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Checkmate is the ultimate goal in chess. It means that one player has completely outmaneuvered their opponent and will win the game. But what patterns can you use to achieve this? Here are 31 different mating patterns for gaining checkmate! We have a list of all 31 named, with descriptions of each pattern, then diagrams explaining how to perform them. So let’s find out exactly what a checkmate pattern is before we get into each, one by one.
A checkmate pattern in chess is a recognized positioning of specific pieces to deliver a checkmate on an opponent, securing victory. There are 36 named checkmating patterns in total to commit to memory; 31 requiring only a couple of pieces, and a further 5 special combinations.
This article provides a full list and categorized tables so you can easily find the mating pattern you are looking for, or the pieces to use for various mating patterns. The table of content will help you easily find what you are looking for in this very long post.
31 Mating Patterns in Chess – How Many Will You Remember?
It would be amazing to remember all 31 mating patterns listed below, and at first glance, it might seem to be quite some task, but actually, working through them one by one, and using them when the chance appears in your chess gamse, and you’ll be surprised just how quickly you can learn them all and, more impressively, remember them when the time comes.
|#||Mating Pattern||Minimum Pieces|
|1||Diagonal Corridor Mate||Bishop|
|2||Suffocation Mate||Bishop and Knight|
|3||Blackburne’s Mate||Bishop x 2 + Knight|
|4||Boden’s Mate||Bishop x 2|
|5||Back Rank Mate||Rook|
|6||David & Goliath Mate||Rook + 2 Pawns|
|7||Greco’s Mate||Rook + Bishop|
|8||Mayet’s Mate||Rook + Bishop|
|9||Morphy’s Mate||Rook + Bishop|
|10||Opera Mate||Rook + Bishop|
|11||Pillsbury’s Mate||Rook + Bishop|
|12||Corner Mate||Rook + Knight|
|13||Anastasia’s Mate||Rook + Knight|
|14||Arabian Mate||Rook + Knight|
|15||Anderssen’s Mate||Rook + Pawn|
|16||Hi-file Mate||Rook + Pawn|
|17||Hook Mate||Rook + Knight + Pawn|
|18||Vukovic Mate||Rook + Knight + Pawn|
|19||Blind Swine Mate||Rooks x 2|
|20||Lawnmower Mate||Rooks x 2|
|23||Swallow’s Tail Mate||Queen|
|24||Corridor Mate||Queen + 2 Rooks|
|25||Kill Box Mate||Queen + Rook|
|26||Railroad Mate||Queen + Rook|
|27||Triangle Mate||Queen + Rook|
|28||Balestra Mate||Queen + Bishop|
|29||Max Lange’s Mate||Queen + Bishop|
|30||Damiano’s Mate||Queen + Pawn|
|31||Lolli’s Mate||Queen + Pawn|
Checkmate Patterns in Detail
For ease of identification, the following examples of each of the 31 checkmating patterns covered, uses only the pieces required. It is very possible, and more likely that there may be other minor pieces on the board in a real chess game, particularly passed pawns which can be used to distract.
Why are Rooks used instead of queens?
In many cases, you will notice that where rooks are used in these examples, often a queen would also do the same job, in some cases, this is true of bishop use too. The use of the pieces is to demonstrate that you should never be too afraid to trade a queen for an advantageous position in your long game strategy and to be aware that lesser pieces are just as adept at delivering checkmate patterns in the endgame.
Diagonal Corridor Mate
The Diagonal Corridor Mate is a situation where the enemy King can not escape the specific diagonal on which is it being checked from either a bishop or queen; happening most commonly when the King has been forced into a corner square and is flanked by pieces on adjacent squares.
The Suffocation Mate is a checkmate pattern where the enemy king is held on the diagonal on one side by a bishop [or queen] which can not be blocked and mated by a Knight which can not be captured.
The suffocation mate can sometimes be down to poor defensive awareness by the losing opponent in being hemmed in by his own pieces, although good play by the offensive player could have forced the king into the suffocating position
Blackburne’s Mate requires two bishops and a knight against a king and one other piece on an adjacent square. Not often seen, this move sees the knight preventing diagonal movement of the king to the two available squares, whilst one bishop holds one diagonal as the other delivers check the square the Knight protects.
You would be most fortunate to find yourself in this position, but in cases where the king has castled and the Rook remains on the next square to the king, you can see how easily this is to set up with the Knight protecting 2 of the three potential escape squares.
