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Scholar's Mate is a checkmate performed in 4 moves, that usually happens to beginners because of their lack of chess experience and their neglect of defending weak pawns.

It usually arises out of the Bishop's Opening which is:

  1. e4 e5
  2. Bc4

This move, while seemingly normal and harmless, directly attacks the weak f7 pawn.

The Scholar's Mate[]

a b c d e f g h
8 a8 rd b8 c8 bd d8 qd e8 kd f8 bd g8 h8 rd 8
7 a7 pd b7 pd c7 pd d7 pd e7 f7 ql g7 pd h7 pd 7
6 a6 b6 c6 nd d6 e6 f6 nd g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 pd f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 bl d4 e4 pl f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 pl b2 pl c2 pl d2 pl e2 f2 pl g2 pl h2 pl 2
1 a1 rl b1 nl c1 bl d1 e1 kl f1 g1 nl h1 rl 1
a b c d e f g h
3...Nf6??

The principal behind this move is to attack the weakest point in black's defense: f7. The d7 and e7 squares both have 4 defenders at the start of the game while the f7 square only has one. This weakness can be exploited by two mobile pieces very quickly, the Bishop on c1 and the White Queen.


  1. e4 e5: The King's pawn opening, (ECO C20) very common among both beginners and experts.
  2. Bc4 Nc6: Berlin Defense (ECO C24)
  3. Qh5 Nf6??: Black does not notice the attack on the f7 square and promptly gets checkmated in the next move.
  4. Qxf7#: The king cannot capture the Queen because of it being protected by the Bishop, and has no other legal move.

Avoiding the mate[]

a b c d e f g h
8 a8 rd b8 c8 bd d8 qd e8 kd f8 bd g8 h8 rd 8
7 a7 pd b7 pd c7 pd d7 pd e7 f7 pd g7 h7 pd 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 nd g6 pd h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 pd f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 bl d4 e4 pl f4 g4 pl h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 ql f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 pl b2 pl c2 nd d2 pl e2 f2 pl g2 pl h2 pl 2
1 a1 rl b1 nl c1 bl d1 e1 f1 kl g1 nl h1 rl 1
a b c d e f g h
A fork of the queen, rook and king after 6...Nxc2+!

Moving the queen at the beginning of the game is unwise, as Black will usually try to chase it away with tempo. Playing 2...g6, which block the Queen from the f7 pawn, is unwise, as seen below:

  1. e4 e5
  2. Qh5?! g6?
  3. Qxe5+ Qe7
  4. Qxh8 (Losing the rook and threatening the g8 Knight along with the whole kingside)

White gains a huge advantage in this scenario. Instead, it is better to play:

  1. e4 e5
  2. Qh5?! Nc6 (protecting the pawn)
  3. Bc4 g6! (attacking the queen and protecting the vital f7 square)
  4. Qf3 Nf6 (4...Bg7?? 5.Qxf7#) (Blocking the White Queen's access to the f7 pawn)

Play usually continues with Black fianchettoing his black-square Bishop (placing the Bishop along the longest diagonal) (5.Nc3 Bg7) and gaining a positional advantage.



Another defense is:

  1. e4 e5
  2. Bc4 Nf6

which delays the White Queen from attacking the f7 square and threatens the e4 pawn.


As for the other variation, there is another defense:

  1. e4 e5
  2. Qh5 Qe7

which stops the attack cold.

Weakness of the Scholar's Mate[]

The Scholar's mate requires the Queen to move to the h5 square on the second or third move, which is a premature attack. If Black defends properly, as above, White will be forced to retreat his Queen and will give Black a huge advantage in tempo and development. Bringing the Queen out early in the game is a handy way to catch beginners off guard, but will backfire if playing against an experienced opponent.

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