Mastering Chess: 4 Essential Moves to Win Every Game

Are you looking to up your chess game and dominate your opponents in just four moves?

We will explore the basic rules of chess, how the pieces move, and what exactly constitutes a checkmate.

Delving into the importance of knowing the 4-move checkmate and how it can help you win games.

We will provide step-by-step instructions on how to execute the 4-move checkmate and share tips and tricks for achieving victory.

Let’s dive in and master the art of winning with just four moves!

What are the Basic Rules of Chess?

These are the most basic rules of chess, which are agreed upon between a FIDE-recognized player (member of the World Chess Federation) and another player.

  1. Objective. The objective is to checkmate the opponent. This only requires placing the opponent’s King under attack with no way out.
  2. Pieces. Each side has the same setup of 8 Pawns, 2 Rooks, 2 Knights, 2 Bishops, 1 Queen, and 1 King.
  3. Check. The King is in check if it is being attacked by an opponent’s piece. The player must make a move that gets their King out of Check. If the king cannot escape check, then the game is over.
  4. Checkmate. The King is in checkmate if it is in check and there is no move to take it out of check.
  5. Stalemate. The game is a stalemate if the player cannot make a legal move while not in check. This brings the game to a draw.

How do the Pieces Move?

All of the 16 chess pieces on each side move differently.

The 2 pieces that can make moves after every other move – according to the players’ choice – are the king and the queen.

The chess pieces move as follows:

  1. The King
  2. (can move 1 step in any direction excluding when this may result in a capture from a piece not yet moved. This is called castling.)

  3. The Queen
  4. (can move any number of steps in any one direction – horizontal, vertical, or diagonal)

  5. The Rook
  6. (can move any number of steps vertically or horizontally)

  7. The Bishop
  8. (can move any number of steps diagonally)

  9. The Knight
  10. (makes L shaped jumps. Moves 1 square up and 2 squares to the left or right, or 1 square to the left or right and 2 squares up. It can also make those moves in the opposite direction or can make 2 square vertical and 1 square horizontal/2 square horizontal and 1 square vertical moves.)

  11. The Pawn
  12. (can move 1 square in any direction barring its passes (if its own move removes this danger) with the other chess piece and 2 squares in the second step if not blocked by another piece.)

What is Checkmate?

Checkmate is the term for the situation in chess when a player’s king is in a position to be captured (in check or in checkmate) by the opponent’s piece(s). It may be defined as a forced win created by the line of play to which a player is unable to respond. Winning by checkmate is one way in which executing check can occur in chess.

According to the standard rules of chess, checkmate ends the game, with the result defined in one of the three possible ways: win, loss, or draw. When a player’s king is in check, it is a requirement to get out of check. Checkmate exists when the king is placed in a position where it is in check by an opponent’s piece, and it is not possible to make any legal moves that would exit the king from check. In such situations, checkmate is declared, the game is over, and the checkmated player has lost. No difference is made in the rules of chess about who wins with checkmate, as it is always the player who has just issued the checkmate.

Why is Knowing the 4 Move Checkmate Important?

Knowing the 4 move checkmate is important for three main purposes. Firstly, it allows an experienced player to take advantage of a mistake from the opponent. Secondly, it is commonly used to teach beginners the importance of defending the squares around the king. And thirdly, it is used as an illustration of the risks one takes when trying to checkmate as soon as possible in the opening.

The 4 move checkmate is important in teaching beginners that the center board squares are critical to a chess game. Although there are many more effective ways to checkmate an opponent in four moves, it is an excellent play as it represents one possible outcome of the four-move chess, the fool’s mate. For beginners who intend to learn chess or grasp its basic rules, the 4 move checkmate is a good managerial choice.

To teach around the four-move checkmate, the same principles are highlighted. Beginners should aim, in the first moves of the game, to control the center squares and to develop their pieces. The king should at all times remain protected and the lines of development should always be made clear before a checkmate attempt is made. This is to ensure that a checkmate attempt is not only made too early, but that it is unsuccessful against a well-matched opponent.

How Can it Help You Win Games?

