Smothered checkmate, a hazard for starters

Smothered checkmate, a hazard for starters

Chess Checks

Here the King is more or less surrounded by his own pieces and just one of the pieces, mostly the knight traps the King. This is one of the checkmates which forms the study for beginners but is very rarely seen in high level tournaments.

In the game which follows, Black neglects development and White whips up an attack.

Black’s King side leaves a lot to be desired as his pieces from the queenside cannot come to his rescue. Even though the actual smothered checkmate does not appear in the game, it is threatened and is interesting to go through.

White Aaron Nimzowitsch – Black: Carl Oscar Ahues Berlin , 1928

English Opening
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3  3.e4 d5 4.e5
Deciding to disturb the knight
Black decides to hit back rather than retreat
5.exf6 dxc3
The knights are exchanged but Black King’s castle is rattled
6.bxc3 gxf6
Black decides to break his castle but try to maintain a good centre. If 6. ...e5. 7.Nf3 e5 8.d4 e4 9.Nh4 f5 10.g3
7.Nf3 c5
Moving the same pawn twice in just seven moves which just defies chess basics. Black could have concentrated on developing his pieces
White meanwhile sticks to the basics!
8. ..Nc6 9.Be2 f5
A mistake! Black is tamely handing over the control of the vital central e5 square! He could have tried to control the open file with 9. ..Rg8 and also put pressure on the g2 square
10.d5 Na5
Virtually forcing the knight out of the game
A strong central square to anchor on!
11...Bd7 12.Bh5
The vulnerability of the f7 pawn becomes more and more obvious
12...Bg7 13.Nxf7
A knight fork which is also threatening a discovered check
13...Qb6 14.Nxh8+ Kf8 15.Nf7 Be8
He tries to get back the piece
16.Ng5 Bxc3+ 17.Kf1
Decides against interposing the bishop to take his King to safety as 17.Bd2 Bxh5 18.Qxh5 Bxd2+ 19.Kxd2 Qb2+ brings out he White King into the open
17...Bxa1 18.Ne6+ Kg8 19.Bxe8 Rxe8 20.Qh5
Things are out of control as the Black King is mercilessly targeted and his pieces from the queen side cannot come to his rescue
20...Ra8 21.Qxf5 Qb4 22.g3 Vacating the square for the King to escape
22...Qxc4+ 23.Kg2 Qe2 24.Bd2
White misses a quicker win here with 24.Re1 Qxe1 25.Ng5 Bg7 26.Qf7+ Kh8 27.Bb2
Diagram 1
An interesting study book position arises after If 24...Qxd2 25.Ng5 Bg7 26 Qxh7+ Kf8 27 Qf7. 26.Qe6+ Kh8 27.Nf7+ Kg8 28.Nh6+ Kh8 29.Qg8+.Rxg8 30.Nf7- a smothered checkmate
25.Re1 Qxd2 26.Ng5 Nd6 27.Qxh7+ Kf8 28.Qxe7+
Cornering the King
28. ..Kg8 29.Qh7+ Kf8 30.Qh6+ Kg8 31.Qg6+ Bg7
If 31...Kf8 32.Ne6+ Ke7 33.Nxc5+ Kd8 34.Qxd6+ Kc8 35.Qd7+ Kb8 36.Qxb7 checkmate
32.Qh7+ Kf8 33.Ne6+ Ke8 34.Nxg7+ Kd8 35.Ne6+ Ke8 36.Re5
Finishing touches in setting up a checkmate.
Black decided to resign rather than prolong the agony as
36...Qa5 37.Nxc5+ Kf8 (37...Kd8 38.Qe7+ Kc8 39.Qd7+ Kb8 40.Qxd6+ Qc7 41.Re8 checkmate ) 38.Nd7 checkmate and if  37.Nc7+ Kd8 38.Qe7+ Kc8 39.Qxd6 b6 40.Re8+ Kb7 41.Qc6 checkmate.
Diagram 2
White to play and force a smothered checkmate.
This position is from one of the variations which was possible in the game given above.
1.Qe6+ Kh8  2.Nf7+ Kg8  3.Nh6+ Kh8  4.Qg8 Rxg8 5.Nf7 checkmate.

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