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Tactical tools are forced moves that help you to gain an advantage over your opponent – it helps you to gain material. Tactical tools assist you to avoid mistakes and to take advantage of your opponent’s mistakes!
A fork is an attack on two pieces at the same time (a double attack), sometimes attacking more than 2 pieces at the same time! The fork is the simplest tactical tool to ensure gain of material. The various forks are:
- The pawn fork
- The Rook fork
- The Knight fork
- The Bishop fork
- The Queen fork
- The King fork
White: Nd2 Black: Qc5, Kf6
Move the Knight on square d2 (Nd2) to square e4 (Ne4). The Knight attacks (forks) both the Queen and the King! See diagram below.
Black’s King is in check, but at the same time black’s Queen is also attacked (forked). Because the King is in check black has to move the King. White’s Knight will now capture black’s Queen!
Example 2: Knight fork
White: Nd4 Black: Bd8, Kf8
Move the Knight on square d4 (Nd4) to square e6 (Ne6). The Knight attacks (forks) both the Bishop and the King! See diagram below.
Black’s King is in check, but at the same time black’s Bishop is also attacked (forked). Because the King is in check black has to move the King. White’s Knight will now capture black’s Bishop!
Q: Can a Rook fork other pieces?
Q: A King can fork other pieces. True ….. False …..
Relative pins (a piece of lesser value is pinned to a piece or square of more value – not the King!)
- A relative pin is when a piece of lesser value is pinned to a piece or square of more value, but cannot move, because it defends a more valuable piece (or square!). However, it can make a legal move, but will loose the piece of more value! The Knight on c3 is pinned to the Rook on a1 by the Bishop on e5. White can move the Knight away, but will then expose its Rook to capture! See diagram below.
Absolute pins (a piece is pinned to the King)
- An absolute pin is when a less valuable piece is pinned to its King but cannot move, because it exposes the King to check! If the attacked piece moves away it will be an illegal move! The Queen on c4 pins the Knight on d5 to the King on g8. Black cannot move its Knight, because it will expose the King to check and it will also be an illegal move! See diagram below.
Skewers are reverse pins!
Relative skewers (a piece of more value is pinned to a piece or square of lesser value – not the King!)
- A relative skewer is a reverse relative pin. A relative skewer is when a piece of more value is pinned to a piece of lesser value and is forced to move the piece of more value and in the process loses its piece of lesser value. The Rook on e5 is pinned to the Knight on f6 by the Bishop on c3. Black must move the Rook away, because it is of more value than the Knight. See diagram below.
Absolute skewers (the King is pinned to a piece)
- An absolute skewer is when the King is pinned to a less valuable piece. The King is in check and must move away (if possible!). If the King moves away the less valuable piece is captured. The Bishop on c4 pins the King on e6 to the Rook on f7. The King is in check and must move away and in the process white loses its Rook! See diagram below.
Summary of pins and skewers
- Relative pins: a piece pins a weaker piece against a stronger piece or square.
- Absolute pins: a piece pins a weaker piece against the King.
- Relative skewers (reverse pins): a piece pins a stronger piece against a weaker piece or square.
- Absolute skewers (reverse pins): a piece pins the King to a weaker piece.
Advantages of forks, pins and skewers
- To gain material (capturing a piece of value)
- To improve the development of your pieces
- To immobilise the opponent’s piece which is pinned on the King.
In back rank mate the King is trapped on the 1st or 8th rank behind his own pawns and he cannot escape checkmate. The King appears to be safe behind his 3 pawns. Checkmate is executed by a Queen or a Rook.
White: f2, g2, h2, Kg1 Black: Qe8, Kf8
Black’s move: the Queen on square e8 moves to square e1 and puts White’s King in checkmate! (Qe1++)
Q: What precautionary measures would you haven taken to prevent back rank mate in the above example?
Discovered check is when you move one of your pieces away and discover that another piece puts your opponent’s King in check! A material or positional advantage can be gained. In the diagram below white moves her pawn on c3 to c4. The Bishop puts black’s King in check and forces Black to move his King away. At the same time white gains a material advantage and capture black’s Queen on g7! By moving away the pawn white attacks black’s King and at the same time also its Queen when black moves its King away!
Smothered mate is when a King is checked by a Knight and cannot escape, because he is surrounded (smothered) by his own pieces! Smothered mate usually takes place in one of the corners.
In the above example the Knight on square c2 (Nc2) puts the King on square a1 (Ka1) in checkmate (” smothered mate “). The white King is unable to move and he cannot escape to a vacant square, because he is trapped by his own pieces! What should white have done to prevent smothered mate? Why do you think is it easier to get smothered mate in a corner than any other part of the chess board?
- Back rank mate
- Weakening of the castled King’s position.
- Backward pawns.
- Allowing your opponent’s pawns to advance.
- Neglect of the middle-board.
- Relaxing pressure on your opponent.
What can I do when one of my chess pieces is in danger?
- You can move the piece out of danger.
- You can capture the piece that is attacking your piece.
- You can defend your piece with another piece.
- You can put one of your pieces between the attacked piece and the attacking piece.
The secret to master any type of skills is REPETITION, REPETITION and more REPETITION!
A chess set in every classroom in every school in every community – a child who can’t pay must be able to play!