Checkmates in the opening

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In chess, checkmates in the opening are examples of a player being checkmated during the first few moves of the game (i.e. in the opening). Some common or notable mating patterns have names of their own. These include Fool's mate, Scholar's mate, and Légal's mate.

Quick checkmates[edit]

Some opening traps involve an early checkmate. These include:

  • Benoni Defense 1.d4 c5 2.d5 e6 3.Nc3 exd5?! 4.Nxd5 Ne7 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 Qa5+ 7.c3 Nf5?? 8.Qa4!! Qxa4 9.Nc7# 1–0 YermolinskyTate, Reno 2001[1]
  • Blackburne Shilling Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4?! 4.Nxe5!? Qg5! 5.Nxf7?? Qxg2 6.Rf1 Qxe4+ 7.Be2 Nf3# Muhlock–Kostić, Cologne, 1912[2]
  • Budapest Gambit:
    • 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.Bf4 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bb4+ 6.Nbd2 Qe7 7.a3 Ngxe5! 8.axb4?? Nd3#[3]
    • 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.d5?! Bc5 4.Bg5? Ne4! 5.Bxd8?? Bxf2# Arnold–Hanauer, Philadelphia 1936[4]
  • Caro-Kann Defence:
    • 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Qe2 Ngf6?? 6.Nd6# Alekhine–Four Amateurs, simultaneous exhibition, Palma de Mallorca 1935[5]
    • (from above) 5.Bc4 Ngf6 6.Ng5 e6 7.Qe2 Nb6 8.Bd3 h6 9.N5f3 c5 10.dxc5 Nbd7!? 11.b4 b6 12.Nd4! bxc5?? 13.Nc6! Qc7 14.Qxe6+! (1–0 Perenyi–Eperjesi, Budapest 1974)[6] fxe6 15.Bg6#
    • 1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5?! 5.Ng3 Bg6? 6.h4 h6 7.Ne5 Bh7 8.Qh5! g6 9.Bc4! e6 10.Qe2 Nf6?? 11.Nxf7! Kxf7 12.Qxe6+ (1–0 Alekhine–Bruce, Plymouth 1938)[7] Kg7 13.Qf7#
    • 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Qd3!? e5?! 6.dxe5 Qa5+ 7.Bd2 Qxe5 8.0-0-0! Nxe4?? 9.Qd8+!! Kxd8 10. Bg5++ (RétiTartakower, Vienna 1910)[8] 10...Ke8 11.Rd8# or 10...Kc7 11.Bd8#
  • Dutch Defence:
    • 1.d4 f5 2.Bg5 h6 3.Bh4 g5 4.Bg3 f4? 5.e3 h5 (5...fxg3?? 6.Qh5#) 6.Bd3!? Rh6?? 7.Qxh5+! Rxh5 8.Bg6# TeedDelmar, New York 1896[9]
    • 1.d4 f5 2.h3 Nf6 3.g4 fxg4 4.hxg4 Nxg4 5.Qd3 Nf6?? 6.Rxh7! Rxh7 7.Qg6#
  • Englund Gambit 1.d4 e5?! 2.dxe5 Nc6 3.Nf3 Qe7 4.Bf4 Qb4+ 5.Bd2 Qxb2 6.Bc3?? Bb4 7.Qd2 Bxc3 8.Qxc3 Qc1#
  • French Defence (Réti Gambit) 1.e4 e6 2.b3 d5 3.Bb2 dxe4 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Qe2 Bb4 6.0-0-0 Qe7 7.Nxe4 Ba3 8.Nxf6+ Qxf6 9.Bxa3?? Qa1#
  • Fried Liver Attack 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 7.Qf3+ Ke8? 8.Bxd5 Nd4?? (or several other moves) 9.Qf7# DuBois-Mapelle, 1989[10]
  • Bird's Opening (From Gambit): 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 (4.b3?? Qh4+ 5.g3 Qxg3+ 6.hxg3 Bxg3# PantelidakisRhine, Chicago 1974) g5 5.h3?? Bg3# Napetschnig–Rhine, Chicago 1977
  • Grünfeld Defence 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 c5 8.Ne2 cxd4 9.cxd4 Nc6 10.Be3 Qa5+!? 11.Bd2 Qa3 12.Rb1 0-0 13.d5? Ne5 14.Bb4? Qf3!! (Kuchta–Honfi, correspondence 1956)[11] 15.gxf3?? Nxf3+ 16.Kf1 Bh3#
  • King's Gambit:
    • 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.g3? fxg3 5.Qf3 g2+ 6.Ke2 gxh1=Q?? 7.Qxf7+ Kd8 8.Qxf8#
    • 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.b3 Qh4+ 4.g3 fxg3 5.h3 g2+ 6.Ke2 Qxe4+ 7.Kf2 gxh1=N# Wiede–Goetz, Strassburg 1880[12]
  • Nimzowitsch Defence 1.e4 Nc6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Nc3 Bxf3 6.Nxd5 Bxd1 7.Nxc7+ Kd8 8.Nxa8 Bxc2 9.Bf4 Nxd4 10.Nc7? e5! 11.Bxe5?? Bb4# Bildhauer-Janny, Sopron 1927[13] Also possible is 7...Kd7 8.Nxa8 Bxc2 9.Bf4 e5 10.dxe5 Bb4+ 11.Ke2 Nge7 12.e6+ fxe6 13.Nc7?? Nd4+ 14.Ke3 Nef5# Kiss–Barcza, Debrecen 1934.[14]
  • Owen's Defence 1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5?! 4.exf5! Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6! Nf6?? 7.gxh7+! Nxh5 8.Bg6# Greco–N.N., Rome 1619[15]
