Saw this image in a WhatsApp group. Initially it looks attractive with a possibility of a "smothered mate", but I am unable to find out if white can really survive for several variations.

enter image description here

[FEN "6rk/1p4np/1n2p1RQ/3p2P1/rPpNq1P1/P3B2P/2P2P2/7K w - - 1 2"]

1. Nf3

Can someone explain the motive behind giving away the knight for free?


1 Answer 1


White has a mating threat (Qxh7 Kxh7 Rh6#) that he couldn't execute because he was under check. On the next move Black will remove the mating threat with 1...Qxg6 or with a knight move, most probably 1...Ne8.

With his knight on d4 (after 1.f3 or 1.Kg1), White cannot counter either defense satisfactorily, e.g. 1.f3?? Qxg6 and he can resign. However, the beautiful unguarded guard 1.Nf3!! gives him two more resources: the knight can jump to e5 aiming at a smothered mate from f7, and the bishop gains access to the long diagonal from d4.


1.Nf3! Qxf3 2.Kh2 Ne8 (2...Qxg6 is not possible anymore; if 2...Qe4 3.Qxh7 Kxh7 4.Rh6#) 3.Bd4 Rg7 (3...Ng7 4.Qxh7 Kxh7 5.Rh6#) 4.Rxg7+-

1.Nf3! Qxg6 2.Ne5!! Qe8 (2...Qxh6 3.Nf7#) 3.g6 Qxg6 (otherwise 4.Qxh7#) 4.Nxg6#

1.Nf3! Qxg6 2.Ne5!! Qe4 3.f3 Qxe5 (otherwise 4.Nf7#) 4.g6 Qa1 5.Kg2 followed by Qh7#

1.Nf3! Ne8 2.Bd4+-

White wins in all cases. Very nice combination.

  • What happens after 1. Nf3 Qxf3 2. Kh2 Qe4 ? The Queen is back on e4 and the previous mate threat doesn't work because Qxh7 Kxh7 Rh6 and now Qh7 blocks mate.
    – Klangen
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 13:45
  • I think Bd4 happens, threatening another mate via 1. Bxg7+ Rxg7 2. Qxg7. The queen can't prevent both threats. If she takes the Bishop, the original threat will happen.
    – Alex
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 14:09
  • 4
    @Klangen, if king is on h7 then queen cannot hold the same spot. White Queen sacrifice will result in assured checkmate by white rook.
    – iammilind
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 14:15
  • 1
    @iammilind Oh, right. I should work on my visualization skills :)
    – Klangen
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 14:16
  • 2
    Another line worth mentioning is 1. Nf3 Qxg6 2. Ne5 Qe4+, in which White can block with 3. f3 or even just move the king away to g1. At this point, most lines lead to 4. Nf7#, while if Black takes the knight on e5 then 4. g6 is an unblockable threat of 5. Qh7#. A few cases lead to Black merely losing a queen in the end. Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 0:08

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