How to Win Chess in 3 Moves

In a previous post we learned that the two move checkmate is the fastest possible way of checkmating the opposing king.

Since a dramatic mistake is required in order for the two move checkmate to be carried out, it is also known as the Fool’s mate.

Today, we are going to examine the important variation of a two move checkmate

The sibling of the original Fool’s mate – the three move checkmate.

How to perform a three move checkmate

Let’s look at an example game featuring the three move checkmate.

(Note: We are going to use the chess notation to reproduce the game. If you are not familiar with the chess notation, perhaps you might want to learn all about it in this article).

White opens the game with the king’s pawn:

1 e2-e4

3 move checkmate step 1

In similar fashion to the two move checkmate, Black has to move his f and g pawns. Let’s assume that Black moves his f pawn first:

1… f7-f6

3 move checkmate step 2


White can play any move that doesn’t obstruct the diagonal d1-h5 on which his queen operates. For an example, let’s assume White plays his queen to the f3 square:

2 Qd1 – Qf3

how to win chess in 3 moves

In order for the three move checkmate to take place, Black now has to advance his g-pawn for two squares:

2… g7-g5

win chess in 3 moves

All the prerequisites are now met and a reader familiar with the Fool’s mate should be able to guess White’s next move that takes advantage of the weakened e8-h5 diagonal:

3 Qf3-Qh5 mate

3 moves checkmate

Thus, the three move checkmate is completed.

From the example game given above we can conclude the following:

  • Black’s second move is really a key move that allows the three move checkmate. If Black moves his pawn to g6 instead of g5, the queen check on h5 is blocked. Also, Black can play any other move instead of moving his g-pawn, since his g-pawn is able to block the check:

win chess in 3 moves

Similarly as with the Fool’s mate, a word of caution is required.

Whereas going for the three move checkmate intentionally may bring you some swift victories, any experienced player won’t be foolish enough to allow it.

Instead, he might take advantage of the fact that you are not playing strategically but merely going for “tricks“.

For instance, in the game above, let’s assume that Black develops his knight instead of advancing his g-pawn:

2… Nb8-Nc6

chess trick

It’s noticeable that Black’s knight will be able to attack White’s queen in the future, by jumping to the d4 or e5 squares. Therefore, White will be forced to move his queen once again in the opening, which wastes time and is unfavorable according to the general opening principles.

To conclude, the three move checkmate is a maneuver worth remembering, but not blindly following.

Do you want to become a stronger chess player?

Why not improve your instincts and skill with lessons from Chess World Champion Garry Kasparov?

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How to Win Chess in 3 Moves
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