Chess Checkmate – 23 checkmate styles every player should know

Chess Checkmate

Checkmate is a game-ending move in which your king is threatened and cannot make any further moves to escape. But, the game of chess can end when the king is not being threatened at all? This happens when there are no more legal moves to continue, and is called a “Stalemate”.

Before, checkmate, if your king is being threatened but could make a move to escape the threat, that state of the game is known as “Check”. During a” Check”, you will have an opportunity to safeguard your King. For you to win the chess game, it’s crucial that you learn the checkmate patterns so that you can counter them or use them to attack your opponent’s king. This article will highlight the most common checkmate patterns and styles that every chess player must know.

Why you should know the checkmate patterns?

Chess is a game of strategy. You can make a winning strategy by observing different patterns to execute or defend against the opponent. The ultimate move you can make in chess is “Checkmate”.

It is essential to create a situation where you can easily checkmate the opponent’s King piece. Learning checkmate patterns will help you:

  1. Recreate checkmate patterns in your chess games and trap your opponent in them
  2. Prevent your opponents from using them against you
  3. Improve your game and increase your chances of winning

Before you go ahead and read about the various checkmate patterns read about how to play chess and some basic chess rules that will help you understand various patterns with ease.

Chess Checkmate

Checkmate can happen in the initial part of the game, from the first move to the 10th move, or in the last parts of the game.

Fool’s Mate, Scholar’s Mate, and Opera Mate are a few chess checkmates that are carried out during the initial part of the game. These mates can be carried out with many pieces still available on the board and act as traps for the opponent’s King.

Learn about the best chess opening moves that can kickstart your game and might lead to checkmating your opponent.

The Andersen’s Move, Pillsbury Mate, Arabian Mate, Morphy’s Mate, and Hook Mate are some of the chess checkmates that can happen during the last part of the game. Their significance and relevance lie in the ability of the player to perform a checkmate with fewer pieces on the board.

Here are the 23 different styles to checkmate your opponent:

  1. Anastasia’s mate
  2. Arabian mate
  3. Back-rank mate
  4. Checkmate using Two Rooks
  5. Using King and Queen
  6. Checkmate using a King and Rook
  7. Using a King and two Bishops
  8. Checkmate using a king, knight, and bishop
  9. Smothered mate
  10. Fool’s Mate
  11. Scholar’s Mate
  12. Opera Mate
  13. Anderssen’s Move
  14. Pillsbury’s Mate
  15. Morphy’s Mate
  16. Boden’s Mate
  17. Blackburne’s Mate
  18. Greco’s Mate
  19. Lolli’s Mate
  20. Mayet’s Mate
  21. Reti’s Mate
  22. Damiano’s Mate
  23. Hook Mate

It is important to remember that although these exact situations won’t be easy to replicate, to win, you don’t have to match with the 100% point-to-point. Do not sacrifice your pawns early on, even if you have fewer pieces left.

Remember: In annotated chess, checkmate is represented as “#”. For example, if a White queen eliminates the opponent’s king at C6 square, the annotation would be “QC6#”.

Anastasia’s mate

In Anastasia’s mate, you use your knight and rook to trap your opponent’s king against one side of the board, after castling. Let’s look at an example of how you would achieve Anastasia’s mate.

Check checkmate - Anastasia's Mate - Example 1

In the above example, with the help of white’s Rook, checkmate happens in two moves. How?

  1. The white knight moves to e7, pushing the black king to move either to h8 or h7.
  2. White Rook moves to h4, which checkmates the black’s king
Check checkmate - Anastasia's Mate - Example 2

In the above example, with the help of Rook and Knight, checkmate happens, but by sacrificing Queen.

  1. White knight moves to e7, pushing black’s king to h8
  2. White’s Queen moves to h7 and black king captures it
  3. White’s Rook moves to h4, and checkmates the black king

Arabian mate

Without using your king, you can checkmate your opponent with a rook and a knight. This strategy entails driving your opponent’s king to one edge of the board and then utilizing your knight to guard your rook while preventing the opponent’s king from escaping mate. Sounds like Anastasia’s mate?

Yes. But, there is a difference. In Arabian mate, a rook delivers the checkmate, while the knight is two diagonal squares away from the king and protects the rook. With Anastasia’s mate, a rook/queen delivers the checkmate down a rank, while the knight covers the escape squares.

Here is an example:

Chess Checkmate Arabian Mate
Chess Checkmate Anastasia's Mate

Back-rank mate

In chess, keeping your king away from the center of the board and protecting it behind your pawns is a good strategy. But, it can backfire, if your opponent plays back-rank mate.

A back-rank mate employs enemy pieces to limit the opponent king’s mobility. In a back-rank mate, your opponent’s king is trapped behind pieces on the second rank (the row directly alongside the board’s edge, generally lined with pawns), allowing you to rapidly move in with a rook or queen to checkmate your opponent on the next move.

