Most of the common chess traps are ill advised (at least in standard games), as you sacrifice better moves.

Traps that I have tried out with some success are the fishing pole, and the blackbourne shilling gambit. But common for these common trap plays, is that if spotted, I am left in a bad position.

In fishing pole, black often play black bishop and forces me to pin my knight. In blackbourne gambit, the opponent often simply take the knight rather than the poisoned pawn.

Are there any common chess traps, without a positional loss, that are worth studying?

2 Answers 2


The following traps do not lead to any positional loss for the side setting the trap. It's obviously not an exhaustive list-

A common trap in the Sicilian

  [FEN ""]

  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c3 Nf6 4. Be2 Nxe4?? 5. Qa4+ Bd7 6. Qxe4

Queen's Gambit Elephant Trap

  [FEN ""]
  1. d4. d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Nbd7 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Nxd5?? Nxd5 7. Bxd8 Bb4+ 8. Qd2 Kxd8 9. e4 Bxd2+

Trap in the Alapin Sicilian

  [FEN ""]
  1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4 e6 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Bd3 cxd4 7. cxd4 Nxd4?? 8. Nxd4 Qxd4?? 9. Bb5+ Bd7 10. Qxd4

Cambridge Springs Trap

  [FEN ""]
  1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 c6 6.Nf3 Qa5 7. Bd3?! dxc4 8. Bxc4 Ne4 9. Qc2?? Nxg5 10. Nxg5 Qxg5 

Trap in Sveshnikov Sicilian

  [FEN ""]
  1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Nd5 Nxd5 8. exd5 Ne7 9. c4 a6? 10. Qa4 axb5 11. Qxa8 (10...Qd7 11. Nxd6+)

Trap in the Philidor defense

  [FEN ""]

    1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nd7 4. Bc4 Be7? (4... Ngf6? 5. dxe5 Nxe5 6. Nxe5 dxe5 7.
    Bxf7+ Kxf7 8. Qxd8 Bb4+ 9. Qd2 Bxd2+ 10. Nxd2) 5. dxe5! dxe5?? (5... Nxe5 6. Nxe5
    dxe5 7. Qh5 g6 8. Qxe5) 6. Qd5 Nh6 (6...Nf6?? 7.Qxf7#) 7. Bxh6 O-O 8. Be3 

Ruy Lopez Noah's Ark Trap

   [FEN ""]

    1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 b5 (4... d6 5. d4 b5 6. Bb3 Nxd4 7. Nxd4
    exd4 8. Qxd4?? c5) 5. Bb3 d6 6. d4 Nxd4 7. Nxd4 exd4 8. Qxd4?? c5 9. Qd5 Be6 10.          
    Qc6+ Bd7 11. Qd5 c4

Siberian Trap in the Smith-Morra Gambit

    [FEN ""]

    1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 e6 6. Bc4 Qc7 7. O-O Nf6 8.
    Qe2 Ng4 9. h3?? Nd4! 10. Nxd4 (10. hxg4 Nxe2+) (10. Qd1 Nxf3+ 11. Qxf3 Qh2#) 10...
    Qh2# 0-1

Trap in the Rauzer Sicilian

    [FEN ""]

    1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6 8. f4
    h6 9. Bh4? Nxe4! 10. Nxe4 (10. Bxd8 Nxd2 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Bc7 Nxf1) 10... Qxh4+
    11. g3 Qd8
  • Nice list, but in the first diagram doesn't black equalize with some normal move say 4...g6 or 4...e6?
    – Akavall
    May 9, 2014 at 3:54
  • excellent answer Wes. I would just add Albin Counter gambit trap. May 9, 2014 at 8:57
  • @Akavall, it's not static equality. It is dynamic equality, which Black eventually achieves in all other lines of the Sicilian. There is much to play for in that position, so White is not at a "positional" loss in any way. Notable game - Svidler vs Kasparov 1-0 chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1070948 May 9, 2014 at 14:22
  • @SalvadorDali I'm deliberately avoided mentioning the Lasker trap in the Albin CounterGambit, because I don't think the Albin CounterGambit is a sound opening for Black. May 9, 2014 at 14:23
  • 1
    @Wes, I looked at the line more myself, and seems that it is reasonably popular, so maybe I wrong in saying "black equalize with some normal move". I personally like these types of strategies against the Sicilian, so I am glad that white has this option :).
    – Akavall
    May 10, 2014 at 22:16

Seeing excellent answer by Wes, I would like to add Albin Counter Gambit trap. Albin Counter Gambit is played on the highest level of chess.

[FEN ""]
1. d4 d5
2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 d4 4. e3? Bb4+ 5. Bd2 dxe3 6. Bxb4?? exf2+ 7. Ke2 fxg1=N+! 

Information about a trap can be found here. The trap is interesting also because it allows one of the fastest possible underpromotion (to a knight).

  • Just add a [FEN ""] line before the move list to turn it into a fancy diagram. You can click the edit link on other posts to see the markdown which produced them. May 11, 2014 at 13:29

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