Staunton's smothered mate

by Milica Knezevic on January 17, 2022

The Game: John Cochrane vs. Howard Staunton, London, 1841

John Cochrane

  • Let's primarily clarify what a smothered mate means: in chess, a smothered mate is a rare checkmate delivered by a knight in which the mated king is unable to move because he is surrounded (or smothered) by his own pieces.
  • In rare situations, the surrounding pieces may include an opponent's defended piece, which the king cannot capture.
  • Carefully move through the game above and check out the play between Howard Staunton and John Cochrane

  • In the game presented we notice the Bishop's Opening: Lewis Gambit.
  • Observe the match move by move and decide for yourself how you could have improved a historic match such as this.
  • In case of no ideas, refer back to some basic chess rules and come up with a strategy of your own.

Who Was Howard Staunton

  • Howard Staunton (April 1810 – 22 June 1874) was an English chess master who is generally regarded as the world's strongest player from 1843 to 1851, largely as a result of his 1843 victory over Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant.
  • Staunton promoted a chess set of clearly distinguishable pieces of standardized shape – the Staunton pattern promulgated by Nathaniel Cooke – that is still the style required for competitions.
  • Staunton was the principal organizer of the first international chess tournament in 1851, which made England the world's leading chess centre and caused Adolf Anderssen to be recognised as the world's strongest player.

  • His chess articles and books were widely read and encouraged the development of chess in the United Kingdom, and his Chess-Players' Handbook (1847) was a reference for decades. The chess openings the English Opening and Staunton Gambit were named for his advocacy of them.
  • Staunton has been a controversial figure since his own time, and his chess writings could be spiteful.
  • On the other hand, Staunton maintained good working relationships with several strong players and influential chess enthusiasts, and demonstrated excellent management skills.

Who Was John Cochrane

  • John Cochrane (4 February 1798 – 2 March 1878) was a Scottish chess master and lawyer.
  • After serving in the Royal Navy Cochrane chose to become a barrister. While studying law, he became a very strong chess player and published a book on the game, which included the Cochrane variation of the Salvio Gambit, a main line of the King's Gambit.
  • Around this time he played against the Frenchmen Deschapelles and Labourdonnais, who were acknowledged to be Europe's strongest players at the time.

  • Cochrane was one of the earliest notable British chess masters, his playing career beginning during those of Jacob Henry Sarratt (1772–1819) and William Lewis (1787–1870).
  • He played against Labourdonnais before anyone had heard of the Frenchman's great opponent Alexander McDonnell, and was a successful writer about the game in 1822, when Howard Staunton was a schoolboy.
  • In 1844 George Walker described Cochrane:"Mr. Cochrane is the most brilliant player I have ever had the honour to look over or confront; not even excepting De la Bourdonnais; and pity it is that his very brilliancy so often mars success."

For more amazing and impressive games to learn from check out our other blogs in this series!

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1 comment
by Kenneth on May 24, 2022

I remember that mate. My first time winning game i don know checkmate, i just checked with my knight and that’s it! Haha :D


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