Category Archives: Ashvin Chauhan

Recognising the patterns : Challenge # 13

Today’s challenge: Find the typical pattern and react accordingly.

Juan Carlos Klein against Bartolome Jorge Marcussi in 1963; White to Move

Q: White has a winning position but how can he finish things off?

A: All you need to do is to open lines to let your rooks joins the main battle as follows:

22. Bxg7 Kxg7 23. Nf5! +

Opening the g-file.


What else as 23…Kg8 then Qxh6 is winning.

24. gxf5+ Kh7

Now what?

25. Qxh6+!!

That helps White’s other rook to deliver final blow along the h file.

25… Kxh6
26. Rd3 and there is no defence against Rh3 so Black resigned.

This method of checkmating called the lawnmower or staircase checkmate. It is easy to remember but often hard to recognise in practise as it mainly works when there are open lines. It would be very helpful if you look for levers, sacrifices on g & h files and rook lifts very closely to see if this pattern exists.

Viktor Bologan against EdWin Van Haastert in 2005 – White to move

Q: Can you see any relevance between Rxb5 and the lawnmower pattern?

A: The rook is not only attacking the queen but also shadowing the black king along the 5th rank:

38. Rxb5 Qa7 39 fxg6

Clearing the 5th rank for the rook.

39…fxg6 40. Qxh5!!



If 40…Kg8 then 41. Qxg6 is winning, but the text move leads to mate in four.

41. Nf6+ Bxf6

If 41…Kh8 then 42.Rxh5+ followed by mate in few moves.

42. Rh5#

Emil Schallopp against George Hatfeild Gossip in 1890 – Black to move

Q: On which diagonal will you move your bishop, d1-h5 (Bh5) or h3-c8 (Be6)? Note that taking the knight is no good because 11…Bxf3 12. Qf3 Nc6 13. Bh6 is just winning for White.

A: Black should play 11…Be6 when both sides have chances.

The game went as follows:


Q: This is a natural move but not the good one. What should White play now?

A: He has a winning sacrifice as follows:

12. Bxh7! Kxh7

It was better not to take on h7.

13. Ng5! Bxg5

Usually when g5 is completely protected and the h-file isn’t open, we don’t play this classic bishop sacrifice. Here it is possible because of vulnerability of Black’s bishop on h5.

14. Qxh5+ Bh6

If 14…Kg8 then 15.Bxg5 is winning.

15. Bxh6

Q: Was there anything better than text move?

A: 15. Rf6!! was much better.


It was better to play g6.

16. Rf6!

Now the win is straightforward.

16…Kg7 17. Qxh6 Kg8 18. Qg5+ Kh7 19. Rh6#

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising The Patterns : Challenge # 12

Today’s Challenge: Find the typical pattern and react accordingly, Black to Move:

Aron Nimzowitsch against Bjorn Nielsen in 1930

Q – Can black play 20…Bd6 with an idea of meeting Rd7 with Rad8?
A: Not at all, in the game Black played 20…Bd6 and lost very quickly. Instead the fight can be prolonged with 20…Bd8.

21. Rd7 Rad8

Now what? If you open up g-file a mating net can be created with rook and bishop.

22. Rxd6!

Q: Is this necessary?
A: Yes, as the immediate 22. Qf6 can be met by Bxe5!.

22…Rxd6 23. Qf6!!

Black resigned in view of 23…gxf6 24. Rg4 Kh8 25. Bxf6#

The mating net with a rook on g file and bishop on the a1-h8 diagonal like this is called Morphy’s mate.

Reshevsky against shainswit in 1951

Q: Can black win the rook with 27…e4?
A: No, but instead black can achieve a good game with 27…Rfd8.In the game Black played 27…e4, falling into the trap set by White.

28. Rxg3! exd3

Completely unaware of White’s intentions.

29. Rxg7 Kh8 30. Rxf7+!

Removing the key defender here. This is a very important move as rook anywhere on g-file can be met by …f6.

30…Kg8 31. Rg7+

And mate in few moves.

Here is the complicated form of the same pattern:

Paulsen against Morphy in 1857 with Morphy (Black) to move

Try to work this one out on your own. I have already annotated the full game here.

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the Patterns : Challenge # 11

Today’s Challenge: Find the typical pattern and react accordingly; Black to Move

Carlos Silva against Aleksandr Betaneli in 2000 over internet (ICC)

Q: How should Black act against White’s three minor pieces and queen eyeing Black’s king?
Should you play …Qf4 or …h6? And what is this formation called?


White’s attacking formation with queen, knight and two bishops is called Blackburn’s mating theme where the attacking side usually sacrifice his queen on h5/h4 in order to deliver checkmate on h7/h2.

Black should choose …Qf4 with the idea of exchanging queens.

