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  1. Fork Tactic-- OTB Examples
    The Fork is my favorite tactic, especially when brought down on the opponent by the Knight against three pieces. Sweet and exhilarating, yes it is! The Fork is an attack by one unit against many other units. The usual situation is two pieces threatened by the one, but Knights and the Queens can make up to a seven-way Fork. Rare indeed, but possible. The Rooks and Bishops can make three-way Forks. The King can make multiple Forks, but it's tricky to say his maximum. The Pawns can even Fork, although only against two units at a time at most. So, all the chessmen can Fork!

    In the endgame, especially when only a few chessmen are left, the Queen shows her power by using Forks even to prevent Promotion.

    Better players usually foresee a direct attempt at a Fork, so a series of trades or other subtle maneuvers are needed. Once a Fork has been successful, the game is effectively finished.

    There are several types of Forks. The most powerful Forks can be those with Check. The Royal Fork is one name given to the Fork against the King and Queen. Similarly, A Royal Family Fork or Grand Fork threatens the King, Queen and Rook.

    Another very interesting Fork type is the one made against a unit and against a square, particularly when that square could be occupied by another attacker for checkmate. See the game between Nikolic and Huebner in 1994 below for an interesting example.

    The Fork is among the top three tactics and such a fundamental ploy that it occurs in nearly any game at least once. Be quick to add this tactic to your toolbox and use it as often as you can!

    This project is a work in progress, culling games from these books, several chess training books and personal research. The games are ordered by date, not by importance.

    46 games, 1932-2017

  2. Hook Mate Examples
    Vladimir Vukovic showed two versions of a particular kind of Knight and Rook checkmate pattern in his book, THE ART OF ATTACK IN CHESS, Chapter 4: Mating Patterns, under "Typical Mates with Enemy Pieces," page 72. It was not labelled with a name there, but several chess writers have identified it as the Hook Mate. IM Vukovic declares it to be "a typical mating pattern well worth remembering." I have managed to use it in OTB play and like to introduce it to students as well.

    One version of the Hook Mate, which I think of as a slash/swoosh, as given by IM Vukovic, is as follows:

    click for larger view

    I use the code <SW> for this version of the Hook Mate.

    Here is the other version, which seems to resemble a sickle or question mark (without the dot at the bottom), as provided by IM Vukovic:

    click for larger view

    I use the code <QM> for this version of the Hook Mate.

    Note that the Pawn could be on either diagonal "behind" the Knight (away from the opposing King). This point is significant because the SW and QM versions differ only by the positioning of this Pawn.

    The code <IV> is for Interesting Variations, those games which do not fit either of those previous types. Most often, a chess piece (not a Pawn) protects the Rook, even from a distance.

    This Hook Mate game collection only has games with the defending King and the attacking Rook in the same file, i.e., a vertical orientation. Of course, this mate could occur with King and Rook in the same rank-- horizontal configuration. For example, check out this game, if you can:

    Rouse, Philip vs Henke, Simon
    Corr. 2001 23 moves 1-0

    CG just doesn't have it in their database, yet.

    Also, there is a game between two girls in the semi-finals of the Ukrainian championship for U14 that ends with the Hook Mate in the horizontal orientation. Again, it is not yet a part of the CG database:

    Poshivaylo, K. vs Breslavskaya, Galina
    Lvov, Ukraine 1999 32 moves 0-1 <SW>

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    20 games, 1898-2015

  3. In-Between Move Tactic-- OTB Examples
    The name in German for this tactic is Zwischenzug. The Italian name is Intermezzo. It could be taken as a surprise move, an unexpected ploy that sends the game in a different direction. In some cases, a player can win material and even checkmate by way of their In-Between Move.
    23 games, 1871-2013

  4. Interesting Pawn Endings
    A selection of games where Opposition, Outflanking, Passed Pawns, Key Squares, Triangulation, Square of the Pawn and other concepts are demonstrated OTB.

    Obviously, this project is a work in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    6 games, 1834-1994

  5. King Hunt Examples
    The King Hunt is an almost humorous process of pushing the enemy King far away from his starting/home position. Seeing as it is usually done for the purposes of gaining checkmate, it could be a tactic or a mating process or just chess trivia. I leave that classification decision up to you.

