Scholar's mate

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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
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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. Bc4 Nc6
3. Qh5 Nf6??
4. Qxf7#

The same mating pattern may be reached by various move orders. For example, White might play 2.Qh5, or Black might play 2...Bc5. 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.


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. However, it is not difficult to parry.

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) makes 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 2[edit]

The most common response to the Bishop's Opening is 2...Nf6 (see Bishop's Opening, Berlin Defense), which also renders Scholar's Mate unviable.

On move 3[edit]

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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 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
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After 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Qh5 g6 4.Qf3 Nf6, Black has successfully defended against Scholar's Mate.

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).

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
e8 black king
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black queen
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c5 black bishop
e5 black pawn
h5 white queen
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
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After 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Bc5 3.Qh5, Black stops Scholar's Mate with 3...Qe7!

If Black played 2... Bc5 instead of 2...Nc6, then 3...g6?? is a blunder because Black loses the king rook to 4.Qxe5+ followed by 5.Qxh8. The best move is 3... Qe7! (see diagram), which protects both the f7-pawn and e5-pawn, and now Black threatens 4...Nf6, gaining a tempo by attacking White's queen. Play might continue 4. Nf3 (threatening the e5-pawn) 4... Nc6 5. Ng5 Nh6, when White has no way to keep up the pressure and will soon have to pull his exposed pieces back.

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.[1]

Name in other languages[edit]

  • In some languages, including Dutch, Esperanto, French, German, Latvian, 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. ^ Kállai, Gábor (1997). Basic Chess Openings. Everyman Chess. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-85744-113-0. 

Bibliography