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Checkmate with 2 Bishops

Updated on November 30, 2012

Introduction

In this hub we are going to look at some examples from my Tactics Time database of class player chess games where one side checkmated their opponent by using their two bishops. We will look at how well these two pieces can work together, covering lots of squares and escape routes for the enemy king.

For each diagram it will say "White to Move" or "Black to Move". Try to find the best move, before moving on to the answer and analysis. This will help to grow your tactical muscles, which are needed for chess improvement, higher ratings, and more wins!

Let begin!


Sons of Bishops

White to move
White to move | Source

Answer

This is kind of a neat mate in one to start things off.

29. Bxf7# is a discovered checkmate. Notice how the light and dark square bishops work together to form a wall on the g file that black cannot cross. This is almost like a back rank mate, only on the h file, and the bishops forming the wall, instead of black's own pawns.

A few moves earlier white sacrificed his rook to open the h file, so that the remaining pieces could surround the king.

[Event "MCC Spring Swiss"]
[Date "2000.05.02"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Phelps, Matthew"]
[Black "Thompson, Ethan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C44"]
[WhiteElo "1565"]
[BlackElo "1147"]
[PlyCount "57"]
[EventType "schev"]
[EventRounds "3"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. c3 dxc3 5. Bc4 cxb2 6. Bxb2 Bb4+ 7. Nbd2 Nf6 8. O-O h6 9. Qb3 Qe7 10. e5 Nh5 11. a3 Ba5 12. Rad1 O-O 13. Rfe1 a6 14. Re4 g6 15. Bd3 d6 16. exd6 Qxd6 17. Nc4 Be6 18. Qc2 Qe7 19. Nxa5 Nxa5 20. Qc3 Nf6 21. Qxf6 Qxf6 22. Bxf6 Bf5 23. Rh4 h5 24. Bxf5 b5 25. Bg4 Kh7 26. Rd5 c6 27. Rdxh5+ gxh5 28. Bxh5 Rfe8 29. Bxf7# 1-0


Clearing the Diagonal

White to Move
White to Move | Source

Solution

Here white plays 20. Qxd4 trading the queens. Black is pretty much forced to take back, otherwise he is a whole queen down, but when he recaptures with 20. ..exd4 this clears the dark diagonal allowing 21. Bf4#

Here is the complete game.

[Event "2010 Colorado Open"]
[Site "Denver, Colorado"]
[Date "2010.09.05"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Randy Reynolds"]
[Black "Alex Li"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C18"]
[WhiteElo "1675"]
[BlackElo "1592"]
[PlyCount "41"]
[EventType "schev"]
[EventRounds "4"]
[EventCountry "USA"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Ne7 7. Qg4 Qa5 8. Bd2 Qa4 9. Ra2 Nbc6 10. Nf3 Ng6 11. Bd3 Bd7 12. O-O cxd4 13. cxd4 O-O-O 14. Rb1 Ncxe5 15. Nxe5 Nxe5 16. Qf4 Nc6 17. Bb5 Qxd4 18. Bxc6 e5 19. Bxb7+ Kc7 20. Qxd4 exd4 21. Bf4# 1-0


You've Got Mate

Black to Move
Black to Move | Source

Mate is Enough

Here black has a nice mate in 2.

27... Qh4+ 28. Kg1 Bxd4#

First black forces the white king to go to g1 (the only legal move to get out of check), then the dark square bishop comes in taking away all of the safe squares for white. The light square bishop plays a nice supporting role, covering the f1 square.

Here is the complete game

[Event "MCC Forward March Swiss"]
[Date "2003.03.18"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Karp, Peter"]
[Black "Thompson, Ethan"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D02"]
[WhiteElo "750"]
[BlackElo "1512"]
[PlyCount "56"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Bf5 3. Bf4 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Bd3 Bg6 6. O-O Nc6 7. Nbd2 Bd6 8. Bg5 e5 9. Bb5 e4 10. Ne5 O-O 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bxc6 Bxh2+ 13. Kh1 Rb8 14. Ba4 Bd6 15. c4 h6 16. Bh4 Be7 17. cxd5 Bh5 18. Qc2 Be2 19. Rfc1 Qxd5 20. Bxf6 Bd3 21. Qd1 Bxf6 22. Rxc7 Qf5 23. f3 Rxb2 24. fxe4 Qf2 25. Bc2 Qxe3 26. Nc4 Qxe4 27. Nxb2 Qh4+ 28. Kg1 Bxd4# 0-1


Black to play

Black to Play
Black to Play | Source

Shake & Mate

Here black has a nice mate in two with 26...Bc2+ 27. Kc1 Ba3#

This is the second time we have seen a pattern like this, where one of the bishops is right next to the king, supported by another piece - in this case the rook. The close bishop is cutting of squares on both sides of the king, and then the second bishop delivers a checkmate.


