This pattern works by limiting the opponent’s king to a corner of the board, where the bishop and king take control of the opponent king’s flight squares. The opponent is then placed in a Zugzwang, followed by a crushing knight move that checkmates the king.
This form of mate is incredibly rare, and it is certainly the most underappreciated because it may never happen in a chess player’s lifetime.
However, it’s important to grasp the fundamental concepts so that you can quickly checkmate your opponent in a comparable circumstance.
The Bishop and Knight Checkmate
It can be extremely tough to mate with a bishop and a knight, that is to do a bishop and knight checkmate. This is because you must force your opponent’s king to a corner that matches your bishop’s color. This is a difficult task because the bishop and knight do not work well together to restrict the opponent’s king. The bishop and knight checkmate may take over 30 moves with one’s best play! That’s a lot!
Let’s take a look at a simple example:
White has a light squared bishop in the position above, implying that the black king must be pushed to the a8 corner for mate to occur. Every move counts in this situation, thus you must fully understand the approach to be used.
White has a checkmate in 9 moves in this simplified scenario.
1. Kd6 Kc8 2. Ke7 Kb7
This king should not be provided an escape path, therefore white must be cautious; otherwise, the number of moves may exceed 50, resulting in a draw owing to the “50 moves rule.”
White gradually pushes black with the white king, while the minor pieces remain in their various positions, controlling potential flight squares.
3. Kd7 Kb8 4. Ba6
The light squared bishop is able to move to a6 now that the white king has taken control of the c6 square, further confining the black king.
4… Ka7 5. Bc8
The black king can only move to the a7, b8, and a8 squares at this moment.
5… Kb8 6. Ne7!
The white king redirects to c7, where he will land the checkmate.
6…Ka7 The black king is forced to retreat, as the white king advances.
7. Kc7 Ka8 8. Bb7+ Ka7 9. Nc6#
The black king is gradually driven to the board’s edge and finally mated! This is how the bishop and knight checkmate is carried out.
Important Things To Take Note Of In A Bishop And Knight Checkmate
It’s unlikely that you’ll ever have to mate with a bishop and a knight in a real game, but if you do, keep these things in mind:
a) You must checkmate the king in a corner. You must drive the king to h1 or a8 if you have a light-squared bishop. You’ll need to drive the king to a1 or h8 if your bishop is dark-squared.
b) All three of your pieces must work together to construct a box that will trap the king, prevent him from fleeing, and drive him into the comer.
c) In order to make things as difficult as possible for your bishop, the opposing king will attempt to flee into the opposite color corner.
It makes no difference. Allow him to flee! You’ll catch him in this corner and drive him across the board to the same color corner as your bishop.
Is Learning The Bishop And Knight Checkmate Worth It?
Wikipedia has an interesting opinion — Whether or not a player should learn this checkmate procedure is a point of contention among chess authors.
Because Jeremy Silman has only seen the bishop and knight checkmate once and his friend John Watson has never seen it, he does not include it in his book (despite including the seldom seen checkmate with two bishops) (Silman 2007:33, 188). According to Silman: “mastering it would take a significant chunk of time. Should the chess hopeful really spend many of his precious hours he’s put aside for chess study learning an endgame he will achieve (at most) only once or twice in his lifetime?” International Master Jonathan Hawkins, on the other hand, stated that he had only come across the position once in his games (Hawkins 2012:192).