In this lesson you're going to learn more about one of the checkmates you've learnt already.


One of the most important things you have to do in chess is DEFEND YOUR KING.

The best way to do it is to set up a position like this.

If you play soccer imagine that the KING is the GOAL.

Around the goal you have some defenders - and for most of the game you should try to keep them near the King.

And if the King is the GOAL, the Rook standing next to it is the GOALIE.

As long as the goalie stays there the King's safe from attack from the back.

But if he should move upfield to join in the attack you have to be careful...

... if you're not very careful, this is what might happen.

How can White score the winning goal in this position?

Here's the position - it's CHECKMATE - a BACK RANK MATE.

Remember this position. Engrave it on your mind so that you NEVER forget it!

You can learn to use this idea to play some really clever moves.

Are you bright enough to tell me how White can force a quick CHECKMATE in this position?

White fearlessly places the Queen where she can be captured - because next move it's CHECKMATE - the Rook will take the Rook. There's nothing Black can do about it.

If you got it right you've just played the most exciting move in chess - a QUEEN SACRIFICE!!

You're also learning to THINK AHEAD - THE most important skill for any chess player.

White can use the same idea in a different way in this position?

Can you find a really strong move that wins a piece?

What a tremendous move!

White's seen that if Black takes the Queen, next move the Rook will say CHECKMATE!

You know what? If you got that one right you've got what it takes to be a REALLY good player!

Just take a look at this position. White is winning easily.

What would you advise him to do next?

Rb7xg7 Rc1-c7

Offer a draw Resign

Guess what happened in the game!

White moved his Rook on c1 (the goalie!) up the board.

And Black's Rook came down the board to deliver CHECKMATE in two moves.

Oh Dear!!

Here's a tip for you.

If you've got a position like this on your board (with no Rook near the King) it should set the alarm bells ringing!

Think "DANGER! BACK RANK MATE!" and, to be safe, move one of your pawns up to give your King an escape square.

Try this position.

Which Pawn should White move to stop the BACK RANK MATE?

The f-pawn The g-pawn

The h-pawn The frogspawn

What do you think of h2-h3 in this position?

A good move

Not a good move

Try to get used to these positions where a Bishop stops the King escaping.

In this position White can get CHECKMATE at once because his Bishop CONTROLS h7.

And in this position White can CHECKMATE at once because the White Bishop CONTROLS g7.

Another piece of advice: if your opponent has a Bishop on the board, give your King an escape square on the opposite color from the enemy Bish.

OK? And remember, always watch that BACK RANK!

And now a special treat because you've been so good!

We'll show you one of the most famous moves ever played!

In this game, played in 1914, Black was Josť Raoul Capablanca, from Cuba. One of the greatest players of all time.

Both players have to watch out for BACK RANK MATES in this position.

Capablanca's just played the fantastic Qb6-b2.

Look carefully at the position.

First of all it's a QUEEN FORK (remember?), FORKING the White Queen and the White Rook.

I'm now going to ask you some questions about this position.

You might like to go and set it up on your chessboard now. Ready?

Suppose White captured the Black Queen, giving this position.

What should Black play now?

That was easy, wasn't it?


But the next questions will be harder.

Now suppose White moves his Queen to e1 to defend his Rook.

What would Black do here?

A tremendous move!!

But an idea you've seen earlier in the lesson.

Black can CAPTURE the Rook because there's a BACK RANK MATE if the Queen takes back.

Do you see it?

Well done if you got it right!

Now what happens if White plays the sneaky move Qe2-d3?

Would it be a good idea for Black to take the Queen with his Rook?



You're quite right.

If he takes the Queen it's WHITE who gets a BACK RANK MATE.

Instead he should play Qb2-a1+. White has nothing better than to move his Queen to f1, and then Black can safely CAPTURE the Rook.

White could also move his Rook to c2 to block the attack on the Queen.

Which of these moves is best for Black now?



The right move is Qb2-b1+.

Take a look.

White has to play his Queen to f1, and next move Black can take the Rook.


Finally, White can play a REALLY sneaky move: Rc3-d3.

What would you suggest Black should do in this position?

Take the Rook
Take the Queen
Play a check

Let's go through the answers in turn.

If you take the Queen White has a BACK RANK MATE.

Taking the Rook sets a trap: If White takes the Queen he gets MATED but instead he can take the Rook back.

The right thing to do is to CHECK (on either a1, b1 or c1). White's best move is Qe2-f1, but then White can EXCHANGE QUEENS and then CAPTURE the Rook.

Just one more thing before you go.

An optical illusion!

White's a Queen ahead but it looks like he's getting mated. If he takes the Rook Black will take back with a BACK RANK MATE.

But think again.

White can also play Qe7-e1, which loses his Queen, but stops the mate and leaves him a Rook ahead thanks to the X-RAY DEFENCE from the Rook on a1.


You have now completed the BACK RANK MATES assignment.