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Chess Tactics – Definitions and Examples

  • webmaster
  • | 28/apr/2011
  • | 140331 visualizzazioni
  • | 145 commenti

Tags allow us to label each puzzle in Tactics Trainer with one or more tactical motifs (types of tactics) commonly encountered in chess. Understanding these motifs will help you recognize tactical patterns - both in Trainer, and in your actual games!

The tags are associated with the puzzles through a voting process. Vote for a particular tag by clicking on the "thumbs up" icon, or by selecting a tag from the "Suggest tag(s)" drop-menu. You can vote against a tag by clicking the thumbs-down icon. As more people vote, the tags grow smarter and more relevant.

A premium membership is required to vote for tags. For each puzzle, you may vote only once for a particular tag, but may vote on as many different tags as you like.


Definitions and Examples

Attacking f7f2 Fork/Double Attack Sacrifice
Attacking Castled King Hanging Piece Simplification
Back Rank Interference Skewer
Basic Checkmates Mate in One Smothered Mate
Clearance Sacrifice Mate in Two Stalemate
Decoy/Deflection Mate in Three+ Support Mate
Defense Mating Net Trapped Piece
Desperado Overloading Underpromotion
Discovered Attack/Check         Pawn Promotion Vulnerable King
Double Check Perpetual Check Windmill
En Passant Pin X-Ray Attack
Endgame Tactic Queen Sacrifice Zugzwang/Zwischenzug        
Exchange Sacrifice Removal of the Defender        

 

Attacking f7/f2

 A tactic or threat that involves targeting of the opponent's "weakest square." Often f7 and f2 are referred to as the weakest squares on a chessboard because they are protected only by the King at the start, so often these tactics would occur somewhere in the Opening to early Middlegame stages. There are many possible attacking ideas and threats that take place surrounding those two critical points.

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Attacking Castled King 

 All tactics that involve attacking a castled King. These would be ideas such as sacrifices to the surrounding pawns of a castled position, pawn storms, as well as many other possible tactical themes  -- with the specific distinction that the pattern was used to attack a castled King's position, either kingside or queenside.

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Back Rank 

 A back-rank mate is when either the Rook or Queen is attacking the enemy King, and this enemy King is trapped "on the back rank" (which means either the 1st or 8th rank) by his own army.

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Basic Checkmates:

Any type of basic checkmating "pattern". This definition does not apply to any position that happens to be checkmate in one or two moves, but rather, tactics that either use or climax in a basic checkmating pattern such as: King and Queen vs King; King and Rook vs King; two Rooks vs King; and two Bishops vs King.

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Clearance Sacrifice:  

 "Clearance Sacrifice" (or just "clearance") is a term used to describe a deliberate sacrifice of material with the goal of "clearing" of either a square, diagonal, or file. The most common clearance sacrifices open a critical diagonal (see example). The sacrifice of a pawn to open a square for a Knight (like a pawn moving to e5 from e4, sacrificing itself in order to free the e4-square for a Knight) would also be considered a "positional" clearance sacrifice.


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Decoy / Deflection:

A decoy is a distraction. Often a player might use a decoy to force the opponent to think about something else, while the player is actually focused on a different target entirely. Deflection is a tactic which distracts an opponent's piece from doing its job, such as defending an important square, pinning a piece or blocking an open file or diagonal. Many decoy/deflection tactics involve a sacrifice or a forcing move of some kind, thus forcing the opponent to cooperate with the decoy/deflection tactic. They are similar in their goal, which is why we have classified them as one theme. Here is an example of each type of decoy/deflection:

...would be more of a deflection, while a decoy might be something like this:

 

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Defense:

To play defense, or to defend against an opponent's threat. One might "defend" a pawn with a piece, or you might "play defensive moves on the kingside" in order to stop your opponent's threats of a mating attack. By moving your pieces into position to guard and protect either a piece, a square, or a coming threat from your opponent - you are defending. We use this term for all tactics of a "prophylactic" or defensive nature. Often puzzles where the goal is to draw, and a defensive combination must be found in order to accomplish this, would be tagged under this category.