This checkmate is only possible when the square in front of the king is blocked by its own pieces.

Here is an example:

Chess checkmate - Back rank mate example 1
Chess checkmate - Back-rank-mate-example2

Checkmate using Two Rooks

This type of checkmate entails utilizing your rooks (or a rook and a queen) to gradually restrict the amount of board space that your opponent’s king may move in until the opposing king is trapped against one side of the board and can be further checked. This checkmate is very common in the game. This strategy also goes by the name “laddering”, “rook-rolling”, or “lawnmower mate”.

Chess Checkmate with two rooks

Using King and Queen to checkmate

During the endgame, generally, pawns are promoted to queens. Thus, you should know how about this checkmate pattern, which uses your King and Queen to checkmate your opponent. The idea is to trap your opponent’s king towards the edge of the board and then use your Queen and King to checkmate the opponents’ king. This is what the end screen will look like:

Chess checkmate with king and queen

Chess Checkmate using a King and Rook

Checkmate your opponent with only your king and rook, which is quite similar to checkmate using King and Queen. To do this, move your rook to one side (or one corner) of the chessboard. Once you’ve cornered your opponent, you have numerous options, like keeping your king close to your Rook to protect it or keeping your king close to your opponent’s king and covering him with your Rook. Be wary of a stalemate if you don’t intentionally strive to keep your opponent in check.

Using a King and two Bishops

Checkmating with two bishops is similar to other basic checkmates in that the idea is to press your opponent’s king against one side of the board and then slowly persuade the king into a corner. You’ll also need to utilize your king to prevent your opponent’s king from marching nearer and eliminating your bishops.

Checkmate using a king, knight, and bishop

One of the most difficult fundamental checkmates is a checkmate with a king, bishop, and knight because you cannot build a safe distance away from your opponent’s king. To complete this mate, you must push your opponent’s king to one edge of the board and then persuade it to a corner that your bishop can control (using your king, bishop, and knight) (a white square for a white-square bishop, or a black square for a black-square bishop).

Smothered mate

The smothered mate is a frequent middle-game tactic in which your opponent’s king is “smothered” by their pieces and is made unable to move to any escape squares, allowing you to checkmate the opposition quickly. The most popular strategies with a smothered knight are to push the opposing king into a corner and then use your knight to checkmate the king.

An example of a smothered mate in master-level play is the game Edward Lasker–Israel Horowitz, New York City 1946. Here is how the game went:

  1.  d4 Nf6
  2. Nf3 d5
  3. e3 c5
  4. c4 cxd4
  5. Nxd4 e5
  6. Nf3 Nc6
  7. Nc3 d4
  8. exd4 exd4
  9. Nb5 Bb4+
  10. Bd2
  11. 11. Bxb4 Nxb4
  12. Nbxd4 Qa5
  13. Nd2 Qe5+
  14. Ne2 Nd3#.

Here is the final position of the game – Lasker vs. Horowitz, 1946

Chess checkmate - Lasker vs. Horowitz

Fool’s Mate

The fool’s Mate is the fastest checkmate in chess, happening after only two moves! To perform this feat, you wish to play as Black (White can checkmate in 3 actions), and your opponent should play very poorly. Take a look at the image below that demonstrates fool’s mate:

Chess checkmate - fools mate
  • White 1st move – pawn to F3 or F4
  • Your 1st move – pawn to E5
  • White 2nd move – pawn to G4
  • Your 2nd move – queen to H4

With this move, the White king would have no further move to defend the check and checkmate in 2 steps.

Scholar’s Mate

The scholar’s mate is a four-move checkmate in which you utilize your white-square bishop and queen to launch a mating attack on your opponent’s front pawn. The scholar’s mate is one of the quickest mates in chess and is quite prevalent in casual play.

While technically the “fool’s mate” is the fastest checkmate in chess, it is rarely used in realistic chess matches.

One can achieve the Scholar’s mate by following steps:

Chess checkmate - scholars mate - moves 1 and 2
Chess checkmate - scholars mate - moves 3 and 4
  • White pawn to E4 and Black pawn to E5
  • White queen to H5 and Black knight to C6
  • Bishop to C4 and Black knight to F6
  • White Queen to F7, eliminating black pawn and hence the Black king

Opera Mate

This checkmate pattern involves White Rook moving to D8. The name of this checkmate was inspired by Paul Morphy watching an opera show while playing in a chess tournament.

The castled White Rook should have a direct chance of moving straight next to the Black King, with support from the Bishop, to avoid the loss of Rook’s piece.

