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smothered mate

Endgame Fundamentals: Smothered Mate

By Donny Gray

Smothered mate is a term in chess that is used when checkmate is given by a knight in which the mated king is unable to move because he is surrounded by his own pieces. Most players would absolutely LOVE to be able to do a smothered mate in a tournament game, as most times it comes about with a queen sacrifice.

In our first example, white can force mate with smothered mate.

 

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1.Nf7+ Kg8

If black tries, Rxf7, it loses quickly to Qb8+

2.Nh6 + (double check!!) Kh8
3.Qg8+!! Rg8
4.Nf7++   Smothered mate

Now you can see why players want to do this in a real game. Many times it involves a spectacular queen sacrifice!

Most of the smothered mates are in the corner just like our first example. However, as the next example shows, it can be elsewhere.

 

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Again white can force this upon black.

1.Ne5+ Kd8

If black goes Kf8 it is mate in 1 with Qf7 so he has to go into his “cave.”

2.Nf7+ Ke8
3.Nd6+ Kd8
4.Qe8+!! Re8
5.Nf7++

Smothered mate can also be part of an opening. Believe it or not!

In the Budapest Gambit play could go like this:

1.d4        Nf6
2.c4        e5
3.de        Ng4
4.Bf4      Nc6
5.Nf3      Bb4+
6.Nbd2  Qe7
7.a3        Nge5
8.ab??    Nd3++

And we have smothered mate on the poor white player.

 

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How about an example from the insane looking Blackburne Shilling Gambit?

1.e4         e5
2.Nf3      Nc6
3.Bc4      Nd4?!
4.Ne5!?  Qg5!
5.Nf7??  Qxg2
6.Rf1      Qe4+
7.Be2      Nf3++

Yet another smothered mate.

 

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And last but not least, let’s add to our collection with a line from the Caro Kann Defense:

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Qe2!? Ngf6?? 6.Nd6++  Yikes!!

 

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