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5 chess tactics all players should know

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

One of the most exciting parts about chess is the tactical maneuvers your pieces can conduct. Oftentimes, these techniques are the difference between winning and losing a match. Here are 5 of the most commonly seen tactics in every game!

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1. pins

A pin is where an opponent’s pawn/piece can’t move without exposing a higher valued piece to attack. There are 2 types of pins: relative pins and absolute pins. In an absolute pin, the piece cannot move because it would put the king in check. In a relative pin, however, the piece can legally move out of the way, sacrificing the piece behind it. A good way to exploit a pin is to pile attackers onto the pinned piece.

relative pin on the black knight

absolute pin

2. skewers

A skewer is similar to a pin, except that the higher value piece is IN FRONT of the lower valued piece. When the higher valued piece moves out of the line of attack, the attacking piece can capture the lower valued piece.

white skewers black's king and queen

3. forks

A fork is when one of your pieces attacks 2 or more of your opponent’s pieces. A fork is especially powerful if it checks the opponent's king. Due to its unique movement style and ability to jump over pieces, the knight is especially good at creating forks.

both the king and queen are forked - black loses their queen

4. Discovered attacks/checks

A discovered attack happens when a piece or pawn moves out of the way of another, revealing an attack from the latter piece. For example, if your knight was blocking your rook from attacking the enemy queen, moving the knight aside would create a discovered attack.

after capturing the pawn on f4, black's pawn reveals an attack on the rook

If the attack “revealed” is on your opponent's king, it is called a discovered check. Sometimes, this can “double-check” the enemy king. (put it in check by 2 pieces at once)

white's king must move to avoid both checks

5. batteries

A battery is a tactic where your long-range pieces (rooks, bishops, queen) attack along the same file, rank, or diagonal. Oftentimes, this leads to complete control over the squares covered by the battery. This tactic can produce very powerful attacks, including checkmate.

white threatens checkmate with a queen-bishop battery

the rook battery ensures checkmate along the back rank

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