24 July 2013

The Fooles Mate

The Oxford English Dictionary identifies the term Fool's Mate as coming into the English language in 1618. The work credits J. Barbier's reprint of Arthur Saul's Famous Game Chesse-play (1614).

One of the eight possible means of effecting this checkmate is given in a printed work attributed to Gioachino Greco that was published several years after his death. This text was published by Francis Beale. According to the Dictionary of National Biography, it is the source for William Lewis's 1819 edition of Greco.
The Fooles Mate
Black Kings Bishops pawne one house.
White Kings pawne one house.
Black kings knight pawns two houses
White Queen gives Mate at the contrary
kings Rookes fourth house.
Gioacchino Greco, The Royall Game of Chesse-Play (London, 1656), 17. 
In Greco's works, and for several centuries afterwards, it was not yet customary for White to move first. It was customary, however, for White to win every illustrative game. Hence, if the player moving first loses, that player will have Black.

In modern notation, Greco's game score would be rendered 1.f3 e6 2.g4 Qh4#.

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