Take the 2-minute tour ×
Chess Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for serious players and enthusiasts of chess. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I would like to learn about a few checkmates using very few moves.

I know a one where you develop the knight and march it directly towards the King.

Does anyone know the name of this mate and can you suggest others?

share|improve this question
    
If you know the mate you're thinking about, can you post the moves? –  Daniel δ May 24 '12 at 14:38
add comment

5 Answers

up vote 19 down vote accepted

There are probably as many quick mates as there have been first time players (since we all get caught in these at the start!) but here are a few common ones:

Fool's Mate

This is the shortest possible checkmate in a mere two moves:

[FEN ""]

1. f4 e5 2. g4 Qh4# 0-1


White can also play f3 instead of f4 or move the g pawn before the f pawn.

Scholar's Mate

This mating pattern is also sometimes referred to as "Fool's Mate" and there are two main patterns:

[FEN ""]

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 (2. Qh5 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Qxf7#) Nc6 3. Qf3 Bc5 4. Qxf7# 1-0


The key is that f7 is insufficiently defended and mate is delivered there.

Légal's Mate

Légal's Mate (also spelled as Légall's Mate) is probably the mate referenced in the question:

[FEN ""]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 d6 4.Nc3 Bg4  
5.h3 Bh5? 6.Nxe5! Bxd1?? 7.Bxf7+ Ke7 8.Nd5# 1-0
share|improve this answer
5  
Legal's mate is quite cute. Isn't it? –  ragu.pattabi Nov 18 '12 at 8:48
    
Légal's Mate is the smartest mate on this page, I never thought about it. I could've mated at least 30 opponents with it! Damn I should have read your answer long ago. –  Fischer Apr 8 at 12:06
add comment

For a short mating possibility in a very standard mainline opening, one can look to the Smyslov-Karpov variation in the Caro-Kann Defense:

[FEN ""]
[Result "1-0"]
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Qe2 Ngf6?? 6.Nd6#

The most popular continuations are 5. Nf3, 5. Bc4 and 5. Ng5 (an aggressive try which Kasparov assayed a number of times against Karpov). The sneaky try 5. Qe2 just sets up a pin against Black's e-pawn, making the intended followup 5... Ngf6?? unplayable.

There are a mere 271 games in my database (out of several million) in which this 5. Qe2 appears, but one finds a few GMs giving it a go: Ivan Radulov, Oleg Nikolenko, Joe Gallagher (against as strong an opponent as IM Tibor Karolyi), even some guy named Alekhine (though, admittedly, only in a consultation game against a team of four amateurs). A 2300 player also tried it out against Yasser Seirawan on the black side; Seirawan didn't fall into the trap of course, but the 2300 did manage to get a draw out of the game.

If you're still reading, you're probably curious: out of the 271 games I have on record, in only 34 of them did black fall into the trap with 5... Ngf6. Alekhine's amateur foes were among the victims, and the highest rated victim was in a game Hans Speck (2140) - Nikolaus Mertens (2165) from the 1997 Liechtenstein Open. Most interestingly, on two of those 34 occasions, the white player failed to reply with 6. Nd6#. One was a player rated 1873 who went on to lose to his 2202 opponent; the other was rated 2264(!) and managed to win anyway against a 2113 on the black side.

share|improve this answer
add comment

There's a 2-move checkmate, termed fool's mate:

  1. f3 e5 2. g4 Qh4#

Fool's mate on wikipedia

share|improve this answer
1  
I played Fool's Mate when I was in the 7th or 8th grade. I decided that the chess match against a neighboring school was a really good time to "invent a new opening." I was wrong. –  Tony Ennis May 27 '12 at 14:10
    
I also lost to it in my bizarre-paws-opening period, a careless day :D (as a 1900 ^^) –  Nikana Reklawyks Nov 29 '12 at 18:56
add comment

The Scholar's and Fool's mates that others have cited are the shortest. They rely on two different but highly important principles chess players should remember. Scholar's mate relies on the opponent's insufficiently protected f2 (or ...f7) point, while Fool's mate relies on a weakening of the diagonal from h5 (or ...h4) to the opponent's king.

While you can actively try for Scholar's mate (and many weak amateurs fall for it), Fool's mate pretty much relies on very poor play by the opponent -- advancing the f and g pawns such that the critical diagonal is fatally weakened. A variant of Fool's mate is more likely to occur that involves several more moves and induces the opponent to make the required weakening moves. Consider the following sequence; White's fourth move is a fatal mistake leading to the loss of his queen or getting mated along the ...h4-e1 diagonal.

[FEN ""]
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nd2 e5 3. dxe5 Ng4 4. h3?? Ne3 5. fxe3 Qh4+ 6. g3 Qxg3#


An excellent old book that should probably be a new player's second or third book is "The Art of Checkmate", despite being so old it still uses descriptive notation:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Checkmate-Dover-Chess/dp/0486201066

share|improve this answer
add comment

A mate in 2½ move, derived from Wayward Queen Attack, occurs if black moves Ke7 as a "panic" attempt to protect the e5 pawn with the king, which may occur if young players moves too quickly:

[FEN ""]

1. e4 e5 
2. Qh5 Ke7 
3. Qe5#
share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.