5 fun back checkmate stories


Competitive chess is a very demanding activity. This forces players to constantly maintain the highest level of focus, stay calm under pressure, and be creative throughout the fight. Unsurprisingly, each game has its own story. I have no doubt that the stories behind certain games would make a great Hollywood blockbuster.

Today we are going to talk about some of these stories. All of the games that we are going to talk about have something in common: they were decided by lower rank tactics. This way our less experienced members will familiarize themselves with one of the more common chess patterns.


Before we start, let me show you the most famous game that demonstrates the classic back rank combination.

As you can see, the basic back row pattern looks like this, where a king is checked and mate on the back row:

The one that involves a trick

First of all, try to find a decisive move that forced an instant resignation.

It is not a very difficult combination for a grandmaster, so how IM Vladas Mikenas, a very good tactician who calculated the great Alekhine, miss this tip? Managing Director David Bronstein has devoted an entire article to this subject. It was published in the magazine “Chess In The Soviet Union” with a revealing title “Hocus Pocus”. There, Bronstein, who had a nickname “Tricky David”, explains the whole plot that even involved ordering a cup of coffee.

Telling Bronstein’s story in a few short sentences is like describing the Mona Lisa to someone who has never seen the painting. Since in his article Bronstein teaches how to “cheat the opponent at the chessboard by legal means”, this probably deserves a separate discussion. Rest assured that a chess gentleman like Bronstein would never do any tricks, even a little unethical.

I like the end of the story. While Bronstein was “pondering” his decisive move (which was of course prepared well in advance), Mikenas was walking around the playing area, where he met general manager Mark Taimanov, who was not playing that day. . “Look how awesome my position is! Mikenas said. “But … but … what if Rook took a3?” Taimanov asked. Mikenas immediately realized what was going to happen, but it was too late since Bronstein had already performed the move.

The one that involves some mystery

Here is a nice combo from the world champion:

The final position of the game features the classic back row checkmate. But let’s take a step back. Why did White play 34.Qxh6 ?? instead of a simple 34.Qg3, which would prevent an instant checkmate? The version that White simply missed the winning move 34 … Qe1 + is highly unlikely as Andreas Moen had a FIDE rating close to 2400 and I think even a 1400 player would see what is coming. But suppose for a second he had a blind spot, a power outage, or whatever you want to call it. Still, did he really think a world champion would give him a fool for absolutely nothing? Wasn’t that a huge red flag? It is a mystery that I cannot solve.

The one who is very sad

Here is a nice tactical move executed by GM Bobby Fischer.

Since GM Oscar Panno didn’t show up to play Fischer the next day, this match against GM Svetozar Gligoric was the last regular tournament game the American genius ever played. For some reason every time I see this game I remember the words of old Rose Dewit Bukater: “The Titanic was called the Ship of Dreams, and it was. It * really * was. .. “

The one who shocks

A very recent tournament featured an unusual blunder from GM Magnus Carlsen:

While the world champion’s blunder was truly shocking, his reaction to the mistake was quite understandable. You can see here or below:

The one that involves insults

As you can see, even the best players will always lose to “Father Time”. In his youth, GM Viktor Korchnoi would have played 27. Kf8! even in a blitz game, but at 75, he just blundered his madman. Yet even in his old age, Korchnoi did not lose his inimitable skills to insult people.

Here’s what GM Irina Krush wrote in his blog: “The first thing he said was’ I could have had two more pawns! ‘, Then he would suggest a move and walk away, only to come back in a minute, and all of that interspersed with insults like’ C It’s good to know the theory, but you should also learn to play chess. In the end, it came down to this: he proposed a move, and Elisabeth [WGM Paehtz] suggested an alternative (stronger), both movements were quite simple, nothing special. So he said, about Elisabeth’s suggestion, ‘No, this move is too good for her.’ “

I hope, my dear readers, that you enjoyed these stories and, more importantly, that you will never miss the combinations of previous ranks in your own games!


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