04 January 2020

Annnotated Game #233: Boden's Mate

This last-round tournament game was actually going well, until a calculation/visualization error of mine led to my opponent being able to deliver Boden's Mate. This is a threat involving two bishops against a king castled on the queenside, as can happen in the Caro-Kann and other openings. Hopefully it's a lesson that only needs to be learned once.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Class A"] [Black "ChessAdmin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B18"] [Annotator "ChessAdmin/Komodo 11.2"] [PlyCount "29"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. N1e2 Nf6 7. Nf4 e5 { this is the standard antidote to White's plan with N1e2-f4. Black's central counterattack resolves the tension with equality.} 8. Nxg6 hxg6 9. dxe5 Qa5+ { this is the main idea behind ...e5, regaining the pawn with an active queen.} 10. c3 (10. Bd2 {is played more often, but Black's response is essentially the same.}) 10... Qxe5+ 11. Be2 {this indicated White wanted to keep playing for a win. Qe2 is the standard alternative.} Nbd7 12. O-O O-O-O 13. Qa4 Bc5 14. Bf4 Qe8 $4 {I thought that this was the "safe" move to play, but completely missed the queen sacrifice for an unusual mating pattern. Even without that, b4 would also be winning for White.} (14... Rh4 {I considered for a while, as the dynamic (and it turns out only) response to White's last move, but calculated incorrectly that Black's rook could be trapped or put out of action.} 15. Bxe5 Rxa4 16. b3 (16. Bxf6 Nxf6 $11) 16... Rh4 {and Black is fine.}) 15. Qxc6+ 1-0


  1. ChessAdmin:

    Thank you for participating over on Temposchlucker's blog. I appreciate your commentary!

    I assume that you are familiar with Boden's Mate pattern, although it is one of the rarer mates. Obviously, White made a threat against the a7-Pawn with 12. Qa4, which you countered with the natural looking 12. ... Bc5 (defending and developing simultaneously). At the same time, there is a "threat" on c6, which is B.A.D. (Barely Adequately Defended - Heisman). The Black King on c8, plus the b7-c6 Pawn "gap" gives some visual "clues" that Boden's Mate kight be possible.

    I liked your alternative 12. ... Rh4. White is virtually forced to allow the Queens to be exchanged, so any "attack" disappears. The key (I think) to getting the Rook out safely is the fact that the White Knight is sitting on g3. I guess returning it to h4 (moving "backwards" to a previous square) was harder to visualize.

    Would thinking in terms of PoPLoAFun have helped you to avoid this mate sequence?

    When did your opponent begin thinking of the possibility of Boden's Mate: before or after 12. Qa4?

    Thanks for your informative blog!

    1. Hello Robert, I appreciate your comment. During the game, I was in fact alert to the idea of crisscrossing bishops delivering mate (or causing other problems) on the queenside, but simply did not consider the queen sacrifice on c6, which is in fact a standard theme in Boden's Mate, so I considered 14...Qe8?? as the "safe" move. 14...Rh4 is perfectly fine and I at least give myself credit for considering it seriously as a candidate move, but my visualization was fuzzy and I erroneously thought it would lead to problems with a lack of squares for the rook. In fact, it can always just go back to h4.

      While painful, when analyzed properly I think these types of games are great at highlighting flawed thinking process issues, which in turn can do a lot to help avoid similar types of problems in future games.

  2. I am (slowly) learning to trust my intuition more in position like this. If I "feel" that a move like 14. ... Rh4 gives me a dynamic way to deal with the opponent's threats, then I force myself to work through the variations. I still have to remind myself to look at "backward" moves just as carefully as at "forward" moves. My Quick Chess (USCF) rating has been going up slowly. I've finally broken back into Class B. Time will tell if it's a permanent improvement. There's only one active Class A player in my local club. I take games from him regularly, but still have difficulties with the clock at game 8:3 delay.

    1. I have difficulties with the clock in serious games at anything less than 45 45, so you have my sympathy, heh. Although I play well enough in casual games without a clock that last a lot less than that, so maybe I should take some lessons from that.


Your comments and ideas on chess training and this site are welcomed.

Please note that moderation is turned on as an anti-spam measure; your comment will be published as soon as possible, if it is not spam.