Checkmate In One Or Two Moves: Is It Possible In Chess?

A fast checkmate is an impressive way to win against any chess opponent. One or two moves can make the difference, so know how to recognize those quick checkmates. While winning chess in three moves is infamous among players, could it be done faster?

In chess, one move can never result in checkmate. The fastest checkmate known in chess is the Fool’s mate, a checkmate in two moves. Fool’s mate can only be achieved by black (after a blunder by white). It involves diagonally moving the black queen to h4 for a checkmate.

Remember that white pieces have the first-mover advantage in chess. This makes it impossible for white to achieve a similar two-move checkmate, even if black were to blunder their way into a Fool’s mate. That would always still be a three-move checkmate.


One Move Is Not Enough To Checkmate

Generally, white will need a minimum of three moves to checkmate their opponent. Black could theoretically do it in only two moves from the opening, given that white blunders its king into a checkmate (Fool’s mate). One move is insufficient for any checkmate to occur.

The first move in any chess game is simply considered an opening move, determining the possibility of a future checkmate. It can never be a finishing move to win (or lose) a complete game.


Fool’s Mate: Checkmate In Two Moves

Finishing a chess match in only two moves is theoretically possible, but only for the black pieces. It involves a very specific blunder by the white pieces, exposing their king in an awkward manner.

The checkmate in two turns is called the Fool’s mate, as it involves a blunder from white. It will look similar to the board situation in the diagram below:


Fools Mate
Only black can achieve a two-move checkmate


While black barely needs to put in any effort to pull off this hyper-fast checkmate, white has to make a monumental blunder right away. Only four chess pieces need to be displaced for the Fool’s mate:

  • White plays pawn f3
  • Black plays pawn e6
  • White plays pawn g4
  • Black plays queen h4 for checkmate


How To Checkmate In Three Moves

If you’re playing with white pieces, the fastest way to checkmate your opponent would be three moves. There are many varieties of the triple move checkmate, depending on the choices made by your opponent.

In short, it involves developing the queen fast, with the opponent moving its king forward:

  1. White moves their pawn to e4
  2. Black moves their pawn to e5
  3. White moves their queen diagonally to h5
  4. Black mistakenly moves their king to e7
  5. White attacks the black pawn on e5 for an instant checkmate


The moves explained above are a common set of moves for beginners. Especially the development of the queen to h5 is commonly used in beginners matches, despite the fact that it’s not very efficient.

If black is equally inexperienced, he might mistakenly move out the king, resulting in a checkmate. Howcast created a good video explaining this three-move checkmate in the YouTube video below:



How To Defend Against A Fast Checkmate

Achieving a rapid checkmate in only a few moves is exciting. It definitely breaks with the myth of chess being a slow, boring game that can take ages. Fast checkmates are common, from a friendly match between beginners to professional chess tournaments.

That’s exactly why you should prepare your defense against these rapid wins!

As a beginner, it’s best to look at the bigger picture. If you know the strategy you need to use, all you really need to know next is how chess pieces move on the board. That’s basically it. Here are a few of those strategies to defend against checkmates in only a few moves:

  • Protect your king right away: Don’t move your king into the battlefield, keep it behind the pawns.
  • Block their queen: If you see the queen approaching your pieces fast, block it off with your own queen or other supporting pieces (including your pawns)
  • Build a pawn wall: Even without an aggressive opponent’s queen, it makes sense to develop pawns fast and build walls to fence off incoming attacks, while simultaneously providing a protective barrier for other pieces.
  • Use the castling move: The castling move exists in chess to speed up the opening phase of a chess game. It involves a rook and king switching places, under certain circumstances. Develop your bishop and knight on the king’s side as soon as you can to perform a defensive kingside castle move.


Once you’ll learn how to recognize fast checkmates, they become easy to counter. Don’t rush the game, take your time to develop your pieces. After all, chess is not a speedrun, but a calculated balance of strategic attacks and defenses. A three-move win requires a specific set of moves, so don’t count on it happening often.

Remember that a one-move checkmate is impossible, a two-move checkmate is improbable, and a three-move checkmate only requires a simple defense. What’s your favorite fast checkmate? Let me know in the discussion below!

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