Requiring just two bishops, Boden’s Mate uses the position of the enemy pieces closely positioned to often a castled King to hold in one side, whilst one bishop covers two escape squares as the other delivers checkmate on the other diagonal
Back Rank Mate
The Back Rank Mate is delivered horizontally on the final rank by a rook or queen against a king with no escape squares, held in by friendly pieces on the second rank. The delivery can come from seemingly nowhere at any time if no other pieces protect the back rank and checkmating pattern.
One of the most frustrating checkmates to be caught with, a queen or Rook can move the entire length of the board on an open file. When the King is on the back rank, you should always ensure the escape is not impeded by your own pieces. As soon as your king is in this position above, your opponent will be looking to bring any other pieces off the back rank with a decoy to deliver the fatal blow.
David & Goliath Mate
The David & Goliath mate is so named in chess mating patterns because you deliver the checkmate with the lowly pawn against the noble king. A technical checkmate, a Rook or Queen prevents the king from moving to a backward rank out of check whist the pawn is supported by its own King in preventing escape
When defending against this position, always be aware of advancing pawns, but mostly the limitations in movement in becoming squeezed between your own material, especially the limited movement pawns.
Greco’s mate is a checkmate pattern requiring only a Rook [or Queen] and Bishop whilst the enemy King is prostrate in a corner square limited by a pawn diagonally adjacent. one of many Rook + Bishop mating patterns the King is not helped by his own friendly piece who plays a part in the pattern.
Here’s is a case of being aware that whilst you may be avoiding the remaining bishops colored squares for safety, your own piece can play a part in the mating and hold you in from escape. After castling, if attacked and you have the option of not needing the corner square avoid it, especially if that pawn is on the diagonal.
Mayet’s mate is one of many checkmate patters using a Rook [or Queen] and a Bishop, attacking diagonally and vertically to achieve a horizontal checkmate on the back rank. The bishop prevents protects the mating square the Rook or Queen occupies whilst the King’s own pieces prevent escape in any other direction.
A combination of Bishop + Queen, Rook + Queen, or even, Rook + Queen can be used. A similar mating pattern is Opera Mate (9) where the horizontal checkmate is delivered but the mating square is protected from a different angle.
Named after American Chess player Paul Morphy, the Morphy mate is a bishop and rook checkmate whilst the enemy pawn plays a part in restricting the King’s escape from the position. Similar to Pillsbury’s mate, Morphy’s mate it got its name in a game where it didn’t actually happen
Yet another example, as so many are of the enemy king being inhibited from escape by its own pieces. To be fair, avoiding defeat in this position is impossible, so the onus is on the advantageous white to deliver mate efficiently before black can push the pawn forward in the hope of a time victory or stalemate.
The opera mate is so-called as Paul Morphy demonstrated this checkmate in 1858 whilst watching an opera show. Using a Rook or Queen to checkmate on the back rank, supported by a bishop, the move traps the king, despite much support, with no escape, block or capture to avoid checkmate.
It is quite something to be able to concentrate on the principles of chess whilst also at an opera show. The noise for one thing would be enough to prevent me from playing, but the performance was matched by this enlightened checkmate from the legendary American in the 19th century.
The move once again highlights the danger of only three escape squares for the King with the bishop protecting the square the Rook delivers the checkmate on. It also highlights the versatility of the Rook and Bishop in so many checkmate patterns.
Pillsbury’s mate is a Rook and Bishop checkmate pattern where the castled King’s file pawn is no longer present, is held in by friendly pieces whilst the bishop controls the corner square and the rook [or queen] delivers the checkmate move.
In the example above we have a great demonstration of the writing on the wall. The king’s file pawn makes the fatal mistake of opening the file by capturing the pawn, and whilst the bishop controls the diagonal, the rook moves horizontally to complete the checkmate.
The corner mate requires the defeated king to be on a corner square and impeded by a friendly piece on the frontal adjacent square, preventing a forward escape whilst the checkmate is delivered by a rook and knight combination. The rook holds the king in place whilst the Knight delivers the checkmate.
Here we are with king getting cornered again! When will we ever learn about the King on a corner square and impeded by his own? Playing attack, we should always be aware of the castled king’s proximity to the corner, especially if there is friendly blocking in place. Forcing check and the king into the corner sets these types of checkmate patterns up nicely
Delivered by a Rook and a Knight Anastasia’s mate uses one edge of the board to checkmate the king. The Knight covers diagonal flight squares the King has as options on either side of the friendly piece, whilst the rook moves onto the King’s file to deliver the checkmate.