The four move checkmate is an effective way to end a game of chess early, catching opponents off guard and providing novices with a fun way to try the game. Although it will almost never work with experienced players nor open up possibilities for an early end-game attack, the patterns and strategies used are the same as those used to achieve a checkmate, so it can be considered a fun practice drill for beginners. There is no tactical or strategic value in this sequence.

When Should You Use the 4 Move Checkmate?

You should use the 4 move checkmate whenever your opponent makes any of the several critical mistakes that allow it. This is most likely when they follow up the common first move mistake of 1. e5 in the 1. f3 move order.

It is a less likely but still strong strategy against weaker opponents in 100% Low-Rated Openings, or when playing as the Four Knights Trap. Other very rare situations where it can crop up are when your opponent tends to start with an f2 Pawn move, against the same or superior chess AI, or when trying to fool the computer.

Although as of now modern AI has been taught superior moves to such obvious 4 move checkmates.

How to Execute the 4 Move Checkmate?

The four-move checkmate is an extremely rare scenario. To attempt the four-move checkmate, prepare by ensuring your opponent is inexperienced and makes two critical mistakes in their first seven moves, allowing you to strike with your queen twice and perform a successful four-move checkmate on either your 7th or 8th move.

In the rare event of executing the four-move checkmate, either you or your opponent has played inaccurately. Talented chess players learn that the four-move checkmate sequence involving a king and a queen moving twice is an extreme edge case that should only arise against very inexperienced opponents. To witness a near example of this, watch this 10-move game where the black player plays poorly and white achieves checkmate in 5.

Step 1: Move Your Pawn

As mentioned, my recommended first move in chess is to bring out the Pawn in front of the King by two squares from e2 to e4. While other Pawns can be moved forward as the first move, the move e4 is most commonly preferable because of the following reasons:

  • e4 opens for the Queen and Bishop to develop.
  • e4 allows for better control of the center.
  • e4 helps in preparing for the castle, where the Rook assists the King and helps prevent it from being cornered on the other side of the board.
  • Another starting move for a Pawn is to move the Pawn from d2 to d4, and there is some debate over which move is best overall.

Step 2: Develop Your Knight

Another good starting move is to develop your Night, as by blocking your F pawn you will free up your queen and Bishop. To do this, bring your Knight to G6. This move strengthens the center in the form of D5 and E4 pawns, which form a formidable wall to both attack and defend points around your King. Naturally, to meet this weakness, a balanced defense should be established, and countermoves which will allow the two important center squares to be attacked are another critical part of marching towards the four-move victory.

Step 3: Bring Out Your Queen

Following the early deployment of the black l-shaped bishop, the light square of the queen can be used. Reserving it somewhere beginning with d is the best choice as it frees your Qb for optimal positioning. The best answers maintain or amplify early advantage, offer significant retreat safety in case the position sours and Nd2 or Rh3 are not suitable to be developed.

Step 4: Checkmate!

The goal of three-move checkmate is to hit the maximum error rate players using the Fool’s Mate opening (who are shown in the diagram above) make. The end goal with this type of strategy is placing the king in check on your opponent’s third move. And if those errors are not made, there are other limited early-game options to emerge from early in the game with a superior position to secure victory soon.

The likelihood of the pattern above developing in real games is not high. The game typically proceeds with more pieces and options available to each player. In particular, White’s ability to quickly bring up Bishops, Knights, and the Queen cut off the possibility. However, the Fool’s Mate rapid checkmate has been known to happen once in a while, other three to six move checkmates are not rare, a checkmate is actually possible in a single turn in automated chess.

Once you have checkmated the king, the game is over if that player cannot extricate themselves from checkmate in the next action – known as the next turn. This officially ends the sequence of which color moves when, and the game is won. However, the game continues as it is common to quickly test the opponent. Officially victory only occurs on the next move as the checkmated king is removed from play or relinquishes positions back to the opponent.

Most chess competitions have arbiters who verify the end of the game to improve etiquette and confrontational tension, as often a player in checkmate refuses to accept defeat immediately. In competition, players shake hands, which will indicate when the checkmated king is removed from play.

