On this page you’ll find ways you’ll learn chess tactics to improve your game and thinking skills.
Grab your chess board and set up your pieces as the images. You’ll get a better visual field around the board. Now let’s get started!
#1. Fork (Double Attack)
A fork happens when a single piece makes two or more direct attacks at the same time. In most cases, two pieces are threatened , therefore, a fork is also sometimes called a double attack.
Let’s look at the game below, white plays rook to c7 from the c2 square a placed a fork on the knight and bishop.
Since black can only save of them, white will win a piece. That’s the main idea behind a fork.
Remember, you can fork with all your pieces, including a pawn. So always be on the lookout for such positions.
Below is an example of how you can fork with a pawn.
A pin occurs when a piece is held in place and can’t move without givip up a more valuable piece behind it.
The game below shows white plays queen to h8, pinning the bishop.
Black cannot move their bishop since the king is behind it and therefore, white will win the bishop.
There are two types of pins;
- Absolute Pin
- Relative Pin
When a piece is pinned to the King, it is called an absolute pin. The pinned piece cannot be moved. Example below;
If Black tries to move their Knight, that would be an illegal move. Therefore, it is an absolute pin.
On the other hand, a relative pin is when a piece is pinned to another piece of greater value, and not the King. Example as below,
Here, the Bishop on g5 is pinning the Knight and Queen. Eventhough Black can move the Knight, it would be a terrible move because black will lose their Queen. Hence, it is a relative pin.
Remember, you can only pin with 3 pieces – the Queen, the Rook, & the Bishop..
The next of our chess tactics list is a skewer. A skewer is an attack on two pieces that are lined up with one another. The first piece is the more valuable piece. When it moves out of the way, the less valuable piece behind it is captured.
The game above shows the Rook in h3 skewers Black’s King & Queen. Black has no choice to move its King out of the way and leaving its Queen out in the open, ready for white to capture.
In fact, skewer is the opposite of a pin. A pin, the less valuable piece is at the front, a skewer, the more valuable piece is at the front.
Just like the pin, you can skewer only with 3 pieces – the Queen, the Rook and the Bishop.
#4. Discovered Attacks
A discovered attack occurs when one piece moves and uncovers an attack by another piece.
In the game above, White initially had the Bishop at d3 and moved it to g6 capturing Black’s pawn. This resulted in White launching a discovered attack on Black’s Knight.
We can also call this a discovered double attack since White is also attacking Black’s Rook. Black is unable to defend both pieces, white will win material and gain a solid advantage.
A very effective form of discovered attack is the discovered check. This happens when the uncovered piece checks the opposing King.
In the game above, White moves the rook and uncovers a discovered check on Black’s King. Once the King moves, White can capture Black’s Knight with the Rook and gain an advatange.
Next on our list is a tactic called windmill. It’s a rare tactic in which a repeated discovered check allows one piece to go on a rampage, capturing multiple enemy pieces.
In this game, White sacrifices its Queen moving the Bishop from g5 to f6. Black’s Queen proceeds to capture White’s Queen. The White surprises Black with a check with Rook on g3 captures Black’s Pawn on g7. White’s rook then proceeds to capture Black’s Pawn on f7, opening a discovered check. This leads to a series of captures & eventually white ends up with a huge material advantage.
Continuing on our chess tactics list is interference. In chess, interference occurs when the line between an attacked piece and its defender is interrupted by interposing a piece.
In this game, both of Black’s Rooks are defending each other. White plays a smart move, Knight c6, checking Black’s King. The Knight is now interfering between these two Rooks, making Black’s Rook at c3 vulnerable. Whatever move Black plays, white will gain material and take the lead.
On number seven is overloading, as the name suggests, overloading is when one piece is assigned to protect multiple pieces, squares or threats at the same time.
Let’s understand from this example how we can distract an overloaded piece from one of its protecting tasks. If you analyse this, Black’s Bishop is defending two threats, preventing a checkmate with White moving its Queen to f5 and protecting the Pawn on b7. Since Black’s Bishop is overloaded, White can take advantage by capturing the pawn on b7 and Black is unable to take White’s Bishop because it is preventing the checkmate.
The next tactic you need to know is the deflection tactic, the idea here is to chase away or to deflect an enemy piece from an important square.
In this game, for example, we can see that Black’s King is defending the Rook. If Black can move the King away from the square, then White can capture the Rook. So can you find a move to achieve that?
White can simply play Bishop to h7, capturing Black’s pawn to deflect the King away from this important square. After the King moves, White is able to capture the Rook and gain a material advantage.
Now, let’s look at decoy. It’s a chess tactic that is to set up a trap for your opponent. It’s related to deflection. Deflection forces an opponent away from a particular square, whereas a decoy will force him to move a piece to a particular square.
Here, White is in trouble with Black has one move to make a checkmate. However, it is White to move and White needs Black’s King to be at the f8 square in order for White to perform a checkmate with the rook. What would you think would be the best solution for White in this case?
