4 Move Checkmate (Scholar’s Mate) – How to Win Chess in 4 Moves

There are other ways to win chess in 4 moves, but none as famous and often-played as Scholar’s mate. No chess strategy arsenal would be complete without this popular version of the 4-Move Checkmate.

A Popular Kids Chess Move

90%* of elementary aged kids have either used 4-move checkmate or their opponent tried to use it during a chess tournament. It can result in a crushing defeat for the unsuspecting player who either:
1. Misses the tell-tale signs that his sneaky opponent is trying to checkmate in 4 moves
2. Sees the signs, but doesn’t know how to protect themselves

Players that use 4 Move Checkmate are easy to spot. They often finish the game extremely quickly, then go on bragging or boasting, having hoodwinked their opponent. More ethical players are embarrassed to have used the trick at all, feeling a little sorry for their opponent. Another frequent outcome is that these players end up getting into serious trouble and lose the game because they took their Queen out too early.

Is it worth the risk? You decide.

Step 1: Learn 4 Move Checkmate Now – Video Lesson

This video tutorial (lesson) will walk step-by-step though the moves of 4-Move Checkmate. It will teach you not only how to win chess in 4 moves, but how to protect yourself from an opponent that is trying to use it on you! Learn the moves to counter, and take control of the game.

But wait…you’re not done!

Step 2: Practice 4 Move Checkmate Here

After the video, take our free interactive practice quiz and try 4-Move Checkmate yourself. It’s you against the computer.

  • The exercises are here:

Please be patient when loading the exercises – it might take a couple seconds. Enjoy!

*based on a recent poll of kids in Washington state

Video Transcription
Scholar’s Mate is the checkmate that occurs after the White moves Pawn to E4, Bishop to C4, Queen to H5, and Queen takes on F7 Checkmate…or similar.
The moves may be played in a different order with slight variations, but the basic idea is that the Queen and Bishop are combining in an attack on F7. Sometimes Scholar’s Mate is referred to as the Four Move Checkmate. However, there are other ways to checkmate in 4 moves.
Let’s watch Scholar’s Mate in action…E4, E5, Bishop to C4, Knight to C6, Knight to F6 would have stopped White’s next Queen move. Queen to H5. Now White threatens checkmate on F7. Black can easily stop White’s threat with Pawn to G6. Knight to F6 attacks the Queen BUT Queen takes on F7 is Checkmate. 
It is important to note that Scholar’s Mate is not a good strategy since it brings the Queen out too early. With proper defense, Black will have a very comfortable opening.

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Girls and Assertiveness: Kids Chess Prepares Girls to Succeed In The Real World

Parents are selecting their kids activities with their eye on college admissions and career success, according to Hilary Levey Friedman’s Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture. This is particularly true for families raising girls. In it, she details the stunning divide between “girly girl” activities, like dance, and more aggressive activities, like chess and soccer.

The parents of chess and soccer girls frequently used the words aggressive or assertive when interviewed for the book. They are connecting the dots between these traits and future academic and earning potential. As one mom put it, “When I was interviewing [job candidates] at Morgan Stanley, if I got a female candidate–because it’s banking and you need to be aggressive, you need to be tough–if she played, like, ice hockey, done. My daughter’s playing [soccer], and I’m just a big believer in kids learning to be confidently aggressive, and I think that plays out in life assertiveness.”

The chess parents, in particular, actively use chess as a way to teach their daughters that they are equal to boys. “She doesn’t have any ideas about gender limitations and I think that’s a good thing,” proclaimed one chess parent.

Levey Friedman wonders aloud why girls are the distinct minority in kids chess, and draws the conclusion that the “aggression” turns girls off to the sport. However, soccer is an equally aggressive sport – and boasts three times the population of the Girl Scouts. So what gives?

Kids chess programs are typically held at the girls own elementary school – the very environment in which girls are valued and accepted for being “nice”. In fact, their survival in school depends on being perceived as “nice”, as detailed in Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons.

Learning to be aggressive with their own friends at school, through chess, is uncomfortable for girls at first. But eventually they accept it and learn to enjoy winning. The girls’ confidence starts to override the plague of “niceness”, which Simmons claims is to blame for the suffering of girls in their peer relationships and causes depression, anxiety, and worse (suicide).

Great kids chess programs have girls. Sometimes as many as 50%. And those same programs have great coaches that deal with the “nice” issue head-on. It is not to be swept under the rug, but to be talked about as a group, where the girls can express their feelings.

Last year, 90% of the girls I polled in our chess club expressed that they felt uncomfortable beating a female friend at chess. These same girls characterized themselves as “nice”.

The other – and I believe bigger – issue is that girls don’t like being the only girl, as outlined in Louann Brizendine’s The Female Brain. A female lion will die without the acceptance of other female lions, and the human female brain is similar. Just last week, I received an email from a mom of a bright 3rd grader who wanted to join chess club…but discovered there are no other girls playing chess at her school, and therefore refuses to join.

