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Veselin Topalov vs Anatoly Karpov
Hoogovens Group A (1998), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 9, Jan-26
Queen's Gambit Declined: Charousek (Petrosian) Variation (D31)  ·  1-0



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Premium Chessgames Member
  Colonel Mortimer: <LIFE Master AJ:> <S Muhammad vs A J Goldsby, 2000 The end of this game ends with a type of epaulette mate ..>

Agree, this is a genuine epaulette mate - the republican guard are helpless in the protection of their king even though they stand shoulder to shoulder (which brings to mind visions of much decorated banana republic presidents with their pompous self-aggrandising military "Epaulettes".)

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: <Col. Mortimer>
However, as an olive branch ...

while I was taught (early on) that an epaulette mate was ANY mate where the attacked King's retreat was blocked equally on both sides, (by his own pieces) I would (also) happily admit that there could be, (and maybe are) ... ... ... many SUB-CATEGORIES of this type of mate! [This would include the "G" mate you spoke of, I might have seen that once, although I went looking through my problem books last night and could not find it ... somewhere - and even the bird's tail thingie.]

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White to move, 1.Bg5#.

If one wants to imagine (place) a Black Knight on d8, this could also be an epaulette mate, so perhaps the possibilities are almost endless, just as they are in chess.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

DEFINITION: BTW, a "PURE" mate is one where (either) King is mated, and all the squares in the checkmate pattern are controlled only once.

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In the above, White to move and mate in two.

1.Ng6+, Kg8; 2.Rg7#.

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This probably has nothing to do with the discussion at hand. However, I am an amateur problemist, (Benko and "Chess Life" has printed a few of my compositions over the years.); I am just saying that I freely mix in terms (and ideas) that many OTB players will not be familiar with. (If this has caused any confusion over the years, I am sorry for that.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Colonel Mortimer: Appreciate your viewpoint - It is a little bit of a grey area. I guess my fixation was on the semantics of "Epaulette":)
Jun-23-11  bartonlaos: A Blindfolded Beauty:
Blackburne vs NN, 1863

A Masterful Mate:
Albin vs O Bernstein, 1904

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Epaulette or epaulet mate is, in its broadest definition, a checkmate where two parallel retreat squares for a checked king are occupied by his own pieces, preventing his escape. The most common Epaulette mate involves the king on his back rank, trapped between two rooks. The perceived visual similarity between the rooks and epaulettes, ornamental shoulder pieces worn on military uniforms, gives the checkmate its name.>

Cited examples: the conclusions of Van Wely vs Morozevich, 2001, Carlsen vs S Ernst, 2004, and Anand vs Carlsen, 2009

Jun-23-11  bartonlaos: <CM - I guess my fixation was on the semantics of "Epaulette":)>

But not on the semantics of "Guéridon"...

Image (table legs):

Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: <I've never given a ... what these mates are called> Juniors and students need to learn the lexicon of chess, first to build on their own knowledge, and second for overall pattern recognition in games and puzzles. It may seem to be a pure point of semantics between an Epaulette Mate and a Swallow's Tail/Gueridon Mate but they are a tad different.

One good way to tell the difference is by creating a puzzle set for others. =)

Jun-23-11  SimonWebbsTiger: @tpstar

to ad-lib the famous poem:

a mate is a mate is a mate.

Pattern recognition is certainly important, not just for the kids and beginners.

Jun-23-11  bartonlaos: <FSR - cited examples of Epaulette's>

The article you cite makes a distinction between Swallow's Tail and Epaulette's, yet the definition from Epaulette's Mate says that the most common example of this is when the king is trapped between two rooks. It then provides an example of a Swallow's Tail here: Anand vs Carlsen, 2009 as an Epaulette's mate.

Is there no longer a distinction between the two mates when the king is trapped between two rooks?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <bartonlaos> It's all a bit murky, I'm afraid.

Roll back the clock a couple of decades and it seems that "epaulette mate" covered every mate where two parallel retreat squares were self blocked. That included what we now call the dovetail mate (on the diagonal) and the swallowtail or swallow's tail mate (where the rooks are set one row further back than the king). They were all versions of epaulette mate. The terms swallowtail and dovetail didn't seem to be used at all.

