Top 6 Chess Traps

Chess traps are one of the most satisfying things in chess. Not all chess traps are created equal, though. Some traps leave you in a disastrous state if your opponent doesn’t fall for the trap. Other traps don’t leave you in a bad position and you can use them more often without worrying about your opponent not falling for them.

Below are the top 6 chess traps that all chess players should know. They are the best traps because they are fairly common, don’t put you in a bad position if your opponent doesn’t fall for it, and are very satisfying if you do pull it off.

6. Legal Trap

The Legal Trap looks to give up a queen, but in reality looks to checkmate their opponent with their minor pieces. After the moves:

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

White is up material but it looks like the queen is lost. If black takes the queen they will lose to 6… Bxd1 7. Bxf7 Ke7 8.Nd5# and w wonderful checkmate with the minor pieces.

5. Blackburne-Shilling Trap

Blackburne-Shilling

The Blackburn-Shilling Trap takes place in the Italian Game and starts with the moves:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Nd4

Black is hoping that white will take with the common looking move 4. Nxe5 but this is no good for white. Black can respond with 4…Qg5 and white is in trouble.

4. Elephant Trap

Elephant Trap

The Elephant Trap is a variation in the Queen’s Gambit declined lines where falling into the trap will cost white their queen.

It starts with the moves:

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. Bg5 Nbd7
5. cxd5 exd5 (White might think the black knight on f6 is pinned to the queen but that’s not correct. It’s a trap)
6. Nxd5 Nxd5
7. Bxd8 Bb4+
8. Qd2 Bxd2+
9. Kxd2 Kxd8

Your opponents never expect the Elephant Trap and it’s so fun to play.

3. Lasker Trap

Lasker Trap

The Lasker Trap is one of the most popular traps because it has an underpromotion (promoting to something other than a queen) as early as the seventh move. This makes it one of the most satisfying traps in chess. It starts with the moves:

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+

Many variations depending on where white moves they all in with an L.

2. Englund Gambit Trap

The Englund Gambit Trap starts from an opening that is rarely seen but very fun.

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

White may be tempted to play Bc3 but that would fall into the trap.

1. Fishing Pole

Fishing Pole Trap

The Fishing Pole is the top chess trap in the game. It comes from a common opening so you have many chances to use it. If your opponent doesn’t fall for it you are still in a good spot. If you pull it off it’s the most satisfying feeling ever.

It starts with the common Ruy Lopez.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 Nf6
4. O-O Ng4 (looking for white to play h3)
5. h3 h5

This move looks weird as the knight is just hanging, but if white takes the knight on g4 then after hxg4 white will have lost the game. The queen and rook combo from black will be too much to handle. Qh4 is coming next with little black can do.


If you’d like to watch the video explaining each trap check it out below. For more chess traps check out the full list of traps.