Fool´s mate is the quickest possible checkmate in the game of chess. It consists of the moves (in algebraic notation) 1.f3 e5 2.g4 Qh4#, leading to the position shown. There are a few slight variations on the pattern — White might play f4 instead of f3 or move the g-pawn before the f-pawn, and Black may play e6 instead of e5.
Even among rank beginners, the mate almost never occurs in practice, but is notable as being the shortest possible game ending in checkmate. Shorter games have occurred in the professional world when a player resigns, agrees to a draw, or forfeits due to not showing up.
More generally, the term fool´s mate is applied to all similar mates early in the game; for example, 1.e4 g5 2.Nc3 f6 3.Qh5# - the pattern of the simplest fool´s mate is maintained: black advances his f and g-pawns, allowing a queen mate along the unblocked diagonal. One such fool´s mate was between Mayfield and Trinks (or Masefield and Trinka according to some sources) in 1959 and lasted only three moves: 1.e4 g5 2.Nc3 f5 3.Qh5#.
The same basic mating pattern may also occur later in the game. There is, for instance, a well-known trap in the Dutch Defence which runs 1.d4 f5 2.Bg5 h6 3.Bh4 g5 4.Bg3 f4; it seems that Black has won the bishop, but now comes 5.e3 (threatening Qh5#, the basic Fool´s mate idea) 5...h5 6.Bd3?! (6.Be2 is probably better, but this move sets a trap) 6...Rh6? (defending against Bg6#, but...) 7.Qxh5+! Rxh5 8.Bg6#.
Even more generally, the term "Fool´s mate" is used in chess variants for the shortest possible mate, especially those which bear a resemblance to the orthodox chess fool´s mate. Fool´s mate in progressive chess, for example, is 1.e4 2.f6 g5 3.Qh5#
Another common checkmate which is common among beginners is the Scholar´s Mate.
Fool´s Mate is also an album by Peter Hammill (though the sleeve actually shows scholar´s mate); see Fool´s Mate (album).