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    10 games, 1620-2019

  6. Krabbé-- Ultimate Blunders List
    Tim Krabbé has prepared a list he titled THE ULTIMATE BLUNDER which consists of 35 games that suffer from resignation while in a winning position.

    Here are the games found at, so far, from that list. Note that they are in the order Krabbé gave them (nearly in chronological order for the original list). Obviously, I'm using UBK as a shortcut reference to his article. You may refer to it easily after a browser search for details, even updates, on each game.

    Hopefully, CG will provide the others Krabbé mentioned, soon.

    18 games, 1902-1997

  7. Mayet's Mate Examples
    This type of checkmate is similar to the Opera Mate (a reflection) and is a rare form, but useful to learn.

    These games are listed in chronological order.

    This game collection is a work in progress.

    3 games, 1903-1914

  8. Overloaded/Overworked Tactic-- OTB Examples
    Whereas Removing the Guard works on a single defender, an Overworked or Overloaded piece has responsibility for two or more friendly chessmen. Make that guardian your first target, then an attack on one of the dependents will be much easier and probably successful.

    Note the game collection by patzer2, Overworked Piece, with 43 games. Only a few games are common to both collections.

    This tactic has also been called Distraction by ICCF Grandmaster Maxim Blokh.

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    19 games, 1907-2010

  9. Piling On Tactic-- OTB Examples
    The Pin tactic, in all of its variations, is a fundamental tactic for all chessplayers to know.

    The partner of the Pin is the Piling On tactic. In fact, some literature present them together; no differentiation is made.

    I see Piling On as the follow-up to the Pin, usually the most important way to take advantage of an existing Pin.

    So, here are some examples that I have found at

    Probably the most interesting game of this collection is the one played in Moscow for the Championship of Europe for the Deaf-- Abid Sabotic vs Andrey Voropaj, Moscow 1997. There's a Piling On tactic by a Bishop against a pinned Bishop that ended the game-- White resigned-- mate is possible on the next half-move as well. The continuation is a variation of the Box Mate in a vertical orientation. Very pretty!

    This game collection is a work in progress.
    Games are in chronological order, not order of importance, from oldest to most recent.

    Be well.
    Be safe.

    16 games, 1963-2009

  10. Pinned Piece Is a Useless Piece! TRUE and FALSE!
    A simple adage states, "A pinned piece is a useless piece!" Lets look at OTB examples and some compositions to see whether this is a true or false statement.

    By virtue of the simple definition of a Pin, especially an Absolute Pin (AP), no capture can be made by a Pinned piece. However, one needs to consider the subtlety of the rules of chess.

    For instance, in Castling, the rules forbid castling through check, castling out of check or castling into check. In a similar manner, even a chessman locked down by an AP disallows a King to stand anywhere in the line of fire or to capture a chessman guarded by such a chessman.

    Therefore, not only can it be said that the King is a weak defender, the King is actually a weak attacker as well. Another chessman would be fine capturing a chessman being protected by a pinned piece or moving into the line of fire of a pinned piece to attack somewhere, but the King is forbidden to do so.

    To see exactly what I mean, look at this example from BEGINNING CHESS, by Bruce Pandolfini, page 135, Exercise #166, Black to move:

    click for larger view

    and notice that the next move is checkmate in the Box Mate pattern:

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    This position is the immediate continuation of a game (not available at, yet), Zakhartsov vs Ainutdinov, Tomsk 2013 48 moves, 1-0:

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    The Black Rook and d-Pawn are safe, due to the Black Bishop, even though it is under an AP.

    Here, the White King makes an illegal move if capturing the Black Rook at f1:

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    In Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess, p. 116, Diagram G, this problem is given, White to move:

    click for larger view

    The solution is as follows:

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    Note how White has executed a Back Rank Mate with support from a pinned Rook. No problem! Remember this!

    You should also know that the King is not the only chessman limited by a Pin. Only the King can have an Absolute Pin involved, but a Relative Pin (RP) against a Queen is by no means inviolable. The game by Legall and St. Brie in Paris in 1750 is probably the most famous example.

