The Rarest Mate?

Every player knows how to mate a lone with a queen and king. And how to mate with a single rook.

Mating themes such as back rank mates, smothered mates and De Legal’s mate are also well-known.

Not some common are the two bishops’ mate or a bishop and knight mate.

But what is the rarest mate?

It is most probably the en passant mate.

Note: if you do not know what en passant is, there are numerous websites that identify and describe this move. One of the clearest definitions can be found at :

With less than a handful of games ending in an en passant mate, out of the tens of millions of games played, there can be little doubt of its rarity.

Of course there is always the possibility that there are some games that have escaped my attention. If you know any that are not on this list, please email me. Thanks!

One quick note here. The en passant moves given in the games below have “e.p.” after the en passant move. Most of the time in chess literature these letters are omitted. They are included here solely to make the en passant moves easier to find.

Now let’s go to the games!

This first one is from Chernev’s miniature masterpiece, “1000 Best Short Games of Chess”, (game #296).

Pietzcker Christmas Tournament
Melbourne, 1928
[Chernev, “1000 Best Short Games of Chess”, #296]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 cxd4 5.cxd4 Bb4+ 6.Nc3 Nc6 7.Nf3 Nge7 8.Bd3 O-O 9.Bxh7+ Kxh7 10.Ng5+ Kg6 11.h4 Nxd4 (White is not mollified by a return of a piece; l’attack, toujours l’attack.) 12.Qg4 f5 13.h5+ Kh6

14.Nxe6+ g5 15.hxg6 e.p. mate! (An extraordinary finish – checkmate by capturing a pawn by en passant!) 1-0

This is more recent game.

Irina Korepanova-Alexander Tishkov
Governor Cup
Khanty Mansyisk
Russia, Nov. 23 2007
1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4 3.Bxe5 Nf6 4.a3

[It is still far too early to determine if this move should be considered a !? or ?!.

More common is 4.c4 O-O and the results are mixed.

Dopper-Van Loon
corres., 1990
1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4 3.Bxe5 Nf6 4.c4 O-O 5.e3 d5 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.Nf3 Re8 8.Bb2 Nc6 9.Be2 Rxe3 10.fxe3 Nxe3 11.Qb3 Qe7 12.Kf2 Ng4+ 13.Kf1 Be6 14.Qc2 Re8 15.Nc3 Qc5 16.Ke1 Bf5 17.Qb3 Bxc3 18.Qxc3 Qf2+ 19.Kd1 Qxe2+ 20.Kc1 Nge5 21.Ne1 a5 22.Qg3 Nb4 23.Bxe5 Rxe5 24.Qc3 Re6 25.Kb2 Rb6 0-1

P. Wolff-Schurig
corres., 1990
1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4 3.Bxe5 Nf6 4.c4 O-O 5.e3 Nc6 6.Bb2 d5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Nf3 Bg4 9.Be2 Re8 10.O-O Qe7 11.d4 Rad8 12.Qb3 b6 13.a3 Ba5 14.Bb5 Bxf3 15.Bxc6 Qg5 16.g3 Qh5 17.h4 Qg4 18.Kh2 Re6 19.Bxd5 Rxd5 0-1

M. Graf-Rau
Schwabisch Gmund
Germany, 1995
1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4 3.Bxe5 Nf6 4.c4 O-O 5.e3 d5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Bb2 Re8 8.Be2 Bg4 9.O-O Bd6 10.d4 Qd7 11.Nbd2 Rad8 12.Rc1 Na5 13.c5 Be7 14.Ne5 Bxe2 15.Qxe2 Qa4 16.Rc3 Qxa2 17.Qb5 a6 18.Qb4 Nc6 19.Nxc6 bxc6 20.Ra3 1-0

Lasphun (2537)-Sinn (2282)
World Open, 2003
1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4 3.Bxe5 Nf6 4.c4 O-O 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bb2 Re8 7.e3 d5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Be2 Rxe3 10.fxe3 Nxe3 11.Qb3 Nxg2+ 12.Kd1 Be6 13.Qd3 Qe7 14.Nd4 Nf4 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.Qd4 Bb3+ 17.axb3 Qxe2+ 18.Kc2 1-0.]

