Recognizing a Checkmate with Two Self-Block

I hadn’t heard of the checkmate with two self-block until I received the last issue of New in Chess (2018/3). In it, GM Jan Timman wrote about the great performance of the Tiger of Madras, GM Viswanathan Anand at the Tal Memorial held in Moscow.

Vishy showed excellent chess and shut the mouth of many critics who talked about the end of the Indian after he failed to make it to the Candidates at Berlin previously this year. Particularly I was quite impressed by his exciting win over GM Alexander Grischuk. With the following example we’ll learn about the checkmate with two self-block pattern.

Anand-Grischuk, Tal Memorial 2018 (8), position after 26.Rf5

Objectively Black is better after 26…f6 or 26…Kh8. But the hand innocently asks for the natural 26…Rg8, which is what Sasha played in time trouble —no surprise here. Instantly, this proved to be a mistake which allowed Vishy to show his magic: 27.Ng5+! hxg5.

position after 27…hxg5

Can you find the winning move? Well, Anand had it in mind already four moves ago! 28.Rxf7+!! White threatens to capture the queen so taking the rook is imperative. But in doing so the black king’s path to safety is blocked by the pieces which should defend him! 28…Qxf7 29.hxg5+.

position after 29.hxg5+

It’s quite certain now that a checkmate with two self-block is displayed on the board and Grischuk sportively allowed White to fulfill it: 29…Kg7 30.Qh6#. A beautiful idea by Anand. Sadly for me, this sparked some memories of my last article. Should I check the mag earlier, I would certainly have been able to finish my opponent off in the following diagram.

Duba-Melián, III Clasificatorio Mayor 2018 (7), position after 26…Qd7

27.Bxg7! and curtains go down. Black just can’t answer 27…Rxe6? because of 28.Bf6+! and out of the blue we have a checkmate with two self-block over the board. 28…Kf8 29.Qh6+ voilà! The queen and rook block the king’s path and so it just gets mated. Definitely, a useful pattern to have in mind every time you embark on a crushing attack.

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