Takchess Chess Improvement

A Novice chessplayer works to get better at chess using an improvement program based upon the methods of Michael de la Maza and the teachings of Dan Heisman

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Occurrence of Mating Patterns

In tactical training, I some times wonder how often in game situations do certain mating patterns occur. Do the opportunities to play a Bodens Mate, Arabian Mate, Anastasia Mate, Legals Mate, Fools Mate,Smothered Mate occur regularly and I miss them? Or are these fun novelties that rarely present themselves?

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


  • At 4:53 AM, Blogger Temposchlucker said…

    There was a time that that was the rule.
    The one day I learned the weekness of the h5 - e8 diagonal, the next they I could use it in my game. But the result of that is that you get stronger opponents. Now it is often hidden. That means, that if I learn something new now, it appears in a hidden way in my next game. For instance my opponent doesn't play Ng5 because of the threat. So it doesn't manifest itself directly.

  • At 6:29 AM, Blogger Siliconpawn said…

    Dan Heisman says that mates are less frequent than tactics. Think about it tactics are at least potentially present in almost every move. I almost always only mate when I am ahead material. This is why I am structuring my my studies 2:1 tactics to mates.

  • At 7:49 AM, Blogger phorku said…

    Coincidentally I just got smothered for my first time last night at the club :-(

    [Event "Parma Club Championships"]
    [Site "Parma Chess Club"]
    [Date "10/04/05"]
    [Round "4"]
    [White "Timothy Flory"]
    [Black "Louis Adams"]
    [Result "0-1"]
    [WhiteElo "1290P14"]
    [BlackElo "1738"]
    [ECO "C24"]
    [TimeControl "*"]

    1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Bc5 4. Nc3 c6 5. Be3 Bxe3 6. fxe3 d6 7. Nf3 O-O 8.
    O-O Bg4 9. Qd2 Nbd7 10. d4 b5 11. Bd3 Qc7 12. d5 Nc5 13. dxc6 a6 14. Nd5
    15. exd5 e4 16. Be2 exf3 17. Bxf3 Bxf3 18. Rxf3 Ne4 19. Qd4 Rae8 20. Rf4 f5
    21. Raf1 g6 22. a4 bxa4 23. Qxa4 Nc5 24. Qd4 Re4 25. Rxe4 Nxe4 26. Ra1 a5
    b4 Ra8 28. b5 Rb8 29. Qa4 Qb6 30. Qxa5 Qxe3+ 31. Kh1 Nf2+ 32. Kg1 Nh3+ 33.
    Kh1 Qg1+
    {White resigns}

  • At 3:41 PM, Blogger takchess said…

    Tempo: familarity does raise awareness and the likelyhood you will see it soon.

    Siliconpawn: interesting point. I'd argue that when one presses for mates this often causes secondary tactics to occur as well even when material is even. I wonder if as your studies progress whether you will mate your opponents more often when material is even but you have a large advantage in position/initiative. Of course being ahead in material makes life alot easier.

    Phorku. I've fallen prey to this as well. As much as I hate to lose I do still appreciate the beauty of a smothered mate. The best thing is to learn from it and pass it on to a future opponent.8)

  • At 3:56 PM, Blogger takchess said…

    Hi P.
    One more point. I just ran your game through my pgn viewer. One of the cool things is this pattern often works when the rook is positioned on f1. the rook would need to take the N on f2 then QXR. Often this is passed on by opponents eventhough it is the only thing that saves the position for the moment.

  • At 9:00 PM, Blogger Siliconpawn said…

    Point well taken. In Chess Tactics for Beginners a lot of the win a piece exercises focus on a threatened mate that can only be stopped by giving up a piece. But then you are down significant material and will most likely lose the game anyway.

  • At 12:55 AM, Blogger King of the Spill said…

    I don't see them much, but certainly the smothered mate would be my vote for the most common of that group. I wonder if the smothered mate occurs more in certain openings, like the Ruy Lopez.

  • At 3:11 AM, Blogger Temposchlucker said…

    King, openings with Nd7 (Nd2) and an halfopen e-file have a greater chance for a smothered mate.


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