...with one other example of a "necessary defensive move" here:

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Desperado:   

 A desperado tactic can sometimes be considered a sacrifice, depending on the position. The move captures an enemy piece when either one or more of your own pieces is already hanging (undefended). When material is going to be lost regardless, these situations present a rare opportunity to be "reckless" and take out an enemy piece along the way. This tactic often happens when both white and black have pieces under attack. A desperado can also be considered a type of Zwischenzug tactic (see "Zwischenzug" below).

Another great example of a "desperado" tactic with positional results:

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Discovered Attack/Check:  

 An attack which happens when one piece moves out of the way, opening a line for another attacking piece to threaten something (either checkmate or material). A discovered check is the same thing, but the revealed piece is attacking the enemy King, so it is also check. When the piece that moves to reveal the hidden attacker also attacks a piece, this may be referred to as a discovered "double" attack/check.

...would be one type of "discovered double attack/check" while another would be as follows:

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Double Check:

Checking the enemy King with two different pieces on the same move is powerful play! Unable to block or capture both threats at once, the King must always move to safety.

 

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En Passant:

The en passant capture is a special pawn attack in which the attacker may take an adjacent enemy pawn that has just jumped forward two squares. 

En Passant captures often feature tactical themes, such as double or discovered attacks.

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Endgame Tactic:

Any tactic that occurs in the endgame. The endgame is the last part of the game, and is generally believed to start when most of the pieces have been traded, especially after the Queens are traded.

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Exchange Sacrifice:  

A small sacrifice of material (see "sacrifice") to achieve something greater. The term "exchange sacrifice" specifically refers to the sacrifice of a Rook for a minor piece (either Knight or Bishop) and is usually only one necessary step along the way of a forcing sequence of moves.  

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Fork / Double Attack:  

A double attack is an attack or threat on two things at once. The advantage of a double attack is that it is hard to defend two things with one move. We use the term fork to describe a double attack by a single unit, usually a Knight, Queen or pawn.

...would be a simplified version of a double attack, while a fork would be seen here:

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Hanging Piece:

 "Hanging" is another way of saying "undefended" or "loose" in chess. A tactic that involves simply taking or exposing undefended pieces in some way would qualifyUnder this theme, one might also consider a forcing combination that climaxes with a double attack, with one or more of the targets being undefended.

...would be an example of "multiple" hanging pieces (similar to a double attack); here's another:

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Interference:

To move a piece between two other attacking pieces when at least one of those attacking pieces is an opponent's piece. Sometimes a piece will interfere with two attacking pieces, thus creating confusion and often overloading (see "overloading") those pieces.

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Mate in 1:  

Any puzzle/position that ends with checkmate in one move.

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Mate in 2:  

 Any puzzle/position that ends with checkmate in two moves.

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Mate in 3+:   

Any puzzle/position that ends with mate in three or more moves.

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Mating Net:

 A position where the King is trapped & will soon be checkmated. The area of the board where the King is tied down is often like a "net" closing tighter & tighter. A player might create a mating net by cutting off all escapes for the enemy king, often by relatively quiet, non-checking moves -- but once the net is created, a forcing sequence of moves will lead to checkmate inevitably.

...and another classic example of a mating net:

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Overloading: 

 A piece that has too many things to do is "overloaded." For example, a bishop which has to both stop a passed pawn from Queening and guard against a checkmate is overloaded. By carrying out one threat (for example, queening the pawn) the opponent could force the overworked bishop to leave its post, allowing the checkmate threat to succeed.

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Pawn Promotion:

 A tactic that involves promoting a pawn. Often this involves other tactics along the way, all of them being single parts of an overall goal to promote the pawn. That pawn would usually deliver decisive results. (See also "underpromotion").

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Perpetual Check:

A situation where one player can check the opponent's King forever, but cannot checkmate it. Perpetual check is a type of drawn position. When perpetual check happens, the players usually either agree to a draw or the same position is repeated three times, resulting in a draw by the rule of "Threefold Repetition".

