Scholar’s Companion Beginner’s Guide (Four-Move Checkmate)

Chess is currently in the midst of its third popularity boom in recent years. The ancient sport had its first boom in popularity during the COVID shutdowns when many people, including top streamers, took up the game as a hobby, and the second boom came shortly after the Netflix hit show. The Queen’s Bet.


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Unfortunately, the current third boom is not so flattering for the sport, as the spike in popularity and attention stems from an ongoing cheating scandal. Magnus Carlsen accused Hans Niemann of cheating, a claim Chess.com backed up with a 72-page report where it is claimed that Niemann “probably cheated more than 100 times”. Hans Niemann has admitted to cheating online in the past, but claims he never cheated on the board, despite Magnus’ very public accusation.

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With these three booms in popularity bringing millions of new players to chess, we decided to make a guide to one of the most crucial opening traps beginners need to learn: the Scholar’s Mate.


What is Scholar’s Companion

The Scholar’s Mate is a chess opening that, if performed correctly, can end the game in just four moves. As such, it is imperative that beginners learn the opening to ensure they never fall victim to an embarrassingly quick defeat. As seen in the image above, the Scholar’s Companion is executed by White with their bishop and light queen working together to mate Black’s king on the f7 square.

The image above shows a common Scholar Fellow position, which was achieved by:

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Qh5 Bc5

It is now White’s turn, who can checkmate his opponent with 4. Qxf7#​​​.

The Scholar’s Mate can also be executed with White’s queen moved to the f3 square, although this can be blocked by Black with the developing move Nf6. While it’s tempting to play Scholar’s Mate, it’s not advisable to do so, as White will be left in a dull position if his opponent knows how to effectively defend against the opening trap.

How to Defend Against Scholar’s Companion

Black can defend the Scholar’s Mate with his queen; however, it is generally a bad idea to bring the queen out too early in chess, as it is easy for the opponent to attack and gain tempo. Instead, as shown in the image above, black can play g6, which forces the queen to move. This is less than ideal for white, as moving the same piece twice in the opening, especially the queen, often gives the opponent the opportunity to advance in the development of his pieces.

After playing g6, black shouldn’t think his job is done, as white can move his queen to f3, which again threatens to checkmate on the f7 square. However, Black has a great move he can play here: Nf6.

This move blocks checkmate and develops a piece. The game is far from over, but in this position Black has successfully defended against Scholar’s Mate, while developing his pieces better than White.

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