A quaint question I had lately; what is the earliest known appearance to "Fool's Mate"? I refer to both the name and/or the move sequence.

A quick search with Google Books revealed a reference dated to 1672 in "The famous game of chesse-play" by Arthur Saul and John Barbier.

Here is a screenshot of the relevant text portion.

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    Just a related tidbit: The shepherd's mate (that's the same as scholar/peasant, right?!) is an important plot point already in one chivalric romances, which were hip centuries earlier. (Don't recall the exact source, though.) Obviously, in both cases we can set a lower limit to the date the queen was upgraded. Mar 21 at 8:03

In reference @Rewan Demontay's answer, I know that Augustus, Duke of Brunswick published Das Schach- oder Königsspiel under the pseudonym Gustavus Selenus in 1616. I can't confirm that this work actually mentions Fool's Mate (I don't speak German, and I can't find the full text in online references) or that there is no earlier reference.


By a stroke of luck, Tim Krabbe made a mention of an earlier occurrence on his site. It's in his AD Magazine, issue #135 entitled "LOYDS MOOISTE VERGISSING," meaning "LOYDS MOST BEAUTIFUL MISTAKE."

The Dutch text says "Wit en Zwart helpen elkaar daarin om tot een mat te komen, zoals in het snelst mogelijke mat vanuit de beginstelling, het Narrenmat (1.f3 e5 2.g4 Dh4 mat). Al in 1616 noemde Gustavus Selenus dit mat, dat in een normale partij nauwelijks kan voorkomen."

In English, this means " White and Black help each other to arrive at a mate, as in the fastest possible mate from the starting position, the Jester mat ( 1.f3 e5 2.g4 Dh4 mate). Gustavus Selenus called this mat as early as 1616, which can hardly occur in a normal game."

So now we have a reference to 1616 and the name Gustavus Selenus, but I cannot confirm or deny this tracing nor find a source yet.


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