How to Punish Beginner Mistakes in the Opening
Chess Openings

How to Punish Beginner Mistakes in the Opening

How to Punish Beginner Mistakes in the Opening

We’re gonna take a look at the most common beginner mistakes in the chess opening and how you can punish them. When you’re facing an amateur player, you gotta do something immediately, you have to take advantage of their errors from the very beginning of the game!

Let’s start with some really basic stuff and, after that, we’ll gradually go to some advanced traps.

How to Punish Beginner Mistakes in the Opening

The first one of the mistakes which a beginner in chess surely will make in the opening is try to check mate you on the first moves, and you must know how to punish them!

1st – Punish the Scholar’s Mate Attempt!

What to do when your opponent is just trying to very directly check mate you with the Scholar’s Mate?

Look at this and learn how to properly react against your beginner chess opponent! ☺ First of all, when they go Qh5, you got to be careful because they’re also attacking your pawn on e5. Normally, you would protect it. After that, White goes Bc4, threatening Qxf7, checkmate, and you go with your pawn to g6.

Punish beginner mistakes in the opening, Scholar's mate attempt
White attempts to deliver you the Scholar’s Mate

They play Qf3 to renew the same threat of Qxf7. Therefore, you gotta be careful one more time, playing Nf6 and, if your opponent is really insistent, they may play pawn to g4! Again, the intent here is fairly obvious, since your knight is currently blocking the way of the white queen; they want to push the pawn forward to g5, drive your knight away and, after that, deliver the checkmate on the f7-square.

Many of your beginner level opponents will do just that, hoping to deliver this straightforward checkmate in the opening; but make no mistakes, you have a way to punish them!

What Should You Do in This Case?

There is a very straightforward and powerful refutation. First of all, you go Nd4, attacking the queen. This also, simultaneously, attacks the pawn on c2 and, therefore, White has to move their queen backwards to d1.

After that, it’s important to continue playing aggressively because, in some games, Black just continues developing their pieces normally with moves such as Bg7 and, after that, we got just a standard game of chess. Instead of that, you can and should take advantage of White’s beginner mistakes in the opening and punish them immediately!

Punish beginner mistakes in the opening, Scholar's mate failed
White must accept that the Scholar’s mate failed due to your counterattack against the queen!

So, you can play …d5, attacking the bishop and, after White captures, this time you capture the pawn on g4 with the bishop. Black is threatening the queen and, after White blocks the way of your bishop with the knight, there is a nice way for you to finish the chess game right here!

Punish beginner mistakes in the opening, Scholar's mate ends in a checkmate by Black
Black wins by checkmate, after White tried to execute the Scholar’s Mate

You just go Nf3, checking the king on e1 and, all of a sudden, with your bishop the white king is checkmated!

This is the proper way to counter in a chess game your opponent’s attempts to deliver on you the Scholar’s Mate. ☺

2nd – Punish with a Smothered Mate

The next trap to catch your beginner opponents and punish their opening mistakes is more advanced. It’s kind of known, but it never gets old as people keep falling right into this trap again and again.

Gata Kamsky
Gata Kamsky – One of the US chess champions

The particular game that I’m going to show you to illustrate this second beginner mistake in the opening and how to punish it was a blitz chess game between Kamsky and Krasikov. Gata Kamsky had the white pieces, and he has been a chess champion in the United States. So, it’s just crazy that he has felt into this trap.

Punish beginner mistakes in the opening, Black sets a very known but very succesful trap
Black plays Nd4 and White very frequently (wrongly) takes the e5-pawn

You have the black pieces and, first of all, you gotta make your best poker face on this position and, after some hesitation, play the move Nd4, pretending you’re an amateur too, who is just playing some random chess moves.

I repeat that even though this trap is kinda known, people just keep falling into it. I can show you the statistics here. You can see the number of chess games played after this position, and you can see that the second most played move, with tens of thousands of people playing it, is Nxe5, which is almost losing. Not literally, but it’s close to losing, and let me show you how you can take advantage of it.

Stats Don’t Lie, People Keep Falling on This Trap

Mistakes in the opening is a common thing in chess games of a beginner, but to be a strong player demands from you to learn to severely punish those mistakes.

