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Damiano’s Mate

Damiano’s Mate is a checkmate pattern where a queen and a pawn (or a bishop) coordinate their efforts against a castled king. It can only work if the pawn shield in front of the enemy king has been compromised.

Damiano’s Mate Example 1

Damiano’s Mate Example 1

Diagram above: 1.Qh7# demonstrates the basic idea in Damiano’s Checkmate. Note an important aspect of this mate–the white pawn covers the escape square, f7.

Damiano’s Mate Example 2

The next example is from a game between Alexander Baburin and Utut Adianto, in 1993. It’s often used as a tactical puzzle because the solution is unique and beautiful:

Diagram above: Black starts the combination with 1… Rh1+. The point is that black wants to execute Damiano’s Mate, but needs to get the queen into the action. In order to achieve this black gives up both the rooks in order to get the queen into the action. 2.Kxg1 is forced.

Damiano’s Mate Example 2b

Diagram above: 2… Rh8+ Black wants sacrifice the second rook also. 3.Kg1 is essentially forced, or else 3.Bh6?! Rxh6 is checkmate in anycase since black’s bishop on c5 then covers g1.

Damiano’s Mate Example 2c

Diagram above: 3… Rh1+ On the next move the queen will get into the action. Note how black uses the sacrifices to gain time and not allow white to make a defensive move. Again, 4.Kxh1 is forced.

Damiano’s Mate Example 2d

Diagram above: 4… Qh8+ and now the point is clear–after 5.Kg1, the black queen will deliver Damiano’s Mate.

Damiano’s Mate Example 2e

Diagram above: 5… Qh2# concludes this beautiful checkmate combination. Note the important contribution from the black pawn on g3. This is another example that illustrates why it’s very dangerous when the pawn shield in front of the king is compromised.

Damiano’s Bishop Mate

The role of the pawn in this checkmate pattern can also be performed by a bishop. The lichess website gives this great example from a game between Ulvi Bajarani & Dragan Solak:

Damiano’s Bishop Mate

Diagram above: 1.Rh8+ White want to get their queen to g7, but the black knight blocks the way. White is willing to sacrifice the rook to clear the way for the queen. 1… Nxh8 is forced.

Damiano’s Bishop Mate 2

Diagram above: 2.Qg7# demonstrates Damiano’s Bishop Mate, where the bishop on f6 performs the same role that a pawn would’ve done.

Interesting Notes on Damiano’s Mate

User KingBishop on reveals that this checkmate idea was first published by Pedro Damiano, a Portugese chess player, in 1512. He also gives an example of a game that concluded with Damiano’s checkmate pattern.

The well known advice “If you see a good move, try to find a better one”, is often attributed to Lasker and other modern chess writers, but according to wikipedia, this advice is found in Damiano’s book–written more than 500 years ago!