Checkmate with 2 Knights
Knights working together
Another interesting Checkmate theme is two knights working together to deliver checkmate! The knights work really well together, especially when they are on different colored squares around the enemy king.
Lets look at some examples from real class player's chess games, taken from my Tactics Time database...
The Dark Knights
Seize the outpost K5 with your knight, and you can go to sleep. Checkmate will come by itself. - Savielly Tartakower
Here Black can deliver checkmate with 19...Nf2# The king is trapped by his own pieces. The pawn on d3 does a great job of holding up the powerful knight on c2, and removes the escape square on e2. Note that black didn't just make a greedy move like Nxa1 winning the rook, but finds the best move, which ends the game.
Here is the complete game
[Event "Open invite"]
1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. f3 d4 4. Bb5+ Bd7 5. Na3 a6 6. Bc4 b5 7. Bd5 Bc6 8. c4 b4
9. Nc2 d3 10. Ne3 e6 11. Bxc6+ Nxc6 12. Qa4 Qb6 13. f4 O-O-O 14. f5 Nd4 15.
fxe6 Nf6 16. exf7 Nxe4 17. Nd5 Rxd5 18. cxd5 Nc2+ 19. Kd1 Nf2# 0-1
White to move
Dead of Knight
Here is another position where there are two knights handing out a final death blow to the enemy king. This time it is white dishing out the punishment.
Here 17. Ng6# is the winning move.
Note how the knights are on different colored squares in the checkmate. If they were on the same color, they would not be covering as many squares. Having your knights on different colored squares can help maximize the amount of space your pieces are covering.
One good trick to remember is that a knight always attacks a different color than it sits on.
So if the knight sits on a light square - such as g6, it will be attacking a dark square, such as e7.
A knight will always move from one color to another as well (a corollary of the above rule). So if the knight currently sits on a light square, the next square it moves to will be a dark square.
You can also think of it like this: A knight will be able to attack the same color that it is currently sitting on. So the white knight on h4 is currently sitting on a dark square. That means the next move it makes will be attacking a dark square. Since the black king is on a dark square, it has the potential to be attacked by either knight in the starting position, because they are both currently sitting on dark squares (h4 and d6).
These little tricks can help make your calculations faster.
Play around with the knights on an empty board to practice. Michael de la Maza calls these "knight sight" drills, and are like practicing layups in basketball.
Here is the complete game score.
[Event "Open invite"]
1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 a6 3. d4 Nf6 4. e4 h6 5. f4 c5 6. e5 cxd4 7. Qxd4 Nc6 8. Qd1 Nh7 9. Nf3 Be7 10. Bd3 Bb4 11. Bd2 b6 12. Ne4 a5 13. Bxb4 Nxb4 14. Nd6+ Ke7 15. Be2 f5 16. Nh4 Rg8 17. Ng6# 1-0
Sharpen the Saw
Here with 11. Nb5# the white knight jumps into b5 screaming "Yippy Kay Aye Mr. Falcon!" delivering a nice open field QB sac.
These patterns should be starting to look familiar at this point. The knights are on opposite colors, and supported by a pawn.
- The first knight cuts off the exit points, stalemating the king (or cutting off most of the escape squares)
- The second knight comes in to hand out mate.
Even though all these positions are similar, it is good to study these types of positions over and over, taking in the slight differences, and really drilling the patterns into your brain.
You want to have these positions drilled into your head, so you can't NOT see them. They just pop out at you.
"Repetition is the Mother of Skill" - Tony Robbins
I like this quote so much, that it is my slogan on my chess website. I have THOUSANDS of these types of problems in my database, which I spent hundreds of hours gathering, and running computer analysis on.
I also have a FREE tactics newsletter, which I send out about every other day, with a new tactics problem for you to solve to help "sharpen the saw" as Stephen Covey would say.
You can sign up for the newsletter on my website, and see samples as well.
Here is the complete game:
[Event "Clan challenge"]
1. e3 e5 2. d4 e4 3. Qg4 d5 4. Qg3 Nf6 5. f3 Be7 6. Qxg7 Kd7 7. Qxf7 exf3 8.
Nxf3 h5 9. Ne5+ Kd6 10. Nc3 Be6 11. Nb5# 1-0
Pure as Silk
This is a really fun position!
I like this one because the knights are truly doing it by themselves. Not even a pawn to give them backup support!
Here 10. Nc7# delivers a pure mate, where each square is only covered once and only once.
[Event "Starless Skirmish Trial Tournament II 1"]
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Qb6 5. Be3 Qxb2 6. Nxc6 Qxa1 7. Bd4 Qxa2 8. Nc3 Qa3 9. Nb5 Qa4 10. Nc7# 1-0
I hope that you enjoyed these tactics. There is one more part coming, which deals with a special case of the two knight checkmate - Legal's mate!
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- Tactics Time! 1001 Chess Tactics from the Games of Everyday Chess Players: Tim Brennan, Anthea Carso
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- Brilliant Opening Checkmates with the Knight
My first hub that looks at more knight checkmates, with a focus on smothered mates.
- Tactics Time
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I'm a chess coach/writer/artist and mom. My two books are "How to Play Chess Like an Animal," a children's chess book about chess openings that...