Scholar's mate

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8
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a8 black rook
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 white queen
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c6 black knight
f6 black knight
e5 black pawn
c4 white bishop
e4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
e1 white king
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
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Scholar's Mate – Black is checkmated.

In chess, Scholar's Mate is the checkmate achieved by the following moves, or similar:

1. e4 e5
2. Qh5 Nc6
3. Bc4 Nf6??
4. Qxf7#

The same mating pattern may be reached by various move orders. For example, White might play 2.Bc4. In all variations, the basic idea is the same: the queen and bishop combine in a simple mating attack on f7 (or f2 if Black is performing the mate).

Scholar's Mate is sometimes referred to as the "four-move checkmate", although there are other ways to checkmate in four moves.

History[edit]

The Scholar's Mate was named and described in The Royall Game of Chesse-Play, a 1656 text by Francis Beale which adapted the work of the early chess writer Gioachino Greco.[1] The example given above is an adaptation of that reported by Beale.

The Schollers Mate.

White kings pawne one houſe.
Black kings pawne the ſame.
White Queen to the contrary kings Rookes fourth houſe
Black Queens knight to her Biſhops third houſe
White kings Biſhop to the queens Biſhops fourth houſe
Black kings knight to the kings Biſhops third houſe

White queen takes the contrary kings Biſhops pawne gives mate.

— Beale, The Royall Game of Chesse-Play[2]

All of the details are coherent from the modern perspective except for the first moves by each player—if Black's pawn advances only one square, this prevents White's bishop from supporting the white queen to give mate. Beale's text was an early modern account of the rules and tactics of chess, including concepts such as the ability of a pawn to advance two squares on its first move, en passant, forks, and exchange.[3] However, the document treated a then-exotic subject during the early days of printing; consequently the publisher attached a list of errata at the back, following publication.[4] Thus, the text "one houſe" describing the first move (advancing one square) may have been a mistake.

Avoiding Scholar's Mate[edit]

Unlike Fool's Mate, which rarely occurs at any level, games ending in Scholar's Mate are quite common among beginners. It is not difficult to parry, however.

On move 1[edit]

After 1.e4, Black can play a semi-open defense instead of 1...e5. Openings such as the French Defense (1...e6) or the Scandinavian Defense (1...d5) render Scholar's Mate unviable, while other openings such as the Sicilian Defense (1...c5) make 2.Bc4 a bad move (1.e4 c5 2.Bc4? e6, intending ...d5, gaining time by attacking the c4-bishop and attaining easy equality).

On move 3[edit]

abcdefgh
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c6 black knight
f6 black knight
g6 black pawn
e5 black pawn
c4 white bishop
e4 white pawn
f3 white queen
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
e1 white king
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
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After 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Nf6, Black has successfully defended against Scholar's Mate.

After 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4, the cleanest way to defend against the mate threat is 3...g6. Should White renew the Qxf7 threat with 4.Qf3, Black can easily defend by 4...Nf6 (see diagram), and develop the f8-bishop later via fianchetto (...Bg7).

In other openings[edit]

Although a quick mate on f7 is almost never seen in play above beginner level, the basic idea underlying it—that f7 and f2, squares defended only by the kings, are weak and therefore good targets for early attack—is the motivating principle behind a number of chess openings.[5]

Name in other languages[edit]

  • In some languages, including Dutch, Estonian, Esperanto, French, German, Czech, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish: Shepherd's Mate
  • In Italian: Barber's Mate
  • In Persian, Greek and Arabic: Napoleon's Plan
  • In Belorussian, Latvian, Russian and Ukrainian: Children's Mate
  • In Croatian, Danish, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Polish (where Fool's Mate is known as Scholar's Mate), Slovakian and Slovenian: Shoemaker's Mate
  • In Danish, Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian: School Mate

Scholar's Mate has sometimes also been given other names in English, such as Schoolboy's Mate (which in modern English perhaps better connotes the sense of 'novice' intended by the word Scholar's) and Blitzkrieg (German for "lightning war"), meaning a quick and short engagement (Kidder 1960).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Beale, Francis. "The Royall Game of Chesse-Play". babel.hathitrust.org. p. 17, .pdf p. 49.
  2. ^ Beale 1656, p. 17 (.pdf p. 49).
  3. ^ Beale 1656, pp. 1-17 (.pdf pp. 33-49).
  4. ^ Beale 1656, pp. 121-122 (.pdf pp. 161-162).
  5. ^ Kállai, Gábor (1997). Basic Chess Openings. Everyman Chess. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-85744-113-0.

Bibliography