Lesson 8 - Checkmate Patterns: The Epaulette Mate

"In mathematics, if I find a new approach to a problem, another mathematician might claim that he has a better, more elegant solution. In chess, if anybody claims he is better than I, I can checkmate him."
- Emanuel Lasker

If you do not know what is a checkmate or if you need a refresh, I recommend that you go through the page introducing the checkmate before continuing.

This one is fairly easy to grasp once we see how it looks like. As we can see in the diagram below, the king is flanked by its two rooks on each side. It looks like the King got himself some "epaulettes".   The rooks are really close to the king thus blocking his majesty to the right and left.   Moreover, the rooks are poor defenders since they cannot block any check coming from the front. An enemy queen can then benefit from the situation by giving a check just in front of the king, leaving one square between them so it cannot be captured, and delivering the "coup de grâce" all by itself: in addition to giving the check, the queen controls the d7 and f7 squares.

Epaulette Mate

Diagram 8.9 - Epaulette Mate

Another configuration is also possible for this pattern. The "shoulders" could be built up with other pieces. In this case, the "shoulders" are placed behind the king restricting it from escaping by the diagonal squares behind. The queen would then need an ally to give the checkmate since it needs to be on the square located directly in front of the king:

Another Pattern Of The Epaulette Mate

Diagram 8.9a - Another Pattern Of The Epaulette Mate

See the epaulette mate in action in the example below extracted from a real game between two strong players:


This pattern does not occur often in chess games. However, a chess player must study it in order to understand strengths and weaknesses of specific positionnal patterns. As the well known saying states: "A player forewarned is forearmed"!

Let's continue the lesson with the next page on the smothered mateonline chess tutorial.