Checkmate in the Opening: Part of the both the Chess Openings Guide and the Chess Endgame Guide, Section 1

Checkmate in the Opening


Chess Openings Teaser - Checkmate in the OpeningA typical game of chess can often be dissected into three distinct phases of play:

  1. Opening
  2. Middlegame
  3. Endgame
Sometimes, it can seem a bit unclear as to when the Opening actually transitions into the Middlegame.

When does the Opening phase become the Middlegame phase?

My current, 'rough' assertion of when the Opening phase becomes the Middlegame phase is based on a mix of Yasser Seirawan's principles of Opening Strategy and discussions I had with Ken Wilsdon, as part of the the Advanced Beginner's Chess Guide:

  1. Activate your Troops (to squares that make best use of their strengths, based on their patterns of movement);

  2. Build a House for your King (being the most-important piece on the board, a good stronghold will allow you to concentrate on your remaining development and plans for attack, during the Middlegame);

  3. Castle your King (leads on from step 2);

  4. Connect your Major Pieces (Rooks and Queen);

  5. Control the Center.

Once that list is satisfied, I consider myself well and truly into the Middlegame phase.

However, while most games do go through the Opening » Middlegame » Endgame phases, in neat order, some games are cut short by a sudden Checkmate in the Opening phase ...

When I first came across the following list of examples, my initial thought was that "I've found a selection of to win quickly".

Recommended Mindset for these examples of
Checkmate in the Opening phase...

Since that early rush of blood to the head, I've come to the conclusion that's NOT how these Openings sequences should be viewed. Instead ...

Games of Chess are ONLY won in the Opening,
due to one or more significant errors
of judgment by the losing side
.

... in other words:

  1. View these Checkmate Openings as examples to remind you of potential, hidden dangers that may be present in any position;

  2. ... and be aware of potential lapses in concentration and errors of judgment!

Such errors of judgment may include, for instance, an attempt to deploy certain tactics that usually work (e.g. White's Bg5 Pin on Black's Nf6), but owing to peculiarities of the current position, they leave a fatal weakness, cunningly exploited by their opponent, ending in a swift loss (or victory, depending on your point of view!).

In each Checkmate Opening example, I've made a whiff of an effort to identify the possible turning points that brought on the sudden, premature defeat ...

List of Checkmate Opening Wins for White

The following is a list of known Opening sequences that resulted in Checkmate Wins for White.

The list is sorted in alphabetical order, then by the fewest moves to checkmate:
  1. Caro-Kann Defence (#1), ends ... White Wins in 6 Moves
  2. Caro-Kann Defence (#2), ends ... White Wins in 11 Moves
  3. Caro-Kann Defence (#3), ends ... White Wins in 13 Moves
  4. Caro-Kann Defence (#4), ends ... White Wins in 15 Moves
  5. Dutch Defence (#1), ends ... White Wins in 7 Moves
  6. Dutch Defence (#2), ends ... White Wins in 8 Moves
  7. Marshall Defence, ends ... White Wins in 12 Moves
  8. Modern Defence, ends ... White Wins in 8 Moves
  9. Old Benoni Defence, ends ... White Wins in 9 Moves
  10. Owen's Defence, ends ... White Wins in 8 Moves
  11. Philidor Defence, ends ... White Wins in 7 Moves
  12. Ruy Lopez (#1), ends ... White Wins in 12 Moves
  13. Ruy Lopez (#2), ends ... White Wins in 15 Moves
  14. Scandinavian Defence, ends ... White Wins in 14 Moves
  15. Sicilian Defence (#1), ends ... White Wins in 20 Moves
  16. Sicilian Defence (#2), ends ... White Wins in 20 Moves
  17. Three Knights Game, ends ... White Wins in 10 Moves
  18. Two Knights Defence, ends ... White Wins in 9 Moves
  19. Vienna Game, ends ... White Wins in 8 Moves

List of Checkmate Opening Wins for Black

The following is a list of known Opening sequences that resulted in Checkmate Wins for Black.

The list is sorted in alphabetical order, then by the fewest moves to checkmate:
  1. Bird's Opening, ends ... Black Wins in 5 Moves
  2. Blackburne Shilling Gambit, ends ... Black Wins in 7 Moves
  3. Budapest Gambit (#1), ends ... Black Wins in 5 Moves
  4. Budapest Gambit (#2), ends ... Black Wins in 8 Moves
  5. Englund Gambit, ends ... Black Wins in 8 Moves
  6. French Defence (Reti Gambit), ends ... Black Wins in 9 Moves
  7. Grunfeld Defence, ends ... Black Wins in 16 Moves
  8. Nimzowitsch Defence, ends ... Black Wins in 11 Moves
  9. Petrov's Defence, ends ... Black Wins in 8 Moves
  10. Richter Veresov Attack, ends ... White Wins in 12 Moves
  11. Ruy Lopez, ends ... Black Wins in 13 Moves
  12. Sicilian Defence (#1), ends ... Black Wins in 10 Moves
  13. Sicilian Defence (#2), ends ... Black Wins in 12 Moves


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