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Pin:

When a piece cannot move because it is blocking/guarding a more valuable piece behind it from being captured, that piece is "pinned". A pinning piece is a long-range piece (a Rook, Queen, or Bishop) which is aimed at one of the opponent's valuable pieces, with a less valuable opponent's piece in the way or blocking the Rook, Queen or Bishop from attacking the more valuable piece. An absolute pin is when a piece is pinned to the King, thus making it absolutely illegal to move the pinned piece.

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Queen Sacrifice:

A sacrifice (see "sacrifice") of the Queen with the distinct purpose of achieving something more valuable. Most often, a Queen Sacrifice is just one part (a single move among others) of an attempt to checkmate the enemy King or eventually win back material at the end of the combination.

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Removal of the Defender:

A tactic that involves eliminating the critical defensive piece that otherwise stands in the way of achieving a much greater goal (most often checkmate or the winning of large amounts of material). A player looks to remove the defender as a destructive means to achieve their goal.

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Sacrifice:

The act of giving up material (either making a trade that loses points or simply losing a piece or pawn for nothing) with the goal of getting something else in return. For example, a player may sacrifice the Queen in order to open up a square for a Knight where it can then checkmate the opponent. A player may also make more strategic sacrifices, such as sacrificing a pawn to gain time to develop, or sacrificing a piece to destroy the opponent's King's pawn cover.

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Simplification:  

A simplification tactic is a forcing sequence of moves that converts an advantage into a more easily winning position. A player tries to simplify a winning position as an act of good technique, which is the skill of converting an advantage into a victory.

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Skewer:

A move which threatens a valuable piece (such as the King or Queen), forcing that piece to move away and allowing the attacking piece to take a less valuable piece behind the valuable one. A skewer is the opposite of a pin in many ways, since in the skewer the more valuable piece is in front. (See "pin").

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Smothered Mate: 

A checkmate by a Knight against an enemy King which has no way out because all of its escape squares are blocked by its own pieces. The King's own pieces keep it from moving, while the enemy knight puts it in check. A Smothered Mate can only occur when a King is immediately surrounded by its own pieces, with no enemy piece directly touching it by occupying a nearby square; this is why only the Knight can give Smothered Mate.

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Stalemate:

When a player whose turn it is has no legal moves by any of his/her pieces, but is not in check. A stalemate is a draw. A stalemate tactic would occur when the objective/goal of the puzzle was to force a stalemate from an otherwise lost or unfavorable position.

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Support Mate:

 A support mate is a basic checkmate that occurs simply when a Queen directly assaults a King to deliver checkmate, and finds itself receiving support (protection) from one other piece. This "supporting" piece can be a pawn, Knight, Bishop or King.

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Trapped Piece:

A piece that finds itself with either no moves at all, or at least no moves that avoid the loss of material. Often, a piece might be trapped at the end of a forced sequence of moves.

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Underpromotion:

Promoting (see "promotion") a pawn to a piece less than a Queen (in other words, promoting a pawn to a Knight, Rook, or Bishop). Since the Queen is the strongest piece, players almost always choose to promote their pawns to Queens. An underpromotion tactic occurs when there are special reasons that a player needs a weaker piece rather than a Queen (almost always a Knight, since it is the only piece whose move is not already reflected by the Queen's abilities) - whether to stop an opponent's threat or achieve something even better than what a Queen could offer.

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Vulnerable King:  

A position/puzzle where tactics are arise from the exposed position of the enemy King. A "vulnerable" King's position may often lead to that King being put in a "mating net" of some kind.

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Windmill:

 A rare tactic in which a repeated discovered check (see "discovered attack/check") allows one piece to go on a rampage, capturing multiple enemy pieces.

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X-Ray Attack:

An x-ray tactic in chess occurs when one of your long-range pieces (a Rook, Bishop, or Queen) attacks "through" one of your opponent's pieces to indirectly attack/threaten or defend beyond it. An x-ray tactic often occurs along with the theme of back rank mate. 