In the game Black played …h6 which is a horrible mistake and loses the game quickly:

18… h6??

This weakens the g6 square.

19. Qxh5 Bxg5

19…gxh5 is impossible due to 20.Bh7#

20. Bxg6!

The bishop is untouchable due to Qxg6# on next move.

20… cxd5 21. h4 and white went on to win the game in next few moves.

Defender has to keep an eye over h7/h8 square in order to save the game. Here is an example:

Kateryna Lahno (2546) against Tatiana Kosintseva (2532) in 2012

Game continued with:

19. Nxd5 Nxd5 20. Qh5

Trying to mate on h7.


Not only protecting h7 square with the queen but also closing a1-h8 diagonal (of course not 20…Nxf6 because of 21. Bxf6). Black has defended well and went on win after white’s blunder on 23rd move but that is not the area of our current discussion.

Tomi Nyback (2615) against Ulf Von Herman(2424) in 2009

Q: Black’s last move was 18…Bc8 hitting the queen on g4. Was it a good idea?


No, it is not a good idea as White can open up his dark square bishop with 19 .e6, thereby creating the Blackburn mating formation. Instead Black can play 18…Bg7 when the game is on.

18…Bc8 19. e6! Rxe6 20. Qxh5!! and Black resigned.

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the Patterns : Challenge # 10

Today’s challenge: Find the typical pattern and react accordingly. White to Move

A.Carmer against P. Zilverberg 1992

Q: Black’s last move was 15…Bg7, was it wise decision?

It was not wise decision as game ended very quickly. It was better to play 15…Nc7 or 15…Qe7.

16. Qxg7+!!

This leads to checkmate in three moves.

17. Nf5+

Double check.

18. Nh6#

This method of checkmating with knight and bishop is called a suffocation mate.

Gyula Sax against Jan Banas in 2001

Q: Black can’t castle on the king-side. Is castling long preferable?

A: Castling long is not preferable because that loses at least a rook.

19…0-0-0 20.Nb5!!

Threatening checkmate with Na7.


A tricky move.

If 20…Qb6 then 21. Nd6+ Kb8 22. Nc4+ Ne5 23. Nxb6 wins the rook.

21. Na7+ 1-0

Black resigned in view of Nxc6+ followed by Qxa5 is winning. Of course not 21. Qxa5 then …Rxd1+ followed by …axb5 and Black can get back into the game.

Steinitz Against Brokenbrough in 1885

Q: Of course White is winning. but can you see a way to finish off it quickly?

A:Yes, he can sacrifice his queen as follows:

18. Qxf6!! gxf6

What else?

19. Bh6+ – Kg8

20. Re3

Threatening checkmate with Rg3 or Ne7 and the queen can’t protect both the squares.

20… Qc7 21. Rg3 Qxg3 22. Nc7# 1-0

Even 21. Ne7+ also leads to mate.

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the patterns : Challenge # 9

Today’s challenge: Find the typical pattern and react accordingly. Black to move.

David Bronstein against Paul Keres 1950

Q: What is white threatening? Find the best defend for Black.

Hint: All you need to do is, bring your queen into the defence.


The best move for Black is to play 29…Rfd8 as White can’t play 30. Qh6. We will discuss it deeply later on but let’s first check what was happened in the game.

30. axb3 Qb4

31. bxc4

Rf4 works too.


32. Rf4!

Not 32. Qh6 because Rg8 followed by 33…g5 defends. Mate can’t be avoided now.


If 32… Rg8, then Rh4 wins (Yusupov)

33. Qh6 Black resigned

The pawn on f6 and queen are threatening mate on g7 which is known as Lolli’s mate. When the defender tries to save mate (usually by placing Rg8) that opens the door for other beautiful combinations for attacker:
– Sacrifice on h7 followed by mate along h file
– Bringing knight on g5/e5 attack on h7 or f7 or both

So what is the general optimal way to save against Lolli’s mate?

It could be vary case to case but if you can bring queen into defence it saves because of
– You can exchange attacker’s main attacking piece Queen and still can defend f7-g7-h7

Now let’s check, how black was able to defend this game using above general observation.

Here is the improvement.


That brings the queen into the defence in time.
Not 29…Rfc8 because it allows Bd7 with tempo – 30. Bd7 Rfb8 31. Qh6 Rg8 32. Rf4 and now g5 won’t work because of 33. Bf5 and White wins.

Now If 30. Qh6 then Rg8 followed by g5 saves the game. Or if 30. Rf4 then Qd8 joins the defence.
And the game is on!

It is wise to learn how defend against the usual attacking pattern.

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the Patterns : Challenge # 8

Today’s Challenge: Find the typical pattern and react accordingly. It’s White to move

Joel Benjamin against H. Carter 1982

Q: Can you see a win for White based on one of the classical method of checkmating?

