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7 Nifty Traps and Tricks to Win Quickly

When I was in fourth grade, I signed up for the chess tournament for our school intramurals. To train, I played with other chess players in my team and my teacher pit me up against this fifth grader whom she said was really good so that I can learn from him. 

In that game, I played very normal moves, bringing out my knight and bishop, while he brought his bishop and queen out. I had no idea what he was about to do but I made the fatal mistake of ignoring his threat and I got Scholar-mated. The game ended in four moves.

Though opening traps are usually amateurish and would normally be seen in club games, it would be helpful to actually know what are the different opening traps since not all of them are as obvious as the Scholar's mate. Now, what I would like to show you are seven of the sneakiest traps and tricks in chess that I learned and I find really cool. Although, I would advise not to actually use these as often especially in actual tournaments against strong players because they are quite aware of these but it would be good to know them so that you can avoid being trapped. Furthermore, knowing these, you can have the upper hand because when one usually seeks to trap someone but it is defended against, he would usually end up with a much worse position than his opponent. 

You can try most of these out on unknowing victims, mostly beginners or when you are playing blitz or bullet games but again, experienced chess players already know these and would usually not fall into them unless they make pre-moves online and you can unknowingly mate them quickly.

1. Patzer Trick and the Scholar's Mate
These first two tricks are mostly for beginners. Chess players who have a good grasp of positional play and chess principles would not be fooled or easily trapped. Knowing these would also help you to watch out for them and show your opponents that you will not be caught by cheap tricks. 

Do not worry if you have fallen for these tricks because I have and many others have too. These are just the baby steps of chess and in every mistake that you make, you will be able to pick up lessons and learn from these to improve your skills.

The first one is the Patzer trick. Patzer is a term which means 'a chess amateur' and this is reflected in the set of moves that will be played because these moves are very dubious because they violate the rules of opening theory and chess in general. Nonetheless, I fell for this trick when I was playing chess with a friend in high school because I never really had a grasp of chess knowledge yet so I was just simply stunned and flabbergasted that the game had ended all too quickly. Of course, now that I have come to a better understanding of chess, I have learned how to counteract this trick.

As you have seen in some of the lines that are shown above, there is a good way to defend against this trick by simply defending your pawns while developing your pieces. The move Nc6 and g6 by Black were very simple defensive resources that black had which would inconvenience White's queen later on and displace White's pieces in the end. In the end, Black is leading in development and White's seeming initiative has evaporated into thin air with Black securing his king in the next few moves.

The other beginner trap is the Scholar's Mate which is commonly called the "Four-move checkmate." This is somewhat similar to one line in the Patzer Opening but with a different move order. 

Again, in the end, if Black defends properly, White's pieces will become misplaced and the attack will fizzle to nothing while Black has a very decent position without any weaknesses. A really good response perhaps to Bc4 would be Nc6 or Nf6 even which would change the dynamic of the opening completely and White would not be able to experiment with the Scholar's Mate idea.

2. Fried Liver Attack
This is a very interesting line in the Giuoco Piano or Italian Opening where White's minor pieces converge at the weak square f7 to attack the enemy king. The attack can actually go in two different directions since White can either capture the f7 pawn with the bishop or the knight to gain the exchange or to inconvenience Black's king but in turn, Black is able to get a good center so it depends on how both sides play this.

However, the Fried Liver Attack does not always happen because Black can liven up his own position with the move d5 interfering in the coordination of White's bishop and knight. This move also causes the attack to cease so I have since considered this attack to be somehow diluted in its effectiveness unless Black cooperates well enough for it to be executed. Of course, in the event that Black sacrifices his d-pawn for activity, White would have an extra pawn although his pieces are not as stable particularly the night on g5 which can be attacked when Black's knight on f6 moves.

