Tactics are short-term planned course of moves to obtain victory

Tactics are short-term planned course of moves to obtain victory, get the advantage in position, and some other gains. Learning tactics is key to playing good chess. Most games, especially at amateur levels, are decided by mistakes.

Learning the fundamental tactics in chess will help you take advantage of the opponent's mistakes and avoid your own. Tactics decide who wins and who loses.

The three basic chess tactics are fork, pin, and skewer. These are the fundamentals that every player should learn. Now let us move to discuss each tactic one by one.

The Fork

The fork tactic is also called the double attack. The attacker is aiming to capture one of the forked pieces. The forked tactic is more effective when it is forcing, such as when the king is in check.

I will show you some samples of how the fork tactics work. In this game between Wesley So and Magnus Carlsen, we will see how Magnus Carlsen forced a fork tactic. Wesley So is playing white against Magnus Carlsen who is playing Black.

In this position, Carlsen took the white rook in E1. So resigned after he realized what is going to happen.

Look at the board. Examine and think like you are playing black. The best move here is for the white to take the black Queen in E1 using his Bishop. How are you able to execute the fork tactic?

The first move is moving the Rook to D1 placing the white King in check. The white king will move to B2 and then the Black will put his Bishop from E6 to C1 placing the white King in check again. You're getting the picture, right?

From here, the white king can't go to A1 or B1 because it will result in a mate. The only option left for the white King to go is C3. Once the white King is in C3, the fork tactic can be executed. How? Simply place the black Knight from F5 to D4 checking the white King and trying to capture the white Queen and that's what a fork tactic is.

Let's move on to the next example.

This is a simple one and we will be using a Queen to execute the fork tactic.

It was a match between Christiansen and Karpov and at this position Karpov made a very bad move, moving his Bishop to D6. Can you find what Christiansen move next to execute a fork tactic?

Correct! He moved his Queen to D1 trying to capture the opponent's Bishop or Knight. If you notice, the fork tactic is always two pieces in a single move and has the advantage of getting one piece from that attack.

The Pin

Now let's move to the next tactic which is the pin tactic. Pin tactic is attacking the defending piece that cannot move without exposing a more valuable piece. Pin tactic can be absolute or relative. Absolute pin happens when a defending piece is protecting the King while the relative pin is protecting other pieces than King but is more valuable. To understand the tactic better, let's show some examples.

First Example

The first example I will show you is a simple demonstration of a pin. It happened in the world championship in 1927 between Alekhine and Capablanca.

In this example, the white Queen is pinning the black Rook. The black Rook is unable to escape or move because the black will be losing its Queen. The white moves his King to F2. Maybe you're wondering why the white didn't play Rook to C1. Because the black Rook will just capture it checking the white King and escaping from the pin. Instead, black moves his Queen to F6 planning to check the white King in H4. The white notices it and pushes his Pawn to G3. Then the black moves his Pawn to G5 and finally white moves his rook to C1 taking the advantage.

Next Example

This is a great example of the pin tactic. Let's analyze the board and think of a way that white can use the pin tactic to gain an advantage and win this match. This is a tricky one. We can see that white can't capture the black Queen because the black Rook will just capture the white Rook in E1 and a checkmate.

The white Queen can't capture the white Pawn in C6 because the Black Queen will just move to E3, then F2, and a checkmate. The white Queen can't also move to F4 because the black Queen will just capture the white Rook in C2 and get the advantage in pieces. So, what is the best move for white to win in this situation using the pin tactic?

The best move here for white to Queen to D8, pinning the black rook. This move also creates distractions to the opponent's Bishop and Rook. Study the board closely and you will realize that the white has the advantage after Queen D8. Whatever black is trying to move now, the white position is unstoppable. If black decides to capture the white Queen using Rook or Bishop, the white will simply capture the black Queen using his Pawn. should the trade continue, the white will win the position and get the advantage in pieces. Pretty clever move by the white, isn't it?

The skewer

Now let's move to the next and final tactic. It is called the skewer. The skewer tactic is taking advantage of the aligned pieces to gain a piece or strategic position. To do the skewer, you need to attack pieces in a file or on a diagonal. The difference between skewer and fork is only the long-range pieces can perform the skewer, like Bishops, Rooks, and Queen. To understand this tactic better, let's do some examples.

This is a great example of the skewer tactic. This was a match between Nigel Short and Rafael in 1989. White to play first. Nigel Short takes the black Rook in G7 using his Rook in C7 then the black Queen takes the white Rook in G7. White moves his Queen to E8 checking the Black King and Black moves his King to F5. Look closer cause the white now is planning the skewer tactic. White moves his King to C8 checking the black again and then Black moves his King to F6.

At this point, the skewer is possible. The black makes a mistake and the black King and Queen are on a diagonal file. The white moves his Bishop to E5 checking the black King and the black takes the white Bishop in E5 using his king. Now the white moves his Queen to C3 the black is skewered and loses its Queen.

Let's do another example

Study the board first. This was a match between Bareev and Fidorov in 2000.

If we take a look at the board, the black is up by one official. Using a skewer tactic, the white will be able to regain the advantage and up by a Pawn. So, white takes the Black Knight in D7 using his Bishop and the black takes the white Bishop in D7 using his King. The white moves his Queen to G4 checking the black King, and the king moves back to D6. The black King can't go anywhere other than D6 cause it will result in checkmate. The white now moves his Queen posing a threat to move to C7 and a possible victory that's why the black prevented it from happening and moves his Queen to B6.

At this point, the skewer is in play when the white moves his Queen to B8 checking the black king and skewered. The white takes the black Bishop and the white now has an advantage in position.

The fundamental tactics are helpful not only at the intermediate level but also at the advanced level. The best way to master these fundamentals is to practice them in puzzles and apply them in your gameplay. Hope you learn something from me. See you in the next article.