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Player: United  KeSetoKaibaChessHere Moderator Subject: Have You Seen En Passant Checkmate?


2020-04-14 09:26:18
The romantic era of chess heralded many stunning victories. Some included sacrifices of great amounts of material. Some involved long and elaborate mating nets; some even won from losing positions. However, checkmate itself has always been regarded as one of the most celebrated points in any chess game. Romantic chess players naturally love rare, or creative, checkmates. Have you ever seen a Queen sacrifice into checkmate? Have you ever seen a castling checkmate? Have you ever seen en passant checkmate?

En Passant is uncommon enough. A pawn must be on the fifth rank in just the right position to an opponent’s pawn marching from the seventh rank to “intercept” this pawn for an “en passant” capture. In fact, “en passant” is French for “in passing.” The chess move “en passant” intercepts the enemy pawn as it tries to “pass” by. How improbable is it that this move could result in checkmate? A game I learned years ago does just this.

This game is a beautiful one credited Gunnar Gundersen vs A H Faul in the 1928 Pietzcker Christmas Tournament.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 The game begins in the well-trotted Advance Variation of the French Defense.

4. c3 cxd4 This early pawn exchange basically forces 5. cxd4 or White will not maintain central pawns. This early pawn exchange isn’t bad (even though it does release pawn tension early on) – it is just another way to play. Compensation for the released pawn tension is that now the b4 square is opened up for the Bishop that sometimes gives a check from here. Instead of 4…cxd4, Black could of course had played 4…Nc6 or even 4…Qb6.

5. cxd4 Bb4+ 6. Nc3 Nc6 7. Nf3 Nge7 After Black chooses to play the Bishop check from the b4 square, we then see both sides developing pieces normally. As Paul Morphy once said, “Help your pieces so that they can help you.” After White brings the f1 Bishop out, then both sides should be thinking about castling and completing opening development.

8. Bd3 O-O? That is exactly what we see, but Black instantly castling is a mistake that gives White a clear advantage. Stockfish recommends 8…h6 for Black to try and continue the game. The problem with castling immediately is that Black’s h7 square is provoking the “Greek Gift” motif with Bxh7+, Ng5+ and Qh5 infiltration, if allowed, that eyes the mating net threat. Castling early is surely a good positional rule of thumb, but we must always be on the lookout for tactical considerations that could nullify an otherwise good positional move.

9. Bxh7+ Kxh7 10. Ng5+ Kg6 Although it looks like Black overlooked the h7 sacrifice, they seem to realize the danger of letting the White Queen into h5. By placing the King on g6, Black is trying to fend off White’s attack.

11. h4 Nxd4? 11. h4 by White obviously defends the g5 Knight, but Black doesn’t have time to capture on d4 because the h4 move also may lead into h5+ and begin attacking. 11…Qe8 was likely an improvement to capturing on d4, but still losing.

12. Qg4 f5? Here 12…Ndf5 is a better try than 12…f5? The idea behind …f5 was that Nxe6 and then Qxg7 were threatened. For example, 12…Bd7 13. Nxe6+ Kh6 14. Qxg7# Yet after the …f5 attempt comes a forced mating net starting with 13. h5+.

13. h5+ Kh6 Now history was in the making with the first ever recorded chess game with en passant checkmate!

14. Nxe6+ where the Bishop from its original starting square of c1 gives a discovered check. The Knight choosing to go to e6 is important. A move like Nf7+ is inferior because from e6, the Knight controls the important square g7. This way, 14…f4 to block the check ends with Qxg7#

g5 A clever idea, but White now has the spectacular finish this game became known for.

15. hxg6 e.p.# En passant checkmate! The Bishop from c1 and the Rook from h1 both give a double, discovered check from their original starting squares! This is perhaps the rarest checkmate one could think of from an actual game. This creative checkmate is certainly one that every chess player should know. The chance of a game ending with en passant is pretty low – it would be a shame to have this possible in a game, yet have this opportunity overlooked. By knowing patterns like these, I hope they can someday be put on display! Now you have seen en passant checkmate; have your chess buddies seen this before? This is a great miniature to memorize and impress friends with – especially if this checkmate is an unknown idea to them.
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1United  abbyknotChessHere Moderator2020-04-22 20:06:04
I've been playing this sac for years and I discovered that 11. Qg4? is a horrible mistake!
11. h4! wins no matter what Black plays.

Thank you Kevin for showing us this line.

abbyknot

2United  abbyknotChessHere Moderator2020-04-24 10:37:02
test from Max