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5 Beginner Chess Tactics That Everyone Should Know


Posted by Saumil Padhya,

Chessbolt
Chess Beginner Tactics

A game of chess can lead to an infinite number of tactic combinations. Luckily for you, most of these combinations fall into tactic motifs or patterns you can master. Here are 5 beginner chess tactics that everyone should know.


*All tactics below are accompanied with illustrative examples and quiz puzzles at the end of the blog post.


Double Attack


Double Attack tactic is when a move attacks two or more opponent pieces or squares. Typical examples of double attack are Fork and Discovered Attack tactics.


Fork is a tactic in which one piece attacks two opponent pieces or squares simultaneously. The most common example of this is a knight fork, illustrated in the below puzzle.


*In examples below, click the black arrows to go forward and back a move

Double Attack Fork
Double Attack Fork
Double Attack Fork
Double Attack Fork
Black to Play
1... Nc3+
2. Ke1
2... Nxb5

Fork Example


In this puzzle, black plays 1... Nc3+!

The black knight on c3 forks white's king on e2 and bishop on b5.

The puzzle continues 2. Ke1 Nxb5 winning the white bishop.


Click here to solve this puzzle on chessbolt

Created from game between GM Alexander Beliavsky (2537) vs GM Luke McShane (2647)


Discovered Attack is when moving a piece unblocks an attack from another piece. This "discovered" attack from the piece can be on an opponent piece or important square. Illustrated below is a very common variant of this tactic.


Double Attack Discovered Attack
Double Attack Discovered Attack
Double Attack Discovered Attack
Double Attack Discovered Attack
Black to Play
1... Nd4+
2. Kc1
2... Nxc2

Discovered Attack Example


1... Nd4+! unblocks black bishop on f3 which reveals a discovered attack on white king on d1.

The black knight on d4 also attacks white rook on c2. The two attacks by bishop and knight make this a double attack tactic. Puzzle continues 2. Kc1 Nxc2 winning the white rook.


Click here to solve this puzzle on chessbolt

Created from game between GM Sanan Sjugirov (2663) vs GM Yu Yangyi (2764)


The above puzzle is actually a Discovered Check tactic, which is a special form of Discovered Attack. Since 1... Nd4+ reveals a discovered check on king, white is unable to defend rook on c2 attacked by black knight.


Skewer


Skewer tactic is when you attack a piece that cannot move without exposing a less valuable piece or square behind it. Skewers can be along ranks, files, or diagonals. Rooks can skewer pieces along ranks and files, bishops can skewer along diagonals, and queen can skewer along ranks, files and diagonals.


Skewer
Skewer
Skewer
Skewer
White to Play
1. Bxf5+
1... Kf6
2. Bxh7

Skewer Example


1. Bxf5+! creates a diagonal skewer along the f5-h7 diagonal. The white bishop on f5 skewers black's king on g6 to rook on h7.

Since king is a more valuable piece than the rook, black moves the king with 1... Kf6 and loses the exchange** with 2. Bxh7.


Click here to solve this puzzle on chessbolt

Created from game between GM Aleksandr Rakhmanov (2645) vs GM Nikita Afanasiev (2507)


**Losing an exchange is when rook is captured in exchange for bishop or rook. In above example, black rook on h7 is won in exchange for bishop on f5.


Pin


Pin is similar to a skewer, the only difference being the attacked piece is less valuable than the piece behind it. As a result, the pinned or attacked piece cannot move without losing a more valuable piece behind it.


Similar to a skewer, pins can be along ranks, files, or diagonals. Below is an example of a pin along the second rank.


Skewer
Skewer
Skewer
Skewer
Skewer
Skewer
Black to Play
1... Bxc6
2. Rxc6
2... Ra2
3. Kg2
3... Rxe2+

Pin Example


White's knight on e2 and king on h2 are in the same line along the second rank, creating the perfect opportunity for a pin tactic.

Black's bishop on a4 is hanging, so after exchanging it with 1... Bxc6 2. Rxc6, 2... Ra2! pins the white knight on e2 to the king on h2. White's king is too far away to defend the knight, which is lost after 3. Kg2 Rxe2+.


Click here to solve this puzzle on chessbolt

Created from game between GM Ali Marandi, C (2530) vs IM Le Tuan Minh (2515)


The above puzzle is an example of Absolute Pin which is when the king is behind the attacked or pinned piece, preventing the piece from making any legal moves that expose the king.


Relative Pin is when any piece or square except the king is behind the attacked or pinned piece. The tactic quiz for Pin at the end of the blog post features a relative pin.


Mate


Mate tactic is something you encounter in every game of chess. There are many different ways to checkmate a king, but all mating patterns have a common objective - trap the king (usually by giving checks) and checkmate when the king has no squares to go to.


Mate tactics are often combined with other tactics that we have already discussed. Below is an example of a Pin tactic that leads to Back Rank Mate.


Mate
Mate
Mate
Mate
Mate
Mate
Black to Play
1... Rg7
2. Qxh6
2... Rg2+
3. Kh1
3... Rd1#

Mate Example


Black blocks the check with 1... Rg7. Rook on g7 also pins white queen on g6 to square on g2. As you will see in next few moves, square on g2 is important because it assists in a Mate tactic.

After 2. Qxh6, black has a mate in 2 tactic. 2... Rg2+! 3. Kh1 Rd1# is checkmate!


Click here to solve this puzzle on chessbolt

Created from game between GM Anish Giri (2797) vs GM Sergey Karjakin (2753)


Passed Pawn


Passed Pawn is a pawn that no enemy pawn can stop from queening. As with mate, the threat of promotion by a passed pawn can be exploited to create tactical combinations.


Below is an example of Passed Pawn that leads to a Skewer tactic.


Passed Pawn
Passed Pawn
Passed Pawn
Passed Pawn
Passed Pawn
Passed Pawn
Black to Play
1... f1=R+
2. Rxf1
2... Ra1+
3. Kc2
3... Rxf1

Passed Pawn Example


With 1... f1=R+, black promotes the pawn with a check and forces white rook to capture it with 2. Rxf1. This also lures the white rook in the same line as white king on d1, which creates opportunity for a Skewer tactic on the first rank.

2... Ra1+ skewers white king on d1 to white rook on f1, winning the rook after 3. Kc2 Rxf1.


Click here to solve this puzzle on chessbolt

Created from game between GM Sergey Karjakin (2750) vs GM Ernesto Inarkiev (2682)


Tactics Quiz


It's time to test your knowledge! Below are 5 interesting puzzles for each tactic motif we introduced. Once you spot the solution, click on the puzzle board to solve it. Good luck!


Double Attack Quiz

White to Play

Pin Quiz

White to Play

Passed Pawn Quiz

White to Play

Skewer Quiz

White to Play

Mate Quiz

White to Play

Hope you enjoyed this blog post. Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 where I will discuss Intermediate and Advanced Tactics that everyone should know!


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Having trouble spotting the right move? Start solving now to improve your tactics with chessbolt!



14 comments


#1 Saumil commented on

A puzzle a day keeps the blunders away. Add a comment if you like this post!

#2 Kevin commented on

Great post! Some of the examples are quite tricky

#3 Brian commented on

I recently started learning tactics and this post is awesome! The detailed puzzle explanations helped me a lot in understanding these tactic patterns

#4 Matthew Stevens commented on

Wow! These tactics reminds me of a lot when I first started playing chess. I'm now a 2300 rated player. If you want to become like me in the future, you should definitely sharpen up these skills.

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About Author


Saumil Padhya is a National Master with USCF rating of 2355. He grew up playing in the chess circuits of Mumbai, India and currently resides in Chicago, USA.

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