    A second example OTB is this position from Ivashchenko vs Lugovskoy, Dagomys RUSSIA 2004:

    click for larger view

    Black will play Nxd5, leaving the Black Queen in danger by the g5-Bishop. After the White Bishop captures the Black Queen, Black plays Bb4+ and wins the White Queen. White was ahead by a Pawn before Black ignored the Relative Pin against the Black Queen. Now Black is ahead by two points (a Knight less a Pawn), so White resigns. My younger students find this game interesting also because it was played for the Russian championship by less than ten year olds!

    Finally, you should see for yourself that the statement quote in the beginning is just a rule of thumb.

    Do NOT take it for granted that a pinned piece cannot support a mating attack/net! Look for the particular circumstances, rather than following an idea blindly.

    I repeat, look for the particular circumstances, rather than following an idea blindly!

    This point does not just apply to Pins and does not just apply to chess. Believe me.

    9 games, 1750-2018

  11. Poisoned Chessman
    Look out! In fact, look and think before you move! Biting the pretty side of the apple may not be good for you, princess.

    Even if not commonly thought of as such, Poisoned Pawns and their siblings feel like special traps to me.

    A work in progress.

    6 games, 1912-1982

  12. Promotion Tactic-- OTB Examples
    Whenever a Pawn reaches the other side of the board, it must be upgraded, becoming a full piece, not just a chessman. The formal name for this change of powers, shape and function is PROMOTION. This is not an optional entitlement, but is required. A Pawn cannot remain as it is and it cannot become a King.

    No other chessman can earn Promotion. This privilege of ennoblement or dramatic elevation only applies to the Pawn. Therefore, "Pawn Promotion" is unnecessarily precise in chess literature.

    Upgrading to a Queen is so commonly expected that the term UNDERPROMOTION is used for the other three cases-- Rook, Knight or Bishop upliftment. In fact, a separate game collection is being prepared for Underpromotion.

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    13 games, 1794-2017

  13. Railroad Mate Examples
    This checkmate is much more a process than a resulting pattern. The key idea is that the Queen and Rook are exerting parallel fences of power as if they were laying the rails of a train track. Therefore, the opposing King is caught between these two fences.

    The attacking Queen and a Rook keep shifting positions, from one snapshot to the other, all the while pushing the opposing King again and again, until the checkmate is made.

    So, what are these snapshots in detail? In one snapshot the Queen and Rook are across from one another and the Queen makes check (the Queen and Rook are on the same railroad tie-beam and they are giving mutual protection):

    click for larger view

    This position uses the Battering Ram or Barrage tactic.

    In another snapshot, the Rook is on the diagonal from the Queen when it makes check (only the Rook is protected, but the Queen is out of reach by the enemy King):

    click for larger view

    Note that either snapshot could be the starting point for the process of the Railroad Mate. Some players visualize the process as carrying themselves across monkey bars, swinging from the position of both hands on the same bar to the position with one hand on the next bar, then forward to a new position with both hands on the next bar. Another group of players see the capital letter N (or its mirror-image) being repeated. Still another group sees a rather stilted use of scissors, being closed in one snapshot and opened on only one side in the other snapshot-- 'walking' the scissors across the board.

    Of course, you may use your own imagination or forego taking any simulation and enjoy the process as it is.

    However you go, do note that the alternation of the snapshots could proceed either along a horizontal path (the default for the diagrams above) or along a vertical path.

    The vertical Railroad Mate may be considered by some to be a simplified King Hunt. Korolikov composed the following White to Move and Mate problem that uses helpers to produce a vertical Railroad Mate with Rook and Bishop:

    click for larger view

    No, the solution is not given here, but eight moves do the job ;-) It uses two defensive X-Ray tactics that each make a check as well, then ends with an X-Ray Mate that has followed the Railroad Mate process. (If you must have the solution, see Composition #94 in CHESSBOARD MAGIC by Irving Chernev.)

    An interesting shortcut of the Railroad Mate process is to keep the opposing King locked up between Queen and Rook, then Promote to a major piece and bring it for checkmate between the restricting Queen and Rook. (This maneuver is a safe way for less-experienced chess players to use three Rooks or three Queens to make checkmate!)

