The Basic Checkmates
The first thing you need to plan checkmate is to know just what a checkmate looks like. Therefore, here are a number of checkmates using the various pieces and pawns. All nonessential pieces and pawns are removed so you just see the pure checkmate. Even the White king is missing in most cases.
The queen covers the g-file as well as the seventh rank escape squares. Black's rooks cover the other escape squares.
The queen covers everywhere the Black king could go, except her own square, g4. That is covered by the White king.
The h8-rook covers all h-file squares, while the g6-rook covers all g-file escape squares.
The rook covers all eighth-rank squares, while the seventh rank is denied to the king by his own pawns.
The White bishop covers h8 and g7, while Black's own bishop and pawn take away the other escape squares.
The e5-bishop covers the dark squares, while the e4-bishop covers the light squares.
The White knight covers b8 and c7. All other escape squares are taken up by Black's own pieces.
The f5-knight checks and covers g3. The f6-knight covers h5 and g4. The rook and pawn occupy h3 and g5.
The White pawn delivers the check, while the White king takes away all g-file escape squares.
The White pawn checks, the White king takes away a7 and b7, and the Black bishop takes away b8.
To understand how to bring about these checkmates, you need to be able to visualize the final checkmate. When you can do that, you will be able to find a lurking checkmate anytime there is a chance for one. Simply look for all the possible checks and determine if there is a way out. If not, you have found a checkmate!
Basic checkmates are those produced with the minimum amount of material: the king getting checkmated and the king and piece or pieces needed to produce the checkmates are the only pieces occupying the board. There are no pawns on the board in these basic checkmate positions. These include:
Rook and king
Queen and king
Two bishops and king
Bishop, knight, and king
Only in the first of the list, the one involving two rooks, is the strong side's king unnecessary. There is also queen and rook or two queens, but these are redundant. You will notice that two knights and king do not appear on the list. You can checkmate an inattentive opponent using only those pieces, but an experienced player will always be able to slip away. There is no way to force checkmate with only two knights and king against a lone king.
Checkmates don't spring up on inspiration when you want them to. You have to plan for them well in advance. The first step is to know what the checkmates look like. The next step is to find checkmates lurking on the very next move. The third and hardest phase is to recognize a checkmate pattern forming in the future and play to bring it about.
Here are some positions where a checkmate waits to be found on the next move. All you have to do is find the right check. It is White to move and checkmate Black in each case.
1. Qg8 mate.
1. Rh8 mate.
1. Rh8 mate.
1. Bxe5 mate.
1. Be5 mate.
1. Na6 mate.
1. Nf5 mate.
1. hxg5 mate.
1. b7 mate.