Checkmating with a knight and a bishop requires knowledge and a precise technique. I have tried to explain it in steps simple to understand and learn!
As opposed to all other piece checkmating patterns, which are rather easy to grasp or even figure out on your own over the board without any prior knowledge (with the exception of mating with two bishops, which is gong to be covered in a separate video), the knight and bishop mate is far more complex.
There is really only one way, or one technique to achieve checkmate, and if you don’t know it, you will hardly be able to find it in a real game.
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Several things need to be kept in mind when it comes to knight and bishop checkmate:
1. You have to mate in less than 50 moves. Because of the 50 move rule, if no pawns are moved, or no pieces exchanged in 50 moves, the game is drawn. That means that you have a limited number of moves to mate. It can easily be done in 30 moves with correct technique, but if you are missing a single piece of the required knowledge, a hundred moves may not suffice.
2. You can only checkmate in the corner of your bishop’s color. Meaning that if you have a dark squared bishop you have to checkmate in a dark squared corner. Conversely, the defender’s king should try and hide in the opposite corner. You can checkmate on any square on the edge of the board (h and a files, 1st and 8th rank), but your opponent has to help you with that, and he can avoid it very easily.
3. Move your king up the board as much as you can at start. Take up as much space. Move your pieces closer only when your king can no longer improve its position.
4. Use both the knight and the bishop to cut the king off. Restraining is crucial.
5. The winning maneuver can begin when the king is stuck at the back row (any back row, vertically or diagonally). To achieve that, the easiest way is to force it into any corner of the board. From there the technique gets simpler.
6. To force the king into the corner you want, you have to use all three pieces. Your king to restrain it from moving up the board and to keep opposition, your bishop to cut it of the main retreat square on the bishop’s color, and the knight to cover the rest. You basically need your knight to compliment your bishop’s defect. The technique of moving the knight is popularly called the “W” maneuver. You move your knight in the shape of a W. For example – Nf7 to e5 to d7 to c5 to b7. The squares form a W!
7. The easiest piece constellation to force checkmate is knight – king – bishop lined up on the same file or rank.
8. You cannot win without waiting moves. Putting your opponent in zugzwang is crucial. Otherwise it wouldn’t be checkmate but stalemate!