    Other Railroad Mate games-- not at CG, yet-- which may interest you:

    Staunton vs NN, 1850, 25 moves, 1-0

    Ending looks like a Railroad Mate, vertically (Snapshot 1) Process of getting to the mate is not the same, though

    Vladimir Umansky vs Maksim Blokh, Moscow 1983 corr., 38 moves, 0-1

    Railroad Mate after a long continuation
    Vertical form (Snapshot 1)

    Robert Ruck vs Martin Hofbauer, Oberwart (AUT) 1995, 64 moves, 1-0

    Railroad Mate as the shortcut, after a long continuation Vertical process was utilized
    (One of two lines given by computer analysis)

    Sergey Smagin vs Vladimir Bukhtin, USSR 1982, 34 moves, 1-0

    This game shows the Railroad Mate threat (Snapshot 2) winning at the last move, triggering a resignation:

    click for larger view

    It is an obvious 'Mate, Don't Take!' situation-- do not capture the Black Queen after 34. ... Kxh2. Instead, play 35. Qf2 Kh3 36. Rh1#

    There is another game collection, Railroaded into Kill Box or Triangle Mate, which has been compiled by fredthebear, but he makes qualifications on his list. I made my collection independently and before I saw his. So, our descriptions differ. The first snapshot given here is what he called the Triangle Mate (when at the edge and checkmate). The second snapshot given here is what he called the Kill Box, again when it completes the checkmate. Check out what fredthebear did; you should find it useful.

    The King Hunt, by John Nunn and W. H. Cozens, should also be cited as a useful resource. That book has several example games that illustrate the Railroad Mate and they are listed here in this game collection.

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance. (Originated in Sept. 2019, but from games and a composition discovered in 2016.)

    7 games, 1860-2016

  14. Raking Bishops Mate Examples
    The Raking Bishops Mate features two Bishops (or a Bishop and Queen) that are next to each other and showing their power on adjacent diagonals. Therefore, this mate pattern is quite distinct from the Boden's Mate ("Criss-Cross Mate"). When the attacking side's King is close enough, these Bishops are sufficient for the checkmate, but normally some helpers are involved.

    The Raking Bishops Mate is my colorful name for the Horwitz Bishops, which honor Bernhard Horwitz (1807-1885). This mate pattern may also be called Doubled Bishops, Parallel Bishops, Slashing Bishops, Tandem Bishops, and other names. However, "Harrwitz Bishops" is a mistaken reference to a contemporary of Horwitz, Daniel Harrwitz (1821-1884). Both of these adept chess players were born in Germany and they played many games against each other.

    Three examples of these Bishops are given by Nimzowitsch in his book, MY SYSTEM, pages 148-149 (where "Horwitz Bishops" was given). Here is one of the them:

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    There are many games with Raking Bishops that are not included at yet, but my favorite is a Raking Bishops Mate carried out by a Pawn and a Bishop, amazingly:

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    Agrest, Evgenij - Agrest, Svetlana
    Cutro ITALY 2007 29 moves 1-0

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    21 games, 1852-2005

  15. Relative Pin Tactic-- OTB Examples
    The Pin is one of the most fundamental chess tactics and the Relative Pin is one of the two most common kinds of Pin (the Absolute Pin being the other).

    The Relative Pin has one chessman attacking two on the same line, but the first being attacked is more valuable than the chessman behind the first target. That second target must not be the King, since in that case, it would be an Absolute Pin.

    Piling On, another tactic in itself, is very effective against either an Absolute Pin or a Relative Pin. However, look at these games for other examples where someone takes advantage of the Relative Pin, maybe even for checkmate!

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    16 games, 1898-2015

  16. Removing the Defender Tactic-- OTB Examples
    You should have heard that you need to coordinate your chessmen, but it is also important to notice how your opponent is coordinating their chessmen and see if you can take advantage of any weaknesses there.

    Removing the Defender is one tactic that can readily serve this purpose. Also called Removing the Guard, Annihilation of Defense (whew!), Undermining and Driving Off, Destruction and other names, it is an essential tactic to learn and use wherever you can.

    Once you find a relationship of protection between two pieces, attack the one with support and then look for a way to displace the protector, even if that piece is protected. By pulling away that supporter (here's the idea of undermining), your first attack could win you that piece. So, a little "chain reaction thinking" may get big results. The big idea is that having only one level of protection can be a weakness.

    Remember that a successful tactic often spells a winning advantage or even a checkmate process for the aggressive player.

    This game collection is a project in progress, culling OTB (over the board) examples from several chess training books. The games are listed in chronological order, not in order of importance or relevance.