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Zugzwang:

A German word that literally translates to "move compulsion." This is a situation where every move a player could make causes him/her to lose the game (or at least significantly worsen the position).

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Zwischenzug:

A German word meaning "in-between move". An often unexpected move inserted in between an otherwise forcing sequence of moves. The zwischenzug generally changes the result of the sequence. A "desperado" is a powerful example of a zwischenzug tactic.

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Commenti


  • 3 anni fa

    DavidMertz1

    The "Smothered mate" example in this help section should probably have a BLACK queen on a8 instead of a white one.  Otherwise there are faster ways to deliver the checkmate.

    (Edit:  Someone fixed it now, thanks!)

  • 3 anni fa

    DrJones

    @ IM ACEChess, thanks for getting back! Hope it rolls out soon. I will probably suggest some more features.. 

  • 3 anni fa

    IM DanielRensch

    @DrJones -- It is in the works... I don't want to give a timeline here, as new projects start everyday. It will be out this year though!

  • 3 anni fa

    DrJones

    Hey IM ACEChess,

    When is this feature (test forwrong puzzles) expected to roll out? I am looking for it!!

     

    @Pomonau -- Ahh, I see. Well you are in luck!!! We are also going to be launching a new feature (sometime soon) that automatically keeps track of all this for you... AND can give you a test of all your wrong puzzles, WITHOUT showing the tag... WE are really excited about it Laughing!!!

  • 3 anni fa

    talesdemileto

    Hey, double check is missing in the list.

    For example Problem ID: 0062836 is a double chek tactic and no mistake.

  • 3 anni fa

    elbowgrease

    Wow

  • 3 anni fa

    algorab

    I'd like to know when are you going to introduce the sort puzzles by tactical motif function like in other sites

     

    Regards

  • 3 anni fa

    Shakaali

    People use the mate in n tags to mark any problem where the mainline ends in checkmate in n moves even if there would be alternative variations that only loose lot of material or where it takes longer to force the mate (for example problem number 0026665). Is this intended?

  • 3 anni fa

    michaello0001

    These really helped me understand tactics so I can play it in games!

  • 3 anni fa

    IM DanielRensch

    @cdir -- The answer to question #3 would be to follow the "webmaster" account. Most site updates (and all the big ones) are posted and blogged about via the webmaster account.

    You can also follow members like myself, dpruess or other staff members -- but the webmaster account would be best. No tags are shown during the solving process...

    Glad you like it!!!

  • 3 anni fa

    cdir

    Yay, tags!  Well done!  Three follow up requests, though:

    1. Please never show me the tags while I'm trying to solve the problem.

    2. Consider opening up the range of people that can tag problems.  If there isn't a critical mass of tagging done, then it's not useful to anybody.

    3. Is there a list of updates to the site that I can check (or subscribe to) on an ongoing basis?  I stumbled across this by accident, as I've done with other updates to the site, and if I knew about it before I would have been using the site more.

  • 3 anni fa

    Michele78

    I was one of the tons of people asking for tags, and I am very happy that they have been implemented. I think it is great to build customized problem sets focused on one's weak points. Thanks!!

     

    PS I think that Pomonaou has a good point when he says that ratings would become a bit inconsistent with different people solving the same problem either with or without tags. My suggestion would be that tags are hidden by default and ratings don't change when problems are solved with hints (that is, you can train unrated using hints, and then you check your rating only in the real world, where hints don't exist).

  • 3 anni fa

    PomonaU

    How to block tags:

    Stick a filing card into frame of monitor in the lower right hand corner.  :

  • 3 anni fa

    kornork

    IMO, the Mate in 2 and Mate in 3+ tags are too vague, and people are overusing them. I've been finding a bunch of tactics tagged with these when there is a much more specific tactic being used.

    For example, a lot of basic checkmates are tagged with Mate in 2. It's much more instructive to know that something is a standard two rook checkmate or a support mate than simply calling it a mate in 2.

