Defending Against the Scholar's Mate

Two of the boys on my chess team got taken in by the Scholar’s Mate at a tournament last weekend, and I’d like to teach them how to make their opponents pay for trying to sucker them.

After …1. Qf4 (where the queen threatens mate on f7), I’ve taught the boys to play 1. Nf6. From here, is it a good idea for black to try to go after white’s queen? What would be the best way for black to take the advantage?

What’s the exact position here? Do you mean Qf3 (from h5 or as the first Queen move)?

White’s queen isn’t in too much danger so early on. If someone makes a ploy like this, it’s better to take advantage of the time they’ve given up. So, develop your own pieces while defending. It might be a good way to get your knights in decent points while making a good pawn structure (At some point moving the f or g pawn is a likely good defensive move to make in such an attack).

I meant as the first queen move.

At this development age I would just tell them to stick with the usual development principles, develop your pieces and try to control the middle of the board. If they do that the strength of their position relative to their opponent will become clear enough.’s_mate It helps if you teach them to recognize the possibility. Easily defended though.

It would be a good idea to sharpen up your chess notation a mite if you want to teach anything. …1. Qf4 is neither a possible move nor a typical feature of the Scholar’s Mate even if you fixed up the numbering.

After 1. e4, e5; 2. Bc4; Black is probably best not to mirror White’s move but to play 2. … Nf6; which disposes of the SM at once as the White Queen cannot come to h5 and does not threaten mate from f3.

After 1. e4, e5; 2. Qf3; Black can again play 2. …Nf6, again preventing a mate any time soon, with the possibility of 3. …Be7 and 4. … 0-0 if nothing else crops up.

After 1. e4, e5; 2. Qh5; Black may be best to play 2. … Qe7 to both defend the e-pawn and prevent the subsequent mate after 3. Bc4. But there are alternatives, such as 2. … d6 and 3. … g6, driving the Queen away and preparing Bg7 (but not 2. … d6; 3. Bc4, g6; 4. Qf3, Bg7?? 5. Qxf7# after all).

However, to reiterate advice earlier in the thread, they need to be learning the principles and how to spot threats, not studying set opening lines against a weak opening.