    13 games, 1849-2018

  17. Rook Roll Mate Examples
    Bruce Pandolfini seems to have coined this quaint name for a checkmate process that can actually be done by more than just the Rooks. Not only could the rolling process be done with a Queen and a Rook, it can also be done along diagonals, with Bishops or Queen and Bishop. The Lawn Mower Mate or Steamroller Mate are other names. This mating process certainly must be an essential part of your "toolbox."

    I usually show the process on a giant chess set with the visually appealing action of literally rolling up the cloth chessboard as the King is pressed back, over and over again, to the edge of the chessboard.

    The Rooks are being coordinated in a staggered formation, either making the space for the King get smaller and smaller, or keeping that space the same size (when the defending King gets aggressive). You could compare the staggered moves to climbing stairs, or going up a ladder-- but no baby steps by having both feet on the same level. The Rooks do not occupy the same rank or file.

    Two points should be emphasized to a beginner.

    First, the SPACE of the King is everywhere it can 'see' until a fence or wall cuts it off. The REACH of the King is how far it can move-- just one square in any direction. The Rooks are working together as a team to keep reducing the SPACE of the King with their walls or fences squeezing it toward the edge or a corner. (Compare these terms with the domain and range of functions in algebra.)

    Second, when the opposing King is far away from the Rooks, they do not check the King on their first move. They cut down the space of the King, but without checking. They have to set up the Rook Roll for the quickest mate. Checking will give the other King two choices for the line it could occupy. Their first Rook move should force the King to stay in the smaller SPACE. So, the example given below is simpler because the King is quite close to the Rooks and thus when put in check, it has only one rank to use (although its REACH is three squares) anyway.

    The Rook Roll Mate process is a good demonstration of the principle that the checkmate is easier to handle after you force the enemy King to the edge or to the corner of the chessboard. Eight squares are in the reach of the King in the Center, five squares at the edge, but only three squares in any corner.

    Here is one typical, full version of the Rook Roll Mate, with Black to move:

    click for larger view

    The Black King cannot move into the first rank. The REACH of this King is five squares now (g2, g3, f3, e3 and e2) and its SPACE is the area within d2, d8, h2 and h8.

    click for larger view

    1. ... Kf2.
    The Black King had no choice but to shift over or retreat to the third rank. The reach and space of the Black King have not changed.

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    2. Ra2+.
    White begins the process of rolling back the Black King. This check makes its reach only three squares. If White plays correctly, the reach stays at three squares for each check all the way to the edge or corner.

    click for larger view

    2. ... Ke3
    The Black King had to retreat to the next rank.

    click for larger view

    3. Rc3+
    The other Rook is brought up to push the Black King back. Note that the White King has no role in this checkmate process.

    click for larger view

    3. ... Kd4
    The Black King gets aggressive, retreating along a diagonal, thus getting close enough to the lead Rook to attack it.

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    4. Rh3
    The leading White Rook shows its power! It keeps the (rank-wise) space the same without retreating at all. The White King is so close to the action that 4. Kb2 or 4. Kc3 would be better. Also, 4. Raa3 is more effective than 4. Rh3-- and shows the idea of mutual protection, but I chose to reinforce the simpler process at this stage because both of these options connect to the Waiting Move tactic. Digressing or putting too much into one lesson may not be helpful to retention. Your mileage will vary with your students. ;-)

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    4. ... Kc4
    The Black King must retreat or shift over one square.

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    5. Ra4+
    White forces the King back again.

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    5. ... Kb5
    The defending King gets aggressive again, with the other White Rook being in the vanguard now.

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    6. Rg4
    Notice that the vanguard Rook was not brought to the edge, but only to the g-file. This offset establishes the staggered formation crucial to the mating process. Again, the leading Rook shows its power by keeping the space the same for the King and with no retreat being necessary at all. Again, 6. Rhh4 is a viable option, but with the same caveats mentioned at move 4 for White.

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    6. ... Kc5
    The Black King must retreat.

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    7. Rh5+

    White keeps switching vanguard Rooks, rolling the King back each time. Keep the Rooks out of the way for each other by keeping the stair-step, ladder or staggered formation. The name Lawnmower Mate seems obvious now, as the gopher can't hide in the short grass. A little bit of imagination lets the name Steamroller Mate apply to this process as well. Looking at the pattern of your feet makes the names Ladder Mate, Stairsteps Mate and Staircase Mate suitable. Chess literature uses all of these names and others.

    click for larger view

    7. ... Kd6
    The Black King must retreat.

