Powerplay 26: A tale of three mating attacks!

by Sagar Shah
5/17/2018 – Nigel Short once said, "Modern chess is too much concerned with things like pawn structure. Forget it, checkmate ends the game!" The art of checkmating our opponent is something that we learn when we are young. But once we know what checkmate is all about, we hardly go back to that subject. In order to ensure that you polish your art of pattern recognition related to mating attacks, Daniel King has come out with his latest Powerplay DVD — Powerplay 26. It's named as checkmate challenge — essential knowledge. In order to tell you what this DVD is all about, IM Sagar Shah takes you on a journey of three tales. Three tales of mating attacks by players of three different generations!

Powerplay 26: Checkmate Challenge — essential knowledge Powerplay 26: Checkmate Challenge — essential knowledge

Checkmate. That's the aim of the game. There are numerous ways to checkmate the enemy king, but there are common patterns that recur over and over again, and having these at our mental fingertips is essential for when we want to finish the game.


The tale of three checkmates

Checkmating your opponent is an extremely important art! Because when you checkmate your opponent, you end the game. When you were young and taking your initial steps in the game of chess, you studied a lot of mate-in-one move and two moves and that helped your pattern recognition. Whenever you saw similar positions arising in your game, you would draw on the knowledge that you had gained by solving those mate problems and you would try to execute them over the board! Things were going quite successfully for you!

But once you start improving, there are other parts of the game that need to be fixed. Your opening repertoire is not up to the mark, the art of prophylaxis is important, how does one launch a minority attack, and so on. Checkmating the king becomes more of an exercise that you try to solve on the board during the game, rather than in the study room. Yet, the truth remains — checkmate ends the game! So, how about trying your hand at polishing this art. Practice pattern recognition related to some of the most common checkmates that occur in the game of chess! Let's clarify with a tale of three checkmates:

Tale 1: Lasker vs Bauer


Lasker picked up the pawn on h7 with a check. 15.Bxh7+! Kxh7 16. Qxh5 Kg8. The first wave of the storm is over. Now, what do you do?


The other bishop is also sacrificed; that's why we call it Lasker's double bishop sacrifice! After 17.Bxg7 Kxg7 18.Qg4+! A small finesse pushing the king to the h-file. 18...Kh7 and now?


This is very typical. Look at the black king on the corner of the board, all alone, hounded by the white pieces!

I am sure many of you have alreday seen this famous double-bishop sacrifice checkmate from Lasker. However, what interests me more than the checkmate is the study of whether Black had any defences and, if so, how could he have tried to put up more resistance.


17...f6 or even 17...f5 was interesting. Now, Qh8+ doesn't really work because the king starts running away from f7. So what do you do?


Move the pieces on the live diagram!

You bring the rook over to f3 and then to g3 and Black will not be able to survive this. For example after 18.Rf3, Black could go for 18...Qe8 but White can check with 19.Qh8+ Kf7 and 20. Qh7! When Black is still stuck and moving the queen from e8 with 20...Qd8 is met with 21.Qh5+! Kg8 22.Rg3! It's game over!

I personally think that this variation was very instructive and when you see the game like Lasker-Bauer, you must try to analyze Black's defences. By analyzing these defences, you get a better feel for the dynamics of the position: the queen on c6 was not the best placed, and even the bishop on e7 was sometimes blocking the king's escape, and so on.

Here's the full game:

Lasker 1-0 Bauer (annotated by Garry Kasparov)

Emanuel Lasker

The second world champion, Emanuel Lasker

Tale 2: D Gukesh vs Praneeth Vuppalla

I was at the 2017 Indian National Under-11 tournament on the last day. Naturally, there were many young talents around me. The brightest of them was the winner D Gukesh. I asked Gukesh to show me his favourite game from the event and it was his battle against Praneeth Vuppala.

D Gukesh

D Gukesh, the little Indian star who is taking the chess world by storm | Photo: Peter Long


White has just played his knight to c4. How are you going to continue? I think you must not even have blinked to find out the move 17...Bxh2+! White took the bishop and then followed 18...Qh4+ 19.Kg1.


Move the pieces on the live diagram!