[Event "MCC Year End Swiss"]
[Site "Metrowest CC"]
[Date "1998.12.08"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Wood, Jefferson"]
[Black "Reed, Harvey"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B13"]
[WhiteElo "1085"]
[BlackElo "1340"]
[PlyCount "54"]
[EventDate "1998.12.08"]
[EventType "schev"]
[EventRounds "4"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. Bb5+ Nc6 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. Nf3 Bd7 7. Bxc6 Bxc6 8. Ne5 Rc8 9. Qf3 e6 10. Ne2 Bd6 11. Qg3 Ne4 12. Qxg7 Qf6 13. Qxf6 Nxf6 14. Ng3 Bb5 15. f3 Rxc2 16. Bg5 Nd7 17. Nxd7 Kxd7 18. a4 Bb4+ 19. Kd1 Bd3 20. Rc1 Rxg2 21. b3 h5 22. Bf4 h4 23. Rc7+ Ke8 24. Rc8+ Kd7 25. Rxh8 hxg3 26. hxg3 Bc2+ 27. Kc1 Ba3# 0-1


Minor Leagues

White to Move
White to Move | Source

Mieses Pieces

This was an odd, and interesting game.

In the above position 15. Bxf7# mates the black king.

This game really shows the power of checks. White starts developing and centralizing his pieces with checks, while black is busy grabbing material.

White started off with the move 1. d3, which is the Mieses Opening, a rather unusual first move. Then on move 3 he plays 3. d4 pushing the pawn a second time, wasting a tempo. White looks like he has no idea what he is doing.

Later in the game, Black plays the move 8...c6 to block a check by white, which looks like a harmless move, but ends up unleashing the gates of hell.

White then starts to attack, and plays briliantly. His pieces are all in the attack, and he mates black in a king hunt across the board on move 15.

[Event "Challenge"]
[Site "http://www.redhotpawn.com"]
[Date "2004.10.02"]
[White "didier30"]
[Black "hennion"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C20"]
[WhiteElo "1916"]
[BlackElo "1522"]
[PlyCount "29"]

1. d3 e5 2. e4 d5 3. d4 dxe4 4. dxe5 Qxd1+ 5. Kxd1 Bc5 6. Nc3 Bxf2 7. Nxe4 Bb6 8. Bb5+ c6 9. Nd6+ Ke7 10. Nxc8+ Ke6 11. Bc4+ Kxe5 12. Nf3+ Kf6 13. Bg5+ Kg6 14. Nd6 Nd7 15. Bxf7# 1-0

Boden's Mate

White to Move
White to Move | Source

The Boden the Beautiful

This is an example of "Boden's Mate" - probably the most famous type of checkmate with two bishops, and the most beautiful. Here the bishop do all of the work. They don't need to be supported by other pieces, and the other pieces aren't really helping with the mate.

Here they have a criss-cross pattern, and the friendly pieces surrounding black just get in the way.

There are some famous games and tactics puzzles where one side sacrifices a piece, often the queen, to deliver boden's mate. This can be an easy checkmate to miss, because of the long range abilities of the bishops.

[Event "Open invite"]
[Site "http://www.redhotpawn.com"]
[Date "2005.06.28"]
[Round "?"]
[White "chessicle"]
[Black "angusbailie"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D02"]
[WhiteElo "1832"]
[BlackElo "1280"]
[PlyCount "27"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Bg4 3. Ne5 Bd7 4. c4 c6 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. Bf4 h6 7. e3 e6 8. h3 Bb4 9. Qc2 Bxc3+ 10. bxc3 Ne4 11. Bd3 Nd6 12. Ng6 fxg6 13. Bxd6 c5 14. Bxg6# 1-0


Long range artillery

Black to Move
Black to Move | Source

Bodes well

This checkmate really shows the long range tactical abilities of the bishop.

Here black plays 11...Ba6# giving out a quick opening kill using Boden's mate from a distance.

[Event "freechess.org"]
[Site "freechess.org"]
[Date "12.08.09"]
[Round "?"]
[White "PatoisPatois"]
[Black "PureRWandB"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C23"]
[WhiteElo "1337"]
[BlackElo "1089"]
[PlyCount "22"]

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Bxf7+ Kxf7 4. Qf3+ Nf6 5. Nc3 Nd4 6. Qe3 Nxc2+ 7. Ke2 Nxe3 8. dxe3 Bb4 9. Nd1 Ng4 10. Nf3 b6 11. h3 Ba6# 0-1

I hope you have enjoyed these checkmates with the two bishops. We have seen checkmate examples of:

  • close range bishops
  • long range bishops
  • bishops supported with the knights
  • bishops supported by the rook and queen
  • bishops doing the job all by themselves.

Since the bishops are always on different colors (except for odd underpromotions), they work really well together in forming mating nets!

Happy Tactics!

Your friend,

Tim

P.S. If you liked these tactical puzzles you will LOVE my Tactics Time website and newsletter. I have lots of free tactics available on my website, newsletter, and downloads. Check it out!

Comments

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    • TimmyBx@aol.com profile image
      Author

      Tim Brennan 7 years ago from Colorado Springs

      Thanks Anthea :-) Congrats to your son on being the Pueblo Open champ!!

    • Anthea Carson profile image

      Anthea Carson 7 years ago from Colorado Springs

      Awesome job, helpful and relevant topic, thorough discussion. Voted up!

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