Occurrence of Mating Patterns
I think the opportunities to play them are more available than I realize. By studying them, being able to recognize the pattern,actively looking for them, creating the conditions, I greatly improve the chance of me being able to play them. One of my goals in tactical training is reach a level of play where I will quickly see the pattern within the position: the skeleton of a mate and reduce the position to it and win.
I saw a positive effect of my tactical training while playing the other day. I quickly saw the pattern for the classic smothered mate and played it to win. The conditions for smother mates occur frequently as all one needs is an attacking Knight and Queen and your opponents King behind a wall of pawns(normally).Often times the defender is trying to protected themselves from other frontal mate threats and the attack focus shifts to boxing in the king and placing the knight in a final mating position.
Example of a classic smothered mate
collection of smothered mates games