Mate in the Fourth

The first four moves played by White are 1. f3, 2. Kf2, 3. Kg3, 4. Kh4. If White gets mated in the fourth move, what could be the moves played by Black?

The game proceeds as follows:

1. f3 e5 (or e6)
2. Kf2 Qf6
3. Kg3 Qxf3+
4. Kh4 Be7#

Boris Zlotnik (1946) is a USSR, Russian and Spanish chess International Master. He is also a pedagogue and an author.


  1. I think that the answer may be incorrect. In the third Black’s movement, the answer says, the Queen captures F3 pawn, but she could be easily captured by pawns e2 or e4, ending the check.

    1. You are correct that the pawns can capture the Queen on move 3. This is an assisted mate however, so the puzzle is to find a sequence for moves, including some terrible ones for White, that lead to the position described in the problem:)

      1. The moves described on the solution don’t lead to the position of the King. In fact, it looks like the King has kind of committed suicide or doesn’t know what the hell are them doing XD. Assuming that the White player has no idea what are them doing, the four Black moves I would have done are:
        1 – f3 d5
        2 – Kf2 g6
        3 – Kg3 Qd6+
        4 – Kh4 Qf4#
        Almost every possible escape would be blocked by the Queen and the Bishop, except that h5, that is blocked by the pawn moved on movement 2. And, of course, the White player would be in checkmate, because the Queen would capture the King in the next movement.
        Of course, I’m not even an amateur chess player, so if I am wrong at some point, tell me, please. I’m willing to improve my mind, and every correction in my reasoning is welcome >:D

        1. Hey Kera:) I believe the king indeed ends up on h4 (e1 -> f2 -> g3 -> h4). In your solution, all squares are blocked, but the king can take the black queen, so he is not mated.

        2. Hi!

          Since the King can only move 1 square vertically, horizontally and diagonally, he cannot reach the Queen, because she is 2 squares away from him (Kh4 Qf4: f – – > h = 2 squares). So, it’s impossible for him to take the Black Queen, isn’t it?

        3. I’m sorry, I’ve just spotted a mistake in my solution. After moving the Queen to f4, in a hypothetical 5th White move, they could easily end that mate moving the pawn to g4. So, that invalidates my solution. And, from what we’ve discussed here, the solution provided isn’t also possible, as the pawns could end the check in the third movement taking the black queen, being an opportunity that nobody would lose. So, I think this puzzle is unsolvable.

        4. Hey Kera, so sorry… You are correct about your solution, I didn’t pay enough attention to the moves you suggested and somehow ~saw~ Qd7-Qg3:) And yes, after Qf4, g4 is a possible move for White.

          I still don’t understand though, why don’t you like the original solution? It seems to be a legal mate.

        5. Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it and, looking at the way White acted, it is a legal mate. I accept my mistake, this is a solvable puzzle.

          However, the Queen moving to f3 and taking the pawn is a movement that could be solved in a way long obvious manner, it is, one of those two pawns taking the Queen.

          In a normal game, this move would not only end the mate, but would allow the White player to get rid of a key piece that can move in all directions. From my point of view, although it is indeed a legal mate, I think it’s a too strained sequence of movements.

          It could be seen like the assassin of a well-known multimillionaire takes the main door to escape, while the police chooses to look for him in other places and not the main door, just because they think that an assassin of that level would never take the most obvious escape route.

          From my point of view, in this hypothetical situation, the police would put one or two officers in the main door while the others search him in other places. And, of course, that assassin would get caught instantly.

        6. Oh!! Now everything makes sense!! That’s a good one!! I’d have never thought about it!!

          That proves that my path of becoming a true detective has just started and it’s still very, very long.

          I’m sorry for all the inconveniences but, overall, thank you so much for correcting me!! You don’t know how I really appreciate it!! You’ve made me think out of the box from a point of view I’ve never thought about.

          Once you have read this, you can delete all the thread. Just to make the page look more clean ;D.

          And really, thank you so much!! See you in other puzzles!

        7. No need to delete the thread Kera (unless you want to), such discussions are also useful to other puzzlers:) Enjoy the problems and see you in another discussion.