It is similar to Blackburne’s Mate on the perpendicular, with the Knight taking advantage of the adjacent friendly piece to cover off the diagonal escape.
The Arabian mate checkmate pattern uses a Rook and a Knight to deliver a checkmate to a King on a corner square. The Knight with its unique variety of moves covers two adjacent flight squares while the rook moves in to deliver checkmate on the vertical file. Another King checkmated in the corner
Named after a 19th Century master, the Adolf Anderssen mate is delivered by a rook on the outer file against a king one file in on the back rank, held in by supporting pieces. Whilst a rook and pawn are cited as the required material under this name, but other pieces can deliver the checkmate.
The h-file mate is around about the same as Anderssen’s mate in that it delivers checkmate on the h-file with a rook, whilst the King is hemmed in with its own piece, as well as a pawn of your own.
For h-file mate, see Anderssen’s mate and you’ll get the idea
The rook and knight combine to deliver Hook mate supported by at least a pawn, but bishop or Queen will also serve the same purpose. The Knight protects the Rook and the third attacking piece prevents the capture of the Knight.
In the example, you can see that the Black King is entirely trapped and the only move available is the pawn. Once that is out of the way, it leaves white to bring the Rook behind the King on the protected square, the King can neither take the Rook nor the Knight and the remaining flight square are all covered too.
The Vukovic Mate utilizes the Rook and Knight again, working in tandem, with a supporting pawn [bishop or queen], to trap the king on the back rank. Vladimir Vukovic was an international master who presented the pattern in one of his theoretical works.
Very similar to the Hook mate above, the Vukovic mate, presents the checkmate in front of the King rather than behind. The result is equally as devastating. The mating pattern was presented in the Croatian master’s book entitled ‘The Art of Attack in Chess‘.
Blind Swine Mate
Two Rooks are required to deliver the Blind Swine Checkmate Pattern. Working together towards the corner of the board, the enemy King does require to be caught with a Rook protecting it on an adjacent square. The Pattern is delivered on the 7th rank with no escape possible.
Prior to the mate taking place, we can see the King is pinned on the back rank by the Rook on h7 – The killer move comes when the second White rook moves left to g6. No option to take, no option to escape, too late for the white flag. Checkmate
The Lawnmower Mate can be delivered by Two Rooks or A Queen and a Rook forcing the King to the back rank, or any edge of the board and being trapped by the two rooks covering the two ranks or files.
The example shows the end of the process, but this can begin anywhere with the two rooks systematically pushing the King to where you need him to deliver the final blow.
The Dovetail mate is obviously named once the final checkmate pattern is complete. A queen protected by the King, Bishop, or Pawn crosses the path of the King on the 2nd or 7th file, to occupy the first or eighth rank. The king is blocked from moving back from its own piece and the game had ended.
The Epaulette Checkmate is a mating pattern in which the winning side takes advantage of the King being blocked forth and back by its own pieces. The Queen can move horizontally or Diagonally to attack the King and all three possible flight squares. A very simple checkmate is you have forced the opponent King into this position.
The mistake here for the King was placing itself between the Pawn and the Rook and leaving the Queen to take the diagonal to deliver Epaulette mate on f6.
Swallow’s Tail Mate
Swallow’s Tail Mate is a checkmate pattern that can be delivered by a single queen with the support of her King who positions himself directly in front of the enemy King who is flanked by his own pieces. Once in place, it looks like a Swallow’s Tail, hence the name.
Now, doesn’t that look great, a superb configuration of pieces if you are white, it may not look quite so appealing to Black who has just fallen foul of Swallow’s Tail mate.
The Corridor mate is performed by two rooks trapping the King on a file between the two that the rooks occupy, whilst the queen comes in, lands on the King’s file, and leaves him nowhere to hide.
Kill Box Mate
The Kill Box Mate pattern requires a Rook and a Queen with the rook occupying a check position adjacent to the king on the back rank with the Queen protecting the rooks square and preventing the King from moving to any other escape square. The King is effectively caught in the 4-square ‘Kill Box’
A harsh and savage name for this checkmate perhaps, but apt given the situation the defeated King finds himself in. A strange name too, as ‘Kill’ is not a word really used in chess, and of course capture of the King is never fulfilled post checkmate.
The railroad mate is a combination of Rook and Queen. Taking turns in moving and sending the enemy king backward to its eventual ate on the back rank and into something similar to the Kill Box Mate Pattern. Once the Queen/Rook train starts running the King is railroaded into defeat.
