Defense Against the Scholar’s Mate
You probably already know how the scholar’s mate works. Now it’s time to learn how to save yourself from it! All players face such a threat from time to time. But there is nothing to be afraid of. We’ll tell you how to unfold a simple and reliable defense against the scholar’s mate.
White goes to e4, capturing the center. We respond in the same way (e5), also fighting for the middle of the board.
The opponent sends their queen to h5. Our h7-pawn is protected by the rook, and the f7-pawn is backed up by the king. However, the central one is vulnerable: it’s threatened by the queen. To improve the situation, we send our knight to c6. This also allows us to deploy a light piece. It’s one of the main tasks in the opening.
After White jumps with their bishop to c4, be careful. Your opponent is unwrapping the scholar’s mate trap! The queen wants to eat our f7-pawn. Black has 3 different ways to ruin these plans.
The disadvantage of the move Qf6 is that the queen here takes away the knight’s square. So, it’ll prevent it from jumping to an optimal position. Besides, the queen itself may lose tempo in different variations of the match.
A similar situation occurs after you go to Qe7. It closes the diagonal for the dark-squared bishop. Additionally, thus we fix the position of the strongest piece. This is not advisable at the beginning of the game.
Recommended Defense Against the Scholar’s Mate
The best solution is the g6-pawn to close square f7 for the white queen. First of all, it opens a diagonal for our bishop. It’ll soon take the pawn’s place. And we’ll later make a fianchetto, with the bishop going to the long diagonal. Secondly, we win time by pushing the white queen away.
The white queen retreats to f3 but again threatens square f7. Black should watch out!!
Now we block the queen by putting the knight on f6. Don’t forget to bring the light pieces into play! It is important that if White attacks the knight, they’ll lose their Queen on f6. This is the moment when Black takes the initiative.
White will be desperate for good advice at this stage! If they go with a logical Nc3 move, Black scares the queen away with Nd4. The opponent’s most powerful piece is forced to move for the third time in this opening.
Additionally, the knight threatens to eat the c2-pawn. This creates a fork, an opportunity to take down 2 pieces: the king and rook. To prevent this, White sends their own knight to e2, also taking the d4 square under control. Black, in return, goes on with their own business by sending the bishop to g7. We prepare the room for castling and protect black squares.
No comment is needed here. Both sides make castling to ensure the safety of their kings.
White takes the b1-knight closer to the center of the board. And we open the diagonal to the light-squared bishop by sending the pawn to d6. It was the last light piece, yet undeployed in the battle. Black both levels the chances to victory and gets a small advantage already in the opening!
The defense against the scholar’s mate is protection from a dangerous but not invincible threat. You can easily refute it. Just take advantage of White’s losing their tempo to control the situation. However, always remain on guard!