What is bishop mate in chess?

As the name suggests, bishop’s mate is an extremely basic way to lose a game of chess, one that requires real effort from both players to succeed. With him, the game is over in just two moves but white has to make two pretty terrible ones to get there.

The bishop’s checkmate is the shortest possible checkmate in chess. White launches a deadly attack on his own king and black happily obliges by bringing the queen with them to quickly end the game. There are a few movements that can give a similar result, but the most illustrative example is the following:

1.f3? e5
2. g4?? Qh4#

Image via lichess.org

Moving the white pawn to f4 and the black pawn to e6 leads to essentially the same result. Note that it is also possible to “get fooled” as a black player, although it takes an extra move to get there:

1. e4 g5?
2. Nc3 f5 ??
3. Dh5#

Image via lichess.org

The moves made by the losing player here are truly abysmal. Not only do they allow immediate checkmate, but they also neglect early opening principles. It makes much more sense to play pawn moves in the center to control the important e4-d4-e5-d5 squares. It also comes with the added benefit of not being immediately tamed.

A similar early checkmate you should keep an eye out for is Scholar’s Companion, which occurs much more frequently as it occurs after seemingly normal developmental moves.

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