Fool's mate

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In chess, Fool's Mate, also known as the Two-Move Checkmate, is the checkmate in the fewest possible number of moves from the start of the game. This can be achieved only by Black, who can deliver checkmate on move 2 with the queen. Fool's Mate received its name because it can only occur if White commits an extraordinary blunder. Even among rank beginners, the mate almost never occurs in practice.


Example[edit]

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
e5 black pawn
g4 white pawn
h4 black queen
f3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Fool's Mate – White is checkmated.
Animation demonstrating Fool's Mate

An example of Fool's Mate consists of the moves:

1. f3 e5
2. g4?? Qh4#

resulting in the position shown. The pattern can have slight variation; Black could play ...e6 or ...e5, and White could play f4 rather than f3. Additionally, the order in which White advances their f- and g-pawns could be alternated.

Similar traps[edit]

Similar mating patterns can occur early in the game. For example, in 1. e4 g5 2. d4 f6?? 3. Qh5#, the basic Fool's Mate pattern is the same: a player advances their f- and g-pawns, which permits the enemy queen to mate along the unblocked diagonal. One such Fool's Mate is widely reported to have occurred in a possibly apocryphal 1959 game between Masefield and Trinka[1] which lasted just three moves: 1. e4 g5 2. Nc3 f5?? 3. Qh5#.[2][3][4][5][6] A similar mate can occur in From's Gambit: 1. f4 e5 2. g3? exf4 3. gxf4?? Qh4#.

Teed vs. Delmar[edit]

Teed vs. Delmar, 1896
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
h6 black rook
g5 black pawn
h5 black pawn
d4 white pawn
f4 black pawn
d3 white bishop
e3 white pawn
g3 white bishop
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
d1 white queen
e1 white king
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
After 6...Rh6?? White mates in two moves.

A well-known trap in the Dutch Defence occurred in the game Frank Melville Teed vs. Eugene Delmar, 1896:[7]

1. d4 f5 2. Bg5 h6 3. Bf4 g5 4. Bg3 f4

It seems that Black has won the bishop, but now comes ...

5. e3

Threatening Qh5#, a basic Fool's Mate.

5... h5 6. Bd3?!

Probably better is 6.Be2, but the move played sets a trap.

6... Rh6??

Defending against Bg6#, but ...

7. Qxh5+!

White sacrifices his queen to draw the black rook away from its control of g6.

7... Rxh5 8. Bg6#

Greco vs. NN[edit]

Greco vs. NN
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
h7 white pawn
b6 black pawn
g6 white bishop
h5 black knight
d4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 black bishop
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
e1 white king
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Final position after 8.Bg6#

A similar trap occurred in a game published by Gioachino Greco in 1625:

1. e4 b6 2. d4 Bb7 3. Bd3 f5? 4. exf5 Bxg2? 5. Qh5+ g6 6. fxg6 Nf6??

Opening up a flight square for the king at f8 with 6...Bg7 would have prolonged the game. White still wins with 7.Qf5! Nf6 8.Bh6 Bxh6 9.gxh7 Bxh1 (9...e6 opens another flight square at e7. White then checks with 10.Qg6+ Ke7.) 10.Qg6+ Kf8 11.Qxh6+ Kf7 12.Nh3, but much slower than in the game.[8]

7. gxh7+! Nxh5 8. Bg6#

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The names are also recorded as Mayfield or Mansfield and Trinks or Trent depending on the source consulted.
  2. ^ Mike Fox and Richard James (1993). The Even More Complete Chess Addict. Faber and Faber. p. 177. 
  3. ^ Winter, Edward (2005). Chess Facts and Fables. McFarland & Co. pp. 253–254. ISBN 978-0-7864-2310-1. 
  4. ^ Edward G. Winter (August 2006). "Chess Notes 4493. Short game". 
  5. ^ Edward G. Winter (August 2006). "Chess Notes 4506. Short game (C.N. 4493)". 
  6. ^ Averbakh, Yuri Lvovich; Beilin, Mikhail Abramovich (1972). Путешествие в шахматное королевство (in Russian). Fizkultura i sport. p. 227. 
  7. ^ Teed vs. Delmar
  8. ^ Lev Alburt (2011). Chess Openings for White, Explained. Chess Information Research Center. p. 509. 

Further reading[edit]