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.




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.




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

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        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.




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.




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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