Checkmate with Bishop and Knight

P-4 (Checkmate with Bishop and Knight)

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Checkmate with Bishop and Knight

Checkmate with Bishop and Knight is the most difficult of all basic checkmates. However, it is very important to know this endgame by heart. Therefore, every chess player has to study it thoroughly. Next two examples describe the procedure. First example begins with a king of weaker side in the wrong corner. Bishop, knight and their king have to work together to drive enemy king into the right corner. After that, in the next example, we will see how to push enemy king to the edge of the board.


1.4. King, Bishop and Knight versus King

4. In sharp contrast to the pair of bishops which gain space complementing each other excellently, in order for “short-legged” knight to provide the necessary support to bishop, a high-level technique is required. That is the reason why winning procedure is rather involved. As in the case of two bishops, a mating net can only occur in the corner of the chess-board.


Mating net is only possible in the corner of the same color of the bishop

First and foremost, one should bear in mind that a forced mating attack is possible only in the corner of the same colour of the bishop; consequently, the “weaker” side should seek refuge in the safety of the “wrong” corner. That is why we shall first consider a situation where the king of the “weaker” side has already taken refuge in a corner of a different colour of the bishop, whereas the White pieces have been ideally deployed. The enemy king will gradually be driven towards the ”bishop’s corner” by a technique of taking away the squares.


Phases of Checkmate with Bishop and Knight:

Checkmate with Bishop and Knight
Position after 5.Nd7+. The knight works like a "sewing machine". Note the W shape of knight's traversal
Checkmate with Bishop and Knight
7.Bd3. Bishop and Knight form a barrier. Therefore, black king cannot escape from light-squared corner
Checkmate with Bishop and Knight
10. Nd5+. Again, Knight and Bishop work together to bar the black king's way out


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GM Vlatko Kovacevic

Vlado Kovacevic is a chess grandmaster and an endgame expert. He very successfully competed on the national team. From 2000 – 2004, he acted as selector of the Croatian Men’s national team. He is also a well-known chess author.