Chigorin’s Checkmates

Mikhail Chigorin (1850-1908) is one of the founding fathers
of Russian chess. He lost two matches for the World Chess Championship title
against the first official champion Wilhelm
, in 1889 and 1892. A highly creative player, he enjoyed a long and successful chess career,
despite dying at the comparatively young age of 57. 

His sharp tactical eye
helped him win many games in style, which brings us nicely to our selection of
Chigorin’s checkmates.

Unusual Back-Rank Checkmate

Mikhail Chigorin – Eugene Znosko-Borovsky
Kiev 1903

White to play

Chigorin spotted an unusual way in which to exploit a
weakness on the back rank.


Forking the king and queen.


Or 26…R2xe7 27 Qxe7! intending 27…Rxe7 28 Rd8+ Re8 29 Rxe8

30.Rd8+ Re8

Black looks safe, until we see White’s next move.

31.Qf8+!! 1-0

Black’s only move is 31…Rxf8 but then 32.Rxf8 is checkmate,
so he resigned instead. 1-0.

Queen Sacrifice

Mikhail Chigorin – Alexander Solovtsov
Moscow, 1884

White to play

Black’s position certainly looks fragile, but what is the
most efficient way to make it crack?


A queen sacrifice!


46.Nc7 checkmate

A queen sacrifice and a knight checkmate to follow. Every
chess player dreams of such things.

The Old Weakness

Mikhail Chigorin – Szymon Winawer
Monte Carlo, 1901

White to play

The weakest square in Black’s camp is f7. At the start of a
game it is only protected by the king. It can remain a weak point even after
Black has castled, as is the case here.


Black doesn’t have to accept the sacrifice but after any
other move he is going to lose a lot of material.


Essentially, Black’s way of resigning the game.

20.Qe6 checkmate

A disaster for Winawer, but it is only to be expected
against Chigorin if one leaves f7 in such a weak state.


Mikhail Chigorin – Emanuel Schiffers
St Petersburg, 1880

White to play

Chigorin has already sacrificed material to develop this
excellent attack and he throws more wood on the fire in order to keep it


Another queen sacrifice!




Or 25…Kg8 26.Bc4+! Rf7 27.Re8+ Kg7 28.Ne6 checkmate. The
attack still runs like clockwork after Black’s defense of choice.

26.Ne6+ Kg8

27.Re8+ Rf8

28.Rxf8 checkmate

Fabulous play by Chigorin!

Chessable Course

There are many more beautiful checkmating patterns in the
course, The
Checkmate Patterns Manual
, by International Master John Bartholomew and
CraftyRaf. This course won third place in the Chessable Awards for 2020.

There is a shortened, free version of the course here.

See also:

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