Hook Mate

The Hook Mate is a very useful and instructive checkmate pattern that demonstrates optimal coordination between a rook and knight. The pattern is named after it’s visual appearance that resemble a hook.

Hook Mate Example 1

Diagram above: 1.Rd8# demonstrates the Hook Mate. Note the optimal coordination between the rook and knight. The knight must be supported though, in this case by the pawn on c5, else the black king could simply capture the knight.

Hook Mate Example 2

In a famous game between Frank James Marshall an William Ewart Napier, Brooklyn, 1898, Marshall demonstrated that he knew the hook mate very well–by promoting his pawn to a knight, instead of a queen:

Hook Mate Example 2a

Diagram above: Instead of promoting to a queen, which would give black a draw by perpetually checking the white king, Marshall chose a checkmate combination that starts with 1.f8(N)+ Black is forced to play either Kh8 or Kg8. Both moves lead to the same outcome.

Hook Mate Example 2b

Diagram above: 2.Ng6+ is a discovered check that prepares for checkmate on the next move. Note the important role of the pawn on f5–to protect the knight.

Hook Mate Example 2c

Diagram above: 3.Rf8# is checkmate. Alternatively, if the black king went to h7, then 3.Rh8# would be checkmate.

This example proves why it’s useful to know your checkmate patterns. If Marshall didn’t know about this checkmate pattern, he probably wouldn’t seriously consider under-promoting his pawn to a knight.

Interesting Notes on the Hook Mate

On chessgames.com, ChessCoachClark offers a collection of actual games that feature the Hook Mate.