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I am comfortable using scholars mate opening in my game. If it does not work then I can always transform it into a good offense/defense.

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6 Answers 6

25

Of course, you can play whatever you want against strong players. You won't checkmate them with Scholar's Mate, and you won't get an opening advantage either, but once you're at the board there's no rule that says you can't play inferior moves.

Kramnik allegedly once intended to try it on Kasparov:

Vladimir Kramnik is not a beginner at all, but nevertheless some years ago he intended to try out the move 2. Qh5 against Kasparov in the PCA Grand Prix rapid tournaments, though only in the blitz games that were to decide the outcome when rapid games failed to do so. Kramnik told this to Nigel Short, who recently told it to us in his column in the Sunday Telegraph ... But it would have been a responsible experiment. Imagine the shock when the world champion would be threatened with a Scholar's Mate, not by someone like Harrison or Becker, but by one of his most respected colleagues. The cheek of it! It would appear as a real insult.

As an added advantage Kasparov would be out of his much-feared opening preparation from move two. And, most important, in the main variation after 1. e2-e4 e7-e5 2. Qd1-h5 Nb8-c6 3. Bf1-c4 g7-g6 4. Qh5-f3 Ng8-f6 5. Ng1-e2 (instead of Jake's 5. Qb3?) White is not worse, according to Kramnik. True, he doesn't have an advantage either, as Short sensibly remarks, but one can't have everything.

I suppose the main consequence of note would be that the opponent might laugh or feel insulted (two diametrically different responses!). It's very possible, but when strong players are okay with playing the Bongcloud occasionally, playing for Scholar's Mate is tame by comparison.

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  • Perhaps a slight difference between the perceived "disrespect" of the Scholar's Mate attack and the Bongcloud is that the Bongcloud is bad no matter who you're playing. Perhaps more insultingly, the Scholar's Mate tends to actually be successful against low-rated players, so there may be more of an insult in playing Qh5 against a strong player (as if to say "I think you're unintelligent enough to beat using playground tactics"). Also, the Bongcloud has seen a bit more time in the spotlight from high-level players recently joking around with it.
    – user45266
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 19:50
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I guess you are asking if the strong players would feel insulted? Speaking for myself, I would chuckle and start planning how to punish you. If you are fortunate enough to be paired with a strong opponent, just play your best and prepare to learn as much as you can. If you only learn that Scholars Mate is a bad idea, well, you knew that already

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Not only is it OK but strong players also play this opening. Most famous is probably Nakamura. It is characterised by the moves

[fen ""]

1. e4 e5 2. Qh5

with the idea of following up with Bc4 if black allows.

The opening has several names: Kentucky Opening, Queen's Attack, Queen's Excursion, Wayward Queen Attack, Patzer Opening, and Parham Attack. I like Wayward Queen Attack.

Serbian IM, Miodrag Perunovic, has produced produced a 2 hour (!) YouTube video investigating the opening.

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  • 4
    Nakamura most likely plays it as a troll though. Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 11:22
  • Nakamura follows it up with 3. Qf7 Kf7... Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 18:07
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    GM Nitzan Steinberg played it regularly in national tournaments in Israel around 2017. This inspired GM Bellahcene to start playing it also. Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 6:32
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As a weak player myself (actually weak, not 1900 "weak" :P) I would say that when us plebs play strong players, anything goes. If you can get away with it, try it. Just be prepared for your strong opponent to respond by abandoning all coddling and simply destroying you for your presumptuousness.

I would instead argue that what is not OK is using scholar's mate against weak players, those who have a high chance of falling for it. If you do, then at least immediately offer a rematch and explain how to counter this trivial attack.

I remember back when I was just learning to play chess, I was playing with someone much better than I who mated me with the Scholar's mate. I found it exceedingly rude and an unpleasant experience. He didn't offer to replay, he just gloated. Which was absurd since he was clearly the better player and had nothing to prove by beating me.

So that, using silly tricks against far weaker opponents, I consider bad sportsmanship. Using them against stronger opponents, however, is fair play and they should know better than to fall for them.

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Nakamura played all kind of openings for his YT/Twitch channel, all posted in 'opening trash - garbage openings' series.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GdjCF136Fc

I am not good player by any means (somewhere around 1900 ELO) and from time to time someone would play it against me.

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Although one should generally seek to win or at least draw when playing rated games, one should also seek to use the experience to improve one's play. Attempting the Scholar's Mate against someone who will fall for it will be a waste of everyone's time, but attempting 1. e4 e5 2. Qh5 as White against people who won't fall for it may allow one to learn the best ways to respond as Black to people who try that opening, as well as gain judgment as to when moving one's queen out is good and when it is bad.

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