  • Petrov's Defence 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nc6?! 4.Nxc6 dxc6 5.d3 Bc5 6.Bg5? Nxe4! 7.Bxd8?? Bxf2+ 8.Ke2 Bg4#
  • Philidor Defence 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 Bg4?! 4.Nc3 g6? 5.Nxe5! Bxd1?? 6.Bxf7+ Ke7 7.Nd5# Légal–Saint Brie, Paris 1750.[16] This mating pattern is now called Légal's mate.
  • Queen's Gambit Declined, Marshall Defense 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nf6?! 3.cxd5 Nxd5 4.Nf3 Nc6? 5.e4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Bg4 7.d5 Ne5? 8.Nxe5! Bxd1 9.Bb5+ c6 10.dxc6 Qc7?? 11.cxb7+ (1-0 Genz–Boehmer, Colorado 1985)[17] Kd8 (after 11...Qd7 and 11...Nd7, White mates, or forces mate, with 12.bxa8=Q+ or bxa8=R+) 12.Nxf7#
  • Richter-Veresov Attack 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bg5 c5!? 4.Bxf6 exf6!? 5.dxc5 d4 6.Ne4 Bf5 7.Ng3? Bxc5! 8.Nxf5? Qa5+! 9.c3 dxc3 10.b4 Bxb4 11.Qc2 Qxf5! 12.Qxf5?? c2# Sollano–Rhine, Chicago 1977[18]
  • Robatsch Defense: 1.e4 g6 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 Nd7?? 4.Bxf7+! Kxf7 5.Ng5+ Kf6 (otherwise 6.Ne6 wins the queen) 6.Qf3+ Kxg5 (6...Ke5 7.d4+ Kxd4 8.Qc3#) 7.d4+ Kh4 8.Qh3#
  • Ruy Lopez:
    • 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 exd4?! 7.Re1 d5 8.Nxd4 Bd6 9.Nxc6 Bxh2+! 10.Kh1! Qh4 11.Rxe4+! dxe4 12.Qd8+! Qxd8 13.Nxd8+ Kxd8 14.Kxh2 f5?? 15.Bg5# Pandolfini–N.N., 1970[19]
    • 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 Bg4 6.h3 h5 7.d3 Qf6 8.Be3 Ne7 9.Nbd2 Ng6 10.hxg4? hxg4 11.Ng5 Nf4 12.Qxg4 Qxg5! (0–1 Hans BöhmRomán Hernández, Amsterdam 1979) 13.Qxg5 Ne2#[20]
    • 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 d6 5.d4 Nxe4? 6.d5 a6 7.Bd3 Nf6 8.dxc6 e4 9.Re1 d5 10.Be2! exf3?? (Black had to play 10...bxc6) 11.cxb7 Bxb7 (if 11...fxe2, 12.bxa8(Q)) 12.Bb5# Nimzowitsch–Ryckhoff, simultaneous exhibition, Pärnu 1910[21][22]
  • Scandinavian Defense 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 c6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Bf4 e6 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 Bb4 9.Be2 Nd7 10.a3 0-0-0?? 11.axb4!! Qxa1+ 12.Kd2! Qxh1 13.Qxc6+! bxc6 14.Ba6# Canal–N.N., Budapest 1934 (the "Peruvian Immortal": White sacrifices both rooks and his queen to finish with Boden's mate)[23]
  • Sicilian Defence:
    • 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4 Qc7 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Qe2 Ng4! 9.h3?? Nd4! (winning White's queen, at least) 10.Nxd4? Qh2# (the Siberian Trap)
    • 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 d5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Nf3?! Bg4 6.Qa4+ Nc6 7.Nxd4 Bd7 8.Nb5? 0-0-0! 9.Nxa7+?? Nxa7 10.Qxa7 Qd1+!! (0–1 Dutch–Sugden, London 1964)[24] 11.Kxd1 Bg4+ 12.Kc2 Bd1# or 12.Ke1 Rd1# (a finish strikingly similar to RétiTartakower, Vienna 1910, cited under Caro-Kann Defence, above)
    • 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.Nc3 e6 5.Nxd5 exd5 6.d4 Nc6 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Qxd5 Qb6 9.Bc4 Bxf2+ 10.Ke2 0-0 11.Rf1 Bc5 12.Ng5 Nd4+ 13.Kd1 Ne6 14.Ne4 d6 15.exd6 Bxd6?? 16.Nxd6 Rd8 17.Bf4! Nxf4? 18.Qxf7+ Kh8 19.Qg8+! (1–0 UnzickerSarapu, Siegen Olympiad 1970)[25] Rxg8 20.Nf7#
    • 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 b5 8.e5 dxe5 9.fxe5 Qc7 10.Qe2 Nfd7 11.0-0-0 Bb7 12.Qg4 Qxe5 13.Bd3 Nf6? 14.Bxf6 Qxf6? 15.Rhe1 h5 16.Nxe6! Be7 (16...hxg4 17.Bxb5+! Ke7 (17...axb5? 18.Nc7# or 18.Nxg7#) 18.Nxf8+ Kxf8? 19.Re8#) 17.Bxb5+! axb5 18.Nc7+! Kf8 19.Rd8+! Bxd8 20.Re8# Tal–N.N., England 1974
  • Three Knights Game 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Bg7 6.Bg5 Nge7? 7.Nxd4! Bxd4?? 8.Qxd4! Nxd4 9.Nf6+ Kf8 10.Bh6#[26]
  • Vienna Game 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Bxf7+ (4.Nxe4 d5) Kxf7 5.Nxe4 Nc6 6.Qf3+ Kg8?? 7.Ng5! Qxg5 8.Qd5#