Hint: You need to open up the h-file and a2-g8 diagonal in order to finish.


In the game White played as follows:

11. Nxd5

Opening up the a2-g8 diagonal.


11…Bb4+ can be met by 12. Nxb4+ or 12. Kf1, but not c3 (work out on your own why c3 is not possible).
11…Qa5+ can be met by 12. Nc3+ followed by a sac on g6 and mate in a few moves.

12. Bxd5+ Kh8

12…Rf7 can be met by 13.Bxf7+ Kf8 14. Qxh7, which is just winning. Now comes another sac to open up h file.

13. Ng6+ hxg6
14. h5

This opens the h-file by force.

15. c3 Qxd5
16. hxg6+ Kg8

Here comes the typical manoeuvre which leads to Damiano’s Mate.

17. Rh8+ Kxh8
18. Qh3+ Kg8
19. Qh7#

This method of checkmating is called Damiano’s mate.

Abram Y Model against Grigory Abramovich Goldberg in 1932

Q: Is it wise to capture on g4?
A: It is better to play 19. Rfe1 though black is still having initiative but far from winning. But in the game white took on g4 and game ended quickly.

19. hxg4 Qe3+!
20. Rf2

This seems to be the only move.


Not only opening up the h-file but also threatening g4-g3, which can’t be met.

21. Qa5 Rc8

22. Bxb7 g3

Threatening mate on the next move. If 22. g3 then 22…Qxe4 is winning.

23. Raf1

Now we see the typical manoeuvre in order to access h file with Queen.

24. Kxh1 Qh6+
25. Kg1 Qh2#

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 7

Today’s Challenge:
Find the typical pattern and react accordingly. It is White to Move

NN Against Greco in 1620

Q: How can White hang on here?

A: White should play 11. Be3. Black has the initiative after Qxh2 but this is far from winning the game completely.

In the game White played as follows:

11. Nf3

Completely unaware about the mating pattern called smothered mate. The game ended very shortly as follows:

12. Kh1 Qg1+!
13. Rxg1

The only move.

13…Nf2# 0-1

It occurs when a knight checkmates a king that is smothered (surrounded) by his friendly pieces and he has nowhere to move nor is there any way to capture the knight.It is also known as Philidor’s Legacy after François-André Danican Philidor, though its documentation predates Philidor by several hundred years. – Wikipedia

James McConnell Against Morphy in 1849

Q: How can Black win decisive material, using the same mating theme?

In the game Morphy played as follows:

18… Qb6

Generating a very powerful checkmate threat; the idea is to play 19…Ne2+ followed by 20…Qg1+ and 21…Nf2#. You can also play 18…dxc4 with the same ideas.

19. Kh1

This seems to be only move.


Opening up the g1-a7 diagonal.

20. Qxc2 Nf2+

Gaining the exchange, but white next move leads to quick finish.

21. Kg1?? Nh3+

A typical manoeuvre that leads to Black delivering smothered mate.

22. Kh1 Qg1+

23. Rxg1 Nf2#

Timann against Short in 1990

Q: White is winning anyway but can you see the familiar pattern?

24. Bxc6

Removing the one of the defender of e7. The idea is to play e7 on the next move then check from a2-g8 diagonal.


It was essential to create some room for his king.

25. e7

Distracting the rook.


26. Qc4+

And now everything is clear.

27. Nf7+ Kg8
28. Nh6+ Kh8
29. Qg8+ Rxg8
30. Nf7#

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 6

Today’s challenge is to find the typical pattern and react accordingly; White to move.

Grunfeld against Torre in 1925

Q:Black now played 11…Nxe5. Should White recapture on e5 directly or does he have a better option?

A: Capturing on e5 leads to resignation, which is what happened in the game.

12. dxe5?? Bc5+

13. Kh1 Nxg3+!!

Opening up the h-file followed by mate in two.

This typical pattern is similar to Anastasia’s checkmate where the knight covers the escape squares and rook or queen delivers checkmate via h or a file. Sometimes the knight’s role has been played by the bishop, and this is known as Greco’s mate.

Instead White should play 12.c5 first in order to cover the c5 square with his queen. For example:

12. c5 Nf7

The game is on, and note that Black can’t play a similar idea with 12…Be7 because of 13 dxe5 Bc5 14. Qxc5.

Nimzowitsch against Capablanca 1911, Black to move

Black’s position is clearly better but White’s next move, 32 b5, leads to quick finish. Use your knowledge of this and checkmate Nimzowitsch!


Checkmate is now unavoidable.

33. Bxe4 Bf2!!

Nimzowitsch resigned here.

Janowski against Steinitz in 1898: Black to move

Black’s position is clearly better. The bishop on e3 covers g1 and if black manages to open up the h-file the game is over.