The best move for white is Queen to f8, sacrificing the Queen in order to perform a checkmate. If Black’s King runs away and the only option is the h7 square, then White can simply perform a checkmate with Queen to g7. Then again, if Black captures the Queen, then it’s simply Rook to c8 checkmate. Either way, Black has lost the game.
#10. X-Ray Attack
Let’s look at a tactic called x-ray attack. It’s an indirect attack on a new piece or an indirect defense to an enemy piece.
In this game, White’s Bishop on f3 is attacking Black’s Bishop on d5. At the same time, the Bishop is indirectly attacking the pawn on b7.
By using the x-ray tactic, White can simply capture the pawn with the Knight. If Black decides to recapture with the Bishop, the White can simply recapture the Bishop.
This tactic is crucial and is not easily spotted in games. So be on the lookout for any possibilities of such move.
#11. Zugzwang (Move Compulsion)
Zugzwang is a German which basically means “it is your move, and all your moves are bad.” This is a situation where every move a player could make will significantly worsen his position and at times even caused him to lose the game.
In this game, White can move the Rook along the 8th and places Black in Zugzwang. Black’s only move loses the game immediately, which in this case is King to h8. Then white can just capture the Bishop and it’s game over for black.
#12. Zwischenzug (In Between Move)
Zwischenzug is a German word, meaning an intermediate move or an in-between move, it is a tactic in which a player inserts an unexpected move in between an otherwise forcing sequence of moves.
Let’s take a look at this game. What would you think the best move for White is using the Zwischenzug tactic.
White moves, the Knight to capture Black’s pawn on e4. Black’s only best move is to capture the Rook on g1. Now comes the Zwischenzug. Instead of recapturing Black’s Rook on g1. White can use the Knight to capture the pawn on c5, checking the King. Example as below;
Black has no option but to the King away and gives white material advantages. Then only White could capture Black’s Rook once its Knight is in a safe square.
The next tactic we need to know is undermining, which means the removal of the defender. It involves attacking or capturing a critical defending piece to gain significant material advantage or even checkmate your opponent.
In this game, White’s move for checkmate is protected by Black’s Knight. In which, White’s undermining tactic is to sacrifice its Rook to capture the Knight, delivering a check. Black has no option but the recapture the Rook and White can deliver a checkmate with Queen to g7.
#13. Forcing a stalemate
Another popular chess tactic that you can use in an otherwise lost or unfavourable position is to force a stalemate.
In the game above, White’s is significantly down in materials and is at a losing position. What do you think is White’s best move to force a stalemate.
If you have your board with you, you may have spotted it easily. White moves its Rook to a7 delivering a check, and Black’s only position to run is King to b3. Then all White needs to do is to move its rook to c7, taunting Black to capture the Rook. If Black decides to capture White’s Rook, then it’s a stalemate, as white doesn’t have any legal move to play after.
In an event Black decides not to White’s Rook, Black’s only option to move its Rook is anywhere along the 8th rank. All white needs to do is to move its Rook right infront of Black’s Rook as in the example on the right. The game will be a draw by repetition or if both players decide on a draw.
#14. Perpetual Checks
Another way of achieving a draw from an otherwise losing position is by using perpetual checks or by the rule of threefold repetition. Draw by perpetual checks is a situation where one player can check the opponent’s King forever but cannot checkmate it. When this happens, the players either agree to a draw or if the position is repeated three times, it results in a draw by the rule of “Threefold Repetition.”
Let’s look at the game below;
White is down a significant amount of material already. What would you do if you were white?
White plays Rook to h7, capturing Black’s pawn and sacrificing the Rook. When Black captures White’s Rook, White can move its Queen to h5 checking the King. Black will have to run away. Then after that, White can move its Queen to g6, which is protected by its Knight. Once black retreats, the perpetual checks happen as White can simply move its Queen between g6 and h6 checking Black over and over.
Now let’s look at under-promotion as a tactic. It means promoting a pawn to a piece less than a Queen. There could be several reasons for underpromoting. One of which could be stopping an incoming enemy threat or achieving something even better than what a Queen could offer.
Now let’s analyse the game above shall we?
Now if you have been going through the list step by step, you’ll notice that White play a forcing move on Black Sacrificing its Rook. Black then recaptures with its Rook.
Then White plays a little cunning move which is Queen to h7 check. When Black captures White’s Queen with its King. White can simply capture the Rook with the pawn and guess what? Instead of promoting the pawn to a Queen, White can just promote the pawn to a Knight instead, forking Black’s Queen and King with a check. Brilliant isn’t it?
Now, ChessTalk explained 24 chess tactics but in my post I’ve only explain 15 instead. The reason behind it is that the other tactics are just variations of the ones that are already on the list. Remember I told you to get your chessboard and pieces ready? You can set up the pieces following the images and try variations yourself and see what sorts of combinations you can make. That way you’ll definitely get better at your game.
These chess tactics tips came from YouTube (ChessTalks).
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