  • 3 anni fa

    PomonaU

    Hello IM Ace Chess

    I would LOVE this new feature - THANK You.  But I am also concern that the problem rating was keeping track of my progress (or lack of) and now, that some members would keep solving the problems without hint and some with hint, the rating would get so inconsistent that NOBODY would get puzzles suitable to his/her strength.

    Sorry to be critical.  I AM aware of advantages of the new feature, I'm just pointing on fear of loosing the advantages that made us to subscribe to this service in first place - the ability to measure progress and get appropriate strength puzzles.

    cordially

    Pomo

    You wrote:

    @Pomonau -- Ahh, I see. Well you are in luck!!! We are also going to be launching a new feature (sometime soon) that automatically keeps track of all this for you... AND can give you a test of all your wrong puzzles, WITHOUT showing the tag... WE are really excited about it Laughing!!!

  • 3 anni fa

    IM DanielRensch

    @Pomonau -- Ahh, I see. Well you are in luck!!! We are also going to be launching a new feature (sometime soon) that automatically keeps track of all this for you... AND can give you a test of all your wrong puzzles, WITHOUT showing the tag... WE are really excited about it Laughing!!!

  • 3 anni fa

    PomonaU

    Hello IM ICE Chess

     

    I'm sorry if I didn't express my self clearly.  English is not my native language.  

    I'll try again:  When I try to review puzzle on later date, it's only possible as unrated and it right away gives mi the 'hint' (tag with info - say "mate in 2").

    I'm entering the No. of the puzzle by going to: "Tactics trainer" from there to: "View Problems" there I enter the Problem No. , then press "Search".  Window with the problem appears and on right side is the 'hint'.  So despite the fact that I might have forgotten the 'hint', I see it.  Can it be please possible to turn this off?  I would like that very much.

    Thank you for consideration

    Pomo

    p.s.: You said: "... If you don't remember the tactic itself when you have a huge list of puzzles you got wrong, would you really remember that "clue"???"

  • 3 anni fa

    Leadbelly

    @ Ace Chess

    You've added a feature but you've removed another.

    In view mode, I shouldn't have to see the spoiler. Adding the OPTION to see the spoiler is an enhancement. Making the spoiler mandatory is not an enhancement.

    Cordially,

    Leadbelly

  • 3 anni fa

    IM DanielRensch

    @Leadbelly -- If the improvement to this feature -- aka the ability to "hide tags" is built in -- you would be using the exact same product you used before, correct? We respect all our members and I personally want you to have the product(s) you love. I believe we need to do this for members who feel the same way you do (that the revealing of the tags is a defect). Once that is done, we will have essentially the same tool as before except for those who DO want to tag problems, help us organize themes, and DO enjoy seeing the "hint" -- those members will have their wish as well.

    I agree that there is no reason we shouldn't let people hide the tags if they want to. Please give our development team time figure this out. I am not trying to rationalize anything. It's simple:

    We added a new feature: The ability to tag puzzles by theme, and therefore the ability to solve puzzles by theme as well. A TON of people wanted us to add this feature!!! There is simply an error in yours (and others) viewpoint -- ie, if you don't want to see the tags you shouldn't have to.

    Let's all just calm down Innocent...

    Thanks for the feedback Leadbelly.

  • 3 anni fa

    Leadbelly

    @Ace Chess

    How are you going to determine what the majority thinks? Or do you mean the majority of the staff?

    Please note that I paid cash American money for the tactics trainer at this site. That tactics trainer no longer exists. Your argument seems to be "Never mind what our  members want. Other tactics sites do it a certain way, so we will, too." You have introduced a defect, a limitation, a restriction. You have reduced the functionality of the tactics trainer. I can't any longer approach a tactic in view mode without a spoiler on the 2nd time and subsequent times and no matter how much time has passed since the original attempt.

    In the 2.5 years I've belonged, you introduced at least 1 obvious change to the tactics trainer: playing the tactic against a computer. The difference is that I don't have to play the tactic against the computer, just as I don't have to open an analysis board, or view the source and analysis. 

    I think you have made a mistake, and this project has been badly managed, and you are now trying to rationalize the mistake and bad management.

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