Studying mate in 2 (or 3 or 4) puzzles can reveal many different patterns that the chess student can benefit from analyzing. Let’s look at a few from this last week. All of these are black motifs (black to move) taken from 1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners by Franco Masetti & Roberto Messa.
I encourage you to take a long look at each one before reading through the solution to see if you can get it.
In the first mate in 2 puzzle above, a deflection theme is involved in which we make a sacrifice in order to draw the king into a dangerous position. After black takes the bishop with the rook (Rxf1) white is forced to take the rook with the king (Kxf1). Then, black can simply move the queen down to the corner for checkmate (Qh1#).
Here again, a nice deflection is needed to deliver a check mate. We have both our rooks working for us on the g-file. We want to place the knight on f2 to checkmate the king, but white’s pesky rook is in the way. By first getting it out of the way by moving Rg1+ we force white’s rook on f1 to take our rook on g1 with Rxg1 now providing the space for the knight to deliver checkmate: Nf2#!
Just because our rook is under attack and can be taken with the next move, doesn’t mean we can’t just leave him there and use other threats! This type of tactic is a difficult one to master. With the g-file dominated by our piece at the moment, we can deliver a check with Be7+. This forces white’s king to move up the h-file with Kh5. That is far enough to leave space for our rook to come in for the win: Rh3#.
If we notice the king’s position, we can see that the king has nowhere to go except to the h1 square. Is there a way to threaten the g1 square and send the king to the corner? That’s right: Nh3+. After checking the king with the knight, white retreats to corner with Kh1, and we follow that up with Bd5#!
With our knight guarding/attacking the g3 square, it would be nice to move our queen down there for a checkmate. However, white’s pesky queen is protecting it at the moment. With white’s king only move right now is along the f1-h3 diagonal, we can cause a deflection with the move Bf1+. White is forced to take the bishop with the only piece that can do it: Qxf1. With that deflection behind us, we can deliver the checkmate: Qg3#!