Two bishops, or a bishop and another piece, can work together to cut off the king’s escape squares, protect the mating piece and deliver mate. The long-range impact of the bishop is often the key to these patterns.
The mating patterns involving bishops could be categorised into:
- two bishops on their own,
- bishop and queen,
- bishop and rook,
- bishop and knight, and
- bishop and pawn.
In this post we will look at one example of two bishops delivering mate (Boden’s Mate) and five examples of bishop and queen mating patterns.
This mate illustrates the power of two bishops working together, as well as a neat sacrifice. In the game which gave this mate its name, it was a queen sacrifice that allowed the dark squared bishop to deliver mate.
Firstly, here is the raw pattern, before the mating sequence.
Note that White’s light square bishop cuts off the king’s escape on the a2-g8 diagonal, specifically removing the king’s ability to move to f7 or g8. Black’s own rook and knight take away two other possible escape squares.
The mate is delivered with a forced move, 1.Qxf6+.
Remember, when looking for candidate moves, always look at forcing moves such as checks, captures and threats first, even when the move appears to give away material. It is easier to calculate forced moves, because the opponent’s responses are often limited, as is the case here, to one move.
Black is forced to play 1…gxf6, allowing White’s dark squared bishop to deliver mate with 2.Bh6#.
Finally, here is the game which gave this mating pattern its name, Schulder – Samuel S Boden, London 1860.
Queen and Bishop
The queen and bishop can work together in the way that two bishops do, but of course the queen can add another dimension and therefore more mating opportunities.
Firstly, here are two queen and bishop mating patterns where the queen is acting as a second bishop.
Q+B Pattern 1
Q+B Pattern 2
Then, here are queen and bishop mating patterns where the queen uses all of her considerable powers.
Q+B Pattern 3
A queen directly (not diagonally) in front of an enemy king on the edge of the board takes away all five of the king’s escape squares. Protect the queen with another piece, here the bishop, and it is mate.
Q+B Pattern 4
Here the queen not only delivers check on the back rank, but also prevents the king from escaping via the d7-square, while White’s bishop takes care of the e7-square.
Q+B Pattern 5
In this pattern, a bit of a hybrid of the previous two patterns, the bishop not only protects the mating queen, it also cuts off one of the king’s escape squares.
There are of course more examples of queen and bishop working together to deliver mate, but these five patterns give you an idea of the possibilities to look for in your own games.