felt yet again. Now 36.fxe3 Qxf1+ trades the major pieces and leaves Black with a winning ending. White’s pawns on c4 and d5 will drop off.


Grabbing the material and no doubt keeping his fingers crossed that Black will fail to find the most accurate moves from this point onwards.


Not the fastest (36…Qf3, 36…Qxh4 and 36…Qf4 are all more efficient) but still forcing checkmate.

37.Kh1 Be4+

38.f3 Qg3

Jan Timman - Heikki Westerinen Black is Winning

Very powerful! There is no escape for Timman’s king.

39.fxe4 Qh3 checkmate.

King's Indian Checkmates: Timman's King is Checkmated

This was Westerinen’s only win in the tournament – but it is a memorable one.

Checkmating the Future King

Alexander Alekhine - Frederick Yates Karlsbad, 1923
Alexander Alekhine – Frederick Yates
Karlsbad, 1923
Black to play

Alekhine, four years away from winning the title of World Champion, won the tournament. Yates finished mid-table, but showed his strength in this game. Black could force a draw by repetition with 42…Qh1+ 43.Rg2 Qf1+ but he wanted more.


With the threat of instant checkmate with 43…Qh4. Alekhine, who hated to lose, keeps twisting and turning, trying to avoid a knockout blow.

43.Rc2 Qf1+

44.Kh2 Qg1+

45.Kh3 Qh1+

46.Kg3 Qd1
Yates Hunts Alekhine's King

A quiet move, which comes with devastating threats. The white rook is going to drop off and White’s king is still in serious trouble.


Offering material to try and kill the attack, but Yates keeps his cool. It is now checkmate in six moves.


48.Kh3 Qf1+

49.Kg3 Bf2+

50.Kf3 Bg1+

Checkmate in Two Moves

Alekhine resigned here (0-1) without waiting for the inevitable 51.Kg3 Qf2+ 52.Kh3 Qh2 checkmate.

Chessable Courses

If you enjoyed our King’s Indian Checkmates, then you may like to know that there are many more beautiful checkmating patterns in our course, The Checkmate Patterns Manual, by International Master John Bartholomew and CraftyRaf. This course won third place in our Chessable Awards for 2020.

The Checkmate Patterns Manual

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

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