What is the Balestra Mate in chess?

The Balestra Checkmating pattern features a queen and a bishop working together in an unusual manner, where the all-powerful queen covers off all the potential escape squares, and the bishop delivers the Mate.

Generally, this checkmate pattern will only emerge in an endgame where there is ample space on the board for both pieces to get to the enemy king safely.

Here’s what the Balestra Mate looks like in practice:

Image via lichess.org

To make this work, the queen needs to be in a specific location from the king (the same sort of L-shape that governs how the knight moves), with the bishop delivering Check (and Mate) from the opposite side of the king. It is a really rather flashy way to end a game of chess!

Interestingly, unlike most other checkmating patterns, which owe their name to famous games and players or notable in-game scenarios, this one apparently originated as a puzzle-solving tag on chesstempo.com in the site’s collection of tactical motifs, mainly to distinguish it from Boden’s Mate, a similar pattern which relies on two bishops and a couple of unwitting support pieces from the opponent to deliver the killing blow.

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