The Triangle Mate uses the Queen and the Rook combined to trap the King with its back against a friendly piece. A little like the Corridor mate with a Kill Box Ending, the big fault in this for the losing player is that friendly piece preventing escape, although, without it, this mating pattern would just be the Railroad mate anyway.
The Balestra Mate uses the Queen and Bishop in conjunction. The Bishop delivers the check whilst the queen prevents any escape by covering the other 4 surrounding flight squares the king might otherwise have had. A great Checkmate pattern for beginners to remember for a quick mate in the endgame.
This checkmate pattern is not dissimilar to Boden’s Mate but this pattern using only the single bishop as opposed to both. ideal if you need to make a bishop sacrifice to arrive at this opportunity.
Max Lange’s Mate
The Queen and Bishop are used in coordination to achieve Max Lange’s Checkmate pattern. The queen works the back rank whilst the Bishop protects the Queen’s square and prevents escape from the front for the ill-fated King.
Damiano’s mate uses a pawn to restrict the movement of the king with the Queen working with the pawn to deliver the checkmate move. A superb and aged checkmate pattern, it promotes the use of the lowly pawn as an effective attacking force in the endgame.
Lolli’s mate is a checkmate in chess using a queen supported by a pawn protecting the queen when it hits the checkmating square. The enemy King is locked in by its own pieces following castling and/or pressure from attack.
A Mating Pattern in Chess Should Conclude in Checkmate
A mating pattern in a chess game is an arrangement of pieces in such a way that they can deliver a checkmate. There are a lot of different elements in chess to actual checkmate, some of the most common ones include back rank mate, Anastasia’s mate, Ladder mate, and Damiano’s mate.
Don’t worry if the names of the mate sound very complicated. Even chess masters don’t know most of these names. However, you should know the chess pattern and the checking piece. That’s what is more important. Any strong player can recall the pattern easily and use them when the opportunity arises in actual games.
Why should you study mating patterns in chess?
Studying mating patterns as a beginner provides a huge amount of benefit in being able to identify the various opportunities and close out a game with a decisive checkmate when the opportunity arises, usually following a blunder from your opponent.
In more depth, these are the benefits of mating pattern study. There are 4 main benefits to studying mating pattern techniques and the moves in chess.
1. Improves your tactical awareness and calculation
Basic chess tactics are a crucial part of the game, while calculation is a more advanced concept that encompasses – tactics, chess strategy, and abstract concepts. The mating pattern is a small, yet one of the most important parts of chess tactics.
Here’s a hierarchy, ranked from the most basic to the most advanced concept –
- Mating Patterns
- Chess Tactics
When you work on mastering mating patterns, you are in essence building your tactical strength. When you build up this strength, your calculation improves and of course, so will your chess ratings.
2. You become a better attacker
There are a lot of beginner chess tactics that build up a nice attack, capture enemy pieces and gain an advantage but fail to kill the game when the chance arises. These players need to work on solving more chess puzzles on mating patterns.
As the name suggests, a mating pattern in chess is all about delivering the final blow to finish off the game. This is crucial especially in attacking positions. The better you can sense that checkmate is around the corner, the more fearsome attacking instincts you’ll develop.
3. Improved pattern recognition
Learning basic checkmating patterns improves your pattern recognition. The more you solve positions on a particular theme, the faster your mind gets at spotting them.
4. Increased speed of thinking
What happens when you begin to spot patterns? Your speed of thinking increases. You no longer need to spend time consciously thinking about it. Your subconscious mind automatically recognizes what needs to be done and prompts a solution. Things just ‘click’!
How Chess Players Should Study Mating Patterns?
There are only 2 things you must focus on –
- Solve a lot of positions on a particular mating theme – A lot of books have a section dedicated to a particular matting pattern. Go through it and solve the exercises. When you do so, your mind begins to develop pattern recognition abilities. As a result, ideas pop up in your head without you having to think about them. This is what you want to attain. With enough repetition, it is possible. That’s why the advice – ‘Solve Tactics! Solve Tactics! Solve Tactics!’ is so popular in chess.
- Be consistent – By this, I mean every single day. As with any habit, the more consistent you are, the stronger your muscle memory becomes. The same applies here.
The Role of Pieces in a Mating Pattern Including the King
As you know, different pieces on the chess board serve a different function. When it comes to giving a checkmate, pieces work best when they coordinate. Some piece combinations are known to be very lethal in finishing off the game.
Here are a few basic guidelines –
In general, 2 or more pieces are ideal to finish off a game and give a checkmate. It’s all plan and team play!
