01 April 2017

Fool's Mate

Today is the 160th anniversary of the publication of Herman Melville's last novel, The Confidence Man (1857). It was both published and set on this day. Showing more detailed comprehension of the future than Nostradamus, in Confidence Man Melville offers an allegory of the administration of the 45th President of the United States.

Today is also the day when the news stories on ChessBase News must be considered suspect, as one or more are almost certainly fake. Discerning the real from the fake will not be easy.

Today is also the date of a youth chess tournament called Fool's Mate. I am the tournament director, so I will have a busy day.

Fool's Mate is the name for a checkmate, and a checkmate pattern, that has a long history. The infamous checkmate in which a foolish White player might capitulate after Black's second move has been known as Fool's Mate at least since the reign of King Charles I of England (1600-1649), or shortly thereafter. Francis Beale, The Royal Game of Chesse-Play (1656), which is dedicated to the late king, lists the moves.

Image from The Royal Game of Chesse-Play (1656)

The pattern can be seen in this well-known failure by White in Bird's Opening. I placed Black at the bottom, spurning a centuries old tradition for chess diagrams.

Black to move

In a 2015 Blitz game, I missed an opportunity from this position, thrusting 5...g4 instead. After my opponent's 6.hxg4. I awoke.

Black to move

The reader will decide for him- or herself whether this position from Perekrestov,V. -- Inozemtsev,A., Yuzhny 2010 should be classified with the others.

Black to move

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