David and Goliath Mate

The David and Goliath Mate is a checkmate pattern characterized by the fact that a humble pawn checkmates the opponent’s king.

David and Goliath Mate Example 1

Diagram above: 1.h4# proves it is quite possible for a pawn to deliver checkmate, with the help of other pieces and/or pawns though.

David and Goliath Mate Example 2

Averill Powers employed this checkmate pattern against an opponent in a simultaneous event, Milwaukee, 1937:

David and Goliath Mate Example 2a

Diagram above: 1.Qf7# is a surprising move. It’s almost comical to notice that white is willing to sacrifice the queen in order to get the pawn to finish the checkmate. 1… Qxf7 is forced.

David and Goliath Mate Example 2b

Diagram above: 2.exf7# proves that a pawn should never be underestimated! This checkmate would not be possible without the help of white’s knight (and even the black pieces that obstruct their own king).

Interesting Notes on the David and Goliath Mate

There are many different ways to reach this checkmate pattern–the only “requirement” is that the actual checkmate is delivered by a pawn.

Although it appears unusual to deliver checkmate with a pawn, it is actually quite common in actual games. You can go through the game collection by Chess Coach Clark on chessgames.com to see how this mating pattern occurs even on the highest levels of the game.

The David and Goliath Mate can happen at any stage of the game (even the opening, as seen in the first example). Most of the time though, this pattern will occur towards the endgame stage when the pawns are advanced and become a threat to the enemy king.