Top 5 Chess Traps

Top 5 Chess Traps

By Alex Balaniuc

Every strategy game in existence has a certain moment that will make one of the players internally rejoice: the moment when an opponent falls for a well-machinated trap. Having your opponent get entangled in the web you’ve been carefully weaving during a game is certainly very satisfying.

In chess, for instance, there are lots of traps you can push your opponent into. But what are the best ones? Well, let’s find that out in today’s article about the top 5 chess traps!

1) Englund Gambit Trap

Let’s start off with the Englund Gambit Trap. The opening for this move is 1. d4 e5. This trap is known for being quite risky for black because of the sacrifice of the e pawn this early in the game. This setup can also be found within the Budapest Gambit. But the Englund is not as sound as an opening, which makes it not very popular among stronger players. Despite this, it does contain traps that can catch white off guard by luring them into playing as rationally as possible, and result in quick wins.

Here’s the Englund Gambit Trap move sequence:

1. d4 e5
2. dxe5 Nc6
3. Nf3 Qe7
4. Bf4 Qb4+
5. Bd2 Qxb2

2) Fishing Pole Trap

The Fishing Pole Trap is associated with the Ruy Lopez opening, meaning:

1. e4 e5

2. Nf3 Nc6

3. Bb5

This trap is one of the easiest traps for white to fall for. The idea behind it is to open up the h file or the access to h7/h2 by sacrificing the minor g4/g5 piece.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 Nf6
4. O-O Ng4 (looking for white to play h3)
5. h3 h5 (invites the capture of the knight in return for an open h file)

3) Blackburne Shilling Gambit

The Blackburne Shilling Gambit is an opening derived from an offshoot of the Italian Game (1. e4 e5, 2. Nf3 Nc6, 3. Bc4) that goes like this:

1. e4 e5

2. Nf3 Nc6

3. Bc4 Nd4?!

The trap mainly relies on the hope that your opponent would get greedy and pinch pawns. Therefore, it might be better to use it in less important games against less skilled players in order to have a quick win. How poorly white plays after falling for the trap will determine how much material they’ll lose.

4) Légal Mate

The Légal Mate is an opening characterized by a queen sacrifice followed by checkmate with minor pieces, in case black accepts the sacrifice. It is derived from the Italian Game in which white develops their light square bishop to the c4 square on the third move, adding pressure to the d5 light square. Then, if black responds by building their defense with d6, white can simply go into Légal’s Mate.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 d6
4. Nc3 Bg4
5. h3 Bh5
6. Nxe5

5) Lasker Trap

Lastly, the Lasker Trap is an opening in the Albin Countergambit (1. d4 d5, 2. c4 e5). The key to the trap is unusual, in that it features an underpromotion as early as the seventh move.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e5 (Albin Countergambit)
3. dxe5 d4
4. e3 Bb4+
5. Bd2 dxe3 (setting up the trap for Bxb4)
6. Bxb4 exf2 (trap has been laid)
7. Ke2 fxg1=N+ (promote to a knight and check)
8. Ke1 Qh4+


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