Chess is a game that can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 55, or even longer!

It’s a board game that requires a lot of deliberation and problem-solving, so games can be drawn out sometimes and take up a whole morning or afternoon.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could taste victory in just two moves, though?

Well, the good news is that it’s possible to do so with the right chess iq and you'll benefit just from trying to implement the strategy.

Known as ‘Fool’s Mate’ in the chess community, this two-move strategy requires guile, vigilance, and a generous helping of good fortune.

The goal is to lure your opponent into a trap and then spring into action to seal the victory in record time, and for a win, you’ll both remember for long to come.

Are you curious about this two-move strategy?

Good, because we’re about to dive into the ins and outs of Fool’s Mate, so you can both pull it off yourself and spot when your opponent is trying to pull a fast one on you. Put your chess skills to the test, and show your knowledge of the chess rules with this simple yet swift strategy!

white pawn
The humble pawn plays a huge role in this strategy. Source: Unsplash
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Fool’s Mate

Since you’re probably dying to know what chess maths is involved to pull off the two-move win, we won’t keep you waiting any longer.

Ready?

Here it is:

Their Opening Move

The one thing you need to know if you’re to pull this strategy off, is that you can only do it successfully if you are playing with the black pieces.

Why?

Well, because the strategy is dependent on your opponent making a bad first move to open the game, and white always starts.

So what is the one magic move that could set your grand plan into motion?

The move that should trigger the Fool’s Mate gambit is a pawn to f4.

That means if you see that your opponent opens up by pushing their pawn forward to the f4 spot, you could be in business.

The reason why this move opens up the strategy is that it will make the king vulnerable to the diagonals.

Step 1 (Move Your Pawn)

Once they’ve made this shaky start, it’s time for you to play your first move and pray that they follow it up with another mistake. This strategy is dependent on several chess moves, but it all kicks off with a simple pawn move.

So what are the opening chess moves for Fool’s Mate?

Move your pawn up to the e6 position. This will open up space for both your bishop and your queen to move freely.

The whole strategy rests on your opponent taking the bait and moving their pawn forward, but as you might imagine, the majority of chess players will be wise to the Fool’s Mate strategy.

As such, you’ll need to put on your best poker face and do your best not to give anything away with a slight smirk or smile that could reveal your intentions.

There’s absolutely no guarantee that the strategy will work from this point. Even if they made the first bad move and you followed it up with this move, there’s still a good chance that the strategy will end here and you’ll have to change your tactics.

But in the rare case that they do make the following move (maybe they’re a beginner), then you can start to celebrate.

Their Mistake

Chess king
If all goes to plan, your opponent's King will be left exposed. Source: Unsplash

This is the crucial step that will guarantee your opponent’s demise.

Like a fly to a venus fly trap, your opponent will unwittingly sacrifice themselves if they make this move.

So what is it?

If the opponent moves their pawn up to g4, then it’s game over.

Why?

Well because at this point they have opened up the path to their king via the diagonal lines, making it vulnerable to check mate.

At this point, you’ve won the game.

Unless of course, you fail to finish your opponent off with the next and last move.

Step 2 (Put Them in Check)

The final step in the two-move strategy is moving your queen up to h4, so that you can put the opponent’s king in check.

At this point, there’s nothing white can do.

Sure, they can move their king, but to what end?

Move it towards the queen and it’s game over, and as for blocking the path between the king and queen, they won’t have any viable options.

If you were sat there reading this thinking that it sounds incredibly easy to pull this off, you’re right.

However, you can only pull the strategy off when your opponent is compliant, which is not going to be very often if they are competent at chess.

You might see your opponent make the opening move on occasion, but to make the next wrong move after that is much rarer.

That’s why the strategy is called Fool’s Mate, because you’d have to be a fool to fall for it. Or a beginner, of course.

That being said, it’s a good idea to be aware of this strategy regardless so you can avoid it and maybe catch your friends and family out with it.

Can you do it in 3 moves?

wood chess board
You can achieve victory in as few as 3 moves, too! Source: Unsplash

So if in the vast majority of cases you aren’t going to be able to successfully pull off Fool’s Mate, what’s the fastest alternative?

Is there a 3-move strategy to wrap the game up, for example?

Fortunately, yes, there is a 3-move strategy in chess too!

In the 3-move strategy, you play as white rather than black.

So already you can see the utility of knowing both the 2-move and 3-move strategies - they give you a quick-win strategy for both white and black.

Plus, knowing both will of course allow you to better prepare yourself against these quick-win strategies should your opponent try to catch you out.

So how exactly do you pull off the 3-move strategy?

Step 1

The principle is the same with the 3-move strategy as with Fool’s Mate, so if you know one strategy, the other will come to you easily enough.

With that in mind, your first move should be to launch your pawn forwards to the e4 position. This will free up your Queen tomove around diagonally. Of course, freeing up your Queen is only one part of this strategy, you’ll also need your opponent to comply and expose their King.

Opponent’s Move

In order for this strategy to work, it’s essential that your opponent moves their pawn two spaces forwards up to f5.

This will bring their pawn within capturing distance of your pawn.

This might seem like a horrible mistake on their part (and it potentially could be) but often times players will attempt to bait the opposition into taking a pawn as part of a greater strategy. So just so you might take this pawn, victory is far from guaranteed.

Step 2

Ok, so the opposition player has moved their pawn up to f5, now what?

Your next move will be to capture the pawn.

The main reason you need to do this is so that you can free up the path for your Queen, so it can put their King into check.

Their Next Pawn Move

This is the move that will all but seal the victory for you, so pay attention.

If your opponent decides to get level with your pawn and move right up next to it, in the g5 position, then you know you're about to wrap things up.

Once the opponent makes this move, they’ve essentially sealed their fate, since there’s only one move left for you to do for the 3-move strategy to be completed.

Step 3

You’ve probably already guessed what your last move needs to be since the goal of this strategy is to use your Queen to corner their King.

In case you don’t already know, you have to move your Queen up to h5.

At this point, there is nothing that your opponent will be able to do to free themselves from your well-placed trap.

That’s right, it’s game over.

Of course, just like with Fool’s Mate, this strategy is wholly reliant on your opponent making a couple of naive moves that you wouldn’t expect an experienced player to make.

For example, for their last move, they could quite easily block off your Queen’s diagonal movement by putting a pawn in the g6 position. That way, you wouldn’t be able to execute your strategy and you would have to use a new strategy.

This is why you should never go into a game fully committed to either the 2-move or 3-move strategy. If you’re hellbent on pulling off one of these strategies, you might not notice what your opponent is trying to do leaving yourself vulnerable.

Plus, if you’re determined to use one of these strategies and it doesn’t come off for you, then you’re going to have to rapidly adjust your tactics which can be challenging.

If you do ever manage to pull off a victory using either of these strategies, though, try not to rub it in too much. Nobody likes losing at chess, so you can imagine what it might feel like to lose in just two or three moves.

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Samuel

Sam is an English teaching assistant and freelance writer based in southern Spain. He enjoys exploring new places and cultures, and picking up languages along the way.