Tips and Tricks for Winning with 4 Moves

Two key tips and tricks for winning in chess with 4 moves include opening with the four-move checkmate (Scholar’s Mate) and using the Queen’s Gambit. Opening with the scholar’s mate is the fastest way to win with 4 moves, but using the Queen’s Gambit can also be a powerful strategy. The best way to win with 4 moves depends on how the opponent reacts to your movements.

How to Defend Against the 4 Move Checkmate?

If you are on the black team and your opponent is white, respond to the move 1.e4 with d5 instead of Nf6 to prevent the 4-move checkmate. By playing the Scandinavian Defense as black, you cut white’s ability to castle short, and you end up creating a unique central tension for a hypermodern position, i.e., where pawns span out from the center as opposed to moving in or capturing an opponent in the center on move one.

It is very uncommon for high-level players to fall for a 4-move checkmate. Most pros have learned every aspect of the game by heart and do not make such mistakes. So using the Scandinavian Defense as a black move against 1.e4 is an interesting strategy move but will not guarantee success. Especially since many people at low levels have not even heard of these lines.

What to Do if Your Opponent Knows the 4 Move Checkmate?

Your opponent likely knows that you will attempt Scholar’s Mate with the 4 move checkmate technique if they are an advanced player familiar with chess openings. If you are unable to execute the 4 move checkmate or do not find any opportunity to do so, make adjustments when your opponent has lost their initial focus and do an organized attack on the central knight of the enemy side. If you want to pursue with Scholar’s Mate, release the pressure after a few moves and free up the Queen for other uses. Personally, I have not been able to achieve a 4 move checkmate against a more advanced player who knows what to do to counter it.

Claiming that Scholar’s Mate can be countered by developing pawns according to Nelson Hernandez, a managing editor at, is another valid strategy. Whether or not an opponent knows of four-move Scholar’s Mate, contends that if White plays the caro-Kann Defense, Black can easily retard the Mate since it prevents the bishop from controlling key squares. This is an example of a move preventing Scholar’s Mate in practical terms and beyond Black’s e8 knight. Knight f6 so quickly controls squares h5 and g4. Not to mention that the f6 pawn keeps the bishop from getting to h6 as it did in step 3, so it also attacks the bishop.


Although the Fool’s Mate is the fastest way to win in chess using just 2 moves, it would be highly unusual for such an opening to occur. Let’s do the numbers of a typical scenario. According to a recent article titled Statistician Cracks the Code to Winning at Chess in Wired, there are approximately 4,000 possible positions after 3 moves each. Out of those, there are more than 3 dozen ways to force checkmate. Based on these probabilities, it is nearly impossible for Fool’s Mate to happen. It is best to learn the best opening strategies to get a good start and try to capitalize on beginner’s mistakes.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to Win in Chess With 4 Moves?

Winning in chess with only 4 moves is possible, but it requires strategic thinking and quick decision-making. Here’s how you can pull off this impressive feat.

2. What are the 4 key moves to win in chess?

The 4 key moves to winning in chess are the “Fool’s Mate,” “Scholar’s Mate,” “Legal’s Mate,” and the “Two-Move Checkmate.” Each of these moves follows a specific pattern and can lead to a quick victory if executed correctly.

3. Can beginners use these 4 moves to win in chess?

Yes, these 4 moves are perfect for beginners who are just learning the game. They are simple to remember and can catch opponents off guard if they are not familiar with them.

4. Are these 4 moves considered to be cheap or unfair in chess?

No, these 4 moves are legitimate strategies in chess and are commonly used by players at all levels. They may seem quick and easy, but they still require skill and strategy to execute successfully.

5. What are some tips for using these 4 moves effectively?

To use these 4 moves effectively, it’s important to carefully observe your opponent’s moves and anticipate their next move. Also, be aware of any potential counterattacks they may have and have a backup plan in case your initial strategy doesn’t work.

6. Are there any variations of these 4 moves?

Yes, there are variations of these 4 moves that players have come up with over the years. You can try experimenting with different variations and see which ones work best for you. Just be sure to stay within the rules of the game.

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