Now in the game, Black took the bishop. But from the analysis of the game between Lasker versus Bauer, we know that moving the f-pawn is a possible defence. Hence we must consider 20.f4!? If you look closely, you will realize that 20...g3 fails to 21.Kxg2 Qh2+ and the king runs away on f3. Hence, it is important to begin with 20...Qh1+ 21.Kf2 and here comes the key move...


In the game, instead of pushing his f-pawn on move 20, Praneeth took the bishop with 20.Kxg2 and Gukesh was swift to follow it up with 20...Qh3+ 21.Kg1 and...


After 22.fxg3,  22...Qxg3+ 23.Kh1 Qh3+ 24. Kg1 Rg8+ sealed the deal and Gukesh won the game!

Gukesh explains his double bishop sacrifice in the style of Lasker! | ChessBase India YouTube


The similarities between Lasker versus Bauer game did exist, but there were also some differences. The g-pawn played a very crucial role here and it opened the route for the rook on h8 to join the game.

Tale 3: Emir Dizdarevic vs Tony Miles

The great Tony Miles was well known for his original thinking and fresh ideas. The position below shows those qualities in ample measure. This one is taken from Daniel King's latest DVD Powerplay 26.


Again, white has just played his knight to c4, this time to capture a pawn. The contours of the position are similar to those of Lasker-Bauer and Gukesh-Vuppala. Miles went 13...Bxh2+! 14.Kxh2 Qh4+ 15.Kg1. But does 15...Bxg2 work?


If the bishop is taken with Kxg2, then everything works like clockwork after 16...Qg4+ 17.Kh1 Rf6! and it is a forced mate. However, White has the powerful move 17.f3!


You can see that queen is much better placed on c2 than in the game of Lasker and Gukesh. Here Black does not have time for 17...Rf6 as after 18.Qxg2 Rg6 19.Qxg6! hxg6 20.Rf2 — White has the material advantage and is clearly better. Let's go back to the game position.


The fact that 16...Bxg2 is not working sinks in. And that's when we realize that the main aim right now is not to let White move his f-pawn. The brilliant idea strikes: 15...Bf3!! The bishop cannot be captured because, then, after 16...Rf6, it is all over. Dizdarevic played 16.Nd2, but now the queen on c2 is blocked.


Now, the move ...Bxg2 now works flawlessly. A move like Re1 (instead of Nd2) is met with ...Rf6 with a mating attack. gxf3 will be met with ...Qh3! not letting the king escape and now Rg6 is a mate!

I think Tony Miles' ...Bf3 is easy to find if you have studied the games Lasker-Bauer and Gukesh-Vuppala and made a deep study of various possibilities for the defender. Once you study such positions in depth, the patterns stick to your head and you are able to make better decisions in your games.

A snippet from Daniel King's DVD, Powerplay 26 Checkmate Challenge - essential knowledge

And when you have a trainer like Daniel King to guide you along this journey of mastering mating pattern recognition, there is nothing better!


cover of GM Daniel King's DVD, Poweplay 26: Checkmate Challenge -- essential knowledge

Tony Miles — one of the most original thinkers and attackers in the game of chess | Photo: By Bogaerts, Rob / Anefo (CC BY-SA 3.0 nl), via Wikimedia Commons
Powerplay 26: Checkmate challenge - essential knowledge by Daniel King—

On this DVD 100 puzzles are presented, divided into ten groups of ten positions. Naturally, Level 1 is the easiest, and the puzzles increase in difficulty right through to Level 10 — from beginner to brain-buster. You can jump in at whatever level you wish, but try to solve all ten positions in each level before you move on to the next. 

Instant feedback

After each puzzle is presented, you have to play out the solution on the board. Daniel King will tell you whether your move is correct in a video afterwards. It might help if you set up the positions on a real chess set rather than trying to solve the positions from the screen — analysing with a real chess set is more like a real game situation. 

Typical motifs

The checkmating motifs that you’ll encounter here are quite typical (most come from real games). Knowledge of these ideas is not only essential, but you are going to encounter some beautiful ideas. So, concentrate, have fun and enjoy discovering the checkmates!

  • Video running time: 5 h 51 min (English) 
  • With interactive training including video feedback
  • An additional database with mating exercises
  • Includes CB Reader


Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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