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How Quickly Can You Lose a Chess Game?

Updated May 23, 2024
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The longest chess match on record was a 20-hour battle between Ivan Nikolic and Goran Arsovic that ended in a draw in 1989. The shortest possible game? That's easy: Anyone who falls for the so-called "Fool's Mate" has lost a game in just two moves.

It works like this: White opens by moving his pawn at g2 (the pawn in front of the king's-side knight) two space to g4. Black counters by moving her pawn at e7 (the pawn in front of her king) two spaces to e5. White then moves his pawn at f2 (the pawn in front of his king's-side bishop) one space to f3. There's now a diagonal opening from the side of the board to white's king, and no place for the king to escape. Black moves her queen to h4 (three spaces in front of her pawn on the left-side – from her point of view – of the board). The white king is checkmated. While there are other versions of "Fool's Mate," they all result in the embarrassment of losing in just a few moves.

Check it out:

  • Per capita, Iceland has more chess players than any other country.

  • Bobby Fischer holds the record for highest performance rating ever recorded, at 3080; for comparison, the average chess performance rating is about 1300.

  • Cleveland Public Library has the largest chess collection, with 32,000 books and 6,000 bound periodicals devoted to chess.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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