Define an "elegant" checkmate as one in which

  • the king is not on the edge of the board
  • the king and each of the 8 squares surrounding it are each attacked by exactly one, different opponent piece. (In other words: 9 pieces each attack exactly one of those squares)
  • none of the squares touching the king are occupied by pieces of the king's colour

For instance, this is an elegant checkmate:

8/3B1N2/2K5/8/4k3/1N1P2P1/2P2PP1/8 w - - 0 1

Now, what is the shortest game that leads to an elegant checkmate?

  • 4
    Might be termed a "Pachman mate", for reasons problemists know (which also have terms for the requirements, but I only know the German terms at the moment). But that's not why I write - d3 is doubly attacked! Replace Sc5 by Pd3! Apr 14, 2022 at 6:45
  • Thanks, I thought there would probably be a term for it. (And thanks for catching the error.) Apr 14, 2022 at 13:46
  • I keep coming up with good checkmates, but i always have one piece that is guarding 2 squares :(
    – DialFrost
    Apr 14, 2022 at 23:59

2 Answers 2


I'm not very good at proofgames, but if I counted correctly, 12 move suffice:

[FEN "rnb3nr/pppp1Npp/4p3/8/4k3/1QP2PPB/PPP2PKP/RN5R w KQkq - 0 1"]

Moves are obvious: Black sacrifices B-b4-c3 and Q-xBg5-g4-f3 in that order, White plays Q-d5-b3. Last moves are 10.Nf7+ Ke4 11.Kg2 Qf3+ 12.exf3#. An retro expert will manage 11, at least :-)

Proof game:

[FEN ""]
1.Nf3 e6 2.Ne5 Bb4 3.g3 Bc3 4.dxc3 Ke7 5.Qd5 Kf6 6.Qb3 Kf5 7.Bg5 Qxg5 8.Bh3 Qg4 9.Kf1 Ke4 10.Nxf7 Qh5 {Black has one extra tempo to waste, at this point or before} 11.Kg2 Qf3 12.exf3#
  • THX for the PG, I was too idle at the time :-) (But I have been pwned big time anyway...) Apr 14, 2022 at 12:04
  • 1
    "a retro expert will manage 11, at least" Evargalo: 8 ;)
    – DialFrost
    Apr 14, 2022 at 23:54

I think this achieves the task in 15 plies (mate after White's 8th move):

[FEN ""]
1. b4 d6 2. a4 Bf5 3. Nf3 Bd3 4. Ba3 Kd7 5. Nc3 Kc6 6. Nd5 Kxd5 7. e4+ Kc4 8. cxd3#

The 9 white units necessary for mate are 5 pawns, 2 bishops, 1 knight and the queen.

In case you are bothered by the two Bishop+Pawn batteries (one might consider than c5 is attacked twice, by Pb4 and Ba3), then we need one more move:

[FEN ""]
1. Nc3 d5 2. Nb5 Kd7 3. e4 Kc6 4. Nxa7+ Kc5 5. Ke2 d4 6. a3 Kc4 7. b4 Nd7 8. Nf3 d3+ 9. cxd3#

Mate is delivered by 5 pawns, 2 knights, 1 king and 1 queen.

  • 1
    This screams for a narrowed-down question: Assume you are a Bohemian Problemist, then pieces (especially officers) idling around on a1 etc. are a no-no. Thus: Proof game to a position where White only has the 9 pieces needed for mating. (Should take at most around 10 more moves with the bQ gobbling them.) Apr 14, 2022 at 12:07
  • 1
    FWIW I am most definitely not bothered by the bishop+pawn batteries. (I did consider a more restrictive definition that requires there to be no piece from either side touching the king, though). Apr 14, 2022 at 13:57
  • 1
    @SteveBennett No piece from either side touching the king? Doesn't the checkmate have to be delivered by a pawn?
    – bof
    Apr 14, 2022 at 19:35
  • Yeah, good point, thank you. Apr 15, 2022 at 0:17
  • 1
    @Evargalo: yes, since otherwise Black would be down to the nude king. Of course you could add a few pinned pieces to speed up the gobbling :-) Apr 15, 2022 at 14:34

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