Last week was the finals of the Chess Kids National Interschool Championships at Monash University and, as a chess coach, I had the job of going through players’ games after they had finished.

An older boy sauntered up to me holding his scoresheet and asked if I could have a look at his game.

“Sure” I replied.  “It’s not long” he commented as he handed me the scoresheet.

“Did you win?” I asked as I glanced at his scoresheet which indeed showed that the game was only 7 moves long!

“No” was his response.  “He threatened me with the 4 move checkmate and I panicked.”

I started playing through the moves.

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5.

“This shows that your opponent is not a very strong player” I noted “as you shouldn’t bring your Queen out so early in the game.  What did you do in reply?” I asked.

[fen caption=”A new plan against the 4 move checkmate”]rnbqkbnr/pppp1ppp/8/4p2Q/4P3/8/PPPP1PPP/RNB1KBNR b KQkq – 1 22126 [/fen]

“I knew that he was threatening the 4 move checkmate so I thought that I’d better make a run for it.   I played 2…Ke7.”

“Surely this is the worst move in the history of chess” I thought to myself.  I looked at the scoresheet and saw that White had played 3.Bc4?

“Neither of you noticed 2.Qxe5# I asked”.

“No, I guess we were both focused on the 4 move mate” he replied.

Play continued 3…Kd6? 4.Nf3 g6?? 5.Qxe5+ Kc6 6.Nd4+ Kb6 7.Qb5# 1-0.

Is there a better example of “If you find a good move look for a better one?”  For both players to miss mate in one move with 2.Qxe5# shows that they were only looking at their own plans rather than the total picture.

In tennis we have a saying “A quick game is a good game”.

In chess clearly the reverse applies.