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Pillsbury’s Mate

Pillsbury’s Mate is a rook and bishop checkmate pattern where the bishop controls the corner square next to a castled king. For this to happen, the pawn shield in front of the king must be compromised.

Pillsbury’s Mate Example 1

Pillsbury’s Mate Example 1

Diagram above: 1.Rg1 demonstrates Pillsbury’s mate. The main feature of this pattern is the role of white’s bishop that covers the escape-square, h8.

Pillsbury’s Mate Example 2

The second example is from the game Savic vs. Radojevic Montenegro Team Championship 2006. I found this game on the website.

Pillsbury’s Mate Example 2a

Diagram above: White plays 1.Bxe6! But can’t black just grab the black queen?

The next diagram shows what happens if black captures the white queen, 1… Qxd2:

Pillsbury’s Mate Example 2b

Diagram above: White will now execute Pillsbury’s Mate, 2.Bg7+ and black is forced to play 2… Kg8.

Pillsbury’s Mate Example 2c

Diagram above: 3.Bf6+ (or Be5+) is a discovered check by the white rook on g1. Then, after the forced move 3… Qg5, 4.Rxg5# is checkmate.

Interesting Notes on Pillsbury’s Mate

You can find a complete annotated game on, supposedly between Harry Pillsbury and Francis Lee, played in London 1899. However, in a good article by chess historian James Stripes, he writes that there seems to be a number of contradictory facts in published media with regard to some of Pillsbury’s games.