Fool's Mate, Scholar's Mate & Wayward Queen Attack | Intro to 50+2 Chess Quick Wins

Fool's Mate, Scholar's Mate & Wayward Queen Attack | Intro to 50+2 Chess Quick Wins

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#foolsmate #scholarsmate #waywardqueen #quickwins 

50+2 Chess Quick Wins: Tactical ideas for exciting chess for beginner players. Buy on Amazon! US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | NL | AU

There is something that is exciting in getting a quick win in chess against your opponent. For the beginner player encountering a quick win (or a quick loss) for the first time, the introduction to these lines can feel like discovering a secret society!

My book, "50+2 Chess Quick Wins: Tactical ideas for exciting chess for beginner players" was published and released on Amazon a month ago. This is the first video and article of a series that will cover the first section of the book, that explains tactical ideas and themes that underlie many quick win games!

First, let's set the scene with an introduction to perhaps the two classic "quick win" lines, the Fool's Mate, and the Scholar's Mate.

The Fool's Mate - 1. f3 e6 2. g4 Qh4#

The Fool's Mate is the quickest possible checkmate in chess - two moves. However, when I first learnt of this line in my chess journey, it felt quite underwhelming. The line is obviously contrived and would require a conspiracy between the players for it to occur. However, there are takeaway lessons - tactical motifs from even this extremely short game that are applicable in other games.

The early movement of the f-pawn in the opening can be risky as it creates a weakness in the diagonal to the king. We also learn of the potential power of the Wayward Queen. These are tactics we need to be mindful of for our own defences, but also, we could exploit against our opponents.

The Scholar's Mate - 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc3 3. Qh5 Nf6 4. Qxf7#

Compared to the Fool's Mate, the Scholar's Mate seems more genuine. Indeed, it might be the first "quick loss" most beginner players have suffered! The idea is quite simple - White attacks Black's f-pawn on f7 twice - with their bishop and queen. For the unsuspecting beginner player with the Black pieces who is unfamiliar with such a tactic, they succumb to checkmate on move 4!

For beginner chess players, learning how to play the Scholar's Mate can seem like discovering a cheat code to chess! It can be intoxicating - it feels powerful and practically unfair! Very quickly though, most players discover that this line simply doesn't work against anyone other than a beginner as it is easily refuted by Black (3... g6).

Not uncommonly players with the White pieces might try to persist with a slightly different move order (e.g., the Wayward Queen Attack), or learning secondary and tertiary attacking lines after the initial checkmate attempt is thwarted. However, there is a reason why these lines are almost never seen at the intermediate level and above...

However, just like the Fool's Mate, there are takeaway lessons - tactical ideas that can be generalised from these specific lines that can applied elsewhere. The insight to be gleaned is the special weakness of the f-pawn at the beginning of the game. This is something that can sometimes be exploited with good effect in the opening.

The Wayward Queen Attack

This opening makes use of the idea in The Scholar's Mate but with a different move order that brings out the queen on the second move (1. e4 e5 2. Qh5). The logic is that this is more forcing. Although it can transpose into the same position as the Scholar's Mate line, Black has more opportunities to make a mistake or blunder against the threatening queen. However, just like the Scholar's Mate, it is easily refuted by Black with accurate play, and most people at the higher beginner and certainly early intermediate level will know how to do so.

I was recently randomly matched by in a 15+10 game of rapid against a 400 ELO rated player in what I assume was a glitch in the algorithm (I'm rated in the 1300s). I had the black pieces and White played the Wayward Queen Attack against me, something that I have not encountered for months!  The move to know with Black on move 2 in response to the queen is (2... Nc6). The queen is immediately threatening our e-pawn on e5, and that potential capture comes with check. Common mistakes for Black is to attempt to immediate attack the white queen with Nf6 or g6.

Expectedly, White next played (3. Bc4) and we transpose back into the Scholar's Mate line. The best move is now (3... g6), which forces White to move their queen a second time. And indeed, they only have two possible squares for their queen to move to - either f3 or d1. Most players, as did White in this game, will play (4. Qf3) seeking checkmate on f7. Very interestingly, at high depth analysis, Stockfish 16 NNUE evaluates Qd1 to be slightly better for White. Consider what this means. The computer engine thinks that the best move for White is to UNDO the Wayward Queen Attack and to bring the queen back to her starting square! This effectively "resets" the game for White other than the consequence of effectively having lost two moves.

Black's next best move is to develop the king's knight to its normal square (4... Nf6), which blocks White's attempt of checkmate on f7. Very commonly, beginner players will make a devastating mistake in the next couple of moves. White played (5. d3) which is sensible-looking but doesn't address the immediate counterattack that Black has with (5... Nd4) - a fork of White's queen and the c-pawn. (Note: the Queen's knight on d4/5 is one of the tactical ideas and themes in my book!)

The only good move for White now is the retreat the queen to d1, taking the queen out of the attack and defending the c-pawn. However, a common cognitive bias is the sunk cost fallacy. In this setting, the "sunk cost" of using moves to develop the queen biases White from considering undeveloping the queen as a valid option. They play (6. Qe3) which is a massive blunder as (6... Nxc2+) is a family fork (king, queen, rook) and White loses their queen. From this position, the simple strategy is to attack White's position if it is safe to do so, and if not trade pieces to enter a winning endgame. I win by checkmate on move 16. GG!

This book will be most useful for beginner to intermediate level chess players, especially those wanting to have fun and learn tactical ideas and patterns that underlie quick wins. In terms of ELO rating, this book will have something to offer players rated up to around 1500 on, though I hope that higher rated players will still find it enjoyable to read and gain and insight or two! And of course, the book has cat and chess art!

Game on