When you’re just starting to study chess, it can be difficult to know where to focus your efforts.  Chess study can be broken down into several different fields:

  • Openings
  • Middlegame
  • Endgame
  • Tactics
  • Strategy
  • Positioning

For beginners, the most rapid improvement comes from studying tactics.  In this series of articles, I will explore a new tactic every Tuesday.  By learning these tactics and looking for opportunities to use them in your games, you will see rapid improvement.

The important concept to understand here is that unless you’re playing against an absolute beginner who leaves pieces undefended (hanging), you will need to use your pieces in combination to capture enemy material.  That is, you will need to attack multiple pieces at a time, or attack an enemy piece with multiple pieces of your own, in order to capture material.

We’ll be looking at the following tactics:

  1. Pins – Hold an enemy piece immobile while you pile on the attacks
  2. Skewers – Threaten a valuable piece, and when that piece escapes, strike the piece behind it.
  3. Forks - Attack multiple pieces at once.  Your opponent can’t defend them all.
  4. Discovered Attacks – Move a piece to reveal a deadly attack coming from behind it.
  5. Remove the Defender – Chase off the defender of your target piece, leaving it helpless.

Stay tuned as we explore these tactics over the next few weeks.

Which of these tactics sounds the most useful?  Do you see these patterns emerging in your play, even if you didn’t know the name of them?

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3 Responses to “Tuesday Tactics: Chess Tactics Summary”

  1. kerrjac says:

    Cool idea for a blog.

    I find much of the other written material on chess strategy too complex – there must be a steep learning curve that lots of people get over. I’m looking forward to learning more.

    Out of the list of tactics, I like discovered attacks the most. I’ve recently taken to them for a few reasons: On a few occasions, you can set it up so that the piece you remove is then attacking another piece, making it like a fork. But mostly I enjoy how it buys you back the tempo, while the opponent is forced to move the attacked piece.

  2. Patzer1 says:

    I completely agree: A discovered attack combined with a fork is devastating and wicked fun to play. I also love it when the opponent defends a piece with a much more valuable piece that can be skewered. Forcing the opponent to make his, say, queen run away from my bishop, exposing the piece behind the queen to attack – and at the same time leaving the defended piece completely helpless – can be crushing.

    Really, combined attacks make for great tactics, and combined tactics make for brilliant chess.

    Thanks for the comment on the style of writing. The blog came about because I’m in exactly your situation: A relative beginner trying to improve my game quickly. Many of the people who study chess have been doing so for years, and much of the instruction comes from grandmasters who write about esoteric topics like obscure variations of openings that aren’t of much use to patzers like us.

  3. Patzer1 says:

    kerrjac – Check out the L2 puzzle today (4/24) on the right-hand column. I’ll give you a clue: The answer is a discovered attack combined with another attack on a more valuable piece: the exact scenario you mention. Took me a few minutes to see it. Enjoy!

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