How to checkmate with two bishops: A Comprehensive Guide


In this article, we’ll cover step-by-step how to deliver a checkmate with two bishops against a bare king. Achieving checkmate using two bishops is a vital endgame skill to acquire, relevant to chess enthusiasts spanning from novices to those at higher echelons, as it will enhance your comprehension of the power of the bishop pair and dominance over the chessboard.

Checkmate with two bishops

What is the checkmate with two bishops?

A checkmate with two bishops is executed with a bishop pair, where, with the aid of the king, the enemy king is systematically forced to the edge of the board and eventually checkmated in the board’s corner with one of the bishops.

Why is it crucial to master this endgame technique?

Although it’s improbable that you’ll encounter the precise scenario outlined in this article, the concept of bishop pairs holds immense significance in chess. Similar to the knight and bishop checkmate, achieving checkmate with two bishops revolves around the core idea of restricting the opponent’s king. This entails maintaining control over both color complexes on the chessboard. Mastering the two bishops checkmate reveals the sheer potency of a pair of bishops in their purest form and honing this valuable skill will not only prove advantageous in endgame situations but also offer strategic benefits in the middle and opening phases of the game.

Delivering checkmate with two bishops: step-by-step technique

The 50-move rule, which comes into play in scenarios like Bishop+Knight or Queen vs. Rook, is not a concern when dealing with checkmate using a bishop pair. This is primarily because achieving checkmate with two bishops typically unfolds at a much quicker pace.

The key strategy behind executing the checkmate pattern with two bishops revolves around securing critical diagonals on the chessboard to construct a web of mate-threats. By positioning the bishops in adjacent squares, we establish a V-shaped dominion over the board, aiming to ensnare the opponent’s king within this intricate web. With each move or step, our objective is to progressively confine the king within a progressively diminishing mating net.

Diagram 1 (D1)


checkmate with two bishops - initial position

We will start with the position above (D1).

Step #1: Occupying the central squares with bishops

Step 1 - Occupying the central squares with bishops

Diagram 2 (D2)

Our first task is to occupy the central squares, such as d4 and e4, with the bishops so that we reach the position in diagram 2 (D2) from our starting position (D1). The standard method is to bring the bishops to the long-diagonals first and then bring them to the central squares. 1.Bg2 Kd6 2.Bb2 and we now cover the long-diagonals. 2…Ke6 3.Be4, we don’t let the enemy king go to f5, 3…Kd6 4.Bd4 (D2) and now the mission is complete for our first step.

Step #2: Get your King to the central squares to support bishops

Step 2 - Get your King to the central squares to support

Diagram 3 (D3)

Our second step is probably the most straightforward. All we need to do is let our king join the party to support the powerful bishop duo. In this case, we want to transfer our king from e2 to f5: 4…Ke6 5.Kf3 Kd6 6.Kf4 Ke6 7.Kg5 Kd6 8.Kf5 (D3)

Step #3: Transfer your bishops to c5-d5 squares and King to e6

Step 3 - Transfer your bishops to c5-d5 squares and King to e6

(Diagram 4) D4

Our subsequent objective is to further confine the enemy king within an even tighter enclosure. We achieve this by advancing our bishops one square closer to the edge of the board, which would mean, placing the bishop pair on the c5 and d5 squares respectively in our case. So, 8…Kd7 9.Bc5 Ke8 10.Bd5 and now we need to get our king closer to the bishops. The optimal destination is the e6 square, which can be reached in just two moves: 10…Kd7 followed by 11.Kf6 Kc7 and 12.Ke6 (D4), successfully attaining our objective (D4). At this point, the black king is left with only four legitimate squares to maneuver.

Step #4: Trap Black’s King in the board’s corner and checkmate

Step 4 - Trap Black’s King in the board’s corner and checkmate

(Diagram 5) D5

In our concluding phase, we break it down into two substeps: firstly, compelling the opponent’s king towards the board’s corner, and subsequently, restricting the enemy king to a mere two permissible squares for back-and-forth movement. Just as in the previous step, we need to move the bishop pair one square further, b6 and c6, to achieve this net: 13…Kd8 (13…Kc8 14.Bb6 Kb8 15.Bc6) 14.Bb6+ Kc8 (14…Ke8 is does not help either, 15.Bc6+ Kf8 16.Kf6 Kg8 17.Kg6 Kf8 18.Bc5+ Kg8 19.Bd5+ Kh8 20.Bd4# checkmate) 15.Bc6 Kb8 and now we need the help of our king, which we would want to be placed on a6 ideally: 16.Kd5 Kc8 17.Kc5 Kb8 18.Kb5 Kc8 19.Ka6 Kb8. Now we need to control c8 square and let the enemy king shuffle between a8 and b8: 20.Bd7 Ka8. The remainder of the process involves executing a straightforward checkmate in three moves, executed through two final checks. It’s crucial to withdraw the other bishop, positioning it back on the a7-g1 diagonal, thus delivering a check from a distant location. However, it’s essential to exercise caution to avoid accidentally stalemating the opponent, like the erroneous 21.Bc7??. 21.Bc5 Kb8 22.Bd6+ Ka8 23.Bc6# (D5) checkmate.

Now practice checkmate with two bishops on a chess board with your friend

To truly hone your proficiency in executing checkmate with two bishops, the most effective approach is to engage in regular practice sessions with a friend or against a computer opponent. Vary the initial positions of the pieces each time to challenge your adaptability and broaden your mastery of this strategic skill.

Final Thoughts

Visualizing the bishop pair as best friends, whose potential is fully realized when they collaborate, is a useful perspective. This synergy is clearly demonstrated in the pattern of their placements throughout each step: e4-d5, d5-c5, c6-b6. The method of achieving checkmate with two bishops serves as an enlightening illustration of the remarkable capabilities of the bishop pair. Proficiency in this technique will significantly enhance your comprehension of board dominance and strategic control.

Written by
Deniz Tasdelen, National Master
National Master with over 20 years of experience. He has participated in many prestigious tournaments, including the European and World Youth Chess Championships.
Ask Question


Can you get a checkmate with two bishops?

Yes, in contrast to the scenario of two knights against a lone king, achieving checkmate with just two bishops is entirely possible.

What is a two-bishop checkmate called?

Checkmates involving two bishops of different colors in a manner of criss-crossing diagonals are called Boden’s Mate.

Can you checkmate with two bishops of the same color?

It is not possible to checkmate with two bishops of the same color because they do not collectively cover both color complexes of the chessboard. This limitation makes achieving checkmate with two bishops of the same color impossible - Your One Stop Chess Resource
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