In some cases, one piece plays the active role of attacking the opposition’s king. The other supports the attacking piece. Some common checkmates under this category are Arabian Mate, Blind Swine Mate, Damiano’s mate, etc.
In other instances, the role of the supporting piece might be different. Instead of supporting, such pieces could control the safe squares of the opposition’s king. Setting the checkmate up without continual check beforehand. Typical mates under this category include Anastasia’s Mate, Bishop and Knight mate, Boden’s mate, etc.
A king can also help in checkmate but it cannot directly attack the opponent’s king (that would be an illegal move in the rules of chess). Therefore in such cases, it will always play the role of being a supporter to the attacking piece or the one that controls the escape squares.
In order to be able to checkmate with only one piece, the opposing king’s flight squares must be covered by its own ally. This way, the king gets checkmated because it cannot jump on a square that’s occupied by an allied piece/pawn. The following are checkmating patterns that require only one piece –
- Smothered Mate (Knight)
- Backrank mate (Queen or Rook)
The Smothered mate is reflective of the totally trapped position the King is in when totally surrounded by its own pieces, possibly considered safe from attack as all angles are covered, forgetting that the Knight, if unchallenged can jump pieces, and therefore deliver checkmate with no chance of escape for the king.
Some of the deadliest piece combination include –
- Queen + Rook
- Queen + Knight
- 2 Rooks
- Rook + Bishop
- Rook + Knight
- 2 Bishops
Other combinations can also be lethal, but in most cases, it’s the above pieces that form a deadly duo. A combination of 3 pieces is even more powerful.
Now, I’ll answer some of the common questions you might want to ask.
What are the basic checkmates?
These are checkmates that can be delivered to a lone king with the least material. They include
- Queen + King vs King
- Rook + King vs King
- 2 Bishops + King vs King
- Knight + Bishop + King vs King.
There’s no fixed number on how many mating patterns are there in total, but there are at least more than 30 of them, including 4 basic checkmates.
You Can Checkmate with Small Conbinations of Chess Pieces in the Right Circumstances
As you have seen in the examples above, you often don’t need a great deal of material in the endgame to achieve the checkmate. better still, as you learn these mating patterns, you might be better positioned to notice these available checkmate positions when there are even more pieces on the board.
Perhaps you need to play a decoy to draw in a blocking piece in a sacrifice, to make your final checkmate move.
Guide to Mating Pieces and Checkmate Patterns
Here are the common checkmate and material questions most often asked. The figure in [brackets] indicates the number of the mating pattern in the table of contents above.
Checkmating with Only a Queen?
The Dovetail, Epaulette and Swallow’s tail mate are all available with the just the Queen left on the board.
Can You Checkmate with just a Bishop?
A single Bishop can be tricky to mate with but it is not impossible, your options are limited though, The Diagonal Corridor Mate  is your only option.
|1||Diagonal Corridor Mate|
Can You Checkmate with a Bishop and a Knight?
There are three checkmate patterns available when using a Bishop and knights in combinations. The Suffocation mate  uses one bishop and a Knight then both Blackburne’s Mate  and the Boden’s Mate  require both bishops.
Can You Checkmate with 2 Rooks?
The Blind Swine Mate and the Lawnmower Mate use 2 Rooks to checkmate. The Diagonal Corridor Mate also uses two rooks in combination with a Queen.
|19||Blind Swine Mate|
Can You Checkmate with Just One Rook?
Using a rook on its own to create a checkmate isn’t as easy as it might first appear, and there is just the Back Rank mate available, thanks to the King getting hemmed in on the back rank with nowhere to go when the Rook arrives on the rank.
With the support of 2 Pawn, a Single rook can also checkmate using the David and Goliath  Checkmate
|5||Back Rank Mate|
|6||David & Goliath Mate|
Can You Checkmate With a Rook and Bishop?
You can gain a checkmate with a rook and a bishop. Even a single rook, assisted by a king can checkmate a lone opposition king. Eventually, there will be no safe square. With the bishop, this mate only becomes easier.
Can You Mate with a Rook and a Knight?
A rook and a Knight can be a fearsome combination in chess and together they can deliver three different mating patterns, including, Corner Mate, Anastasia’s mate and Arabian mate, all relying on the versatility provided by these two very different chess pieces.
I hope this has given you a clear idea as to what mating patterns are, the chess moves required, why you should study them and how to do it. You also saw what roles pieces play and which piece combination can form a dangerous mating combination. Studying this will set you on the path to improving your game and becoming a stronger player.