The five ways to deal with a mate in one threat are:
1. Capture, pin or deflect any of the pieces threatening mate,
2. Block any of the attacking pieces from reaching the mating square, or reposition a piece to allow a block after the check,
3. Run away with the king, create an escape square, or move the king to allow a block,
4. Defend the mating square, or
5. Counterattack with the goal of winning, drawing, or defending.
Let me elaborate a bit. Everybody knows the three basic ways to get out of a regular old check:
1. Capture the piece giving check
2. Block the piece giving check
3. Move the king
But what about when your opponent is threatening to deliver mate on his next move?
You can expand the basic three defenses a bit and add two new (and very interesting!) categories of move ideas:
1. Capture the piece giving check ==> Expands to: capture, pin or deflect any of the pieces threatening mate
2. Block the piece giving check ==> Expands to: Block any of the attacking pieces from reaching the mating square, or reposition a piece to allow a block after the check
3. Move the king ==> Expands to: run away with the king, create an escape square, or move the king to allow a block.
Here is a nice example of one of these 'basic' defenses in action. White to move. How can white defend against black's mate in 1 threat (...Rh1#)?
[HIGHLIGHT TO SEE ANSWER: White's only defense is to move his king to allow the a6 bishop to block: 1. Ke1 Rh1+ 2. Bf1]
A new basic category can be added, which is not legal when in check:
4. Defend the mating square
But the most interesting category of moves is:
Counterattacking can have many objectives, but all counterattacking ideas must address the mate threat:
- WIN: deliver mate of your own,
- DRAW: force draw by either repetition or stalemate, or
- DEFEND: check the king to rearrange your own pieces allowing any of the four basic defenses above.
Here Black finds a creative resource to prevent mate on f8. See if any of the four basic defenses are available first, and then look at counterattacks. Can you can find it? The GM playing White missed this defensive idea when he sacrificed material for what he thought was an unstoppable mate threat.
[HIGHLIGHT TO SEE ANSWER: 1....Qd1+ 2. Kh2 Qxf3 defends the mating square on f8. Alternatively 2. Bg1 blocking the check also works for black, as he is now just a rook up. ]
Whether on attack or defense, use these candidate move ideas and BE CREATIVE in how you search for specific candidate moves -- counterattacks offer the most interesting and creative options!