Lesson 8 - Checkmate Patterns: The Smothered Mate

"Seize the outpost K5 with your knight, and you can go to sleep. Checkmate will come by itself."
- Savielly Tartakower

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.

In the opinion of many, the smothered mate is the most beautiful chekmate pattern.  It is easy to understand as this pattern is executed by a minor piece, the knight, which is giving a check to a barricaded king. The king is usually surrounded by friendly pieces or enemy pieces it cannot capture, blocking any possible escape for the king. In this situation, we have to be careful about any enemy knight as one of its advantage is that its attack can pass through other pieces and the defending player cannot block the check with a friendly piece. If the king cannot move and knight giving the check cannot be captured, the king is checkmate. Let's see an axample of this pattern in the diagram below:

Smothered Mate

Diagram 8.10 - Smothered Mate

Many players (including myself...) has been surprised by a smothered mate, even high ranked players. In the chess world, there is a stroing reference for this checkmate pattern to the "Philidor's Legacy". Indeed, the famous French player Francois-André Danican Philidor (1726-1795) made an important contribution to the chess world whose contains the following beauty. It is White's turn to play with a mate in five moves:


To see other examples of smothered mate, use the below links:

If you do not want to be surprised by a smothered mate, try to always give some air to your king... especially when there is a knight around!

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