The checkmate below is named after the French player, Sire de Légal (1702–1792), who used it in the 1800’s. This checkmate pattern is sometimes referred to as Blackburne’s Trap, since J Blackburne (1841–1924), a British chessmaster, also set this trap on many occasions.
In the position below, black just moved their bishop to safety, Bh5. What can white do?
Scroll down to see the solution that features Legal’s checkmate pattern.
Legal’s checkmate pattern Solution
1.Nxe5 wins, at the very least, a pawn. If black plays Bxd1? then white will execute a forced checkmate (which I’ll show you in a moment). But black’s best try is to play 1… Nxe5, threatening 2… Nxc4.
However, white still wins a pawn in the combination shown below:
But what happens if black captures the white queen, 1… Bxd1?
According to wikipedia, Légal disguised his trap with a psychological trick: he first touched the knight on f3 and then retreated his hand as if realizing only now that the knight was pinned. Then, after his opponent reminded him of the touch-move rule, he played Nxe5, and the opponent grabbed the queen without thinking twice. Most player’s would definitely be tempted to capture the white queen, but it loses on the spot.
Black is forced to play 2… Ke7.
Now it’s mate in 1…
Legal’s checkmate pattern (or trap) is not all that uncommon and it’s definitely one you should know.
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