The terms swallowtail and dovetail appear to be fairly recent inventions. But what seems to be totally unclear is whether these are now sub-variations of the epaulette mates or if they are totally different mates.

The wikipedia article seems to allow for both possibilities. Under swallow's tail it says it resembles an epaulette and insists that the queen has to be supported by a rook. For me "resembles an epaulette" does not mean that it is an epaulette.

Yet under epaulette it says that there are different versions and only one is the mate where the king is trapped between two rooks. If there are other versions, what could they be - unless they are swallow's tails and dovetails? And as you have spotted, the third example quoted under epaulette mate is ... a swallow's tail.

Confusion reigns.

In the end it doesn't really matter. FWIW, I don't think there is a right or a wrong answer here. Language is constantly evolving. What we are seeing is one term (epaulette mate) evolving into two or more sub-species. Until these new words bed down into common usage, there is bound to be some confusion and disagreement about what they actually mean.

Jun-23-11  bartonlaos: <Once>

If we roll back the clock to 1953, then we learn from <The Art of Checkmate> that there exists a separation between the two mates as defined in Chapter 4. The book also provides games previously listed as classic examples, and gives a different versions of Epaulette's that's definitely not a swallow's tail:

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My question is does the common version of Epaulette's w/rooks, include the swallow's tail w/rooks?

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In my mind, both Kings appear to have military decorations, while only one resembles a small table.

Read 1953 Art of Checkmate, Chapter 4 definitions here:

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <bartonlaos> Good call! I reached for my much-thumbed copy of Art of Attack and you are quite right.

This is what Vukovic says: "Of the large number of less usual, and even exotic, mating patterns I have chosen ones which bear some nickname or which can easily be given one"

He then goes on to illustrate Epaulete, 'swallow's tail', pawn mate, mate with two bishops, Boden's, Pillsbury's, Legal's, Max Lange's, Reti's and Blackburne's.

The bit that intrigues me is when he says "I have chosen ones which bear some nickname <or which can easily be given one>".

This suggests that Vukovic made up at least one of the names of the mates in his list. But which one(s)?

Of all the mates he illustrates, he only puts one into speech marks - and that is "swallow's tail."

Maybe it was Vukovic who invented the name "swallow's tail" mate and it gradually came into common usage from then on? It's a theory.

Vukovic doesn't mention the dovetail mate at all. So perhaps that is a later coinage.

Jun-23-11  bartonlaos: I agree with you.

I also read that Art of Checkmate is the very book which introduced the term "Gueridon Mate". That would explain its separate definition for epaulettes:

<"When the mated King is obstructed to the <right and to the left> by its own Pieces, <on a rank or on a file>, we get the "Epaulettes" mate.">

From Chess Review 1963:
<"Renaud and Kahn in their The Art of Checkmate give this specific variation the special name of the Gueridon Mate.">

Do you have access to The Art of Chess Combinations by Znosko-Borovsky? It was published about the same time, 1959. I think it uses the terms "pseudo" or "semi" epaulettes mate yet I don't have the book with me to know to what patterns these refer - whether they are otherwise dove and swallowtails or some other pattern not involving rooks.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Do you have access to The Art of Chess Combinations by Znosko-Borovsky?>

Unfortunately not. The only Znosko-Borovsky I have is "How not to play chess". A short book that says nothing about mating patterns.

Jun-23-11  bartonlaos: It's strange, but it's never struck me that there was ever a period in the history of Chess in which the types of mates weren't categorized and named. For example, I always assumed that Greco's mate had been known by that name since Greco. But is it possible that The Art of Checkmate was the first to do it?
Jun-23-11  bartonlaos: Chess Review 1963 Vol 32

<We have seen the "elevated horizontal" epaulette mate (called the Gueridon by Renaud and Kahn) 80>

So there you go!

Jun-24-11  bartonlaos: <LMAJ> Congratulations, You have been proven correct by Siegbert Tarrasch!

