How to Checkmate in Four Moves in Chess

By Seth Amery
The Scholar's Mate is a classic four-move mate strategy.

A true mastermind can impress even some of the world's greats; even Bill Gates had to applaud how quickly he lost to grandmaster Magnus Carlsen of Norway. Even if you haven't quite reached that lifetime title, you can still impress newer players with the Scholar's Mate strategy--otherwise known as the Four-Move Checkmate.

Move the pawn in front of your king up one or two squares. It doesn't matter how far you move it; you only move this piece to clear a path for the queen.

Slide the queen diagonally as far as it can go. The queen should be on square h5 in standard chess notation.

Move the bishop diagonally from square f1 to square c4. This piece will act as protection for your final play.

Slide the queen to the pawn diagonal to it and adjacent to your opponent's king, which is square f7. The king can't take the queen, or else it'll end up in danger of your bishop. Checkmate!

Tip

This is similar to the Fool's Mate chess strategy, which uses a similar technique to achieve victory in four moves but changes the order that the bishop and queen move.

Warning

Don't try this against a veteran; he'll recognize the move and avoid your trap.

As a trick meant to be used against beginners, successfully performing the Scholar's Mate relies on the luck that your opponent doesn't make a move to inadvertently block your path.

About the Author

Seth Amery is a long-time writer whose specialties extend to all areas of video games, having written thousands of tutorials, fully-featured strategy guides and reviews across all platforms. His experience also includes one-on-one relationships with major gaming publishers to write previews on upcoming games, establish interviews with game designers and hold early game giveaways.