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    8. Rg6+
    The other Rook becomes the vanguard Rook.

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    8. ... Kd7
    The Black King must retreat.

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    9. Rh7+
    The other Rook becomes the vanguard Rook.

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    9. ... Kd8
    The Black King must retreat.

    The enemy King has been forced to the edge (sometimes to a corner) of the board, where it is easier to make checkmate. Seeing the pattern of earlier moves, even a beginner should be able to see how to checkmate on the next move.

    click for larger view

    Here is the Rook Roll Mate. Essentially, the entire process is a King Hunt or King Chase that has checkmate as its conclusion. No one, not even the World Chess Champion, can defend against this process if you play it properly, avoiding stalemate. Rewards come to those who are methodical and patient.

    All of the games in this collection use an abbreviated version of this process.

    In fact, the example diagram given here can also be used to demonstrate several abbreviated Rook Roll Mates. The most significant difference is that the process is reversed-- rather than pushing the Black King towards the eighth rank, we pull the Black King towards the first rank.

    To wit, we dramatically and severely reduce the space of the Black King by bringing a Rook to the fourth rank or the seventh file. Best play from one analysis engine is: 1... Kf3 2. Rc4 Ke3 3. Ra3+ Ke2 4. Kb2 Kf2 5. Rc2+ Ke1 6. Ra1#

    Further, the defending King could be pushed across files, not just ranks-- 1... Kh3 2. Rg1 Kh2 3. Rg6 Kh3 4. Ra8 Kh2 5. Rh8#.

    Yes, the abbreviated process is the most efficient, but the basic process is so cutesy that it should be shown at least once. (It may keep a flustered young tournament player from a draw, also.)

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    19 games, 1870-2018

  18. Seventh Rank Mate Examples
    Also called the Blind Swine Mate, this pattern requires a "stopper" to hold the King in place for the two Rooks, unless one Rook and a Queen are teaming up for the checkmate.

    See "Edward Winter presents: Unsolved Chess Mysteries (21)" for extensive material on the Blind Swine description.

    See other game collections on this topic, especially 7th heaven! 7th rank above all!, which was compiled by notyetagm.

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    6 games, 1863-2007

  19. Skewer Tactic-- OTB Examples
    One of the most basic and truly essential chess tactics to learn is the Skewer. This tactic is an in-line operation where a chessman of higher value is being attacked while a chessman of lower value is behind it. Thus, when the big one moves out of the way, the little one is taken.

    Another way of looking at the arrangement is to say that you have three pieces lined up, an attacker against one defender directly and a second defender at the rear. This third chessman is being indirectly attacked.

    Edward Winter cites Kenneth Harkness as having written in the April 1947 issue of the CHESS REVIEW that: There is another type of double attack in which the targets are threatened in one direction. The attacking piece threatens two units, one behind the other, on the same rank, file or diagonal. This double threat has lacked a good descriptive name. We suggest 'X-Ray’ attack.'

    Only a few players try to use the term X-Ray tactic as a synonym for Skewer. However, the Skewer can only be an attack, never a defense, while the X-Ray tactic can be either offensive or defensive. Further, the Skewer has one unit actually attacking both pieces, whereas the X-Ray has two pieces attacking just one piece. See my game collection X-Ray Tactic-- OTB Examples for more details.

    The name Skewer is also used when the two defending chessmen are the same kind (two Rooks, for example) or have the same value (such as a Knight and Bishop). The chessmen attacked in the front and back are equal, then. The BALANCED SKEWER is my own term for these special cases, in spite of the fact that the Bishop and Knight may have differing values. To wit, some chess writers will give 3-1/2 points or 3-1/4 points for the Bishop.

    My point is that they are so close in value that Balanced Skewer should still apply when the defenders are Knight and Bishop. A few games with this particular form of the Skewer tactic are provided here. One that is not available yet at CG is Gurevich, Mikhail vs Garcia Ilundain, David 1995, 32 moves, 1-0 that has two Rooks being skewered. The material was even for both sides, before the Balanced Skewer was made! Here is that winning position:

    click for larger view

    There are two other special cases for the Skewer. An ABSOLUTE SKEWER occurs when the King is in front and any other chessman sits behind that King. Since the King is being attacked, the first law of chess must apply and the three possible responses to check must be carefully thought about. Kasparov vs Lutikov 1978 and Short vs Vaganian 1989 have the Absolute Skewer tactic.

