Scholar's Mate

Checkmate in 4 Moves | How to Avoid a Scholar’s Mate!

Checkmate in 4 moves! Isn’t that sound wonderful, completely demolishing your opponent in a total of 4 moves? But is it even possible?

Yes, it is one of the most simple yet stunning checkmate tricks of all time. A set of white player moves that result in checkmate in 4 moves known as Scholars Mate.

What is Scholars Mate? How to Checkmate in 4 moves?

Scholars Mate is one of the fastest checkmates in the book. Offen it is called  4-move checkmate, and it’s pretty tricky to detect. 

Scholar’s mate is based on the fact that at the beginning of the game, the f-pawn is significantly weak compared to the others pawns because King is his only defender. White Queen and bishop take advantage of the situation and deliver a coordinated checkmate.

Beginners and intermediate players often use scholar’s mate for a quick and surprising checkmate. Here is what Scholars mate looks like:-

Starting with the moves 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 standard opening and targeting the weak blacks f- pawn.

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4

2…Nc6 3.Qh5 reaching second step two the checkmate ( applying pressure on f-7 pawn).

2...Nc6 3. Qh5
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Qh5

3…Nf6??, This can be any random move, but for explanatory purposes, we are taking a standard Knight development move.  And finally, checkmate with 4. Qxf7#.

3...Nf6 4. Qxf7# 1-0
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Qh5 Nf6 4. Qxf7# 1-0

How to Defend Against the Scholars Mate?

Scholar’s mate is a double-edged sword. Even though it seems flowless but there are still many ways to protect against Scholar’s mate. In fact, Black can gain a positional advantage while doing so. 

  • The G 7 pawn

    The pawn on g 7 is one of the most commonly used counters the scholars mate in the game of chess. Let’s study the position after the two standard moves, it will look something like this:-
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Qh5 g6 4. Qf3
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Qh5 g6 4. Qf3

This move reduces the possibility of Queen barging for checkmate, simultaneously developing the dark square bishop. But the white queen is still on the board and can damage black significantly if not played consciously.
Here are some of the common mistakes made after pawn g7:-

  • Queen to e7

    Even though the queen is not recommended to move so early in the game but against the scholar’s mate, it became a viable option. Queen to e7 serves the purpose of defending the f7 pawn and adds a layer of protection on the e5 pawn as well.

    This move develops the queen but blocks the black bishop in the process. Note this move is only possible if the knight is protecting the e5 pawn, here is an example:-
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Qh5 g6 4. Qf3 Qe7
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Qh5 g6 4. Qf3 Qe7
  • Queen to f6

    Queen to f6 also protects both f7 and e5 pawn and stabilizes the position. Queen is activated, and the black bishop is all free to move. On the other hand, the queen hinders the future development of left-side black pawns and leaves itself vulnerable to enemy attack.

    Beginners are not recommended this move because if not played appropriately, this can lead to a devastating position for black.
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Qh5 Nf6 g6 4. Qf3 Qf6
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Qh5 Nf6 g6 4. Qf3 Qf6

Scholars mate is an instant kill move but known widely throughout the world. High-level players can easily defend against scholars mate and can take positional advantage of the white queens’ exposure like this:-

Conclusion

Beginners of Elo rating less than 1000, have fun while checkmating your opponent in 4 moves. Elo’s above 1000, use the scholar’s mate to your advantage, and destroy your opponents. Remember, a scholar’s mate is not the only checkmate that has less than 5 moves. Fools mate and Back rank mate are some of the other checkmates you just need to keep an eye on.

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