< Siegbert Tarrasch 1931, The Game of Chess >

White to play and win:

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ANSWER: <"The play was: 1.Q-B5, Q-Q3 2.P-Kt4, Q-K2 <(if 2...K-R3, then 3.P-Kt7!, KxP; 4.Q-Kt6, mate - <the so-called "Epaulette Mate">)>; 3. P-Kt5!, PxP; 4.QxR, ch, RxQ; 5.RxR (threatening, if the Queen goes, for example, to R6, to win by 6.R(B2)-B7, ch and 7.R-R88 mate. If 5...Q-B4, the pin on the Rook is removed by 6.P-Q4), QxR; 6.P-R6,ch!, K-Kt1; 7.P-R7,ch, K-Kt2; 8.RxQ and the Rook's pawn becomes a Queen.">


Variation - <the so-called "Epaulette Mate">:

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<2...K-R3, then 3.P-Kt7!, KxP; 4.Q-Kt6, mate>

(from the top diagram - 1. Qf5 Qd6 2. g4 Kh6 3. g7 Kxg7 4. Qg6#)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: And notice that Tarrasch calls it the <so-called> Epaulette Mate. That suggests that it's a term which is not used universally, or one which is just beginning to be used.

And that could give us a tentative timeline...

Pre-1931: we presume that someone coins the term "epaulette mate". It refers to any mate with two parallel self-blocks.

1931: Tarrasch mentions it as the so-called Epaulette mate, and illustrates it with what we would now call a swallow's tail mate.

1953: the "art of checkmate" introduces the term Gueridon mate for what we now call a swallow's tail.

1965: The "art of attack in chess" by Vukovic mentions - and possibly invents - the term 'swallow's tail mate' to be separate from the epaulette mate. It doesn't mention Gueridon at all.

Sometime after 1965: someone invents the term dovetail mate - an epaulette mate on the diagonal.

Modern day: wikipedia can't seem to make its mind up whether a swallow's tail mate is a type of epaulette mate (which is what Tarrasch believed) or a totally different mate.

2011: we come along to try to make sense of it all.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <bartonlaos> Just noticed that when you started talking about the art of checkmate, I misread you and assumed you meant art of attack. Sorry about the confusion. The onset of senility on my part.
Jun-24-11  bartonlaos: <Once> Senility? Nonsense. Your "Art of Attack" was just an auspicious mistake as it helped to construct this 'timeline of terms'. On a side-note, I also noticed that <LMAJ> had reviewed "The Game of Chess" at, just to document that he was exposed to this usage as he had earlier written.

The last bit remaining is whether "The Art of Checkmate" invented the term, "Guéridon", or had introduced a French-term to the rest of the world (one of the authors was French). <Colonel Mortimer> suggested that it originated from the days of the Regency, but I don't have the expertise to show if any writings from that period could verify this.

Chess Masters of the Regency Cafe

Jun-24-11  bartonlaos: That was a good catch on "so-called" by the way!
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: <FSR> Your definition - is pretty much the one that I was taught.
Jul-01-11  bartonlaos: <Once - épaulettes>

I just uncovered an earlier usage from a book by Franz Gutmayer called, "Der Weg zur Meisterschaft: Anleitung zur musterhaften Führung von Schachpartieen" - Googlebooks. Page 13 examines Bryan vs. Morphy, and a rather interesting translation:

< "Das sogenannte Epaulettenmatt" Gutmayer 1898 >

< "The so-called Epaulette mate" Tarrasch 1931 >

Since epaulettes describes a picturesque representation and not one occurring over the board, it has its origins with diagrams of printed puzzles, which were not yet in use in Stamma's book on the "Noble Game of Chess" published in 1745. This provides a precise time-frame for the term to have been coined in written form.

Jul-03-11  Calli: <bartonlaos> sorry, I don't really know much about chess problems. Good Luck on your quest!
Premium Chessgames Member
  WTHarvey: Ends with a White mates in 6.

click for larger view

50. ?

if 50...♗xh8 51.♖xh8+ ♔xh8 52.♕h2+

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