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yermolinsky–Tate, Reno 2001. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  2. ^ Muhlock-Kostic, Koln 1912. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  3. ^ Henricksen–Pedersen, Bronshoj 1937. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  4. ^ Arnold-Hanauer, Philadelphia 1936. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  5. ^ Irving Chernev, Wonders and Curiosities of Chess (Dover, 1974), p. 25.
  6. ^ Perenyi–Eperjesi, Budapest 1974. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  7. ^ Alekhine–Bruce, Plymouth 1938. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  8. ^ Reti–Tartakower, Vienna 1910. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  9. ^ Teed–Delmar, New York 1896. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  10. ^ DuBois–Mapelle, 1989. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  11. ^ Kuchta-Honfi, correspondence 1956. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  12. ^ Wiede-Goetz, Strassburg 1880. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  13. ^ Bildhauer–Janny, Sopron 1927. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  14. ^ Kiss-Barcza, Debrecen 1934. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  15. ^ Greco–N.N., Rome 1619. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  16. ^ Legal-Saint Brie, Paris 1750. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  17. ^ Genz-Boehmer, Colorado 1985. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  18. ^ Sollano–Rhine, Chicago 1977. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  19. ^ Pandolfini–N.N., 1970. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  20. ^ Böhm-Hernandez, Amsterdam 1979
  21. ^ Aron Nimzovich, My System, David McKay, 1947, p. 131. ISBN 0-679-14025-5.
  22. ^ Nimzowitsch–Ryckhoff, Pernau 1910. Retrieved on 2009-11-15.
  23. ^ Canal-N.N., Budapest 1934. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  24. ^ Dutch–Sugden, London 1964. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  25. ^ Unzicker-Sarapu, Siegen Olympiad 1970. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.
  26. ^ Movsisyan–Patton, Tulsa Open 2004. Retrieved on 2014-08-15.

Further reading[edit]