3. Legal Trap
Now, we are moving on to some complicated stuff with bold sacrifices that lead to beautiful combinations. The key to a successful attacking combination is that the defender would have no possible way of defending his position by any means because there is just too much pressure coming from all sides and so the attacker must always ensure that he is able to utilize his positional advantage to maximum effect since only when one's position is superior and his pieces are active will tactics be most effective and he will easily crush the other side's defenses. The Legal Trap is somewhat a miniature version of a superb attacking combination since it actually uses the concept of a double attack and the concept of a decoy.

The Legal Trap can be initiated by White in the Philidor's Defense and involves a queen sacrifice followed by a mating net. This would also follow the theme of attacking the weakest square in Black's camp held by the f7-pawn. You will be amazed by this trap and how certain high-valued pieces like the queen can become immaterial when looking for checkmate. Moreover, if you notice, both sides were making normal moves in the opening until Black moved his bishop to h5 wherein the trap was sprung. These are the subtleties that we need to be very careful to watch out for not only in this position but in every other position as well.

4. Fishing Pole Trap
The Fishing Pole Trap is probably one of the most popular, exciting, and effective traps. I personally like this trap because it can be done in the Sicilian Defense, however, it does not always happen the way you would want to especially when your opponent is aware of it but it may lead to some interesting positions that are still quite double-edged in my perspective. There are two versions of the Fishing Pole, one in the Sicilian Defense and the other in the Ruy Lopez. This trap also highlights another theme in chess which is attacking the castled king on the h2 square so one must always be careful where he puts his king because the most dangerous place for your king to be is where you think he is safest at.

The first illustration is the line in the Ruy Lopez.

The other one is in the Sicilian Defense.
5. Elephant Trap
Most of the traps we have covered all stem out of the e4 openings since 1 e4 leads to very sharp and tactical positions with numerous variations. But there are also certain traps in the d4 openings and the Elephant Trap is one such trap where you will simply be surprised that by releasing the tension between the center pawns and a miscalculation, a crafty trick can be launched. 

6. Lasker Trap
Also stemming out from the Queen's Gambit Declined line, the Lasker trap, named after Dr. Emanuel Lasker, is a disaster for White which is due to one inaccurate move causing White's position to fall apart after that move and Black totally decimating White's formation and dominating the entire board. In the end, the White king is out in the open and going to be running for his life. In the last position, White is completely devastated.

7. Blackburne-Shilling Trap
The Blackburne-Shilling Trap is one of the most impressive traps that I have seen so far since the result of this trap is a spectacular smothered mate. This also stems out of the Italian Opening but instead of White delivering the blows, it is Black who confounds White and controls the game although this trap would work only if White cooperates.

A common theme that these traps and tricks show us, besides attacking and putting pressure on the weakest squares of your opponent's position, is that one falls for these traps usually due to greediness for material and a general lack of understanding of the aim of certain moves which leads to slight inaccuracies and later on to major blunders. Traps, especially those in the opening, may be fun to execute because your opponents would be surprised and might want to give up easily but these traps do not work for everyone, especially not on experienced players who know quite a bit about chess than the ordinary person. Going for spectacular moves and daring to give up almost everything for the attack may be too risky at times because one misstep would usually cause the whole position of the attacker to collapse which is why many good tacticians do not neglect positional strategy because a good position would always lead to a static or permanent advantage. Tactics, though they are more dynamic, are only temporary depending on the short-term aspects of the position and may not always finish the job quickly. Rather, tactics should also just be a means to have a better position in the aftermath since not all tactics are decisive and some attacks may water down to nothing.

In general, do not panic when your opponent starts to give up his material to attack your king because not all attacks are fully realized or what are called premature attacks. Simply analyze the position first and try to figure out what your opponent wants to do and if you see that there is no substance to his attack, then you can be at peace that you will be safe for the time being and you would not lose right then and there. Just develop your pieces, strengthen your pawn structure, and bring your king to safety instead of making hasty moves. Come up with a good strategy to take advantage of your opponent's rash assault on your position.


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