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Every beginner across the country who is enrolled in The Knight School opens each chess game with the same opening: the modified scholarsmate. The Knight School students understand that this is a trick opening: it is disguised as an attempt to checkmate using the scholarsmate, but in actuality no checkmate is sought at all: instead there are nine devastating traps waiting in this opening, and our opponents fall for one or another of these 90% of the time! Here is our standard opening, The Modified Scholarsmate:

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Note that on move 4 the queen captures the black pawn on F7 which results in checkmate. What is so unique about our approach is that we never expect this checkmate to be left available to us. Instead, we expect the opponent will block us. THEN, we begin systematically drilling down on that blocker until we remove it or until we shake loose a free chess piece from our opponent! For purposes of being awarded a Tan Belt, all a student has to do is achieve Move 3 above and that does it! Raise your hand and call over that referee! Below are three of the most common traps we see in the modified scholarsmate! In the position above, which comes up about 15% of the time, can you spot the winning move?

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It is knight to the green square. Talk about tricky! Opponents almost always capture the knight with the pawn, oblivious to that act that once they do, white delivers checkmate on the yellow square now that the knight has moved, allowing the bishop to protect the queen on the yellow square! If they do see the threat and block with the knight, you simply capture their 5-point rook for free! The modified scholarsmate is riddled with such traps and pitfalls, and learning them all is a tremendous thrill for sure.


In the below situation when your opponent has simply copied all your moves, which comes up about 15% of the time, what is the devastating trick for white? See it?

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It is to move to the red square! Black usually tries to mimic you again and capture your queen, but all our students are trained to say, "That is an illegal move. Please take it back. That does not stop the check." Then our opponents slowly realize in abject agony that the knight in capturing their queen has put their king in check, and they have to stop that first. Once they capture your knight with their knight, you blithely move your queen to safety on D3 and you are up 6 points right off the bat! Now you see why we teach this lesson third. It is the single most effective to teach a child the concept of hacking away at your opponent's king until it is checkmated, and capturing material--which means removing your opponent's material/pieces/bodyguards one at a time from their king--is one sure way to do that!

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