This same scenario is to blame for girls self-selecting themselves out of the lucrative engineering field. The recent study by Girl Scouts of America indicates that only 11% of Engineering jobs are held by women, though 74% of girls are interested in STEM fields of science, technology, math, and engineering. Nearly half of all girls say they would feel uncomfortable being the only girl in a group or a class, the study found.

The simple solution: Girls-only chess classes. Let them compete against the boys during games, but allow them to learn with other girls. Give the girls their own coaches, just like soccer.



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DIY: Start a Kids Chess Club at Your School

school-kids chess-club

Welcome to Part 2 in my series about launching kids chess club, and becoming the hero of your kids’ school. Part 1 described the ridiculously inflated cost of after-school activities, and how chess is the alternative with the highest rewards – for your kids and everyone else’s.

My boy and girl were lucky enough to have a phenomenal chess club at their school, already in place years before we arrived. When I took over to run things, I discovered the intricate workings of this well-oiled machine, and what makes it tick. Here’s the break-down.

One Parent Coordinator…you

The parent coordinator is in charge of collecting payment and registration forms from parents, paying the chess teacher, buying supplies, communication with school teachers, principal, and parents. The parent coordinator is a volunteer.

Facilities – Getting space at school

This is where you need support from the school principal. It’s challenging to get access to classrooms outside of school hours. The classroom teachers don’t want their stuff messed with, or kids rifling through their desks. However, the ideal environment is a classroom. Classrooms are carpeted and kids love to sprawl out on the floor and play chess that way. Befriend a nice, low-key teacher that would volunteer her classroom once per week. Do this prior to meeting with the principal.

Another top choice would be the school library. The lunchroom is loud and pretty much the worst place to play chess. But take what you can get.

You might need to convince your principal to allow an after-school kids chess club. Not everybody gets it right away.


You’ll need one board for every two kids. The best kids are the standard roll-up vinyl tournament boards with plastic pieces like this.

Coaches’ board

You need one hanging demonstration board. Most of the time, the chess teacher/coach will have one. The ones with the little plastic pockets seem easier to use than the magnetic kind.

The Chess Coach (Teacher)

The two most important attributes of a chess coach are:

1. Ability to get control of a classroom, and maintain a sense of humor

2. Passion for teaching chess – they must believe this is adding benefit to these kids

If the person is also a chess master, you just found a rare treasure, like a rainbow unicorn. Don’t worry about seeking out a master. The goal here is to get your kids chess program going. So don’t get caught up in the idea of a perfect teacher. In time, you can bring in better teachers if necessary.

Finding the Chess Coach

1. Reach out to your local adult chess club. If you have a local internet or other adult chess club that plays as a team, GOLD MINE. Because even if these guys/gals aren’t available to teach your kids chess at 3:00 in the afternoon, they have a network of other players. You want to tap into this network.

2. Ask around to your Facebook friends, your grandma’s bridge buddies, and church, to find a smart, chess-playing retiree.

3. Does your local high school or university have a chess club? This could be an excellent choice for coaching prospects.


Every room occupied by chess needs to have at least two adults at all times: one is a chess coach, and the other is a parent volunteer. The simple way to handle this is to have the same parent attend chess club each week. The more complicated way, but quite effective, is to rotate parents every week. When parents share volunteer duties, they get more involved an interested in chess for their kids.

The Economics

Options to pay for your kids chess club:

1. You rely on school district funds, like I.S. 318 in Brooklyn New York.

The trouble with this approach is that you are at the mercy of the availability of ongoing funds from one year to the next. If you go this route, be prepared to lobby aggressively to school administrators, and don’t give up.

2. Parents pay

Charging a modest tuition for kids chess club is absolutely fine. You’ll get a better response if chess costs the same as daycare at your school, or if it’s priced less than other after-school programs.

The tuition formula is simple:

Per-session Tuition = (Per-session Chess Coach pay) / number of kids + 20% buffer*

Example 1:

Chess Coach charges $100 per session

15 kids signed up

$100/15 kids = $6.67 +1.33 buffer = $8 per session

10 sessions = $80

Example 2:

Chess Coach charges $50 per session

10 kids sign up

$50/10 kids = $5 + 1 buffer = $6 per session

10 sessions = $60


*The buffer gives you some extra money in the budget for incidental expenses like snacks/treats, equipment. The buffer needs to be bigger for teams that are traveling and playing at state tournaments.

The Volunteer Coach

You might get a coach that volunteers his/her time for your kids chess club. Chess coaches should not be volunteers. Parents should be volunteering, and their job is to help out, circulate the room, or corrall kids, and maintain order in the classroom.  Coaches have a different role – they are in charge of the teaching and curriculum. It’s smart pay your coaches something, even if it’s only $40. It provides incentive for the chess coach to consistently show up and teach well, and acknowledges the valuable service they are providing the kids. The top coaches in the US market are earning $200-$300 per session, but these chess coaches are the exception.


Part 3 of this article will discuss what happens during chess club, curriculum, handling tuition, getting people to sign up, and more… Stay tuned! And please post your questions in the comments section.


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My Name is Jill Keto. I'm a Chess Mom.


Through my kids crazy after-school schedule, doing everything from tap dancing to baseball, I've discovered something... The best parents on the planet are chess parents. This blog is for you.

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