Punish beginner mistakes in the opening, known trap is the second most played move in this position
White falls too much frequently in this known trap – 3.Nxe5 is the second most played move in this position

It’s really tempting for White to capture the pawn because not only it wins material, but it also creates this seemingly powerful threat to Black’s f7-pawn. However, the trap here is that you can actually counter attack with the Qg5 move with a double attack to White’s knight as well as the pawn on g2.

If White continues capturing the f7-pawn, a lot of White’s pieces and pawns could become unstable. It would be hard for White to save all their material. In case of Nxf7, White attacks the queen and the rook simultaneously, but then, you counter blow with a double attack as well.

The Double Attack Is the Star!

By the way, the double attack tactical motif is the starring here, and if you want to practice this thing more, you may check out other of my video lessons called the two most important chess tactics you should know, to learn and practice the most common and useful tactics in chess.

Anyway, after Black’s queen attacked the rook and it retreated, you capture the e4-pawn with check. White needs to cover the king with the bishop. And now it looks that the white king is totally safe and protected by a whole bunch of pieces all around but, all of a sudden, there is a smothered checkmate taking advantage of the pin!

Punish beginner mistakes in the opening, Smothered checkmate
Black punishes White with a smothered checkmate!

3rd – “Counter-trick” Your Opponent

In the last example for this lesson, we have a really interesting trap. A lot of players use it, and even advanced chess players up to the grand master level when you’re playing White, and you play the first standard moves 1.e4 and 2.Nf3.

Black can surprise you by playing pawn to d5 and, even though this move is not a main line, here it’s actually not that bad and it’s fairly dangerous for White.

Punish beginner mistakes in the opening, Black plays d5 against Nf3
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 – Tricky move by Black

The first examples were more easy to see as beginner mistakes in the opening, and you clearly learnt how to punish them. But this case is more advanced.

To learn in depth how this can become a trap, you should watch the video lesson below. But I can tell you that in this position there are a lot of pitfalls that you got to be aware of.

What Black Wants

The game could come to a position where Black captures the f3-knight with the help of an intermediate move and wins the piece. At the end of trading off everything, Black is a piece up, and White has to resign.

Punish beginner mistakes in the opening, what Black wants
Black can win a piece with an intermediate move

This is just one of the ways for Black to play, but it anyway shows you how dangerous this chess opening can be; and if you just play the most natural moves all the time, you can, all of a sudden, lose right away.

What You (White) Want

Instead of capturing the d5-pawn at the beginning, you can capture the pawn on e5. After that, Black can recapture on e4, and here, of course, if you just want a super rock solid position, you just move your pawn to d4, and now your position is 100% secure.

To fully understand what we are talking about, be sure to watch the video lesson below. The thing is that your position is not very aggressive and you’re not really trying to win the game. It’s just to secure. So, you want to play more aggressively, and Bc4 is the way to go!

Punish beginner mistakes in the opening, what White wants
This unbalanced and aggressive position is the way to play for White to punish Black’s 2.d5 trick

Black has been playing little bit dubious moves in the opening (almost like beginner mistakes), and it makes sense for you to be more aggressive to punish them now. You’re threatening the f7-pawn two times, and it’s inconvenient for Black to protect it somehow. The idea of Black is to try to counter attack by playing Qg5.

It’s interesting that we have seen a similar position from the black side before. But it was a little bit different. I hope you remember it; please, watch the full video lesson below to understand it. In this case, it’s actually favorable for White to go into this line. Obviously, it’s not easy for White to figure out what to do next, but the correct move is to force the black king to move and, after that, go d4 to develop everything and attack the queen.

After some logical play from both sides, the following position could arise.

Can You Find the Winning Continuation?

Punish beginner mistakes in the Opening

White to move and win!

Think about this, how would you play here as White if you were playing this position. It is your move. How would you proceed here? Please, think about it and write down your answer in the comments below.

Top 3 Opening Traps To PUNISH Beginner Mistakes (Video Lesson)

See below in the board the chess games we have analyzed for this lesson. Download the PGN file for those games, which also includes some extra examples for the same topic of how to punish beginner mistakes in the opening.

The Best Way to Improve at Chess Instantly!

You may wish to check out my free Masterclass The Best Way to Improve at Chess Instantly, where I summarize the most efficient ways used by my most successful students to progress in chess. You can replicate their success and get this shortcut with the proven most effective ways to improve your chess, not just with some single opening traps but, in general, how to advance your chess and achieve your chess goals.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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