4…Be7 5.e3 O-O 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Bb2 a6 8.d4 d5 9.c4 Be6 10.Nbd2 h6 11.Rc1 Na5 12.Ne5 c6 13.c5 Ne4 14.Nxe4 dxe4 15.Rc3 b5 16.Qc2 Bd5 17.Be2 Qe8 18.Bh5 g6 19.Bg4 Kg7 20.Nd7 f5 21.Nxf8 fxg4 22.Nxg6 Qxg6 23.g3 Nb7 24.h3 Rf8 25.h4 h5 26.Rh2 a5 27.a4 b4 28.Rb3 Qe6 29.Qd2 Kg6 30.Rxb4 axb4 31.Qxb4 Qc8 32.Ke2 Bd8 33.Rh1 Ba5 34.Qa3 Qf5! (Black’s attack can’t be stopped; he coming in via f3.) 35.Rh2 Qf3+ 36.Kf1 Qd1+ 37.Kg2 Qe1! [Back is threatening 38…Rxf2#. White makes the only (legal) to avoid this mate.]

38.f4 exf3 e.p. mate (39…gxf3+ won’t work because of 40.Kh2!) 0-1

Frederick Rhine-N.N.
Blitz Game, May 14 2010

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 c6 4.Bxc4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nf3 Be7 7.O-O O-O 8.Re1 b5 9.Bd3 Nbd7 10.e5 Nd5 11.Bc2 b4 12.Qd3 f5 13.exf6 N7xf6 14.Na4 a5 15.Ng5 Ba6 16.Qh3 h6 17.Qxe6+ Kh8 18.Nf7+ Rxf7 19.Qxf7 Qd6 20.Nc5 Rf8 21.Qe6 Bc8 22.Qxd6 Bxd6 23.Ne6 Bxe6 24.Rxe6 Bf4 25.Rxc6 Bxc1 26.Rxc1 Nf4 27.Re1 Rd8 28.g3 Nh3+ 29.Kg2 Ng5 30.Bg6 Rxd4 31.Rc8+ Ng8 32.h4 Nh7 33.Bf7 Nf6 34.Bxg8 Nxg8 35.Ree8 Rd2 36.Rxg8+ Kh7 37.h5 g5 38.hxg6 e.p. mate 1-0

Frederick Rhine-N.N.
Blitz Game, Sept. 18 2017
May 14 2010
1.d4 b6 2.e4 Bb7 3.Bd3 e6 4.Nf3 Nf6?!
(4…c5!? is more common as the knight on f6 is subject to an early e5.) 5.Qe2 h6 6.e5 Nd5 7.a3 Be7 8.c4 O-O 9.cxd5 Bxd5 10.Nc3 Bb7 11.O-O d6 12.Ne4 dxe5 13.dxe5 Nc6 14.Bf4 Nd4 15.Nxd4 Qxd4 16.Rad1 Rad8 17.Rfe1 f5 18.exf6 Bxf6 19.Nxf6+ Qxf6 20.Bxc7 Rxd3 21.Rxd3 Ba6 22.Bg3 Bxd3 23.Qxd3 Qxb2 24.Rxe6 Rf6 25.Re8+ Kf7 26.Qd7+ Kg6 27.h4 Qxa3 28.Rg8 Rf7 29.h5+ Kh7 30.Qxf7 Qa1+ 31.Kh2 a5 32.Qf8 g5 33.hxg6 e.p. mate 1-0

This is my game. The opening is bad but the ending is the best way to end this post.

“Papiconi” (1322)-Escalante (1958)
King’s Bishop Thematic Tournament, May 2021
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 d5 5.Nf3 Qh5 6.Bb5+ c6??
(6.Qxb5 wins instantly! The only excuse I might offer is that I came home late and tired from work when I made this move.) 7.Be2 dxe4 8.Nd4 Qe5 9.c3 Ne7 10.h3 Nf5 11.Bg4 Ng3+ 12.Kg1 f5 13.Rh2 fxg4 14.Qxg4?? Bxg4 15.hxg4 Bd6 16.Na3 Bxa3 17.bxa3 Nd7 18.Bb2 O-O-O 19.Re1 Nc5 20.Nf3 Qd6 21.Nd4 Nd3! (Attacking on the other wing as the kingside is defended and the queenside is unexplored and unprovoked.) 22.Rb1 c5 23.Nb5 Qb6! -+ 24.c4 a6 25.Nc3 Nxb2 26.Nd5

26…Rxd5! 27.cxd5 c4+ 0-1 (After the forced 28.d4, Black has the choice of mating with 28…cxd3 e.p. mate or 28…exd3 e.p.mate)

One thought on “The Rarest Mate?

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