  • Place your Bishop at G5 to protect your rook in the next move.
  • Move your Castled Rook from D1 to D8 to ‘check’ the king.
  • The king has no escape, so it is a checkmate.
Chess Checkmate Opera Mate

Anderssen’s Move

Anderssen’s mate is a checkmate pattern that uses a rook and a pawn to checkmate the opponent’s king and the ninth rank from the corner. Another piece or pawn guards the pawn. The pattern got its name from Adolf Anderssen, a 19th-century German chess master.

To checkmate, follow the steps mentioned below, where you play white:

  • Move your pawn to G7, where the opponent’s King is trapped, and protect the pawn with your King
  • Rook to H2 and block the Black King’s escape to H7
  • Move your king to F7 and block the escape square for the opponent’s king
Chess Checkmate Anderson Move

Pillsbury’s Mate

In Pillsbury’s Mate, the bishop guards the corner and prevents the king from escaping. Here, the rook’s movement is the final move and completes the checkmate. This requires the king to be castled, and the opponent’s rook protects the king. The black king must be exposed from the front, as the pawn in front of that piece must be eliminated.

Pillsbury Mate in Chess
  • Place the bishop to C3, F3, or such type of a corner-blocking position
  • White Rook to G1 and calls for “Check”
  • Then the Black king would not have any escape square left, and hence checkmate is completed

Morphy’s Mate

Morphy mate is named after genius chess player Paul Morphy. A rook and bishop execute this mate. In this, the black king is trapped behind his pawn at the corner of the board. The white rook cut-offs the king and the white bishop deliver the checkmate. The below image demonstrates an illustration regarding this checkmate pattern:

Morphys mate in chess

Boden’s Mate

It shows the power of the combination of two bishops on open diagonals. But, they don’t do it alone. They require the help of the opponent’s rook and pawn. Interesting right? Let’s illustrate the same with the help of an example.

In the image below, the black’s rook and pawn are occupying black’s king escape routes. A perfect time to play Boden’s mate! If the white bishop moves to d6, it’s a checkmate. The black king is trapped as it cannot move anywhere. If it moves to c7, it’s a checkmate by white’s bishop at f4.

Bodens mate in chess checkmate

For this checkmate strategy, you require your opponent to be down to their last three pieces that block the king’s escape.

Blackburne’s Mate

This mate requires a knight and two bishops against a castled king. Here is an illustrative for the same:

Blackburn mate in chess

Bishop to H7 with coordination of other bishops, and knight’s protective move will lead to checkmate of the black king.

Greco’s Mate

This mate happens when you trap the opponent king in either corner. Here, with the help of the white bishop, white Rook moves to H1, and hence it delivers a checkmate. Here is an illustrative for the same:

Greco Mate in Chess

Lolli’s Mate

With the combination of a queen and pawn, you can execute Lolli’s mate. Take a look at the image below to understand:

Lolli's Mate

The white queen moves to G7 and the pawn defends the queen. This mating strategy is common, and once the white queen moves to H6, it becomes impossible for the black king to defend. To checkmate, follow the steps mentioned below:

  • Move White Queen to G7 to perform a Check on the Black King
  • Block king at F8 with white queen

Mayet’s Mate

In this strategy, the white Rook is beside the enemy king while the bishop supports the move by standing at a distance. Take a look at the image below:

Chess checkmate - Mayet's Move

The Rook moves to D8, with the bishop’s support at the A5.

Reti’s Mate

The pattern of Reti’s mate is based on the abilities of the bishop and queen. Here is an illustrative for Reti’s mate:

Chess checkmate - Reti mate

In this White bishop moves to D8. This move becomes difficult for the black king to defend due to its pawn occupying the escape squares.

Damiano’s Mate

In this checkmate strategy, coordination of a pawn and Queen is necessary against a castled king. First, you must eliminate the black pawn defending the king to checkmate. Here is an illustrative image for this checkmate:

Chess Checkmate - Damiano's Mate

White Queen moves to H7; Black Rook obstructs by being on F8. Along with that, it becomes crucial for a white pawn to cover the escape square.

Hook Mate

This checkmate strategy got its name from the visual appearance of chess pieces and their movement which resembles a hook. Here is what this checkmate will look like:

Hook Mate in Chess
  • Trap the King at H7 with the Knight at G6.
  • Support the Knight with a pawn behind it at F5, to prevent an attack on the Knight.
  • Move the White Rook to H8, where Knight can support the Rook. Here, the pawn supports the Knight by moving to F5.

Chess Checkmate – FAQs

Is it possible to checkmate in two moves?

In chess, a Fool’s Mate, often known as a “two-move checkmate,” is a checkmate achieved in the fewest moves possible from the game’s opening position.

What is the name of the 5-move checkmate?

the nake of the 5-move checkmate is Scholar’s Mate.

How many moves does it take to get a checkmate?

All fundamental checkmates are achievable within 50 moves. Later, it was discovered that some endgame positions need more than 50 moves to win (without a capture or a pawn move).