I Finally Managed A Bucket List Checkmate.

Three days ago I played the Black pieces in this 3 minute Blitz game on LiChess against alfonsonaranjoa (rated 2065) and managed to cross off something off my bucket list: the rare smothered mate. Prior to this I had never, never been able to pull this off in any competitive game. With coronavirus and kids(!) preventing me from playing in any local physical tournaments, this might be as good as it gets for me.

[Event “Rated Blitz game”]
[Date “2020.06.04”]
[White “alfonsonaranjoa”]
[Black “LagnusCarlsen”]
[Result “0-1”]
[UTCDate “2020.06.04”]
[UTCTime “04:06:32”]
[WhiteElo “2065”]
[BlackElo “2097”]
[WhiteRatingDiff “-5”]
[BlackRatingDiff “+8”]
[Variant “Standard”]
[TimeControl “180+0”]
[Opening “English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense, King’s Indian Formation”]

  1. Nf3 Nf6
    (He plays the Reti Opening and I respond with my pet defense, the King’s Indian)
  2. c4 g6
  3. g3 Bg7
  4. Bg2 O-O
  5. O-O d5
  6. Nc3?! Inaccuracy. cxd5 was best.
    6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.d4 Nb6 8.e4 Bg4 9.d5 c6 10.h3 Bxf3

    (Now I get a strong pawn center)
  7. Nb1?! Inaccuracy. Na4 was best.
    7. Na4 Nc6 8.d3 e5 9.e3 dxe3 10.Bxe3 Re8 11.Re1 Rb8

    (I strengthen my advanced d-pawn)
  8. d3 Nc6
  9. a3 a5
    (I want to prevent any counter play on the Queen side, the goal is to get the pawn to a4)
  10. Re1 a4
    (Mission accomplished, now if he moves the b-pawn I can capture regular or en passant)
  11. Qc2 e5
  12. e3?! Inaccuracy. Nbd2 was best.
    …Bf5? Mistake. e4 was best.
    (I was trying to provoke e4 from him. Stockfish thinks all my ideas are lousy and that I’m a patzer. Stockfish is right lol)
  13. Nh4?! Inaccuracy. exd4 was best.
    13.exd4 Nxd4 14.Nxd4 Qxd4 15.Be3 Qd7 16.Be4 Nxe4 17.dxe4 Be6 18.Qe2 f5 19.exf5 Bxf5

    …dxe3? Mistake. Bg4 was best.
    13…Bg4 14.e4 b6 15.Nd2 Ne8 16.b3axb3 17.Nxb3 Qd7 18.Bd2 Nc7 19.Nf3 Ne6 20.h3
    (I see that I can open up the center and give up the Bishop for two strong advanced Knights. Once again, Stockfish thinks I’m an idiot)
  14. Nxf5 exf2+
  15. Qxf2 gxf5
  16. Qxc5??
    Blunder. Bxc6 was best.
    16.Bxc6 bxc6

    (Whichever pawn he captures, I get to advance my Knights with tempo. Now my Rook also gets in on the action, the Queen only has 2 retreat squares)
  17. Qe3 Ng4
  18. Qe2 Nd4
  19. Qd1? Inaccuracy. Qf1 was best.
    19. Qf1 Nc2 20. Kh1 Qd4 21.h3 Nf2+ 22.Kh2 Nxd3 23.Bd2 Ndxe1 24.Bxe1 Ra6 25.Ra2 Ne3
    (My Knights manage to harass the Queen back to d1 and now the game is already won positionally, it’s just a matter of technique. But I see a chance to pull off a smothered mate, if my opponent is compliant with all the forcing moves…and doesn’t resign)
  20. Ra2 Nxc1
  21. Qxc1 Qd4+
  22. Kh1?! Checkmate is now unavoidable. Re3 was best.
    (Now the Knight needs to be repositioned to anchor the Queen)
  23. Kg1 Nh3+
    (The King can’t go to f1 because Qf2 is checkmate)
  24. Kh1 Qg1+
    (The Knight is in position for the Queen sacrifice)
  25. Rxg1 Nf2+
    0-1 Black wins by checkmate.
    (Stockfish did not give me a single exclamation mark anywhere in the post-game analysis. Fair enough…)

The game gif is shown below:

*Photo was from an unrelated game I played in the park at Max Euweplein, Netherlands in 2011.

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