    The ROYAL SKEWER is a more colorful name for the Absolute Skewer. Although both terms are uncommon in the literature, my preference is the Royal Skewer as Absolute Skewer came to my attention only recently.

    A RELATIVE SKEWER occurs when some other chessman is under attack in the vanguard, with a less-valuable chessman behind it.

    Only the line pieces-- Queen, Rook and Bishop-- have the power to work together to attack the way the Skewer needs. The Skewer can only be done on a rank, file or diagonal and then over several squares on one of those lines. Therefore, the King, the Knight and the Pawn are not able to make the Skewer tactic.

    Some of these games were included in LEARN CHESS TACTICS by John Nunn, Chapter 4, Skewer. He makes the interesting point that you may need another tactic first to get to a Skewer next. In other words, you may need to be sneaky to do it! For example, here is an Absolute Skewer study that is commonly shown (altho not by Nunn in this book) that wins a Rook:

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    White to move

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    click for larger view

    ... Rxa7

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    Rh7+ (Absolute Skewer) and the Black Rook is lost!

    Wikipedia has a short but useful article on the Skewer tactic with a few helpful diagrams as well. Here's their link: The Short-Vaganian game was mentioned there with useful comments.

    Edward Winter has the excellent article, THE CHESS SKEWER from 26 Oct 2014, The Kasparov-Lutikov 1978 game is mentioned there. This article is a worthwhile read for the history of this tactic and other jewels of information.

    Do not underestimate the usefulness of this tactic! Just because it is easy to explain does not mean that it can be easily avoided. It does indeed deserve your time and effort to learn! Keep on the lookout for chances to use it, because the Skewer will often be a game-winning tactic.

    This project is a work in progress, culling games from several chess training books and personal research. The games are ordered by date, not by importance.

    30 games, 1860-2016

  20. Smothered Mate Examples
    Only the Knight can bring a Smothered Mate, as only the Knight is able to jump over any chessman. Probably the most popular checkmate pattern, the Smothered Mate often fascinates new chess players and retains its popularity even after one becomes proficient. Like the Arabian Mate, the Smothered Mate dates from the earliest days of chess because the move of the Knight has remained unchanged from the beginnings of chess play.

    What can make the Smothered Mate so amazing is that the Knight is often unprotected, just moving into position at a hole in the defenses of the opposing chessmen. It can be a psychological shock to the opponent even as a threat tactic because otherwise, the King seems to be so well-protected.

    Masters have relied on this mating pattern as well as intermediate players. Do consider it to be an essential part of your chess knowledge, then. It can help you become a winner and improve your skills if you are just learning about the Smothered Mate.

    It should be noted that a Queen sacrifice (technically, a sham sacrifice) is only one of several ways to bring about a Smothered Mate. There are many variations on the theme, but I suggest classifying Smothered Mates in three ways. Type A has the attacking Knight one rank away from the defending King. Type B has the attacking Knight two ranks away from the defending King. Then a group of special Smothered Mates, even in the vertical orientation.

    Here's a pictorial for the Type A Smothered Mate, which is a skeleton/extract (only the essential chessmen are shown) of the game Credit vs Edl, FICS, 2008 (not provided at, yet):

    click for larger view

    This is a pictorial for the Type B Smothered Mate, which is a skeleton/extract of the game Trefny vs Stratil, Czech Republic, 1994 (not provided at, yet):

    click for larger view

    A curious or eager student should not only look at the Smothered Mate itself (to make it familiar), but also look at the moves just before the Smothered Mate occurs. Check out how the winning player prepared for the mate and try to see if the losing player could have avoided it. A serious student will play through the entire game, finding tactics, trying to see strategies and even evaluating the opening. These over-the-board (OTB) examples can provide valuable insights to you and help make the Smothered Mate pattern become an active part of your "toolbox."

    This game collection is a project in progress. Games are listed in date order, not in order of importance.

    19 games, 1869-2008

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