Back Rank Checkmates

Back-Rank Mates

 Back Rank Mate Article

Hello Chess for Children Kids! Today’s topic is back rank mates.  The Back Rank Checkmate is one of the most common checkmates in the game of chess. The player should always be on the lookout for this mate. We will discuss the dos and don’t of this checkmate and examine some of the most beautiful games in the history of chess using this theme.

Definition of the Back Rank Checkmate  

In Graham Burgess’s book “The Mammoth Book of Chess” (3rd Edition 2009) :

“In chess, a back-rank checkmate (also known as the corridor mate) is a checkmate delivered by a rook or queen along a back rank (that is, the row on which the pieces [not pawns] stand at the start of the game) in which the mated king is unable to move up the board because the king is blocked by friendly pieces (usually pawns) on the second rank” (See diagram below)

Back Rank Mate WK g1 WR e8 Bk g8 bp h7,g7,f7
Back Rank Mate


How it Works

Basically how a back rank checkmate can be achieved is if the opponent doesn’t leave enough forces to capture of block successfully the back row. If the opponent doesn’t create a useful luft (creates a space for the King to flee off the back rank) he might also be opened to a Back Rank Mate.

Back Rank Checkmates are completed with Rooks or Queens so it is a lot of the time just a matter of counting how many pieces are covering the square that we are planning to invade upon. Look at the position above, Black had 0 pieces that could block or capture the invading rook. Look at the diagram below:

Back Rank Mate Example
White to move mate in 2 moves. What should Black do to stop it?

White is attacking the invading square 2 times (The rooks are set up in a battery) but Black has the key square (e8) only protected 1 time so it is only a matter of calculating what would happen if we invade. When white plays Re8+ Black takes with his rook and White takes with the other rook achieving checkmate. However, if it were black’s move he should simply move the f7, g7 or h7 pawns to create luft, or a space for the King to hide off of the last rank.

Look at the next diagram

Back Rank Checkmate #3
Back Rank Checkmate #3

White checkmates Black in 3 moves. The Black Rook is stopping the checkmate, so White distracts the checkmate by playing 1. Qf7+. When the Black Rook captures the Queen then the Rook at a1 checks and when the Black Rook blocks either White Rook takes the Black Rook with checkmate being the result.




 Back Rank Checkmate Video

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