In the game Steinitz played:

32… Bg4

33. Qxg4 Qxg4

34. hxg4 Rh8+

35. Rh5 gxh5

White resigned.

Here knowing the pattern didn’t lead to checkmate but helped Black in gaining decisive material.

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 5

Today’s challenge: Find the typical pattern, Morphy to move:

Morphy against Duke Karl/ Count Isouard in 1858

Q: Should White win a piece with Qxe6 or is there something more?

Hint: The powerful coordination of White’s rook and bishop will help you to find the move.

A: The move is 15.Bxd7+, setting up a checkmate trap therefore forcing his opponent to surrender his queen.


But Black straight away falls into the checkmate trap set by the great Paul Morphy:


Hoping everything is fine.

Black had to surrender the Queen with 15…Qxd7 as the text move leads to mate in two:

16. Qb8+!! Nxb8

17. Rd8#

This checkmate pattern is known as the Opera Mate. The full game is very instructive, which I have already annotated here.

“The Opera mate is a common method of checkmating. It works by attacking the king on the back rank with a rook using a bishop to protect it. A pawn or other piece other than a knight of the enemy king’s is used to restrict its movement. The checkmate was named after its implementation by Paul Morphy in 1858 at a game at the Paris opera.” – Wikipedia

Steinitz against Vines in 1874

Q: Why is 34…Ka8 is better than 34…Kc8?

A: It was better to play Ka8, though White is also wining with 35.dxc7. After 34…Kc8 checkmate can’t be avoided.


35. Rfb2

Threatening checkmate on b8.


Covering b8. Now use your knowledge of the typical pattern and find the winning move.

36. d7

This opens the bishop and helps the rook to deliver checkmate on b8.

37. Rb8+ Nxb8
38. Rxb8#

Schulten against Horwitz in 1846

Black’s position is better but it’s far from winning. But White’s next move leads quick finish and it was better to play b3 or Qe2 here when it’s game on!

15. Qb3??

White is hoping to exchange queens. But Black finds a spectacular queen sac which leads to powerful double check and ends with an opera mate.
15…Qf1+ !!
16. Kxf1 Bd3+

Double check.

17. Ke1 Rf1#

Ashvin Chauhan


Recognising the Patterns: Challenge # 4

Today’s challenge is to find the typical pattern from the position below with Steinitz to move:

Reiner against Steinitz in 1860

Q: White’s Queenside pieces are still taking a rest, so therefore Black has an advantage. Can you prove it?

(Hint – You just need to empower your rooks on the g-file.)

A: The pattern is Arabian mate and Black can win the game with 15…Nf3!!.

The Arabian mate is an example of the coordination between rook and knight. Typical features:
– A knight usually lands on f6 (of white) and f3 (of black)
– A rook delivers checkmate using g file or 7th rank with the support of knight.

In the game Steinitz played as follows:


Offers a pawn, but the pawn can’t be taken but then Qh4 is in the air.

16. Rxg4??

This is blunder as now White can’t avoid checkmate.

16… Qh4

The point behind sacrifice. The queen can’t be taken because of mate on g1.

17. Rg2

If 17. Rxh4 then 17…Rg1# or if 17. Kg2 then 17…Rxg4+ 18. Kxf3 and mate in 13 from here. You can check it out on your own or with the help of computer.

Now one more shot and game is in the pocket. In fact its mate in two now.

17… Qxh2+

The final blow.

18.Rxh2 Rg1# 0-1

Nimzowitsch against Giese in 1913

With 35.Rg3 White has generated a very serious threat with 36. Nf6+, 37. Qxg6+ and mate. Even so the position is defensible at this stage.

Q: Is it wise idea to maintain knight on g6 by playing Qc2 or should Black move the knight in order to protect g6 square?

A: It was wise to protect that knight by playing Qc2 when the game is still on. The text move makes Nimzowitsch’s task very easy.


Now Black can’t avoid checkmate.

36. Qxh6+ gxh6

If 36… Kg8 then 37. Nf6+ Kf8 38. Qh8+ Kf7 39.Qg8#.

37. Nf6+ Kh8

38. Rg8# 1-0

Gelfand against Kramnik in 1996

Black’s Rooks are doubled on b file, but how could you use them?

26… Nc3

The knight comes to a very dangerous square from it can generate a deadly combo with the cooperation of Black’s rooks.

27. Nxd4

27. bxc3 is not possible because of checkmate on b1. Or 27. Bxc3 dxc3 28. Nd4 cxb2+ 29.Rxb2 Rxb2 30. Nxe6 Rb1+ 31. Ka2 R8b2#.

27… Rxb2

28. Rxb2

The queen can’t be taken because of mate on b1

28… Qa2+ 0-1

It’s mate next move.

Ashvin Chauhan