In this Lichess game,

[FEN ""]

1.c4 e5 2.e4 d6 3.Nc3 Be6 4.Nf3 Nc6 5. d4 exd4 6.Nxd4 Nxd4 7.Qxd4 c5 8.Qd3 g6 9. Be2 Bg7 10.O-O Nh6 11.Re1 Ng4 12.Bxg4 Bxg4 13.e5 Bxe5 14.Nd5 Qh4 15. Nc7+ Kd7 16. Nxa8 Qh2+ 17. Kf1 Qh1#

After move 14 White is facing a serious mate threat from the Queen on h4, Bishop on g4, and Bishop on e5. White goes with 15. Nc7+ , forking the King and Rook, but ignoring the mate threat. After the rook capture, Mate in 2 was assured.

Could white have avoided this mate? By playing, say, Qg3 or h3? Or do both of these positions lead to wins for black, hence, white's strategy with 15 Nc7+ was to prolong mate and perhaps prod black into an unforced error?

  • 3
    15. Nc7+ is completely fine, and might even be the best move.
    – konsolas
    Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 14:10
  • Pawn to h3? What do you all think
    – David
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 3:30
  • 3
    Next time you have a question like this, you can just ask Lichess's built-in Stockfish. It gives the same recommendation as the highest-voted answer here.
    – Brilliand
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 22:25
  • @Brilliand's advice is probably the worst you will ever encounter. Next time you have an opening question, go to a database. Next time you have an endgame question, go to a Nalimov chart... Why not just close the site altogether? Chess engines are a great tool when put in the right hands, but there are only so many of those out there
    – David
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 8:00

5 Answers 5


The best move would have been 16. Rxe5, which entirely eliminates the mate threat, leaving white with a winning advantage.

r6r/ppNk1p1p/3p2p1/2p1R3/2P3bq/3Q4/PP3PPP/R1B3K1 b - - 0 16

Here, if black takes the white knight (16. ... Kxc7), 17. Bg5 wins the queen as Qh5 is met with Bd8+.

  • 1
    Is 16. ... Kxc7 17. Bg5 Qh5 18. Bd8+ Raxd8 19. Rxh5 gxh5 that bad for Black? The queen has been traded for a knight, a bishop, and a rook. (Although Black was already a piece down after Rxe5.) Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 4:25
  • 1
    @MishaLavrov Yeah, trading a lot of pieces just for the queen is not a good idea for White when he can go for the throat instead by 18. Re7+, 18. Rd1 or even 18. Rxc5+. White's domination on the dark squares and the central open files plus the fact that there's no safe haven for Black's king on the queenside or center are absolutely devastating.
    – Annatar
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 7:02
  • Agreed; Re7 or even something like Rxc5 does look a lot better than Bd8.
    – konsolas
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 10:50
  • I don't understand your posted position or your comment. Why after Rxe5 is it bad for black to capture the rook? And why should black move the king to d7?
    – user21820
    Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 7:04
  • @user21820 Black can't take the rook as the d-pawn is pinned. Because of this you are right with your second assertion, 15...Kd7 (with the intent to threaten Kxc7) is not a helpful move. But what is? Both ...Kf8 and ...Ke7 have their own cans of worms.
    – Annatar
    Commented Aug 30, 2019 at 11:02

15.g3 looks winning!

16.f4 is coming to win the Bishop on e5.

  • Did you mean "15. g3"? that was my first thought, also.
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 13:17

White could play 15. Bf4, covering h2 and attacking the Bishop on e5 which can't move due the pin in the e-file. But the probably stronger continuation is 15. g3 followed by 16. f4, winning the bishop on e5 and winning the game...


15.g3 followed by 16.f4 wins for White since the e5-bishop is pinned.


It is indeed a forced win for Black, partly due to White's choice to ignore the mate threat. White could respond better with 16.g3, thereby buying time and throwing Black off-guard.

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