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