[FEN "rn1qkbnr/ppp1pppp/8/8/2B3b1/2N2N2/PPPP1PPP/R1BQK2R b KQkq - 0 1"]

1...Nf6 2.Bxf7+ Kxf7 3.Ne5+ Kg8 4.Nxg4

It's black to move. There is a trap: 1...Nf6 2.Bxf7+ Kxf7 3.Ne5+ Kg8 4.Nxg4 and white wins a pawn (from Capablanca's Chess Fundamentals). I wonder how do you get to the initial position. The only way I've thought of involves black playing a bad opening, moving a piece twice. For instance:

[FEN " w KQkq - 0 1"]

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Bc4

Is there a more natural way to get to the position?

  • 1
    I am not sure I would call this a trap as much as a blunderfest. :) Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 0:59

3 Answers 3


Your proposal is a plausible way to get to that position. I wouldn't call the Scandinavian "bad" just because it moves a piece twice. It's perfectly playable.

When the trap was played in the following game, it was the knight rather than the queen which moved twice.

[Site "Sao Paulo (Brazil)"]
[Date "1973.??.??"]
[White "Nobrega Adaucto Da "]
[Black "Barata Hemar"]
[Result "1-0"]
[FEN ""]

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nxd5 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Ne5+ Kg8
8. Nxg4

And by the way, you have to be a little careful when playing this. Someone once tried this on me, but the position was slightly different:

[FEN ""]

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 c6 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Bc4 Bg4 D 7.Bxf7+?

And now after Kxf7 8.Ne5+, Black has Qxe5+ 9.dxe5 Bxd1 and will end up with an extra minor piece.

  • By some amazing coincidence, last weekend I had an OTB game that started 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nxd5 4.Bc4 Nb6 5.Bb3 Bg4. Thanks to this question, this trap was in my mind, so I played 6.Bxf7+. Stockfish later told me that 6.Ne5 would have been even better, but the text was good enough to let me win.
    – D M
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 4:24

The initial way you gave is the overwhelming favorite way to get to that in the Mega Database. Out of the 72 games, that move order occurred 59 times (three times, white played Nf3, and only after did Nc3 Qd8 get played).

The other 13 times, saw Nd5; Bc4 Nc6 as in the game below. That game was the only one that had an ECO code of B02 somehow, with the rest all being B01.

Once, instead of taking Kxf7, black played Kd7.

 [Event "FIN-ch U18"]
 [Site "Finland"]
 [Date "1989.??.??"]
 [Round "?"]
 [White "Koskela, Niina"]
 [Black "Kosonen, Marko"]
 [Result "1-0"]
 [ECO "B02"]
 [PlyCount "39"]
 [EventDate "1989.??.??"]
 [EventRounds "7"]
 [EventCountry "FIN"]
 [FEN ""]

 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nxd5 4. Nf3 Bg4 5. Bc4 Nf6 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Ne5+ Kg8 8. Nxg4 Nc6 9. d3 Qd7 10. Nxf6+ exf6 11. O-O Kf7 12. Bf4 h5 13. h4 Be7 14. Ne4 Rag8 15. c3 Ke8 16. Re1 Kd8 17. d4 g5 18. hxg5 fxg5 19. Bh2 Rg6 20. d5 1-0

The one game with Kd7.

 [Event "NOR-chT"]
 [Site "Karasjok"]
 [Date "2008.01.11"]
 [Round "1.3"]
 [White "Takle, Dan"]
 [Black "Lanes, Mikal"]
 [Result "1-0"]
 [ECO "B01"]
 [WhiteElo "2220"]
 [BlackElo "1249"]
 [PlyCount "23"]
 [EventDate "2008.01.11"]
 [EventType "team-tourn"]
 [EventRounds "5"]
 [EventCountry "NOR"]
 [FEN ""]

 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. Bxf7+ Kd7 7. Ne5+ Kc8 8. Nxg4 Nbd7 9. d4 c6 10. O-O Nb6 11. Be6+ Nbd7 12. Ne5 1-0
  • 1
    Thank you for your research @PhishMaster. In the last game, we could say that 6...Kd7 is definitely a bad move, right?
    – MBolin
    Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 16:34
  • 1
    @MBolin, yes, it is much worse since it probably loses a whole piece, not just a pawn and position. After 7.Ne5 Kc8; 8.Ng4 Ng4 9.Qg4 Nd7 10.Be6 black has trouble unbinding his pieces, and white has all the time in the world to form a strong attack.A Ne4 soon will threaten both Nc5 and Ng5-f7, for example. Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 16:48
[FEN ""]

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8

Above is a playable line of the Scandinavian defense. 3...Qa5 and maybe also 3...Qd6 are more popular, but Qd8 isn't horrible.

The tactical trick itself is more general. It can occur, for example, in the following gambit line:

[FEN ""]

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Bc4 Bg4
  • 3
    I think you meant "3...Qa5 and maybe also 3...Qd6"
    – MBolin
    Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 16:25
  • 1
    And also, in this case you start a pawn down, so the trap would just compensate for that, right?
    – MBolin
    Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 16:28
  • 1
    Yes, 3...Q, thanks. The trap does more than compensate for the missing pawn. It leaves black's king unsafe and his pawn structure broken up. Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 8:51

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