“Only Move” mate

Round 1

I got paired with Mark (both rounds I’ve had Black). The game was rather interesting, although cut short; I had 34 minutes and he had 25 at the end.

Of course, I could see that capturing with the queen 11…QxBd5 (+1 for Black) was intuitively best, but I was going with my analysis instead, and also saw that ..Be6 looked more solid than ..Bb7.

After I play the losing move ..Bb7 (-3 or so), I look at the position and think to myself “This can’t be right, White is better developed and must have something, but I don’t see it.” Then he offers a queen sac, and I understand immediately that my position is much worse. I looked and saw that everything was losing (for example, 13..BxN, 14.QxB+ Be7, 15.Bg5 f6, 16.Rad1 is lights-out), then looked at Mark and he looked out of it, dead-tired, so I figured he must have missed that I had the d1 escape square, but when he played ..Nf6++, I saw the pretty mate he had to have seen before his queen sac.

I tried to play the clock, but this is what happens, analysis can lead to rabbit-trails which have a sudden and unfortunate end. The interesting thing is that after ..Bb7, Black has lots of tactical tricks and is winning in many different lines except for the queen sac line. I showed it to a group of other players which came by and none of them found the queen sac move. I used to joke to Alex about how he gave up mate to his opponent’s because he forced them into “only-move” mating him, but here is an example of where I did this to myself (and Alex won against Rhett tonight).

It was a nice game, but for the 45 minutes of traffic getting there (and I left an hour early this time), it’s not worth it to continue on being down 0-2 this month, even if my only games have been with the Black pieces.

I just looked at 13.RxNe4 giving up the exchange, ..BxR, 14.QxB+ and it made me feel sick to think that Black is getting mated shortly, but I wasn’t able to see the tactics. My strategy for this game was to move more quickly, not be tired, get there early, but my opponent’s strategy of being wiped out tired (he looked a bit tired even before the game) and just being better tactically, was superior. He was more afraid that I would win and exhaust him in the endgame, but he was afraid that I would have a winning endgame, and we looked at some lines where I could have given White an isolated pawn endgame.


16 thoughts on ““Only Move” mate

  1. The position looks really scary after Bb7, everything loses.
    Very non-obvious queen sacrifice, especially for class “A” player.
    I know that you shouldn’t take the second pawn in Ruy Open, not the lines, but just that. After 11… Qxd5 12. Qxe4 (the best) Black is half a pawn better.
    There is an interesting game in DB with line that ended in a draw:

  2. Sorry for the delay in the posting a response.

    I was thumbing through Fischer’s My 60 memorable games a couple of months ago and remembered your game and game 33.

    I found some interesting url’s that you might want to take a look at :


    The comments on this game are interesting as well
    especially the part of time trouble on Capablanca’s side.

    I doubt I will ever use this line, since I usually play the Sicilian.
    I do think the material imbalances and the endgame lines are instructive.
    I mentioned before my admiration of Keres and I am starting to enjoy looking at Rubinstein. Both of them seem comfortable on either side of the Ruy Lopez.

    Almost every book I have in my library, says that eating the pawn is a well known bad line so probably move 8 is bad. A lot of these lines can also occur on move 6 or 7 depending on the move order.

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