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